VICTORIA DERBYSHIRE: HOW I WAS RAISED
Lisa Williams talks to broadcaster Victoria Derbyshire about her childhood
Broadcaster Victoria Derbyshire was born in Rochdale, then moved to Bury with her mother Pauline and her two younger siblings Nicholas and Alexandra when her parents divorced. Her BBC Two current affairs programme won a BAFTA this year for its interviews with former footballers who had been sexually abused. She has two sons with her partner Mark Sandell, and has just written a book called Dear Cancer, Love Victoria: A Mum’s Diary of Hope which describes how it felt to be diagnosed with and treated for breast cancer.
My childhood was family-orientated, interesting and, as far as my mum is concerned, loving. My father was not a loving father in any sense.
My mother always said I was a bold child. I was quite well-behaved at school but generally I was bold and would always speak up for myself.
My mum gave birth alone, with her mum and dad sitting outside. My father was at night school and so she was on her own, which breaks my heart to be honest.
My earliest memory is of our pets: we had two dogs: a white English Setter called Kerry and a black mongrel called Tubby, and we had a cat with no tail called Kipper. I remember being about three, and watching those animals in the kitchen, Kipper used to sleep on top of Kerry, and it was just very sweet.
My favourite toy was a Sasha Doll, which was a gorgeous plastic doll with long silvery hair and you could dress her in beautiful clothes. It was a proper doll, bigger than a Barbie. I still have it but at some point in my childhood I cut Sasha’s hair off, like an idiot.
I wasn’t breastfed. When I had my first son I was breastfeeding, and my mother told me she didn’t breastfeed. But it’s fine, isn’t it? It’s fine. I don’t know why breastfeeding is such a controversial topic, it really winds me up. Whatever the mother wants to do is fine.
I didn’t have a dummy and my mum said I was pretty good at going to sleep. I don’t think she would have done any sleep training.
I don’t remember my first day at school. But I remember the first day of secondary school: My mum curled my hair and put a blue ribbon in it, and I didn’t know anyone, and it was three bus journeys away. I absolutely loved school. I made great friends, we had a great laugh.
I was really into being in school plays, I loved acting. I loved netball, and I was always drawing pictures of houses which I wanted to build and design. At that point, Dynasty had started, Dallas had already been on, and I was watching Charlie’s Angels. All these dramas featured magnificent homes and opulent design and wealth, and I must have been influenced by that.
I started writing a diary like all little girls do, I’ve written in it most days since I was nine years old. When I was growing up I had no idea what a journalist was or what a reporter was. It was only when I got to uni that I started writing for the university newspaper. I didn’t think I was very good at it. And then I found out about broadcast journalism.
Because of the way my father behaved, my mum and my siblings were very close. We were a unit, and despite some challenging times within the home, there was a lot of black humour. We had a lot of laughs, because that was a way of coping with what was going on. We had some good times, and they’re down to my mum, who was the significant adult in our lives, and who gave us such love. Touch wood we’ve come out alright.
:: Dear Cancer, Love Victoria: A Mum's Diary of Hope is out now.