Journalist & Presenter


2015: Glamour Women of the Year Awards (Huffington Post)

As a reporter for TV and radio, showbiz parties are always a funny thing. They’re brilliant to attend – but more often than not, I’m on the red carpet – working, cold and wondering which of the latest batch of reality TV stars are heading in my direction, before slapping on a fake smile and listening to them chat about how they “want to show the world the real me”.

By the time the footage is cut and the story filed, the last thing I want to do is slap on more make-up and stagger into the party in ridiculously high shoes.

Apart from one night of the year. ONE party that is the highlight of my social calendar.

The Glamour Women of the Year Awards.

It’s hard to explain why I love this night so much. The venue, in Berkley Square Gardens, is always stunning. There is a copious amount of free-flowing tasty cocktails. The sparkly guest list full of inspiring high achieving people. And the goody bags are out of this world. Seriously. They’re epic.

So as June 2nd rolled around, I was delighted to be once again attending my favourite night of the year.

With tan, nails and hair complete, the perfect dress finally on and the spangly invite in my clutch, I was ready to party my shoes off.

The guest list at this year’s awards ceremony was particularly A List. Kate Hudson won Entrepreneur of the Year Award, Suki Waterhouse nabbed the gong for Next Breakthrough, Kaley Cuoco was named Best Comedy Actress and Amy Shcumer had the crowd in stitches with her acceptance speech for Trailblazer.

The Brits did well too, Claudia Winkleman and Tess Daly were named Presenters of the Year, Rita Ora got TV Personality of the Year and Caitlin Moran picked up best Columnist.

It was lovely to catch up with my old Radio 2 colleague Dermot O’Leary – owner of the best hugs in Christendom – and Gabby Logan, who presented a show on Channel 5 which I reported for…..assignments for that included sitting my driving test on telly, getting a “tattoo” and investigating the issue of homelessness. A great job which I loved and it was brilliant to see Gabby.

The best thing about the Glamour Awards though, is the fact it’s a celebration of all things woman. Once the meal is finished, the ceremony over and the party is in full swing – all the many myths which follow women in the public eye are once again proven to be utter rubbish.

It’s a night of women eager to congratulate each other, to laugh, to celebrate and to acknowledge our successes. I love it and will attend for as many years as I can wear those damn heels!

Even if I did completely miss the goody bags this year……

2013: The Year of the Survivor (Huffington Post)

There are some years that just need to be forgotten.

Years in which so many things go wrong, don't work out or generally fall apart around us that even that famous phrase Annus Horribilis doesn't come close to describing 12 months of utter crap. We all have them, but with any luck they are few and far between and most of us take each bump in the road as it comes.

But then sometimes, the universe empties its bowels from a spectacularly great height and delivers a year like 2013. Not just for one person, but for everyone. Come 23:59 on December 31st, I will be kicking 2013 out of my life with vigour - and so will most people I know.

Never in my entire life I have I seen so many people I love, so many people I'm even just acquainted with, suffer as much as they have since January 1st of this year. Economically of course the entire country is having a rough time, but the agony of this year appears to go far beyond the headlines we see in the news everyday. People have been fighting for life, fighting to save loved ones and fighting to keep their heads. Fighting to buy homes, fighting to rent homes, fighting to save businesses and fighting to save jobs. I've seen friends struggle to keep careers and businesses going. I've seen people I love battling for their physical and mental health - and so far everyone has won.

That's why I hearby declare 2013 the year of the survivor. Because we're all, despite the odds, still here.

Of course there is no question that some have not been able to keep fighting whatever fight they have had to face, and for those people my heart breaks. But in order to not look back at 2013 as a year of tragedy, loss and bad news, I'm trying my hardest to focus on the fighting spirit it has caused so many of us to employ.

On the international platform, that iron will has been there for us all to see. Amanda Berry, Gina de Jesus and Michelle Knight who were miraculously rescued in Ohio after being kidnapped for a decade are perfect examples of survivors. As were those who managed to cling onto life after the typhoon in the Philippines, and those who got out alive after the terror attack at a Nairobi shopping centre. As is every single person who was told they may not see Christmas and were bloody well there on December 25th.

