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Changes: Gabby Logan

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Annie [00:00:04] Hello and welcome to Changes. It is Annie here and we are finishing this whole series with a fantastic episode. One of the most recognisable and successful broadcasters in the UK, Gabby Logan is here to talk through her changes. Gabby is an absolute trailblazer when it comes to sports broadcasting. Her career has seen her work for ITV, Sky and the BBC presenting many of the biggest sporting events including the Olympic Games, the Commonwealth Games, the World Cup and also the 2022 Euros which changed the face of British women's football when the Lionesses won, led by former guest of Changes and England captain, Leah Williamson. Now Gabby has an MBE for services to sports broadcasting and promoting women in sports, and on top of that she's a writer, having written for multiple publications as well as writing a memoir The First Half. Her podcast, The Mid-Point, has been running since 2020 and involves speaking to all sorts of guests about midlife. And this month she launched a brand new podcast, The Sports Agents, the sister podcast of the Newsagents which she co-hosts with fellow broadcaster and ex-colleague of mine, Mark Chapman. There is clearly no holding back for Gabby Logan. It's brilliant to have you here! Thank you. 

Gabby [00:01:19] Thank you so much for having me on. How are you? 

Annie [00:01:21] I'm really good. Honestly, like in researching you, Gabby, I'm just- I'm kind of, like, in awe. What have been some of the biggest changes you have been privy to since you began working as a sports broadcaster? 

Gabby [00:01:35] Well, that's such a great question because it actually is, you know- really I would look back on those kind of almost 30 years in broadcasting so far and seeing change as the, as the word that kind of- it dominates, actually, everything in terms of my feelings about that 30 years and, you know, enjoyments there and, and passion and, you know, hard work and tenacity and all those things but actually change is the thing that I feel encapsulates it all the most. Because first of all I didn't want to be a sports broadcaster necessarily, I just wanted to work, you know, in telly, journalism, radio, and then I accidentally found myself in sport because of my passion for sport, my background in sport and, you know, and opening, you know, and somebody realising that perhaps things needed to be a bit more representative. And I was there at the right time and, and enjoyed it. And then when I got into sports broadcasting it was a very male place, obviously, you know, that's 30 years ago, and suddenly, you know- kind of not suddenly actually, because you don't turn a tanker suddenly and that's what it feels like, it's the turning of a tanker, but it feels sudden in the sense of when I look back it feels two minutes since I walked into Sky as a 23 year old. And now I look back over those 27 years and we've got many women in front of camera, many women in, you know, behind the mic, but also, more importantly for me, women directors, producers, camera women, heads of sport, you know, heads of erm, the sports departments on newspapers and, and websites. So that feels like a massive change, that the industry is so much more inclusive. Both for gender but also ethnicity, diversity in background, all those things are really important so there's been huge change. And then that change is reflected not just in what you see on TV and you hear on radio, but also what you might then experience when you're AT a sporting event because the crowd is different, you know. And I think that leads to a much more lovely *laughs* and kind of experience at a football match or, you know, whatever it is, a rugby game or wherever you're going if there's a balance of people in the stands. So- and then the next part of that change is the rise of women's sport, you know, and that has also bee, err probably the last ten years, the most incredible change. 

Annie [00:03:39] Can I ask how old you are? 

Gabby [00:03:41] I'm 50 *laughs*. 

Annie [00:03:45] 50! Wowww, how do you feel about turning 50? 

Gabby [00:03:47] Well, it was funny because my husband was 50 the year before me, and I'd thrown him a big surprise party, and it was a big thing and then when I- so when I turn 50, it felt like a bit like after the Lord Mayor's show you know, kind of we- *Annie laughs* we'd had this kind of talk about being 50 and, and then it was like 'I'm 50 too!'. Actually, I, I really don't mind it at all. I don't mind it at all. One of my colleagues is 60, Sonja McLaughlan, she won't mind me saying that, and she said that she found 60 much harder than 50. 50 felt great, she felt like she got everything sorted. And that is kind of how it feels a little bit actually. This is going to be a great decade, you know, this is- but then you don't know what's around the corner do you? And I think that's the thing my husband and I have always kind of very much aligned on philosophically. You know, he's had a rough couple of years. He had prostate cancer a couple of years ago. That came kind of like a bolt from the blue. You know, there's this really fit guy who kind of had no symptoms at all. 

Annie [00:04:35] Yeah, yeah. 

Gabby [00:04:36] So I think we've always been quite carpe diem, but that was much more of a kind wow- okay, yeah life is going to throw surprises and curveballs. So while it looks like a great decade ahead and things look exciting, I know there are going to be challenges.

Annie [00:04:53] Yeah. Let's get to change now Gabby, if that's right, and your first change, we asked you what was the biggest change of your childhood? 

Gabby [00:05:00] The biggest change of my childhood I think was going to live in a foreign country when I was nine years old. My dad was a footballer, and we always kind of had this mentality that we might be moving at any time because that's what footballers do. So we never were ever kind of was scared of moving, but usually it was between cities in the UK and we'd moved from Leeds to Coventry, where he played. 

Annie [00:05:22] Can I ask who we is? Who was the family unit? 

