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
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.
Buy the issue at DIVAdirect.co.uk