THE OUTNET’S Head of Content, Claudia Mahoney, caught up with broadcaster, sports presenter, and woman of never-ending accomplishments Gabby Logan. In case you missed their live interview, we made sure to save some of the best bits…
Claudia: I am going to be like Michael Aspel in This is Your Life and say Commonwealth Gymnast, Athlete, Broadcaster, Writer, Sports Presenter, Regional Accents Expert, Rose of Tralee 1991, are there no end to your accomplishments, what can’t you do?!
Gabby: Jack of all trades master of none… When I started out I didn’t even know that women could be sports broadcasters, so the industry and everything around it has changed so much, and as we’re finding out now it’s about adapting and having a few strings to your bow and doing other things.
Claudia: Because you are at the top of the tree, to an outsider it must look like this is what you always wanted to do, is that the case?
Gabby: It isn’t what I always wanted to do and when I was at Uni I did a law degree, but I did want to work in broadcasting. When I was 15 I was a gymnast and I was on Blue Peter, for me it was a life changing experience because I loved that environment, I loved the studio, the cameras. Live TV is so octane and your adrenaline is going mad, and I just thought ‘this is what I want to do!’
Claudia: I know you to be someone of immense discipline and drive, when you were a gymnast you must have had to work really hard, so it’s interesting to me that that wasn’t what you wanted to be.
Gabby: I was talking to Dina Asher-Smith this morning about her being on the cover of GQ, the idea of a female sportsperson being on the cover a magazine like that when I was a kid was absolutely unheard of, the only women I could see earning any money was the occasional tennis player. So, for me it was just a glorious hobby that I loved but then one day I’d go to university and get a proper job.
Claudia: Getting to such a high level in gymnastics, do you think that’s helped you understand the performance and psyche of the athletes that you interview now?
Gabby: Yeah, having been to a certain level, and the hours of training and understanding rehabbing and all those things athletes go through, it has given me insight into the top level of sport, and I’m also married to a former international sportsman, so I’ve lived through his trials and tribulations. My family has definitely given me an insight into the football world which can be brutally cruel and cut-throat, but can also be magical and glorious and wonderful, so you have to have a certain amount of perspective on those things.
Claudia: I know that you work so hard to be totally prepared whenever you have a piece of work coming up, is that partly being a woman in your world?
Gabby: Maybe at the beginning when I first started out I felt I had to do more than everybody else as I didn’t want the accusation to be levelled at me if I got something wrong that I got it wrong because I’m a woman, I didn’t want it to be about my gender.
Claudia: Do you think it’s important being a woman at the level you are that you stand for something?
Gabby: I’ve got a public face, I present big sporting events, people aren’t tuning in to watch me, they’re tuning in to watch the sport. But because I’m a woman and started out in that industry when there weren’t many women, I feel it’s important to be able to hold opinions not just about the sport, but also if I’m asked about things in the course of promoting what I do, that I am allowed to say what I think. The thing is to remember that you can’t be thin skinned if you’re going to enter that arena you have to be able to not just uphold your thoughts and opinions with fact and whatever you believe in but understand that not everyone agrees with you.
Claudia: You’re an ambassador for charities, and not everyone with a public face on TV does that, so is it a conscious decision to give back?
Gabby: Yeah, I feel really privileged to do what I do, and it’s not because I feel like ‘oh, I’ve got this job, I’m well rewarded therefore I’ve got to’ – I think I’ve got a platform to help and do things. I am President of Muscular Dystrophy UK, and when I met the charity I realized that I could help them, and that was quite humbling actually to think ‘I can help you; I can do this.’
And various other causes I’ve got involved in are either because I really believe in them or want to help the people that are involved in them, and I think a sense of community, you want to look out for the people that you care about and the things they care about too.
Claudia: Isn’t that a nice thing that’s happening at the moment? I really sense that feeling of community, we’re all craving that human contact and that’s why that feeling of warmth is coming out from people.
Gabby: I think so! I read a lot of stuff online at the beginning of this and we’ll have a charter of companies that have done really well and looked after their staff and customers and those that have just looked at the bottom line straight away, and I think we will come out of this and people will remember those things.
Claudia: Not saying you’re not a woman of substance, I think we’ve covered that, but you are also a woman of immense style are clothes something that you care about?
Gabby: Very much so, and it’s an interesting juxtaposition in the job that I do, because when I first started out in telly, I mean I look back now at the stuff I wore for ITV, and I genuinely looked like every Saturday lunch time like I was about to go to a nightclub. I mean, I was 23, and I really just didn’t know, I didn’t know what worked on telly I felt ‘oh, this looks nice’ when I went out the previous Saturday night ‘I’ll wear it next lunch time on telly,’ and it just never worked.
Claudia: That’s very ecologically sound repeat wearing!
Gabby: Look I feel the viewers watching the show, they really expect to be entertained, but they also expect for you to make an effort for them, they’re turning the telly on you’re going into their living room you want to feel that you’ve actually made an effort for them so hair, makeup, clothes. For me, if I don’t have to think about it once I am on air, that’s a success, that’s the point of it for me, I feel good.
Claudia: Do you have go-to brands then that you know suit you and work well for you?
Gabby: Yeah I do actually, when Victoria Beckham first started I have to say her day dresses for work were just amazing, I wore them to death. And the tailoring of someone like Stella McCartney worked well for suits. I did a show last year for Amazon where I was allowed to be a bit more funky, for want of a better word, my 14-year-old daughter is probably cringing at that word right now…
Claudia: So, if you had any bit of advice to women aspiring to be successful, what would your mantra be that has got you where you are?
Gabby: I think it’s very tempting to morph into what you think success looks like in your industry. When I first started out in mine, the thing that I really had to resist was acting like the blokes, but that’s not why I was hired and that’s not why they wanted me to be there. And I think the idea that you have to be better than the blokes is quite sad really to think that that was even a thought process to believe in what you’re doing and keep working hard, and find a champion where you work.