Gabby [00:05:24] Yeah, we is me- at the time it was me and my mum, dad, I'm the eldest, my sister Louise is 11 months younger than me, Irish twin, and my brother Daniel who is- was three years younger than me. We didn't have my brother Jordan at this point, he was a kind of much bigger gap, came later. And so my dad transferred to Vancouver Whitecaps in Canada and we all moved to Canada. This was a massive change, you know, from Coventry to Vancouver *laughing* was just huge in terms of erm, culturally it's very different. It was a really amazing outdoor lifestyle so we had mountain, sea, a school which was all about sport. Every day you did something. And while we'd always all done sporty things and been sporty, this was a whole different level in Vancouver. Such a great experience for about 18 months. It cemented in all of us a real passion for sports and for being outside and what you get from- my mum was always very much about doing as many different things as you can and, you know, trying lots of different things. And she was often quite, you know, doing it alone because my dad in Vancouver had to go off- away games could be a seven hour flight away so they sometimes took them away for two weeks and played three games on the road and then came back. So, so she was doing all this in a foreign country on her own, effectively. Yeah.

Annie [00:06:41] She must have been very tough. 

Gabby [00:06:42] Yeah she is tough. Yeah. She's very tough. And she's also, she wasn't scared of risk when I look back. You know, I was ten when I was there, I think I was about ten, maybe it was nine and my friend at school had a house in Palm Springs, as you do, and she wanted to take me for Easter. And my mum, I heard my mum on the phone saying no, and I said 'mum'- when she put the phone down I said 'why?' and she said, 'well, you know, you're only nine and you can't fly down there on your own'- because I'd have to fly to meet them, 'you can't fly down on your'- and I said, 'why, why can't I?'. And I basically argued the toss for long enough that she gave in and called the mum back and said I could go. So I had, you know, this experince of flying to Palm Springs on my own and, you know, staying with them and hav- and they were very, very loose liberal parents. I don't think we saw the parents for 7 or 8 days. You know, we just played tennis all day and ran around having fun and- so that was so different to my life in Coventry and how we'd been living thus far in life. I think it really was, when I look back, an important period in terms of who I was to become and what my joys in life were going to be from. 

Annie [00:07:48] And what kind of kid were you? I mean, it sounds like you were pretty tenacious. 

Gabby [00:07:52] I think as the eldest, you *laughs* it's a cliche but the eldest child usually is quite good at organising stuff, aren't they? And getting things done and, you know, being the trade union rep when they need to, you know giving *Annie laughs* and also sorting out things for the others and taking leadership roles. And I suppose I did those kinds of things quite naturally as a kid and I was also quite independent. My mum always says that when- in fact that trip she points as an example that when I was- she was at the gate saying goodbye, apparently I didn't turn round *laughs*. 

Annie [00:08:26] *Laughs* what, getting on the plane? 

Gabby [00:08:28] She waved goodbye at the gate and they had this representative from the airline, and she was expecting me to turn around and blow her a kiss and apparently I just carried on chatting to the lady and never turned round *Annie laughs*. *Laughs* So I think I wasn't- I didn't- and going back to what I was saying about my mum, I think I was quite fearless because she had given me that freedom to be fearless, you know, and didn't shroud us with cotton wool saying, stay at home and don't do something that could, could involve risk. And I think that's really important for kids to experience the bumps and bruises, metaphorically as well as literally in life and, and have to deal with that, you know, things that are sometimes disappointing, which is where sport, I think, paid a really important part in our lives because sport presents disappointment quite regularly, and you have to learn to deal with that and treat it as something else, because otherwise you wouldn't go back. There were a lot of interesting and creative and, and personality creating experiences that happened there and definitely her toughness and resilience was a big factor in that. 

Annie [00:09:30] And so you chose gymnastics as your kind of sport to really go for and you excelled hugely in that. You know, you were at the Commonwealth Games for that, like representing Wales. What was it about gymnastics, do you think that you were so attracted to? 

Gabby [00:09:44] You know, I think it was convenience because at the time I wanted to be a tennis player. And we came back from Canada, that was my sport, that's what I wanted to do. There were no tennis courts in Leeds where we came back to that were indoor in the wintertime, we came back in the October. There was one indoor court, It was a private club that cost a fortune to be a member of and so there were some public courts and my mum said, oooh you can have lessons there! Of course, they take the nets away about three weeks after Wimbledon, they don't put them back till about three weeks before Wimbledon so I couldn't physically play the sport that I really loved. So my sister was more into gymnastics than me and I just went along with her to the gym club and I got sucked in, loved it, and it ended up being my thing. 

Annie [00:10:22] And you did that all the way through your teens? 

Gabby [00:10:24] Yeah. 

Annie [00:10:24] Into your 20s, is that correct? 

Gabby [00:10:25] No, no, I'm- err no. 

