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Cover interview: Clare Balding

How does it feel to be Clare Balding?

Louise Carolin

Mon, 22 Oct 2012 13:15:31 GMT | Updated 4 years today

Our rendezvous is the breakfast room at a swanky central London hotel, surrounded by gleaming mirrors and the restrained clatter of coffee cups. Clare arrives bang on time, having negotiated the throng of Justin Bieber fans out the front ("Hello Clare!"), and tucks into a croissant while we chat.

She is pleased, though modestly mystified, by the outpouring of media approval - the notoriously homophobic Daily Mail columnist Jan Moir called her "a broadcaster with such an exceptional skill that she makes everyone else in her orbit seem third rate", while Heat magazine hailed her "iconic" hair-do.

"I deliberately didn't look at any of the press during the Olympics because my feeling was that it's a long haul and you can go wrong really quickly," she says. "But I did see the Jan Moir piece. I rang a friend of mine and said, 'You have to get this laminated for me, this is the one I have to keep'. It's extraordinary. I don't really know why it's happened. Why? I don't understand."

Over a matter of months her profile has changed from respected but lesser-known broadcaster to national heroine, thanks to her role as a presenter of both Olympic and Paralympic coverage.

"In a way I'm very pleased - I mean, take me out of the equation and pretend we're talking about someone else completely - I am very pleased that hard work and factual knowledge and a background in your subject and all of those things have become important again because I think it's absolutely crucial that they are."

Indeed, back in June, her calm and well-informed presence stood out amid the shambling and hyperbolic BBC coverage of the Queen's Jubilee flotilla. She exudes a kind of confident, no-nonsense head girl attitude (even with a mouthful of pastry), so it doesn't come as a huge surprise to learn from her recently-published memoir that she was in fact a head girl, once upon a time.



Read the rest of this interview in our November issue, on sale from October 25 2012.


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