People always told me I could be a TV publicist, but all I could think of was how TV publicists had put up with the likes of me over the years and that was a job I would never want to do.

But I then thought if I ever did become a publicist, it would be for something like Big Brother, which I had seen in England. I figured it would be unlike any other publicity job, which proved correct when I was offered the job four years ago.

Being the Big Brother publicist is about working with the network publicists from Channel 10 and managing the job. It is about getting the information on the housemates into the media and then setting up the huge amount of stories everyone wants.

It is also dealing with the housemates once they are evicted, and there is a lot of holding their hand and steering them in the right direction as they negotiate the Australian media.

I’ve spent my entire career working in media. It all began when I was 15 years old and living in England and was given a project in English class to write a gossip column, and so I sent letters off to the management agencies of all these famous people asking for interviews.

Within weeks, I had interviewed Freddie Mercury, Elton John, Penelope Keith and Michael Parkinson, and my English class project became three editions of the school magazine.

I then returned to Australia, finished school and began work in newspapers, which I just loved. I began on The Daily Mirror as a TV writer, and four years later I was poached by TV Week, which was then in its heyday.

I thought it was unbelievable to break stories and know something before the rest of the country did. If someone on TV misbehaved or was sacked, it was a big deal. I had a knack for TV news and, luckily, a lot of it fell into my lap as my social life and my work life were really the same thing.

TV Week was huge in those days. My biggest selling cover was the Kylie and Jason wedding on Neighbours, which sold 860,000 copies. There were a lot of Kylie and Jason moments as I wrote many of their early stories and we became mates.

I remember when Kylie was first hitting big overseas and we were out having dinner, she literally fell asleep in her soup. I just looked at her and she explained, I have just got off a plane from Tokyo. We all figured then it wouldn’t last long for her -“ and then she became even bigger.

After 11 years with TV Week, my partner Graham was asked to work with Sky TV in London, so we took off over there. I went to work in the Special Projects department, and two weeks later found myself driving out to Sunning Hill in Windsor to meet with Sarah Ferguson to talk with her about a new daytime chat show.

I was terrified, but she was great and as normal as anyone else, but the surroundings were grander and then we had lunch served by a footman. Luckily, we hit it off.

Meeting famous people does not scare me as I have met so many in the past, so we then just got on with the job of pulling together the TV show called Surviving Life, which ran 13 episodes.

My first Christmas there, my partner and I went off to have Christmas lunch with Fergie in the drawing room. There was also the time when we were filming the show and there I was, prancing around in her dressing room trying on $12 million worth of the royal jewels which had been a wedding present from the queen.

I then worked on other shows before coming home five years ago for the Olympic Games. We decided to stay and three months later, Endamol-Southern Star asked me to join them as their publicist on Big Brother.

That first year was unbelievable as it was such a huge learning curve for all of us. The reaction to Ben, Blair and Sara-Marie at the end of that first season was amazing as they were being mobbed everywhere.

Of course some of them are nicer than others and all are characters in their own rights, but I figure I get 13 new best friends every year.

The show has more challenges every year and we have to come up with new ideas and be more clever with what we are doing. It is an amazing beast to work on and the thing with it is that you never know what is going to happen.

Like earlier this year when we launched and thought it would then be a bit quiet, but then Big Brother kicked out Constance and Nelson and dropped in two new ones.

Or like last year when you think it will be a normal eviction night, and then Merlin turns up with gaffer tape on his mouth. It’s stuff like that keeps us all going.

Interview by John Burfitt

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