Annie [00:10:27] No, you had to start- 

Gabby [00:10:27] It was A levels, in the middle of A levels when I was at the Commonwealth Games. I developed quite bad sciatica which, it was so painful and so debilitating by the end that I would get out of bed and my left leg would kind of give way and I was just in such bits with it and having lots of treatment, had to have a bit of time off and I think it was- had it happened to me two years before I would have pushed through because I would have wanted to get to the Commonwealth Games, or I wanted to get to the Olympics, and it was about two years from the Olympics at this point, which would have been the one that I was aiming for, and I, I just was doing my A levels and feeling- okay, I'm not going to get- this is not going to get much better. These other girls are coming, you know, for me, and they're coming past me and I'm not going to be as good as them. I've got a year to go on these A-levels, I could really crack on and get a good set of A-levels. I wanted to go to university and I think I just made quite a pragmatic choice because gymnastics was never going to be a job for me. It was never going to be a career. I didn't earn a penny out of it. I could, you know, see that I would spend that time doing something and perhaps then not get the A-levels I needed, not be able to go to the university I wanted to, and it was heartbreak to say goodbye to it because I didn't think I would ever find anything in life that would give me the joy and the sense of achievement and the buzz of competing and training for something. And that is really, at that age, you know, it's everything, it's your everything. It's your, your world. So I really felt like I'd, I'd hit my high point in life *laughs* I remember saying to somebody, ohh that's it for me now *laughing* life's going to be really mundane and really boring because I don't have that anymore. 

[00:11:58] *Short musical interlude*

Annie [00:12:08] Okay, so let's get to the biggest change of your adult life now. So this was quite close to that period of your life, so post A-levels, can you talk me through what that would have been please? 

Gabby [00:12:18] The biggest change in my life has been the death of my brother when I was 19, and he was 15, almost 16 at the time. And this came, as you just pointed out there, not long after this period of seismic kind of change as well in my who I was, who I thought I was as a gymnast, but actually it was- I was on my way as I'm- you know, to kind of university, I'd had a gap year, it was at the end of the gap year, and his death was completely without warning, sudden death. He had a hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. And that meant that his heart was very enlarged and it just stopped and there was no warning. So he was playing football in the garden with my dad after dinner one night, and I was I was living in London at the time on my gap year. My sister was in Japan, she was modelling, and he was with my little brother who'd come along by now, Jordan who was six at the time. And it was a may bank holiday evening and erm, he collapsed and that was it. And that then obviously led to huge change in all our worlds.

Annie [00:13:20] How did it change you, do you think, now you have all of this time and hindsight? How does something like that change a person? 

Gabby [00:13:27] It's really hard, isn't it, when you're 19 to work out who you are going to be anyway, and how much of the core of you was there? There was definitely an intensity and a desire to really live life to the full, which came out really quickly. I think I was already somebody who wanted to grab life by, you know, the neck and kind of go right, okay, you know, let's, let's go for it. But I think this really exacerbated that. And I had a real feeling of not wanting to waste a moment and wanting to make sure that his life was somehow lived out in another way, you know, and that I had this opportunity that he didn't have because he was an incredibly talented footballer. He'd signed for Leeds United who'd just won the old First Division, so they were the top team in the country. He was destined for, you know, really great things. He'd already been scouted for Wales under 18s at 15 years old and he had this amazing future it looked like, and it just went like that. So I, I suppose wanted somehow to, you know, make sure that that wasn't forgotten and that somehow you could, you know, live two lives almost. 

Annie [00:14:38] Yeah, yeah. How did the grief and the subsequent weeks, months, years change your family unit? 

Gabby [00:14:47] So what you find out about grief is that, first of all, there is no textbook that tells you how to grieve. There are lots of different ways that people are going to grieve, and they will find their way and their path and of course, in a family of six, the five that were left did that in very different ways and the time when you need to lean on somebody, it might not be the right time for them, you know, within that family unit. And, and so I, I think with my parents, their relationship didn't survive ultimately. And, it took them a while. It was a very slow deterioration of their relationship but ultimately they got divorced and they honestly had been very happy, you know, just before, about three months before. They'd gone on holiday for the first time in their married life together to Thailand, because obviously they had two kids who had already left school, my brother was about to become a footballer, they only had the little one Jordan left at home and my mum said that on this holiday they'd had the call, I think, at that point from my brother to say that, you know, the contract had been offered and everything, and she said she put the phone down and she looked at my dad and she said there was this moment where she just felt like her babies all had their wings and they were flying. And so they, you know, they wouldn't have gone on a holiday like that had they not had a good relationship. You know, they wouldn't have wanted to spend two weeks together in Thailand. And afterwards, I think when their sadness and their grief was overwhelming, it's very hard to remember those times and to think about, you know, being a great couple together because you, you have so much sadness and so much disappointment. And in my dad's case, a lot of anger. You know, he was just really pissed off with life and, and he couldn't quite work out how he was going to love my brother who was six. How could he put all that investment, all that time and love, you know, and all that energy and love into something when it could all be taken away. And he- in a very kind of crude way, he just wanted to pull himself away from anything that could hurt him, I think. And my mum was much more searching, wanted to work out what life was all about, what did what did life mean? She would visit priests and rabbis and she'd go in- if she saw something that was like a counselling, a group that, you know, of bereaved parents, anything like that she would sign up for. And not immediately, I mean, for about a month she barely moved, didn't wash her hair, could hardly put her clothes on. But once she got herself out the door, she was determined to try and make sense of things. And so their journeys and their pathways were so different, I don't think it was a surprise to any of us really that- after a few years it was obvious that they weren't coming back on the same track. So that as a family is really hard because my little brother was six and he never really got to experience what we did as kids. You know, we had this really great, idyllic family life and always happy, very energetic and he saw a lot more sadness and he saw separation and he didn't have us at home as well. So I do feel sad for him because he lost his big brother and then he lost his family around him. You know, that family unit that, that we'd all experienced. And our lives were, we were adults now, right? So we'd gone through that period, that happy childhood and that- nobody can ever take that away from you, even though you, you know, you're going to have to deal with this loss, you've still had that- 

Annie [00:18:13] Totally. Yeah, you have that solid security that- of those first few years. Yeah.