The image I have decided will sum up 2013 for me, is that of my friend Kate successfully trekking to the South Pole as part of the Walking with the Wounded expedition. Kate lost part of her leg when she was serving in Afghanistan in 2008. She was chosen to take part in the adventure of a life time, and 5 years after her life changed dramatically, she achieved something most of us can only dream of. She's a survivor, and made 2013 her own.

So if you are counting down the hours until 2014 because you've had a year you need to forget, then good luck and I wish you all the very best for the coming year.

And bloody well done. You got through 2013

Life v Lifestyle: Why I'm scared of the Sunday papers (Huffington Post)

I love Sundays.

It's the one day of the week I get to sleep as long as I can, potter around the flat, catch up with Hollyoaks, and inevitably get crushingly disappointed by Homeland.

There is, however, one stressful part of every given Sunday.

The Sunday papers.

I'm not talking about red tops. I'm talking about the big, thick, clever papers.

The ones with all the pull-outs.

The ones with magazines dedicated to decorating one's second home the country.

The ones with articles advising us as to the best Arga to purchase.

The ones with handy sections on the wisest way to invest in stocks and shares and bonds and yields. Or whatever.

The reason for my weekly angst? They make me feel utterly CRAP about my life.

We read so much about the influence the media has over our sense of wellbeing, but the criticism always falls at the fluffier end of the market. Gossip and fashion mags have long been associated with giving young women an unhealthy body image and unrealistic expectations of life.

The weekend papers though are a different beast, are they not? They're full of Important Things. But if reading the red tops and glossy mags give us a sense of superiority, can't it follow that the broadsheets can make us feel just a little bit inferior?

Now don't get me wrong. The content and quality of the weekend newspapers is second to none. Anyone with any interest in the world should absolutely read the broadsheets. The journalism is world class. Where else can we find in-depth reporting from far-flung corners of the globe and special reports shining a light on the forgotten and ignored the world over?

So what it is about these recycle-box-breaking buggers that gets me so down?

Within all news, and fancy holiday destinations, and theatre reviews, and obscure book recommendations, and interior design tips for perfect properties, and interviews with really successful people..... is that subliminal message that I'm Not Living Up To My Potential.

They make me look at my life and panic. Every time I read the lifestyle supplements, I'm reminded of something I heard when I graduated. A friend was told not to confuse a career with a lifestyle. Did they genuinely want a career in 'x' industry, or a lifestyle straight out of a Sunday supplement? That thought has come back to me time after time, and it's never more impactful than when reading the weekend papers.

Page after page of other people reaching for the stars and touching them. Whether in the fields of 'serious news', sport (ok, not bothered about that so much) the arts (who wouldn't say yes to being in Cats?) and politics (we all want to change the world), these tomes seem to be full of people who are doing jolly well, thank you very much.

Life is short and it makes me wonder if I could have done more yesterday, or done something different 5 years ago.

Then thoughts (and pages) turn to the cash and lifestyle that could potentially follow from such success. Products I'd feel just so guilty buying. Property which makes me dribble. "Important" books which would make me sound oh-so-well rounded should I bump into Germaine Greer.

The Sunday papers are a sensory overload of aspiration and inspiration. A smorgasbord of all the things we feel we should have in our life to make us a well rounded person.

And there, behold, is the key.

A smorgasbord. A well rounded person.

For some people their day-to-day life will be a living embodiment of a Sunday Supplement. They'll know about inflation, drug mules, and the history of Colombia. They'll have a house in London and a house in the country and make their own jam and know where St Bart's is on a map. And they will genuinely, genuinely want to read poetry.

I, on the other hand, enjoy gruesome crime novels, have musicals and trashy pop tracks on my iPod and don't own a rolling pin.

Monday to Saturday I can happily live with this way of life.

On Sundays though, I'm reminded I could be so much more. Better. More intelligent. And do some cooking once in a while.

I've come to the conclusion that I'll never live a life straight out of a glossy weekend mag. But, if on a Sunday I'm inspired to buy a book I'd never read, get last minute tickets to a play which sounds pretentious, or brush up on the best Argas known to man, then I'll consider that a small step on the path of self-improvement.

