Louise Minchin - three questions that people always ask me

The popular BBC TV presenter who lives near Chester reveals one aspect of her job she really does not like - and she has a strange idea of what constitutes a lie-in...

There are always at least three questions that people ask me about working on BBC Breakfast. What time do I wake up? Who chooses my clothes? And, how long does my make-up take?

The answers to the second two questions are relatively easy. My daughters are my stylists and have been trained by me from an early age by endless hours traipsing around the shops. They are both brutally honest about what they think will or won’t work. Happily, these days we can do most of the shopping online. My make-up, luckily not done my me, takes about 35 minutes, as short as possible really, to make me look respectable in front of 7 million people.

When you do a job which involves regularly waking up in the middle of the night, it is best not to do an internet search on the effects on your health. What you will find, and I have just done it again, is a litany of dire consequences. Everything ranging from heart disease, diabetes to depression. But because I love my job and I feel privileged to have it, I try my best not to think about these consequences.

As a result though, the answer to what time my alarm goes off is very precise, and I think anyone who has worked shifts will understand why. In my experience, and if you have ever got up really early, to perhaps catch a flight, every minute spent asleep in the dark hours before dawn seems to be worth about five minutes at any other time the day.

When people ask me what time my alarm goes off, I often get them to guess. Over the years I’ve had offers ranging from 3am to an ambitious five to six. I would love it, if the latter were possible but given that we go on air at six, I would have to actually sleep on the red sofa, which apart from a shocking lack of make-up, wouldn’t be very comfortable.

The answer is in fact, 03.46 exactly. Why not some more sensible number like 03.45 you ask? The reason for the strange number is that last winter I found waking up in the middle of winter at 03.45 particularly difficult, so I awarded myself a massive one minute lie-in. It honestly did make a difference for a while, but this year I find I am increasingly sneaking in a couple of extra minutes. I am not sure if that’s sustainable, and the better solution might be going to bed a few minutes earlier, but how much fun would that be?

Happy dreams. Zzzz

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