Interview: Zoe Salmon

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THE STYLE EDIT Editor Jenny Taggart interviews national treasure, Zoe Salmon. A qualified lawyer, previous Miss Northern Ireland and Blue Peter presenter – Zoe has has starred in some of the biggest and best loved TV shows including BBC1’s Celebrity MasterChef, ITV’s Dancing on Ice, BBC1’s Fame Academy and most recently Channel 4’s The Island with Bear Grylls.

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You are a lady of many talents, being a lawyer is just one of them! Where did you study and was this something you had always wanted to do from a young age?

I read Law at Queen’s University, Belfast. After I graduated from Law I then sat my entrance exams for The Institute of Professional Legal Studies at Queen’s. The Institute is notoriously difficult to get offered a place at, hundreds sit the exams annually but there are only very limited places. I was ecstatic when I was accepted and equally overjoyed to have been offered a scholarship by one of Northern Ireland’s largest defence litigation firms, it was a very special time for me, all my years of dedication to my education had thankfully paid off.

At school I was rather academic and I pushed myself to achieve the best grades that I could. I loved the all girls Grammar School I attended (Glenlola Collegiate in Bangor) as there was a healthy air of competition being surrounded by so many intelligent girls, we all just wanted to excel. For me I always loved the law, growing up I would be in awe of all the amazing lawyers on TV shows such as LA Law and I just wanted to have a career where I could use my brain.

“All my years of dedication to

my education had thankfully paid off”

A lot of people will recognise you from your role as a Blue Peter TV presenter, what was your path to becoming a TV personality?

I have been so fortunate to have been asked to be involved in so many wonderful television shows. I’ve done everything I’ve ever dreamt of doing. The range of TV shows I’ve presented has been just incredible and I am so grateful for all the opportunities and experience I have.

I have fronted TV shows across major networks including the BBC, ITV, Channel 5 and Sky where I have presented in genres ranging from factual documentaries to game shows on wide-ranging themes including sport, health & lifestyle, fashion, dating and quiz. As a presenter experienced in live television, I have filmed all over the globe in no less than 25 countries thus far in my career.

I love the diversity of work I do, I love live audiences so being an event host is always a joy. I have hosted huge events in Europe and in esteemed venues such as London’s Hyde Park, The Royal Albert Hall and The O2 Arena to name but a few, with audiences in their thousands.

I think my TV presenting experience led the way to offers from some of our biggest and best loved TV shows including BBC1’s Celebrity MasterChef, ITV’s Dancing on Ice, BBC1’s Fame Academy and most recently Channel 4’s The Island with Bear Grylls. It’s been such a thrill being a part of those shows and so it’s lovely to be known as a TV personality too.  

What was your most memorable moment during your time spent on the TV show ‘Dancing on Ice’?

I was the only female in the series to receive a “6” which is the highest score. This meant the world to me especially as it was given to me by Ruthie Henshall. I’ve always loved the world of performing arts and I grew up singing, dancing and acting so to be awarded the highest possible score from a West End and Broadway Leading Lady and Star, was a truly special moment indeed.

You recently got married abroad, would you recommend this option to future brides considering their wedding day options?

It’s a very personal choice indeed. For the bride who has always dreamt of the big wedding, surrounded by family & friends and listening to speeches and having that first dance then perhaps doing what my husband and I chose to do would not be for them. For Will & I we just loved that it was simply the two of us and that every conversation we had was with each other and that we truly got to spend the day together. We loved our romantic wedding dinner for two and how we just relaxed and enjoyed ourselves. We wouldn’t change a thing and the best thing about it was that all of our friends and family were over the moon for us.  

What’s your favourite city in the world and why?

I absolutely loved living in LA. I loved the weather, grocery shopping at Whole Foods and Bristol Farms, clothes shopping at Rodeo Drive, watching the LA Dodgers play, dining at Craig’s and Cecconi’s, and driving to Malibu for long lunches at Nobu and Geoffrey’s. I love LA for the sun, the vibe, the people, and for the countless awesome things to do.

What is your favourite hotel?

It has to be where I got engaged and married – Sandy Lane in Barbados. But I equally love Paris and where we spent our first wedding anniversary at Four Seasons Hotel George V.

Sandy Lane, Barbados
Sandy Lane, Barbados
Four Seasons Hotel George V, Paris
Four Seasons Hotel George V, Paris

How do you keep in such good shape?