When it comes to my lazy Sundays flicking through the papers, in a choice between style and life, I'll still choose life. Just a slightly more well-rounded one.

Let's Talk About Sex, The Independent (Dec 1st 2013)

At a time when it’s never been easier to access information – the fact that young people are still contracting HIV is heartbreaking

When a friend broke the news back in 2010 I was convinced, as you hear so many times when someone dies 50 years before their time, that it was a mistake. Clint was fit, healthy, and one of the most vibrant and 'alive' people you could ever meet.

Clint was also HIV positive, and he changed my life.

Back in 2004, I was working as a radio producer when I got my very first documentary commission - a piece for BBC Radio One to go out on World AIDS Day, about young people in the UK living with HIV. I'd been inspired to make such a programme because it occurred to me that I had not seen an HIV awareness campaign that I could recall since I was a small child and was being warned not to 'die of ignorance'. Those famous John Hurt narrated adverts with the iceberg and the tombstones were vivid in my mind 20 years on. But why had there not been such a powerful campaign since? Where was the information on HIV for those of us who were too young to understand what this seemingly terrifying disease meant? The realisation that most kids my age had apparently missed out on being educated about this preventable disease shocked me greatly, and I started looking into the infection rates in our demographic. Sure enough, at that point in 2004, eighteen people were being diagnosed with HIV every day. One in three of those were between 15 and 30 years old.

During the making of this documentary I met Clint Walters, who had been diagnosed HIV positive when he was 17. He contracted HIV from his second sexual partner and got very sick, very quickly. When the doctors decided to test him for HIV, all Clint new about it was that “Mark Fowler from EastEnders had it”. He, like me, had been too young to really be affected by those now infamous 80s telly adverts – and had felt let down by the sex education he received at school. When he got his diagnosis, he said: “I just realised my life had completely changed and all those dreams I’d had had completely gone. I found it hard to hang on to anything I could firmly believe in. I felt completely lost”.

Clint though was a fighter, and thanks his iron will and amazing family, swore that he would do what he could to prevent other young people getting infected simply because they didn’t know enough about the risks, and didn’t have the confidence to negotiate safe sexual relations. He dedicated his life to educating young people about HIV.

The day we hit Oxford Street and quizzed young kids about HIV was depressing. The ignorance was shocking. “You can get it from kissing”. “It’s only a problem in Africa or if you’re gay”. And the ever-present “it won’t happen to me”.

In my view there were two reasons for this apathy back then, and it’s frustratingly it’s not that different now. Firstly, a lack of education – in and out of the classroom. There’s been no shortage of media coverage of government campaigns warning against teenage pregnancy, chlamydia and other rampant STIs. But think about it. When did you last see a campaign educating us about HIV? In schools the situation is equally frustrating. One of the failings of the national curriculum when it comes to teaching the young ‘uns about the birds and the bees, is that the Sex Ed policy is as simple as Joey Essex.

It states kids should be taught about the physicality of sex and contraception, and the science behind HIV…..and that’s about it. If that’s not limiting enough, the fact that each (State) school can choose to expand (or not) on this, means that the knowledge kids leave school with when it comes to sex education, sexual empowerment and HIV depends entirely on how each school chooses to tackle it. Some schools are of course attempting to face these topics head on, and lucky are the kids that get those progressive teachers, because not all do. Talk about a health lottery.

Secondly – HIV is seen as a chronic illness now. Thankfully, those amazing men and women in white coats have made so many breakthroughs in the world of anti-virals that people with HIV can live a full, active and healthy life. Which, it goes without saying, is an incredible thing. However, this post-80s generation is in danger of thinking HIV can be easily controlled if contracted. HIV may not be a death sentence anymore, but the strength of the medication, the possible side effects, the experimentation whilst the correct combinations of drugs is achieved are all aspects of living with HIV that no-one I know would want to experience could they avoid it.

But this was all back in 2004. What is the picture now, as we move into 2014?

According to the latest figures from Public Health England, an estimated 98,400 people were living with HIV in the UK in 2012. Worryingly, an estimated 21,900 people living with HIV were unaware of their infection. Between 2010 and 2012, over 8000 people under 35 were diagnosed with HIV.