Gabby [00:18:17] Yeah, and I really feel enormously grateful for that because I think it would be much harder to deal with as a little child, you know. Yeah, there's a, there's definitely a before Daniel and an after Daniel, in terms of our lives. 

Annie [00:18:33] And the nature of how he died, this sudden death, I suppose how does this sense of life being able to just end at any point, how does that kind of awareness affect your living and affect the way you want to live your life moving forwards? 

Gabby [00:18:51] I was really determined that it wouldn't stop me trying things, exploring and taking risk in life because  I was granted that gift by my mum as I said before about, you know, going into situations that you were uncertain about and putting yourself out there and being ready to accept disappointment and- so I didn't want that to stop. And because I'd experienced this loss and not experienced the full range of emotions of life, which I really was experiencing *laughs* the full range with, with what was happening with Daniel, and, well in the aftermath of that- because grief can blindside you kind of years later. You know, I can be doing a speech somewhere for a charity and I'll suddenly just get- it'll just come over me. And I did something at Harefield, which is the- a hospital synonymous with heart transplants and they had a beautiful garden that they built for the patients and their families and I'd gone to open it, and I'd met this man who'd- he'd lived, basically. He'd had a very similar thing to my brother, but he'd lived because somehow they caught it, and he had a heart transplant, and he'd helped raise this money. And we were talking and, and it just kind of, a wave came over me, you know, and this poor guy, he's got this sobbing woman in front of him because it just happened. You know, it just can. You never close the door on grief and say, thank you very much, we're done now. 

Annie [00:20:16] Yeah tick. 

Gabby [00:20:16] *Laughing* Yeah, I've moved on. 

Annie [00:20:17] Yeah, yeah. 

Gabby [00:20:17] But I think that is also being open to the emotion, is actually what's probably kept me quite sane *laughs*. And, you know, and on, on a healthy path mentally because erm, I think if you, if you do lock it away and you don't let it out, it's, it's going to come out in a way that you might not like, and it might not be the healthiest. It's so hard to look back at my life and not think that that changed me in a way. I'll never know really how, but I'm sure it is the most impactful change. 

[00:20:52] *Short musical interlude*

Annie [00:21:04] So moving on to your early 20s, you were working in Sky Sports, you got this wonderful job working with Sky Sports as a broadcaster. Your first foray into sports broadcasting. How were those years? How do you look back on those years? And can you give me a tiny bit of context in terms of like, you as a woman in that role?

Gabby [00:21:27] It's difficult to look back and not smile. And I also, I'm always really mindful that I've said quite a lot about that period that was quite negative, you know, because some of the behaviours in the workplace were terrible, but I'm sure they were at places like Radio 1 or at places like, you know, this, The City of London or if you're an a massive accountancy firm at that point as a woman on- 

Annie [00:21:51] It was, it was culturally okay. 

Gabby [00:21:53] It was culturally okay- 

Annie [00:21:53] To be misogynistic casually, all the time.

Gabby [00:21:56] To say things *laughs* that were sometimes a bit hurtful, sometimes just pure sexist, sometimes, you know, way crossing the line in terms of taste. And yet there was, there were also a lot of good people and good guys who worked in those environments because I wouldn't have stayed, I couldn't have stayed if it was full of people like that. And I think, you know, and ultimately you find the people who are your allies don't you? And you don't realise at the time that's what they are, but I definitely gravitated towards those guys who were supportive and I wanted to learn from and were giving me opportunities, and they were all guys. There were no female bosses *laughs* there were no women who were editing these shows. So it was also a period of time, I think societally, where we had the laddette and we had all that culture going on as well so- which when you look back now, seems like a funny way to try and counter *laughs*. I understand perhaps why it was happening, you know, I'm so- 

Annie [00:22:54] It's just- define women in the- like in the lens of men. Like they can't just be women. They have to be like a type of a man. 

Gabby [00:23:01] Yeah, exactly. And but still somehow retaining enough of the female that we recognise them as such and also we can, we can find them attractive, but we kind of, you know, it was, it was all very-

Annie [00:23:12] 'You have to behave like us in order for us to fi'- yep, yep. 

Gabby [00:23:13] *Laughs* yeah, but, but can you still look like this please? 

Annie [00:23:17] Yeah *laughs*. 

Gabby [00:23:18] So yeah. And I was uncomfortable with this an- because I, that wasn't really me, I wasn't massive- like my kids, my son in particular takes the mic out of me because he's like, did you have any fun?! Because I wasn't like somebody who wanted to go out all the time. I liked socialising with my colleagues but I wasn't, I definitely wasn't somebody to go on all dayers and things like that. 