Firstly, thank you! I absolutely love the challenge of nutrition and fitness. I want my body to be the best it can be in order to give it a fighting chance in a world with so much disease and suffering. We are so fortunate that we live in a society where we can try to make a difference to our health. Ever since studying Home Economics at school I have always been fascinated by nutrition. Also having the opportunity to front my own BBC TV programme “The Big Fat Truth About Low Fat foods” further heightened my determination to be as healthy as I can be. I recently qualified as a Nutritional Therapist, I am so passionate about food and making the right choices. Of course I have my weaknesses and cheats – I’m obsessed with ice-cream!

I think nutrition is so important to health but I also exercise regularly too and I try my best to get that all important 8 hours sleep but let’s face it – who does get those 8 hours regularly! I do pilates and fitness pilates to challenge my body and to help prevent injury.  

Your beautiful long hair was the hot topic of conversation on our recent shoot for THE STYLE EDIT, how do you maintain such a healthy and glossy mane?

Aw thank you! I try to only wash it once a week and not use any products or heat on it. My hair has been through it all over the years but I think just giving it a break from styling as often as I can is the trick! I’m fortunate that I don’t colour my hair so I think that helps too. I also think nutrition plays a key role. When I was a little girl I had short hair and I always dreamed of having long hair!

Name three beauty products you couldn’t live without.

Distilled water! My good friend Former Miss UK Gayle Williamson bought me my distiller for a wedding gift and now I only drink distilled water. I truly believe it has been great for my skin.

I am loving this facial mask sheet craze! I have used the Snow Algae and the Bee Venom masks from Beauty Belle when I’m prepping my skin for the red carpet and now my friends are using them too – we love how they make our skin feel and look.

I was recently introduced to Temple Spa and have started using their Skin Truffle Total Facial Radiance – it is luxury in a jar! The ingredients are so luxurious with pure gold, black truffles and diamonds! I feel and look like I’ve been to a spa – my skin is glowing!

What’s the biggest misconception about you?

I once heard a rumour that people thought my hair was insured! Just to confirm, it’s not!

The Vice?

Too much ice-cream! I wish I’d never discovered Ben & Jerry’s Phish Food and Chocolate Fudge Brownie! When I was filming in USA, I visited their HQ in Vermont and I was literally a kid in a candy store.

The Virtue?

I am a very private and confidential person. I keep matters in confidence and I also keep my promises. I know my friends and family really value this about me and trust me implicitly.

Who is your hero?

My parents. I admire them for everything they have achieved and for everything they taught me. I wouldn’t be where I am today without them.  

What are you most proud of?

My Bachelor of Laws and my Certificate in Professional Legal Studies. I love those 7 letters after my name LLB CPLS and all that they represent; qualifying as a solicitor was a dream come true.

What advice would you give to your younger self?

Spend as much time as possible with those you love.

What’s your biggest regret?

I honestly don’t have any regrets. I have learnt from every mistake and wrong choice made and it has shaped me. Every day is a school day and I value the lessons that life often throws at us.

“I honestly don’t have any regrets. I have

learnt from every mistake and wrong choice

made and it has shaped me.”

What do your friends tease you about?

I must be lucky as I don’t think they tease me at all!

If you were hosting a special dinner party and had to choose three famous faces (either living or deceased) to attend, who would you choose and why?

I would ask if I could swap the three celebrities for one person and bring back my mum.  

What’s your go-to dinner party anecdote?

My friends like asking me about all the exciting people I’ve met from Her Majesty the Queen to David Beckham. They also love to ask me about the challenges I’ve filmed from Formula One Racing to wing walking. I enjoy sharing my stories with my friends.  

Finally, what was the toughest part of filming for the Channel 4 series ‘The Island’?

The entire experience was tough but I think the clue is in the word survival! It was never going to be easy and I had mentally prepared for that. Every day was tough trying to source water, food and build shelter. Living without technology and even simple essentials such as a toothbrush, toilet roll, no clean clothes or underwear etc was very smelly to say the least! But the smell was the least of our worries. I instantly got used to all the crabs etc crawling over me as I tried to sleep under the stars in the extreme Panama heat. When it got extremely tough I focussed on why I was there – for Stand Up To Cancer and to support those living the truly tough lives – me trying to survive on an island is nothing compared to their daily struggles to survive.

Header photograph credit: Matt Wilson

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