Charlotte Jackson: Sky Sports News Presenter
Charlotte Jackson’s story covers a major shift in profession.
Having started out in medicine, Charlotte has gone on to forge a hugely successful career in the “man’s, man’s, man’s world” of sport TV presenting, juggling charity commitments with the demands of work, practicing a plethora of impressive sports, an uncanny ability to pick up sporting injuries, and engagement to a football manager. Phew, we’re exhausted just listing that lot! What we love about Charlotte is that her beauty is matched every inch by her abundant brains, undeniable talent at what she does for a living and having the guts of Boudicca. Read on and be truly inspired…
My Little Black Book: We’re all familiar with your work as lead presenter on Sky Sports News and on shows such as the fabulous All Action Jackson during London 2012, in which you put your hand to some gruelling Olympic sports, including show jumping (yes, we are in awe!). My personal favourite of the shows you’ve fronted has to be 71 Degrees North for ITV1, in which you dragged a load of celebrities to the edge of their endurance in freezing conditions, but do you have a favourite among the incredible showreel you’ve worked on?
Charlotte Jackson: I loved working on 71 Degrees North, as it was an incredible experience. We lived in the Arctic for a month, the scenery was beautiful. Obviously it was incredibly cold. We got taught how to dress properly for the conditions, the layering was very important (down to what goes on first!), and we were lucky enough to see the Northern lights which were breathtaking. I also enjoyed Splash, almost in a love hate way as I had never dived before, but to be mentored by Tom Daley was brilliant. I conquered my fear of heights and jumped and dived off the 10-metre platform, but it was also extremely painful – all of us during training would get battered and bruised. I also broke my toe which hindered my training and diving, so I couldn’t really fulfil my potential.
I have to mention the Big Quiz Sports Special, too, as it was girls against boys. I was team captain for the girls, my 71 Degrees co-host Paddy McGuinness was team captain for the boys…. And the girls won! It has to be one of the most fun shows I have worked on.
MyLBB: Haha, we love that the girls won that one! So you originally studied medicine after attending a very academic school. Was that what you’d originally wanted to pursue as a career or was it something you were pushed into whilst really hoping to follow a different path?
CJ: I think when you’re 15/16 it’s difficult to know what path you really want to follow. Some children know from a very early age exactly what they want to do, but many don’t. My Dad is a doctor and I enjoyed the sciences at school so it just seemed to be a natural path to follow. I then realised that I didn’t have the passion for it, so I spoke to my parents who were very supportive. I would have understood if they had put a bit of pressure on me to see it out, but they didn’t.
MyLBB: How did you make such a dramatic change in direction from medicine to media?
CJ: I enrolled in a journalism course while doing the odd promotional job and then started presenting, which I kind of fell into as a lady from an agency I was with suggested I go and test for a guest presenting roll on a show called Lounge Living, which was an interactive magazine style show aimed at students. I did a screen test and they offered me the main presenting roll. I was thrown in at the deep end as it was a live unscripted show for 2 hours, but I loved it!
I did so many presenting roles and then I saw a job advertised for someone to write and present sports news for sports websites, including Football 365 and sportal.com, where we did a money paper review show (obviously the back pages) and a betting tip show. Setanta Sports then started up and offered me a job there.
MyLBB: Any regrets?
CJ: No. But I have to say I think the work doctors do is incredible and inspiring. A lot of my friends are doctors and, as I mentioned, my Dad is too, and I have a lot of respect for them and the work they do.
MyLBB: Who or what has been your greatest inspiration when building your career?
CJ: I would have to say my Mum. She worked all her life. She was a PE teacher and played lacrosse for England. She’s retired now but still runs two keep fit classes; one group she has been taking for over 30 years! My Mum – and my Dad – have both been so supportive and encouraging, even when I did choose the change of career. She taught me to be independent but also how important a loving and respectful relationship is; my parents have been married for 44 years!
MyLBB: The public perception is that the world of sports and sports broadcasting is still very much a male-dominated domain, but there are some phenomenally talented female presenters out there now. We know you worked your way up from behind the scenes before getting your break into presenting, but has it been a struggle to get to where you are now?
CJ: When I was growing up it certainly was male-dominated, but I really don’t feel it is anymore at all. I think some people, both men and women, can look at a girl and if they look a certain way question their knowledge, but it’s very individual.