Annie [00:23:35] Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. 

Gabby [00:23:36] And so, I, I, I kind of prefer doing, going for a run on a Sunday morning and I want to wake up and feel good. So I found my way through that period somehow, I think I did dip my toe into probably unhealthy lifestyles for a bit, slightly dodgy periods and you get your tribe, don't you? It's like any, any period of life when you make change. And so I, I had a lot of fun. I really did enjoy living and, you know, in that part of town on my own and having, you know, I was single, meeting lots of people but when I left Sky and I went to ITV, it definitely felt like culturally things were shifting. And I don't know whether that was just because ITV was perhaps a more established, bigger, operation at the time and Sky was still only 5 or 6 years old, Sky Sports, but I think it was probably more about things starting to change generally in society. 

Annie [00:24:24] And did you see that reflect in the way that you broadcast? I'm interested in how you did your job, and I suppose that through the lens of being a woman surrounded by men. 

Gabby [00:24:34] Yeah, that's interesting because my boss at ITV used to tell me off for loading my questions with too many facts, and he said I know what you're trying to do, you're trying to convince everybody that you know stuff and he said, but I wouldn't have you here if I knew, you know, if I didn't think you knew your stuff. 

Annie [00:24:48] That's fascinating. 

Gabby [00:24:49] He said- he said look at what Des Lynam or Steve Ryder, the other- my contemporaries at ITV he said, they don't- they don't do that in their questions, they ask simple, basic questions because they want those facts to come out from the guest. And, so I had to train myself to trust that it was okay. And Brian was very avuncular in lots of ways as a boss. I had gone to him and asked if I could do something- I'd been asked to host a show for IT- I can't remember it was for ITV entertainment and he said no, and I said, 'what do you mean no? I want to-' he said, no, they don't trust you yet. I said what? He said the viewers, he said, they're not ready to see you yet in that role while you're doing sport, because then they'll think you're just, you know, you're using sport or it's flighty and it's not- 

Annie [00:25:29] Also, they'll think you're just fair weather. 

Gabby [00:25:31] Yeah, yeah. 

Annie [00:25:32] You have to show your real sporting credentials and be committed! 

Gabby [00:25:35] Ian Wright's doing football and he's doing this massive entertainment show and- you know, and he said yeah, well that's because he's a man basically. You know, that was the- I mean, he didn't say it like that but that's what he was saying to me so, at that time it felt grossly unfair and I felt it was really sexist and I was really angry but actually, he was right because the shift wasn't there yet. You know, people couldn't quite accept that you could do more than one thing *laughs*. 

Annie [00:26:00] And how did people take to you, like when you started we didn't have social media then-

Gabby [00:26:05] Mmm, thank God *laughs*. 

Annie [00:26:06] Yeah, right. But did you get a sense of how you were being received by the audiences of these matches? 

Gabby [00:26:12] I suppose, and this shows you kind of how low the bar was for me that I would- because I always went to a match on a Saturday after I presented a show called On The Ball, which was on at the same time- it was just after on ITV erm, CD:UK. So you'd have Ant and Dec and Cat in the morning. 

Annie [00:26:26] A massive show! Massive slot, yeah. 

Gabby [00:26:28] And then I'd come on afterwards with On The Ball and we all worked around the same kind of time, you know, in that studio at ITV on the Thames. And then I'd get on a fast motorbike or a car and zoom to Stamford Bridge or somewhere for 3:00 kick-off,  just to watch as a, you know, as a fan. And I'd always have people coming up to me at the games going, *cockney accent* 'ohh you're alright for a woman, you're alright for a woman'. And err *laughs* then but honestly, I was like, *delicately* 'oh, thank you!' *both laugh* 'thanks very much. Thank you!'. 

Annie [00:26:55] Thanks so much! 

Gabby [00:26:56] Yeah, yeah. Or they'd say things like *cockney accent* 'oh right. You really do like football then?' because they could see me at a match *Annie laughs*. I'd go, yeah, yeah I do really like football, yeah. And so I suppose there was a slight 'ohh alright, alright. She's all right. Seems okay. Seems okay'. There was a reticence definitely but I was probably oblivious to a lot of antagonism because of the lack of social media. Because people to get an insult to you had to write a letter and who could be bothered to do that. 

Annie [00:27:19] That's an effort right. You'd have to really, really want to insult you for that. 

Gabby [00:27:22] Most of the letters that arrived were from people wanting weird things like, 'have you got any tights left over?' you know, things like that so, err what? Sorry? 

Annie [00:27:31] What the fu-! *Laughs*. 

Gabby [00:27:31] 'Here's some chocolates for you' right, okay. Letters were the only way you could really insult somebody or a newspaper column. And actually, I did become, for a while, the target of a couple of columnists who would have a go and that was quite hard to deal with because I hadn't experienced that level of negativity until now, because on Sky I was pretty much under the radar, and then ITV I was in people's homes, really in people's homes. The viewing figures, when you think about what they're like now to then, millions and millions were watching those kinds of shows. And so I did then become slightly more public kind of property and targeted by certain sections of the press and certain individuals that take umbrage with you for whatever reason. 

