Anne Diamond co-presents Breakfast with Stephen and Anne, with Stephen Dixon from 6am at weekends
You were an early pioneer on breakfast television in the early 1980s. How does it feel to be back?
It’s both weird and wonderful. Back then the press used to call me the Queen of Breakfast TV. Nowadays I am more often described as “veteran” or “vintage”. But in a way that’s a great compliment - mainly because I am still going strong - and that’s great not only for me, but for all “more mature women” in every industry.
What’s it like to work with Stephen?
We really like each other. We have a very similar sense of humour and a similar attitude to the job. We’ve known each other for years, and we are just easy together.You know it’s going well when you actually look forward to working with each other - and we do. Even at a ridiculously early hour!
What do you like most about Breakfast broadcasting?
It’s live, and exciting because I just love breaking news. But at the weekend, you can also be more reflective and cover some less serious issues that are quirky or funny - just like newspapers do. Plus at breakfast time, you are engaging with an audience who are feeling relaxed and “homely”. They’ve got time to get in touch, and they do! It’s fab because you are communicating with people in their kitchens and cars when they are doing ordinary family stuff like taking the kids to soccer practice, frying their bacon and eggs, or going to the gym. And the great thing about GB News is because we are on DAB+ radio too, they can keep listening to us outside the home.
Do you watching Breakfast shows during the week as well?
Yes, I watch and listen to Eamonn Holmes and Isabel Webster on GB News, preferring them to everything else that’s on offer. And surely that has to be the greatest compliment, doesn’t it? On top of that, I know them both well, and they are superb together. However, I really am very glad they are doing the heavy lifting, working the weekdays! They’re doing it brilliantly but I know how hard it is.
Outside of work, what matters to you most?
Family - being a good mum, sister and auntie. That’s always what matters most. I’m a great believer in the old adage “no one ever says on their deathbed ‘I wish I had spent more time in the office’.”
What are you most proud of yourself for?
The cot death campaign I launched in 1991, “Back To Sleep”, which urged parents to put their babies to sleep on their backs. We reduced the number of cot deaths in Britain from 2,500 a year to just 300 - within a year.I lost my four month old son Sebastian to cot death, and spearheaded this campaign which was estimated to have saved 20,000 babies’ lives in its first decade, and of course it goes on saving lives. It is still the single most successful health campaign in Britain (though I wonder if Covid might have changed that - we don’t yet know). Apart from having my own children, it is my proudest achievement. It was a battle, and I had to fight establishment indolence to get it done. It made me enemies within Westminster at the time but in the end I succeeded along with genius scientific and medical colleagues. It taught me a lot about dealing with bureaucracy, misogyny and the torpor and apathy that exists in government. The Royal College of Paediatricians and Child Health awarded me their College Medal, and I am the only non-medic ever to have received it. I’ve had a few awards in my time, for which I have always been chuffed, but that is the one that still means the most and can still bring me to tears.
The best and worst advice you’ve ever been given?
The best advice came from my old boss at TV-am, Bruce Gyngell. He told me “never turn down an adventure”. Most times, it has worked well! What job would you be doing if you weren’t in broadcasting?
I’d be a music teacher - ideally Head of Music at a lovely school where I could have my own little domain where kids could come and love to learn. I’d run orchestras and music festivals, concerts and musicals and do everything I could to make children and their families love school!