Published On: Sat, Oct 14th, 2023

Former Big Breakfast star insists you should never apologise for feeling good about life | Celebrity News | Showbiz & TV


Former Big Breakfast star Gaby Roslin (Image: Getty)

Even a cursory glance at Gaby Roslin’s dayglo Instagram feed tells you everything you need to know about the effervescent 59-year-old’s tortured state of mind. Luminous lime, canary yellow and retina-burning tangerine outfits abound, encasing the Duracell bunny-esque former Big Breakfast presenter, who famously once mimed an orgasm on morning TV with When Harry Met Sally star Billy Crystal.

Ecstatically evangelising about the publication of her new ode to joy, aptly entitled Spread the Joy, she’s no less optimistically technicolour on Zoom.

The natural successor to her star-studded podcast, Reasons to be Joyful, and subtitled, “Simple, practical ways to make your everyday life brighter”, her new book is a down to earth guide to accessing happiness. “I’m not preaching the gospel,” insists Roslin, who made her first appearance as the chirpy sidekick of the then unknown motormouth Chris Evans on Channel 4’s ground-breaking breakfast show in September 1992.

“It’s no bible. I’m not bullying you to do this or do that and I’m absolutely aware that life is very, very tough for most people right now. This book is just about little things that are free to do, that anyone can try, to just make their day a little better.

“Critics might say that it’s trite or that it’s not terribly intellectual, but it’s not supposed to be. It’s a handbook about feeling better.”

The book, inevitably coloured pink, yellow and orange, features a eulogising forward – “Gaby Roslin, essential for your five a day” – by former Take That star Robbie Williams, who she’s known for more than four decades.

“Robbie was a guest on my first TV show Motormouth when he was only 16, and we’ve been friends ever since,” Roslin explains. “I know his mum and dad and he’s a really good lad, so I asked him to share a quick quote for the cover.

“I thought he’d come back with a couple of lines like Matt Haig or Zoe Ball or Judi Dench did, but I was totally blown away by what he wrote. It was so sweet of him.”

EARLY SUCCESS: Gaby Roslin launched the Big Breakfast with Chris Evans (Image: Getty)

Whether Roslin’s guide is more sweet than saccharine, is up for debate but it’s undeniably uplifting, and even the grouchiest curmudgeon couldn’t fail to be elevated by an hour in her glass-half-full company. So, what has sparked this relentless, unyielding positivity?

“My mum died when she was very young,” says Roslin, who shares her 22-year-old daughter Libby with first husband, Colin Peel, and 16-year-old daughter, Amelie, with her second and current husband, David Osmon. “And when she died, I realised I was never going to apologise for enjoying life again, and it did make me feel better, but not different about life, as I’d always been happy about life since I was a child.

“It just meant I never had to apologise for being happy again.

“I love life and some horrible things have happened in my life, but I know that life is short, life is precious, and I know that any moment of joy is precious, so I want to make the most of it.”

Since leaving the Big Breakfast 27 years ago, Roslin has enjoyed a successfully eclectic career, from hosting Children In Need and The Terry and Gaby Show with broadcasting icon Terry Wogan, presenting radio shows on BBC Radio London and Radio 5, and even starring on the West End Stage in When Harry Met Sally and Chicago.

And pivotal to maintaining her positivity has been her policy of surrounding herself with similarly upbeat people. “Chris Evans texted me last night and I love him,” she continues.

“He’s in a really good place. He’s really happy. His wife Tash is gorgeous, and I absolutely adore him. As for Terry Wogan, he was unique. There was never anyone like Terry before Terry and there will never be anyone like him again.

“He was just incredible and so naughty and cheeky too. He just made me laugh so much.”

PRIME TIME: Gaby fronting the BBC’s Children in Need appeal with Terry Wogan (Image: Getty)

The star has also been mindful to keep negativity at arm’s length in a notoriously shallow and back-stabbing industry. “I think recognising negativity and toxicity gets easier with age and you can realise when there’s negative people around that you don’t want in your life, because it’s about them,” she sighs.

“It’s not about you. They might not be very nice to you but it’s not about you. It’s about the stuff that’s in their world and in their life.

“If they’re not interested and they just want to be nasty about other people then I don’t want to be around them, but I will always try and talk to them to find out what it is.”

Gabby has daughter Libby , now 22, with first husband Colin Peel (Image: Getty)

Talking sensitively and empathetically has always been central to Roslin’s appeal and her new book encompasses many tenets of cognitive behavioural therapy, so it’s unsurprising to learn that she has considered taking her gift for sympathetic communication further. “I have thought about being a therapist, yes,” she confirms with a smile. “Even when I was 12 on the bus to school people would tell me things. People have always used me like a therapist, and I’ve always been fascinated by psychotherapy.

“People have said to me, ‘Why don’t you do a course in it?’ but I love my work and I love my job, and I was never very academic at school. In the past I’ve looked up courses and considered doing them, but I’ve got a family, I’ve got three jobs, television, radio, podcast… I write, I come up with programme ideas.

“So yes, it’s something that I’ve thought of, but therapist or not, anyone could come and talk to me, and I’ll talk to anybody. I don’t have the answers, but I will try and help.”

HAPPY FAMILIES: Roslin has been married to David Osmon for ten years (Image: Getty)

And her communication with strangers is often as physical as it is verbal.

“I think it’s really important to be spontaneous as often as possible, whether that’s choosing a new sandwich shop to get your lunch from or just interacting with people when you might not normally do that,” she continues.

“Like the time I was on the Tube and this stranger started singing Living On A Prayer by Bon Jovi. I slowly joined in with him first, then a few others joined in, then before you know it, we all stood up and sang it together. There was no head banging but everyone sang with huge smiles on their faces. Then we drew up to the next station and everybody applauded. It was a moment of spontaneous joy.”

Roslin is also partial to wishing fellow commuters “good morning” when she can – “they’re more reciprocal on the edge of London than the centre,” she confirms – and whenever she’s in the West End to catch a show, she makes a beeline for a road called Chitty Street.

“As soon as I’m on that street, I’ll break into a chorus of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, and without fail a random stranger will join me in song.”

On rare occasions she’s also been known to attempt the Dick Van Dyke airborne ankle tap manoeuvre too, with varying results.

“I’ve done it with Bonnie Langford who is a very dear friend of mine, and she’s much better at it than me but I’m improving.”

The central thread running through Roslin’s book – and indeed her life – is the power of positive mental attitude and it’s something that’s been sorely tested in the last 18 months, following the deaths of two close friends. Former Big Breakfast colleague Paul O’Grady – in those days in his Lily Savage drag queen incarnation – died of a heart attack in March and journalist and campaigner Deborah James died of colon cancer in June 2022.

But both, insists Roslin, lived life to the full to the very end. “I saw Deborah just a couple of weeks before she died and she was in the garden, very weak at that stage, but she still had this zest for life and Paul was the same, but that’s why we just have to grab every moment.

“I’ve lost far too many people by the age of 40, so we need to just embrace life and emotions and reject repression. If you want to sing in the street, do it. If you want to cry, do it. If you want to jump for the sake of jumping, do it.

“It’s about reconnecting with your imagination and rediscovering your inner child. Life is short. So let’s make the most of it.”

Spread the Joy by Gaby Roslin (HarperCollins, £18.99) is out now. Visit expressbookshop.com or call Express Bookshop on 020 3176 3832. Free UK P&P on orders over £25



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