Annie [00:28:12] You and I have a lot of parallels in terms of our careers in that I also was in a career in DJing that was entirely dominated by men and run by men. So I so relate to what you're saying about being like, *softly* 'well, thank you, thank you, thank you for accepting me. I'm just so happy to be here! This is a buzz' *Gabby laughing*. And also, there was a sense when I started out DJing that there was- I was a novelty. So, like, people were interested in me, and I felt like being a woman was advantageous to my career. I'd never experienced full on sexism, not to my face anyway, but looking back I do feel like why did it take me so long to really want to pull through other women? And I wonder now, is it just because culturally it wasn't a thing, it wasn't done? 

Gabby [00:28:55] Well they had their woman, didn't they? They didn't need another one *laughs*. 

Annie [00:28:57] They had their woman. They had their woman. And I was the woman. But there was this strange moment and I always talk about it because it's so minuscule, I was DJing with a woman for some event which is a really rare thing to be DJing with another woman, and I remember standing behind her waiting to go on after her and she took her scrunchie out and just put her scrunchie back in. And I remember just looking at this and thinking, oh my God, it's so lovely to be sharing a DJ booth with another woman. 

Gabby [00:29:25] Yeah, yeah. 

Annie [00:29:25] Just getting the sense of like, why the hell hasn't this happened and what's going on that this is just such a rare thing for me? And this sounds so dumb like that I wasn't aware, of course I was aware, but I suppose I never really thought that I could make a difference and change things. 

Gabby [00:29:41] Well also, didn't you feel that perhaps if you did, somebody would decide well, you're going to have to move on now. There might be another hundred blokes around but actually there's this tiny corner here where the women are going to be allowed, so if you come- if you make space for somebody else, you're gonna have to move on. Which sounds terrible to say it because now- I like you, I love it when I'm working with other women. I love having having them around and, you know, don't even see it anymore. You know, it just doesn't even cross my mind when I look at a call sheet and see how many women are on there, it's fantastic. But at the beginning of that change, there's I suppose a self-preservation as well isn't there where you feel like, oh, well, I mean, I was told by a boss at Sky I wouldn't be on telly after the age of 28, so maybe he's right. You know, the other women are coming. It's time for me to move on. 

Annie [00:30:29] But it's also a sense of I don't feel like I have the power to be able to make this difference, you know? And if I, if I did start shouting about it, you know- yeah, it's kind of that. So I suppose what I'm trying to ask is, was there a sense in your career where you felt like, not just that things were changing, but that you could implement that? You could help speak to people, influence people in order to have more women around you? 

Gabby [00:30:53] Yeah when I, when I started to feel more confident, I suppose, about what I was doing and that probably came, you know, around the same time as having kids because that was 32, I'd had a terrible experience at ITV, a new boss came in, didn't want me to be the lead presenter. I thought that was the end for me. You know, I thought oh I'm finished. 

Annie [00:31:11] And then having kids as well on top. 

Gabby [00:31:12] Yeah I mean, I was literally still carrying one year old twins in my arms at this point, when he's having phone calls with me and sending me home from World Cups and things. And so thank God the BBC had a show they wanted me to front, and they also wanted me to be involved in their Olympic coverage and ultimately their rugby and football and other things. At the same time, I managed to move from ITV to the BBC and that was a new beginning and my confidence took a big hit for a while, I'd say a year, but once I got my chops back and I felt more confident, that's when I think I started to find my voice a bit more about, you know, and being able to say, actually, it might have been first of all regarding women's sport, you know that why are we not showing more women's sport? Why have we not got these-? So it was those conversations where I probably found my voice earlier on, and then looking at across the room and working out that we didn't have women, you know, fronting other programs and- Clare Balding was already at the BBC. Sue Barker been doing tennis, but Claire was a bit more multi-sport and Hazel and they, I felt, were also starting to find their, their voices. So yeah, you know, I was lucky to be in that vanguard of women who were able to speak up and say, right, okay, let's- let's have a look, *laughing* what's fair here. Oh, there's only 2% of coverage across all mainstream media this year has been women's sport, we need to redress this, you know. And and so it starts to build. And I think you get things like the Olympic Games in 2012 where it felt like there was a massive shift in the perception of what women could achieve in sport, and more women from Great Britain won goals than men and that kind of moment where you're part of that movement and it becomes a lot more comfortable and a lot more enjoyable to start the conversation. 

Annie [00:32:57] But why the hell has it taken so long for it to be worthy of attention, women's sport I mean?  

Gabby [00:33:04] Yeah, it's amazing, isn't it, that you look back now- I look back to my childhood and I was talking to someone about this the other day, Saturday mornings was a show called Transworld Sport on Channel Four, and it showed things like kabaddi and all these kind of really alternative sports, and they always had about a four minute window of rhythmic gymnastics which was my sport, so I always tried to watch it. And I look back now and think that was the only place I saw women doing sport, was that programme *laughing* probably, across the week unless Wimbledon was on or unless the Olympics were on, where you know, we'd have the odd athlete who was highlighted. That was probably it. And it's incredible. And if you can't- you see, I know it's just a cliche but if you can't see it, you can't be it. You don't think you can be it. You don't think it's ther- you know, well who is it? Who's there for me to look up to? So not having these role models for young girls, not having professional sport for young girls, you know, if you're a young girl trying to persuade your family that you should be able to do sport and there's no pathway as a career in sport, then they just think you're wasting your time and your opportunities, which is what I hear time and time again from people of my age who have great sporting credentials and great sporting talent, but never actually managed to use it in any meaningful way or any kind of career. When I was born, football was banned, so I couldn't have been a professional footballer because that wasn't a possibility for me as a child, because football had been banned for 50 more years, you know.

Annie [00:34:22] It's just really important to take this out for a second and just remind our listeners that it was not possible to play women's football until what year?! 

Gabby [00:34:30] Until the 70s, until the early 70s.

Annie [00:34:33] Until the 70s so it was banned. Why was it banned, Gabby? Why?! 

Gabby [00:34:36] Because it became popular. Because during the war, the Second World War in particular, when men had got sent off to fight, people still wanted to watch football. And so these women's football teams started attracting tens of thousands of crowds. There was a team called the Ditka Ladies who were from a munitions factory and they were really famous because they attracted so- you know, such huge crowds, they were absolutely brilliant, winning everything. And then the men came back from war, and suddenly there was an edict from the FA that actually it wasn't safe, these women, it wasn't safe for them to play football because the ball might hit their abdomen and then that would affect their child rearing possibilities and there were all kinds of- 

Annie [00:35:13] I never knew this.

Gabby [00:35:14] There were lots of spurious kind of reasons that erm, that were given, one was the safety for women and then it was banned. And so organised football for women in this country was banned and women were not allowed to play so obviously nobody could stop a child in the back garden taking her brothers football, you know, or whatever, but actually going out and playing in a team, playing at school, not even a possibility until the 70s. But even when the 70s came along, there was nothing organised, nothing set up it was just- and by this point, by the way, you know, in Norway they already had like semi-professional footballers and *laughs* and the Scandinavian countries. And of course in America it was growing at the same rate as men's game. So in America, which is why they've been so dominant in global football, the American women, they grew up playing football alongside their brothers. They didn't- there was never a period of time where it was unusual for girls and boys to play together. It was never seen as a boys sport in America, ever. And so we were so- we were such an anathema in that respect. And actually makes it even more incredible how, how well women have done since they picked it back up again. 

Annie [00:36:15] Yeah. So they've had literally 50 years to entirely, like, reinvigorate a sport and- 

Gabby [00:36:20] We're not actually that far away, you know, we're kind of within a generation away from a time when it was really poor that, you know, the options and the possibilities for women. So it's really the last 15 years things have changed dramatically for the women in this country. I remember when the BBC play- had an FA Cup, a women's FA Cup final a few years ago before I worked for the BBC, and I was watching this match, and even on the coverage *laughing* the commentators were saying 'maybe they should just reduce the goals because the goalkeepers aren't good enough and'- so it's not that long ago that people were saying things like that openly. Now, it's amazing how the standard of goalkeeping at the last World Cup in Australia last summer was actually lauded for how brilliant it was. And by the way, they didn't reduce the goals, do you know what they did? They actually got goalkeeping coaches because what they realised was that these women were not actually coached *Annie laughs*. So- and it's like Rachel Brown-Finnis who used to be the England goalkeeper has talked about this a lot, how isn't it amazing how when you actually get a goalkeeping coach which boys have had, like since the beginning of time, that the women suddenly became great goalkeepers. So of course women have different challenges in goalkeeping, for you know, the women's game. But we didn't see in the last World Cup these huge ten nil drubbings or massive- it was a really tight World Cup. So all those things have improved, the standard of players improved and the quality and the coverage. 

Annie [00:37:34] It's great, I love it. 

Gabby [00:37:34] It's symbolic of other things in society. And that's what I always say to my- my daughter's never played football really, she's played little bit of other sports. During the women's Euro- err no it was the women's World Cup in 19, when England got to the semis, I was away in France and I came home and she said, 'mum, all the girls at school are talking about the Women's World Cup'. 

Annie [00:37:51] Yessss! 

Gabby [00:37:51] And she was 13 at the time. I said, really? She said, yeah it's amazing, they're all talking about it. Now, those girls in her class weren't going to become women's footballers, but what would that have shown them about what was possible? What are the things, other things in society that they felt weren't for them, that that might have given them an idea? 

Annie [00:38:06] Yes. Yes! 

Gabby [00:38:07] And that, for me, was the really joyous bit about that whole, you know, campaign and feeling that girls were talking- and now I remember my builder was at the house doing something for us and he's a massive kind of sports generally, and when I came back the first thing he wanted to talk about was Ellen White and her goalscoring *Annie laughs*. And I was like, My God, if Carl Edwards is talking to me about Ellen White then we have- we have moved something here. 