In a world when facts are at our fingertips in seconds, at a time when it’s never been easier to access information – the fact that young people are still contracting HIV is heartbreaking.

Yes, mistakes will happen. Humans screw up and do things which put them in a vulnerable position. But can we as a society - the government, educators and parents – put our hands on our hearts and say we did everything possible to make sure our young people at least understand the risks they’re taking, before they take them?

When it comes to HIV, in the 80s we were warned not to die of ignorance. Medical advancements have dealt with the death part. So maybe now we can now work on the ignorance.

Louise is a journalist, presenter and documentary maker. She reports for Watchdog (BBC One), Watchdog Daily (BBC One) and ITV London News

Are you there Louise? It's me, Louise (Huffington Post)

I love writing (though granted, not as much as I love talking) and I've just been reminded of my life-long interest in putting pen to paper*(*false nails to keyboard) when I recently re-discovered, and re-read, those most cringe-worthy of tomes - my teenage diaries.

Oh God.

There's nothing like reading those back to make you wonder why your parents didn't throw you out / send you to a convent / sign you up for the army.

In the words of everyone's favourite 'ponderer' Carrie Bradshaw - looking back at my adolescent worries got me thinking - How much have I actually learned over the last 15 years?

Sometimes, like most people I've come to realise, I feel like I've learned nothing at all, advanced in no way whatsoever and can't quite believe I still stress about the some of the same things I did at 16. If you're interested those things are why I love food more than I should, why I still bunk off any form of exercise and why I cry in fitting rooms.

The three are not unrelated.

However, after I spent some time thinking about it, I realised of course, that if I could sit down with my 15-year-old self, I'd have 15 pearls of wisdom to impart to her.

1. And I can't emphasise this enough. Mothers are always right. Always. It's the most endlessly frustrating thing, which the sooner you accept the sooner life becomes easier. Mums have an annoying habit of predicting exactly how things are going to play out, sussing out boyfriends months before you do, working out which friends are going to let you down, and if you're lucky, not judging you when you go back to her with your tail between your legs.

2. Friends will end one day. But it will all be ok because it will be repeated forever more, box sets will be endlessly available and then New Girl happens.

3. You will never, ever look good in skinny jeans. Accept it and move on.

4. Friendships change. At some point, you're going to realise your life is so very different to those of your friends. The good mates don't care if you're married or not, if you've got kids, and how much you (don't) earn. They will be there forever more. Friends can also dump you. It's hurtful, sometimes more so than when a partner walks away, especially if they can't even articulate why they don't care any more. Just remember that unless you're a grade A, prize-winning, home-wrecking beeatch, there's a good chance it's them not you.

5. Dancing round your flat singing loudly to musicals is ok at any age. It also saves on the therapy bills. People do, however, get funny about it when you do it in the theatre. Or the street. Or on the bus.

6. West Wing will remain the best TV show ever made. But you really, really need to understand you won't be First Lady of the United States.

7. You will experience gut-wrenching, heart-aching grief from which you think you will never recover. You will. You'll never forget the amazing people whose laugh you will never hear again - but life without them becomes normal and one day you will smile at the good times.

8. Out of every dark moment comes an act of kindness from a friend or stranger which takes your breath away.

9. Take your make up off every night. Even when you're so tipsy you try and let yourself into someone else's flat*. Seriously. You will really, really notice it by the time you hit 30. And with any luck, it will prevent your false eyelashes from falling out of your hair in the morning meeting after the Glamour Women of the Year Awards*.

(*These things happened)

10. This thing called Twitter gets invented and it's awesome. You get to waste hours of the day on it and send massively inappropriate tweets to your favourite hot actors. Just don't let the 'block' button be a stranger.

11. Feminism will still be incredible. But you'll come to realise some feminists just sit in judgement of how other women live their lives.

12. There is an episode of Sex and the City for every life crisis you will experience. They did that to make up for the fact most writers won't get to own their own apartment in the heart of the capital or spend their salaries on £700 shoes.

