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‘My home is full of light. We love a party’

BBC radio and TV broadcaster and journalist Victoria Derbyshire, 53, lives in London with her husband Mark, sons Ollie and Joe, and their two cocker spaniels

I GET UP AT 4.30AM. I lay out my clothes the night before, ready to go, and am often in a cab taking me to the BBC news studios by 4.50am. My work now is very varied across TV and radio, from reading the news to covering for Jeremy Vine on Radio 2 to Panorama .AssoonasIamoutof bed, I start reading briefs and looking at news updates.

Even when I’m not working, my body clock is geared to wake up early. On my days off I potter around the kitchen at 6am, feeling like I’ve had a lie-in. I enjoy the peace and quiet of being downstairs while my husband Mark and our two sons Ollie, 18, and Joe, 15, are asleep upstairs. I tidy, clean and reorganise stuff – it’s good for my mental health.

It was on a dark morning in 2015 that I googled ‘inverted nipple’ as I was making a cup of tea, having spotted that my right breast looked different the night before. At the time, I didn’t think it was anything to worry about, but as soon as I saw the words breast cancer, I knew that’s what I had. Trying to stay calm, I emailed Mark, who was still asleep, asking him to make a GP appointment for me that afternoon, then I went to work as though everything was normal.

My immediate reaction when I was diagnosed was ‘I’m going to die,’ but after 301 days of treatment, including a mastectomy

The joy and happiness I felt at being alive

was amazing

and chemotherapy, I made a full recovery. It changed my life, though. The joy and happiness I felt at being alive was amazing. I say yes to so many things now, like stripping off for ITV’s The Real Full Monty and going on I’m A Celebrity…

In 2018 Mark and I got married after 17 years together and it was brilliant having our boys there. After my diagnosis, I’d said, ‘If we get through this I would like to get married, but I don’t want you to do it if it’s only because you feel sorry for me.’ It was weird to finally start calling him my husband, but amazing to get married at 49. I feel more complete now.

Breast cancer gave me a different perspective. When I was told my show was being cancelled in 2020, as part of BBC cutbacks, I was gutted, but unlike breast cancer it was not a life or death situation. Now, I present across various BBC news programmes and also host the podcast And Then Came Breast Cancer for Future Dreams breast cancer charity. It’s so inspiring talking to these amazing women, and men, about their experiences and how they have coped.

I am lucky that my work has mostly allowed me to be home when the boys finish school. Mark runs his own production company, so between us we’ve managed our work so that one of

us is around for them. We talk about news a lot in our house, which I think is good for them. The radio is always on and the boys have grown up listening and asking questions.

I have a million cups of tea and coffee during the day and don’t eat much until I get home, when I have a couple of Matzos with hummus. Mark does most of the cooking, which he enjoys. Phones go away and we all chat about our day. I’m not a very good cook. Even when I follow recipes it doesn’t taste very nice.

I love spending time at home. The house I grew up in as a kid always felt dark and tense. My father was violent and when we heard his key in the door my brother, sister and I would run upstairs to get away from him. It is a tribute to my mum that we’re all confident adults. I don’t ever remember having friends over, but my home now is full of light, people drop in, friends come to stay and we love a party!

Weekends are relaxed and we try not to schedule too much. Mark and I will go for a walk with the dogs or read the papers in bed. I’ve inherited a love of antiques from my mum and enjoy going to fairs. Mark teases me when I come home with yet another mirror. ‘Just what we needed,’ he’ll say and roll his eyes.

Later we may meet up with friends, or they’ll pop round with a bottle of crémant. I love the fact that the kids want to be part of any house party and are there with us singing Sweet Caroline and Mr Brightside at 2am.

In the week I am usually in bed by 8pm – I can sleep anywhere, any time. I can’t bear not having enough sleep. It makes me unhappy and I can’t focus properly. Sometimes, if Mark is concerned about waking me, he will sleep in the spare bedroom. But I never wake up – I am dead to the world.

‘And Then Came Breast Cancer’ is available on futuredreams. and other podcast platforms





Daily Telegraph