Q & A with Cherry Healey

British television presenter, Cherry Healey, talks to Baby London about life, love, becoming a mum – and her hidden passion for break dancing!

Fact File
Name: Cherry Healey
Born: 5 December 1980
Star Sign: Sagittarius
Lives: West London
Status: Married
Passions: Presenting, hip-hop and break dancing

Best known for her hugely successful BBC3 documentaries, Cherry gives viewers a witty and insightful look into the trials and tribulations of life – from money to body image, and most importantly, parenting. We catch up with her for the first time since the birth of her daughter, Coco.

For those who missed your documentary, how was your pregnancy?
I was incredibly nervous about the labour having heard some pretty terrifying horror stories – and also about becoming a parent. Like a lot of mums, I found pregnancy emotionally very intense as I prepared for a huge change, but whilst making the documentary I met some amazing women who helped to calm my nerves!

You gave birth on national television, any regrets?
None yet! The director and I worked well together and had become close. We talked through the details and I felt confident that I was in good hands! I also felt that, whilst I completely understand that for most people this is a private moment, I was happy to share it.

What is the very best thing about becoming a mum?
I had no idea that children were so funny. But it’s good to remember that only you (and maybe the grandparents!) will see the comedy in your children – I’ve tried to refrain from showing ‘hilarious’ photographs to my colleagues and friends… but it’s surprisingly hard not to get the slideshow out…

How has becoming a mum changed your perspective on life?
When I was pregnant someone told me, ‘when you have children you stop being the picture and you become the frame’, and I now totally agree with this. I think it’s healthy when we stop being the centre of our own focus.

How would you best describe your parenting style?
Blagging it! I get a lot of advice from other mums and from my own mum – I think perhaps the key is balance. Listening to your child but definitely being the adult, making sure there is a strong relationship but also giving them space, but most importantly making sure they feel loved.

Is it ever difficult that so much of your life is documented, in terms of your privacy and home life?
Yes and no. The difficult thing is making sure my family and friends are happy – I would hate to involve them if they weren’t comfortable. I talk to my husband a lot about boundaries – he and I have definitely not made any decisions on impulse. In terms of how I personally feel, I don’t find it difficult – I love the feeling of sharing honest stories that don’t have a glossy spin.

What would you say is your best achievement?
I sometimes feel I should answer ‘having my daughter’ to this question – but I really can’t take credit for it! It kind of happened to me and I went along for the ride! It is, disclaimer, obviously one of the most wonderful things in my life and I regularly give myself a ‘mum-high-five’ when I’ve juggled a crazy day!

Is the Cherry we see on screen the Cherry your friends and family know off camera?
I wear less mascara off screen and generally look more dishevelled. Other than that, as far as I can say, it’s absolutely me. Even the ridiculous hand gestures. I find it hard to control the paws.

Have you always wanted to become a television presenter?
I’ve wanted to be so many things! When I was 12 I wanted to be a marine biologist because I thought it sounded cool (precocious? Moi?) and then after university I focused on becoming a director.

How did you get into television presenting before the BBC?
I was training to be a director and an opportunity came up to try immersive journalism – I loved it immediately.

You have met many people during the production of your documentaries. Is there anyone you have met who really stands out as inspiring you and changing your outlook the most?
There have been so many but, recently, meeting Sandra (Body Dilemma’s programme) was incredibly inspiring. Her body confidence was infectious. Also, during the Cash Dilemma’s programme, I met a woman called Claire from Merthyr Tydfil in Wales, an incredibly poor area. Claire has seven children and a husband who is unable to work due to illness, therefore qualifying for benefits. Yet Claire gets up at 5.30am every day to work as a teaching assistant. She believes that benefits would be damaging to her self esteem and that, as long as she is able to, it is better to work and set her children a good example. Her work ethic and strength of character have inspired a huge amount of responses.

And lastly, what’s this about a passion for hip-hop and break dancing?
Ha! Well, I used to be (said in my best granny voice) a break-dancer, but I have to admit I’ve never done a head spin because it gives you a bald patch! That’s not very cool is it? I loved it passionately – it’s actually amazing I got a degree at all. It’s something I miss all the time – if I had more time I’d love to still be doing it.

✽ Don’t miss Cherry’s six part investigative series, ‘Cherry Wants Answers’, scheduled to air 13 June on BBC3.