13. Some friends will make decisions in their lives that will leave you wondering if you knew them at all. They're human (see point 11) and unless they go out of their way to hurt you, you've no right to judge. Be there if it goes wrong. If you can't, then move on - just in a nicer way than Number Four please.

14. There'll be times when you look at where you are and you'll be terrified you've 'done life wrong'. That all the decisions you've made were stupid, that you've cocked up and you can't get back on the right path. Chances are that's a load of old rubbish, but change what you need to and accept the rest. It's the past.

15. Finally, despite all the tough times, I promise you there will be moments when you look around and can't quite believe how lucky you are - whether it's with friends, family, the love of your life or in your dream job. Treasure those moments because whilst they won't last forever, the memories will.

23/07/13: WFTV Women (WFTV website)

I bloody love women. I love being one. I love working with them. I love being supported by them.

There is nothing more inspiring than the bond of unity that exists between women working together for a common goal - whether personal or professional.

Which is one of the reasons I'm a member of WFTV - albeit a brand new one.

Being a woman can be hard. Being in telly can be hard. It therefore follows that being a woman in telly can be hard (and film obviously, but I've no experience in that area so far be it from me to comment).

Hence it being a jolly good idea that such a thing as WFTV exists.

This week I went to my first WFTV AGM and I had no idea what to expect. Whenever I hear AGM I think of dull local council meetings and something to do with accountants. Luckily with this being a meejah bash I should have realised there would be wine.

Wine and ladies. Clever, inspiring ladies who are doing their thing in a variety of mediums - from presenters like me to script writers, directors, social media experts and authors.

Now the first thing to point out is, before I start extolling the virtues of the nifty WFTVies, don't be fooled into thinking I am necessarily always a pool of calm when it comes to Other Women. Oh yes. I'm only human and work in a brutal part of the industry, so of course it's soul destroying when you endlessly compare yourself to women who have got jobs you wanted, had breaks you thought you deserved and married men you hoped you would (Kate Middleton - I'm looking at you). We work in an area where, at least for those of us in front of the camera, you never know if you've been passed over because of your ability and experience.... or something that no-one will ever admit to. Looks. Body size. Age. Colouring. Hell, even colour. And that's hard.

However, whilst I fully admit fleeting feelings of panic over how I measure up to other women - in and out of the office - I am lucky enough to say I have never, in all my years of working in something considered a bitchy, Laboutin-throwing, cat-fighting industry, experienced anything other than utter positivity and support from female colleagues. Young runners, esteemed execs and fellow presenters - I have felt nothing but support from my gender. I'm sure if one of us suddenly got catapulted into a top level, high profile 'dream job' there would be pangs of disappointment, but I genuinely feel that if any of my 'ooooh you're kind of almost there but not quite' peers broke through into 'the big time', the rest of us still sending out showreels would see it as a sign that It Can Happen. And hell, if I had donut for the amount of times 'the competition' and I have swapped contacts and tip-offs over who's hiring then I'd have to change my name to Homer Simpson.

So therefore, feeling emboldended by the power of the sisterhood, I went to the WFTV AGM armed with my best intelligent face, and ready to mingle with some seriously impressive ladies.

I'm not the biggest fan of networking. When it comes to firing off emails I'm boderline psychotic, as most people who've been on the receiving end of my CV will testify. But when it comes to face-to-face, my inate northern inability to do anything other than mock myself takes over and I end up suggesting other people for the jobs I'd sell key organs for.

But the brilliant thing about WFTV is the warmth that hits you as soon as you nervously stick your head around the door. Nope, I'm not talking about the opressive heat we are currently experiencing in this amazing summer, but rather the intense energy which is formed when you have a room full of sparky, creative, ethical and hard working women who are all there to make the industry a better place for all of us.

Yes, people are handing out business cards and talking about current projects, plans and ambitions - but only with a view to sharing ideas, hopes and common talents.

Several of the past, present, rejected and future mentees were huddled together chatting about 'The Form', 'The Deadline' and 'The Interview' without any one-upmanship or sense of ego.

It was an evening of energy, celebration and .... did I mention wine? which was so empowering that the next time I read gossip about 'cat fights' between women on telly or in movies, I'm dragging the writers of such sexist prejudice to the next WFTV AGM.