Where are you from?
I am English, with a spot of Scottish and French mixed in. I have lived in Kent, Manchester and Kenya, before ending up in London.
How did you get started in Broadcasting?
I started as a researcher in the Features Department of Piccadilly Radio in Manchester. At the time I was working in the Education Department at Surrey County Council with a degree in maths. In the ad for the job it said do not bother to apply unless you are talented. So at the bottom of my very unimpressive letter I wrote in large capital letters in red felt tip, Needless to say I am incredibly talented!! After that I blagged my way through three interviews, and finally got the job. A few months later I grabbed a chance and went on air, I wasn’t supposed to, and I seem to remember getting a telling off, but after that I was given more opportunities. I still remember gathering around the radio at 7 o’clock on a Sunday morning to here my first (official) words, which were, Good morning and welcome to Arena.
Why weather broadcasting?
Even as a kid I wanted to be a weather presenter – if I couldn’t be a famous actress!
Where else would have viewers seen or heard you before?
Capital Radio’s Flying Eye traffic broadcaster – I did the afternoon/evening slot for several years with David Jensen, Graham Dene, Mike Read, and when I sat in for Russ Kane, with Chris Tarrant. When I was at Capital Radio I did a book of aerial photographs of London – entitled Capital London – Focus from the Flying Eye. As well as taking the photographs I wrote all text for it too. It was published in 1993 and is long since out of print, but I am still very proud of it.
What is your Best on-air moment?
Broadcasting from our award winning courtyard garden at Chelsea Flower Show this year. I designed it, and did all the planning and organsation, and spent two weeks in the mud with the rest of my team building it. Shame about the weather, which was awful, it never stopped raining – and the theme of the garden was global warming! See www.viewtoafuture.co.uk
What is your Worst on-air moment?
Not really sure, but I do remember one day when I had only just started at Sky, and had just got an earpiece so that I could hear everything in the gallery. I was just starting the broadcast when I heard someone say, is Hazel’s hair supposed to be green?! As it happened I had been been recording the broadcast on our VHS in the office – it turned out to be not as bad as I had feared, but the chromakey can be a bit erratic and it had turned the edges of my hair a greeny shade – so I had a sort of emerald halo!
What would like to do before your career ends?
I’d love to present a travel show – in particular a few years back I did a six months Trans-Africa trip in the back of a Bedford truck. I would love to do that for television – a sort of ‘I’m Not a Celebrity – Will I Ever Get Out of Here? I am also keen to do some gardening programmes, and I would give my eye teeth to present ‘A Place In The Sun’, a programme about buying houses abroad – I am addicted to it and have to video it every day – well until I got Sky+ that is – what a wonderful bit of kit.
What do you like to do in your spare time?
I spend a lot of time in the garden, either working in it, or just enjoying it. However I only really like being out there in good weather, so when it rains I attack the house. I am quite a DIYer and tend to paint anything that stands still long enough. I also love my holidays – as long as it’s hot and there’s water I can get into then I am happy.
What advice would you give to anyone that would like to get into the broadcasting world?
Keep trying – for most of us it took quite a few years. Luck helps, but it generally comes a s a result of hard work. For instance when I was in radio I spent what seemed like a lot of money doing a television presentation course – but when the TV opportunities came along I was ready, so it was money well spent. Qualifications help, and work experience. Most of the runners at Sky News are media or journalism graduates – eventually most of them go on and up into good jobs, but they still have to start at the bottom. And when you get a toehold be willing, conscientous, and enthusiastic.
Loves: swimming, sunshine, flowers. Hates: telephone call centres, queueing, the colour red.
A big thanks to Hazel for taking part.