The one lesson I’ve learned from life: Presenter Katie Derham says confidence helped me beat the bullies

Katie Derham is a BBC Radio 3 presenter and is the BBC Proms’ face. Her podcast, Just The Tonic, features her participation in Strictly Come Dancing 2015. With John Vincent, her husband and cofounder of Leon Food Chain, she resides in Sussex. They have two daughters, Eleanor (16) and Natasha (20).

It’s important to have confidence in your own opinions and speak your mind so you can challenge others. As a newsreader, it was essential. It’s what I’ve always told my girls: ‘listen, question and challenge.’ But to do that, you must have confidence in yourself.

One of the most formative experiences I ever had was as a 17-year-old, when our whole family moved to Mexico City for half a year for my dad’s job. Before that I’d been bullied at secondary school quite badly. I felt more secure after this experience. When we came back, I had my interview for Cambridge, and the experience I’d had in Mexico helped me stand out and get accepted.

Katie Derham, 51, (pictured) who lives in Sussex, explains the importance of having confidence in your own opinions and speaking your mind, so you can challenge others

Katie Derham, 51 (pictured), a Sussex resident, talks about the importance to have confidence in yourself and speak your mind so that you are able to challenge others.

I was the youngest British newsreader since 1950s when I joined ITN 1998. Naturally, I was extremely nervous. I had already worked as a producer on the BBC Radio 4 series Moneybox and as a presenter on BBC’s Film 96, but it was a big step to start questioning public figures. It was clear to me that it was time for me to get on with the job.

On Strictly Come Dancing in 2015, around week six my confidence faltered when people started saying things about me like, ‘Oh you could go all the way.’ I was thinking, ‘What if I mess this up?’

I had a pep talk from a friend who’s a life coach, who helped me get everything back in perspective. After that, I relaxed and started to enjoy life again.

When I became the main Proms presenter in 2010, I had confidence in my abilities. While adrenaline and nerves can keep us sharp at times, I feel extremely fortunate to have a job I love.

  • Katie’s podcast Just The Tonic with Katie Derham can be found across all major streaming platforms and on Acast: