TV’s Anne Diamond talks to ME & MY MONEY

Video star: Anne goes behind the camera in 1984

Broadcaster Anne Diamond, 69, made her name presenting Good Morning Britain on TV-am in the 1980s.

She tells Dan Moore how she and co-presenter Nick Owen once had to beg for wages before their on-screen chemistry led to the pair being poached for Good Morning on the BBC.

Anne has five sons with her former husband, TV executive Mike Hollingsworth. After the cot death of their third son, Sebastian, in 1991, Anne campaigned for more rigorous research into the condition. Her efforts were praised for contributing to the dramatic decline in cot deaths.

Anne, divorced and single, lives in High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire. She co-presents a weekend breakfast show for GB News with Stephen Dixon.

She was awarded an OBE last month for services to public health and charity.

What was your first job?

It was as a support teacher at my old high school. I loved it and ended up teaching French to a class of nine-year-olds, including my sister. I got paid pin money, not much.

What did your parents teach you about money?

My parents strongly believed in the old adage: if you can’t afford it, you can’t buy it.

How did you get into television?

I was exceptionally lucky. I had apprenticed for a weekly newspaper in Somerset, the Bridgwater Mercury, earning about £7 a week. I was sent to write an article about a treatment program for children with brain injuries, which was set up in a huge mansion in our neighborhood. The program arranged for me to visit their US headquarters in Philadelphia, and then I wrote a major feature piece for my newspaper, and then for one of the nationals.

This was brought to my attention by BBC Bristol, who invited me onto the evening news show to talk about my experiences.

After I appeared, the TV news editor took me aside and asked if I had ever thought about working in TV. I’ve never had that. But I looked around the studios, with the soft carpeting, TV monitors everywhere and a coffee maker bubbling in the corner, and thought, “This will do for me.” So I said, ‘I’d love to!’

Did Good Morning Britain make you rich?

I was about 26 when I got my job as presenter of Good Morning Britain. Then it appeared in the newspapers that I ‘apparently’ earned a large salary. In fact, co-host Nick Owen and I regularly had to knock on the door of the head of finance’s office and beg for our wages.

When did you feel like you had made it?

It’s undoubtedly a thrill when you’re recognized for the first time – especially by a maitre d’ in a restaurant who then offers you the best table. But you also get a lot of people coming up to you and saying, “Do you know who you look like?” A lady in a liquor store once told me I looked just like that Anne Diamond from TV. I bet you wish you had her money!’

What was your best year financially?

It was probably before I became a national reporter. You felt like anything seemed possible as long as you weren’t in debt. Marriage, family and a career always felt like a marathon.

Honour: Anne with her OBE last month

Honour: Anne with her OBE last month

What was your career highlight?

The best TV memories always seem to revolve around interviews you never forget. In my very first week at TV-am I interviewed the great Kirk Douglas. Shortly after, the incredible Bette Davis. I spent an afternoon with her and she was the only person I ever met who was allowed to smoke in the studio during our interview. You don’t tell the great Bette Davis she can’t smoke. It was pure cinematic poetry to watch her light her cigarette and blow smoke rings as she thought about her answer to my questions.

What do you regret most?

I always think my biggest regret is that I didn’t stay up all night the night my third son, Sebastian, died. I always wonder if I would have noticed something that would have suggested that he had stopped breathing and that I could have done something to save his life. He died of cot death in 1991. His death led to the ‘Back to Sleep’ cot death campaign, which dramatically reduced the cot death rate in Britain and beyond.

Are you a spender or a saver?

I’m a spender by nature, but never do anything big, except vacations. I have learned to save so that I can go on a sunny holiday.

Are you saving for a pension?

Yes. Peggy, my sister’s mother-in-law, took me aside after I got a job at TV-am and said, ‘Don’t think I’m a boring old woman, but please take this advice – start paying into a pension NOW . One day you’ll thank me.’ She was right.

Your best and worst money decisions?

The worst part was that we fell into the trap of having too many credit cards; it becomes easy to overspend and forget any sense of budgeting. I had about a dozen, and as I was going through a rough patch, including divorce, I started using one card to pay off the other. That puts you in the worst situation.

The best money decision I ever made was to cut up the damn cards and face the financial music. Nowadays I only have one debit card for one simple bank account and every time I spend money, I know where the money is going.

What is your financial priority?

Making sure my boys are protected.

Which charities do you support?

I have always supported the cot death charity, the Lullaby Trust, with whom I have worked many times since Sebastian’s death. With my roots in the Midlands, I also support Midlands Air Ambulance Charity.

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