All the sports channels have lots of women working for them, whether it be in front of the camera or behind. We have lots of female presenters and reporters who people will see and know about, but also lots of girls work in producing and directing, on the news desk or planning, so I don’t really think of it as male-dominated at all now!
MyLBB: That’s very encouraging to hear. Now, not only do you have a huge wealth of knowledge about the myriad sports you present on, but you practice an Olympic spectrum of them. Which sports are you into at the moment and do you have a favourite?
CJ: Weight lifting! Haha! No, I do like to play tennis, and I still do some boxing training, but at the moment I play a lot of golf, although I am a bit of a fair weather golfer! If it’s not raining, and normally most holidays, myself and my fiancé play and we get quite competitive with each other. I’m not quite sure who is ahead in matches won, but I’m sure he would say he is!
MyLBB: And we understand you’re prone to an injury. What’s the worst you’ve sustained and did it put you off?
CJ: I broke my nose and cracked my jaw jet skiing which was so painful, so I vowed never to go on one again, but there came a point when I had to be a passenger on a jet ski to take me from A to B in a resort we were in. I was so nervous and made the driver go so slowly, but I got over my fear and relaxed.
I’ve suffered a lot of broken bones. One incident a few years ago was when I was boxing training. I kept saying sorry to the person I was sparring with whenever I connected. I just didn’t particularly like ‘hitting’ another person. So my coach said that he would stop me saying sorry by putting me in the ring with a semi-professional lady. She got a strong punch into my body and my rib was fractured! If anyone has broken their ribs before they will know it’s so uncomfortable if you laugh, sneeze and breathe deeply, and there’s nothing that can be done except rest, which I’m not very good at!
MyLBB: Ouch! That sounds very painful. So, do you have any advice for those of us who’ve already given up on most of our New Year’s Resolutions and need a boost to get back into the gym or back out at boot camp?
CJ: It’s so difficult in January. When most people come back from work it’s dark and cold, which just makes you want to get into your comfy clothes, sit in front of the TV and eat some comfort food.
It’s always easier if you can get a friend on board to be a training partner so that you can motivate each other. And if you plan exactly when you will go to the gym – try and do it at the beginning of the week and get into a routine – as difficult as it can be to push yourself to go, I think once you have it will always make you feel better and give you more energy. Give yourself a goal!
MyLBB: On top of all your sport and your hectic work schedule, you somehow find the time to commit to certain charities, including your role as Ambassador to Barnardo’s. I had the pleasure of seeing you present at the prestigious London Rocks event at the Café de Paris a couple of years ago, held annually in aid of children’s charities. How do you find the time?
CJ: Well I think it’s important to find time to support charities that are close to your heart. I have been a supporter of Barnardo’s for a number of years now, and I’m very proud to be. A highlight was hosting the schools choir concert at the Royal Albert Hall – my family were offered the royal box from the Queen!
I have fun raising money for them too. I went on The Chase and raised £25,000 – but hosting events and raising money and awareness for them isn’t as impressive as one of my best friends who had breast cancer, a mastectomy, reconstruction and radiation, then not long after completing chemo we ran Race For Life together. I was so proud of her and how she battled cancer with such a positive mind.
MyLBB: Wow! What an inspiration. We’d like to congratulate you on your recent engagement to Wales football manager, Chris Coleman. There must be a lot of public attention to deal with. Does it help that you both work in the world of sport, so you understand the demands of one another’s careers?
CJ: Thank you! Yes it does, but we do get to see each other a lot – we are rubbish at not seeing each other actually! Neither of us were the type that would say “I miss you” etc. in the past, but now we do constantly, even for a day apart. Sickening, eh?! I do know before he has a match he goes into “game mode” as we call it, so won’t take in my normal babble as well!
MyLBB: So, exciting times ahead and wedding plans to be made. What can we look forward to seeing you present in the near future?
CJ: I’m just waiting to hear back from a few different projects and I’ve also been screen tested for some acting roles, which I’m really excited about.
Well we for one can’t wait to see more of Charlotte on our screens and look forward to her acting debut! You can catch Charlotte presenting on Sky Sports News and get updates on her upcoming projects via Twitter.