What’s been your most extravagant purchase?
When I’d been working on Blue Peter for five years, I bought an expensive sports car, a sporty version of the Audi TT. I won’t say how much it cost, but I spent much more than I should have! It was lovely but, looking back, I could’ve used the money for a deposit on a house in London.
At the time, I had the chance to buy a one-bedroom flat in Chiswick for £280,000, but declined, partly because back then I could buy a farm in Cumbria for that kind of money – it seemed extortionate. Two years later, the flat sold for £560,000. I’ll kick myself forever over that.
Tell me about your big break?
I worked in the newsroom at BBC Radio Cumbria before moving to London and covering someone’s maternity leave on Newsround. I beavered away and was eventually taken on before being invited to audition for Blue Peter.
What has been the biggest money-spinner in your career?
I’m still waiting for it! I’m wishing for the time when I don’t have to worry about money, but I feel that’s a long way off. Anyone who’s freelance with kids worries about money. There are no guarantees that I’ll do a day’s TV work next year. You always need to think of alternative ways to make money.
That’s why I’m writing another book and have recently started my own clothing line, Toy Breaker, with my friend who works in fashion. My kids don’t like a lot of clothes in the shops, so we decided to do our own thing. I was adamant everything had to come from sustainable, reputable companies, but it all takes a lot of quality control and time. The company will be launching soon.
What was your best financial decision?
Renovating four properties, three of which we rent out – and we’re just about to start renovating a bigger property. They’re all on mortgages but will eventually, hopefully, form my pension. We have ones in Carlisle, Widnes, Wilmslow and another in Leeds. Some people think renting out houses is straightforward, but it’s not. We’ve had nightmares, including houses needing underpinning or new roofs.