Interview: Joanna Gosling, writer and broadcaster

Joanna Gosling.  Picture: Debra Hurford Brown
Joanna Gosling. Picture: Debra Hurford Brown
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TV news presenter and author Joanna Gosling strikes you as the kind of person who is unflappable.

Having just written a book, Simply Wonderwoman, which is full of tips on everything from how to paint your house, bleed radiators and put up shelves, to making fairy skirts, snowglobes and how to host children’s birthday parties, she seems able to find a solution to any problem, large or small.

Meeting her at her home in Hammersmith, it comes as no surprise to find it is charmingly cosy and devoid of clutter. With her wholesome looks and her warm Home Counties accent, you could be forgiven for wanting to spend the day at Joanna’s home and perhaps join in with some home baking or craft activities.

Joanna has accumulated a mass of information in her book, mainly because she loves passing on to others any useful tips she comes across. “If someone asks me where I get my hair done, or who my hairdresser is, I immediately tell them. In fact, I usually write down the name, address and telephone number for them. Life is too short to hang on to all the information ourselves,” she says.

Joanna wrote the book last year as a response to the feeling that her head was “full”. She had the proposal accepted by her publisher in November and was given a deadline to finish the book by April. “Many of the tips I have gleaned from my mother and grandmother, and many I have just picked up myself,” she explains.

Having originally intended to be a war correspondent, after leaving Birmingham University Joanna set off to study at Grenoble where ski-ing was part of her curriculum. “It was such fun to actually be taught to ski and have it as part of our course,” she says. She then went on to work at Radio WM in Birmingham, then at Fox FM as well as a stint at BBC Scotland in Edinburgh.

“I started out doing work placements wherever I could stay for free. It wasn’t until I was offered a full-time job at IRN Radio that I moved to London full time,” she explains. She then worked for Sky News before being offered a job with BBC News 24, where she now works.

Married, with three daughters, Honor, three, Iona, seven, and Maya, nine, Joanna has lived in Hammersmith for seven years. Previously she and husband Craig Oliver, who is chief of communications for David Cameron, lived in a loft-style apartment near Tower Bridge, but after some deliberation the couple moved to an area better suited to life with children. Their home is a Victorian-style villa with four bedrooms and a small garden at the back that is largely devoted to the children’s trampoline.

When you look around Joanna’s home with its elegant, well-finished pastel and cream walls, and honey-coloured floors, it is hard to believe she did much of the decoration work herself when they moved in.

“I decorated all the top floors myself and did all the painting too,” she says. “We just couldn’t afford to have the whole house painted by professional decorators.”

The master bedroom on the top floor has a calm, serene air. The huge bed is from the French House and beside her bed lie a few books. “I don’t have a bedside table as I still haven’t seen one that I like,” Joanna laughs.

Her favourite room is the drawing room on the ground floor. “I love it with the open fire in winter-time when we can all hunker down on a cold night with the fire burning, toasting marshmallows. I also love my sewing room in the attic because it’s where I can create and relax,” she says.

“The main thing I love about our home is that it is cosy but simple and not too precious, so I never worry about anything getting ruined or broken. It is a true family home and I feel so lucky to have it.

“Most of the rooms were either blue or yellow when we arrived, which is not my style at all. We also ripped a cupboard out of the kitchen to make way for a big American fridge-freezer – I don’t know how the previous owners got by with a tiny fridge-freezer and a big family. Now we have a lot more space in the kitchen,” she says.

Replacing the roof was one of the most time-consuming aspects of the renovations. “It was one of those boring and expensive necessities. We waited until it was leaking so badly we had no choice. But I took the opportunity to get velux windows put in to make the loft space useable – hence it is now my sewing room,” Joanna explains.

Joanna’s favourite artwork is a painting of her two eldest daughters. “We commissioned it when they were two and four, and I absolutely love it. My husband and I are in it, but only from the waist down, because it’s supposed to be from the perspective of a child,” she says.

With such a busy life, you might imagine Joanna would want to put her feet up now all the hard work seems to have been done, but that appears unlikely.

“The house is constantly evolving. That’s the thing with an old house, there’s always something to do.”

Simply Wonderwoman is published by Kyle Books, £16.99

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