She’s notched up 16 years with the BBC and has hosted TV shows including Crimewatch, Points Of View and BBC Breakfast, but Tina Daheley says the role she’s most proud of is that of mum.
“This sounds corny and clichéd, but becoming a mum has empowered me to say no, because for a decade I just said yes to everything,” Tina, 43, explains.
“It was just constant. I’d do Breakfast in the morning, then record a podcast, then do both the 6pm and 10pm news, then head to Manchester the next day for more filming.
“Now I have a much better work-life balance. Anything I say no to means I can say yes to something else.
”We don’t talk enough about how much of an impact becoming a parent has on you, but I wear being a mum very openly.”
Tina has a two-year-old daughter, Athena, with her fiancé of five years, Kane William-Smith, and gets up early to read the news on the Zoe Ball Breakfast Show.
“My partner works from home, so that helps. He’s phenomenal,” she says.
“I will sneak out in the morning, making as little noise as possible while they’re both asleep.
“But being a parent is tough. The hours at work are still brutal and there’s the perpetual mum guilt. People say, ‘Does it get easier?’ No. You’re permanently jet lagged. But it means I’m available for Athena a lot in the day, which is amazing.“
Next weekend will pose a different challenge, as Tina will be a roving reporter for the BBC’s Radio 2 In The Park festival, which opens in Leicester on Saturday with Tears for Fears and Bananarama, and continues on Sunday with Kylie Minogue, Sam Ryder and Simply Red. She has an unusual link to the second day’s headline act…
“I used to wash Kylie Minogue’s hair! As a teenager, I was a hair salon apprentice in Harvey Nichols and I washed her hair several times. She gave me a very nice tip and I’ve still got the envelope with just a K on the front of it.”
She also had an amusing run-in with another guest, James Blunt, who once walked in on her in the toilets at Radio 2.
“I forgot to lock the door – what an idiot,” she says. “Luckily I was washing my hands, but I was mortified. It makes me feel sick thinking if he’d have walked in any sooner. He was so apologetic.”
Another of the acts at the event is Beverley Knight, who helped Tina get over her “massive imposter syndrome” when she was asked to join Jeremy Vine’s Radio 2 show while on maternity leave.
“I saw Beverley at a Christmas party just before and told her I felt scared about filling in.
“I said, ‘What if people hate me?’ and she gave me a motivational chat.
“It’s important to admit I don’t have armour, I’m human and, just like other new mums coming to work, I have worries. It really did gee me up and I thought, ‘Yes, I can do it’.”
One person who is happy to be a cheerleader for her career is Kane, who is the founder of comedy ticket website JokePit. The pair met while on holiday in Ibiza in 2012, and last month, they returned to the Balearic island with Athena for a family getaway. Kane unexpectedly hit the headlines when Tina shared a shirtless snap of him on social media.
“My inbox was inundated with people saying, ‘Wow, I didn’t know you were with [actor] Charlie Hunnam’,” she laughs. “We get it a lot. I was like, ‘To clarify, he’s never been in Sons Of Anarchy’.”
Tina adds that some stories referred to Kane as her husband – a description that would thrill her mother.
“We’re not married, but my mum would be happy about it,” says Tina, whose family is Sikh. “She’s like, ‘Put it on Instagram, pretend you’re married.’ It’s a family thing. I’m probably the first person in my family to have had a baby outside of wedlock.
“Honestly, I would have imagined being disowned for something like that 10 years ago. Now it’s fine.”
So do the couple plan on tying the knot any time soon?
“Who knows?” shrugs Tina. “Having a kid throws everything off because your priorities change. There’s so much admin that comes with weddings. Zoe suggested we get married at Glastonbury. I thought, ‘Actually, that could just make it easier’.”
When we suggest that her mum might not be too happy with that plan, London-born Tina gives us a wry smile.
Her parents moved to the UK from India in the 1970s and she says it “wasn’t an easy transition” for them.
“My dad, who’s 6ft 5in, but 7ft with his turban, did face discrimination, so they very much drilled into us we’ve got to have a profession, something solid,” she says.
“I started studying to be a lawyer, but I hated it, so moved into computer science and then did my equivalent of a crazy gap year, a Master’s in journalism.”
After graduating, Tina bagged work experience at Radio 1Xtra and ended up hosting the news and working alongside Trevor Nelson. She joined the BBC on 2007 and, career-wise, hasn’t looked back. However, last year, she wrote an article for Vogue about the “damaging” pressure mums face to “snap back” to their pre-baby bodies after giving birth.
It came after fans speculated on social media that she was pregnant again after seeing her on the BBC Breakfast sofa.
“It was cathartic to write that,” she says. “I felt pressure to snap back and I would like to look how I’ve looked before, but guess what? It’s not happened.”
The comments led to a guest at a family wedding congratulating her. “I felt so bad for him – he was mortified and his wife came over to apologise,” says Tina. “Sitting on the [Breakfast] sofa isn’t that flattering. I do have a bit of a belly. It’s life and it’s normal.“
Tina reveals she has recently started exercising with a personal trainer.
“I’m enjoying it. I want to be healthy and fit for Athena and my family,” she says.
“I do weight training twice a week, which I love.
“Getting back into shape is hard and genetics probably plays a part, too. The body shape in my family is curvy. I am curvy. I’m embracing and accepting myself as a mum now. I may never look the way I looked before, but that’s OK.”
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