Annie [00:38:28] It's so exciting. And I also want to say, like just with regards to football and women's football, so many women- and I spoke to Leah Williamson about this on this podcast, stop sport in puberty, they stop competitive sport. But there's such a whole world out there to still play sport for the love of it. And watching the euros for me, which I watched in Ireland with my sons and honestly, I just found it so deeply moving because I was a baller when I was in primary school, I was like the one of two girls on the boys team, and then I stopped. And then moved to England, wasn't brave enough to join a team. I've started playing football again Gabby. 

Gabby [00:39:05] Waaay! 

Annie [00:39:06] And I'm 45! 

Gabby [00:39:07] That's amazing. 

Annie [00:39:07] I've joined like a local women's club and I can't stop talking about it to anyone who will listen *Gabby laughs* but I just love it! And I think if it wasn't for watching the euros and reminding myself of how much I used to love it, and maybe thinking that it could still be for me- 

Gabby [00:39:21] Yeah. 

Annie [00:39:22] I wouldn't have had the, I'm not going to say balls *Gabby laughs* because that's not literally correct. The boobs, whatever it is, I wouldn't have had the nerve to like, walk into a club and say like, can I have a go? *Overtalking eachother*. 

Gabby [00:39:33] Women are generally I think, probably much more reticent to do that than- I don't think a bloke would have that crisis of confidence to do that because they, they've grown up with it all the way. So you get some, some guys I know who were terrible football but they still carried on playing even though they were never going to be professional. Whereas, this is going back to my point earlier, I always feel like women almost, as you say, the puberty thing is huge and it still is sadly, girls dropping out of sport. I mean really that's a big area of, I think, a target I think for any government. You've got to keep women and young girls playing sports. But it's also that confidence thing about am I in the right place as a woman? Is this the right place for me? And I just hope that the younger generations do not see or feel that all now. They, you know, they feel like their place is anywhere they want it to be and they can play football all through their teens and into their 20s just for the hell of it, because they really love it. 

Annie [00:40:24] And into their 40s! 

Gabby [00:40:25] Yes. 

Annie [00:40:25] If you're listening. 

Gabby [00:40:26] And your 50s! Well, I had Rachel Burden on my podcast The Mid-Point last week, from 5 Live, and she does walking football. So even if you think you- 

Annie [00:40:33] Oh, no way. I never knew that existed.

Gabby [00:40:34] Yes, she talks about it on 5 Live quite a bit so I asked her about it and you like- you know walking in the Olympics, like the speed walking or the-

Annie [00:40:42] Yeah, yeah. 

Gabby [00:40:43] It's the same rule, you can't have one foot- erm one foot has to be on the ground at all times. She actually managed to break her ankle playing walking football so *Annie laughs* it's obviously quite physical *laughs*. 

Annie [00:40:53] I've never heard of that, that's amazing. 

Gabby [00:40:55] So beyond, beyond your 50s, into your 60s. 

[00:40:57] *Short musical interlude*

Annie [00:41:09] Okay Gabby, let's ask the final change question, the change you would still like to make moving forwards. And that can be for your own life, but it could also be for the world around you. It's a pretty vast question so apologies. 

Gabby [00:41:20] Yeah, I know, and I had said- I think I was feeling, when I was first asked this question I was feeling quite despondent about the world that day and feeling like I just want, I want to change the world to be everybody to start being kind to each other and, you know, just feeling like people take a bit of time to notice other people. And if people are different, people live different lives and just acceptance feels like it's, everything's gone very binary. You know, you're either this or you're that and I sometimes listen to people and think, oh God, how are these people so convinced by their own opinions, you know, and it's- 

Annie [00:41:48] *Laughs* yeah. 

Gabby [00:41:48] It feels like people are very entrenched and that middle area of maybe thinking that you could change your mind on something, you know it seems to have disappeared, you've got to be one thing or another. And I wish, I wish we could change that. You know, I appreciate that that's not a change I might see in my lifetime, but I would love that to happen. But on a very personal level, the change I would like is I'm currently training for a half marathon, I would like to wake up tomorrow morning and find out that I am a natural runner after all *Annie laughs*. Every run I do is tough and I've never found that- I get runner's high, but I don't ever get a runner's feeling of 'ahh God I could just carry on for another 20 miles'. The problem I've got is I decided the other day, I work with Paula Radcliffe, Steve Crabb. 

Annie [00:42:30] Ohh my God! 

Gabby [00:42:31] Jessica Ennis-Hill and I'm watching all these other amazing young athletes running and I think, oh God, why do I not look like that when I run? *Annie laughs* I'd like to look like a gazelle when I run. So yeah, so on a completely selfish and err, self-absorbed change, I'd like to wake up tomorrow morning and find I am indeed a 20 year old Paula Radcliffe *Annie laughs* and I can just run with ease. That would be lovely. 

Annie [00:42:53] Gabby, thank you so much for chatting with me today. It's been an absolute honour. And don't forget, if you're listening to check out The Sports Agents podcast I've really been enjoying it actually. I love the Chris Horner episode especially because it just really gives you the lowdown on all of these things in sport that you might not know everything about, and it's really fun and entertaining as well so thank you so much for that. 

Gabby [00:43:13] Thank you for having me. It's been great. 

Annie [00:43:20] If you enjoy Changes, please do rate, review and subscribe to the podcast. Share it with your friends and family, go on social media, tell everyone about it, tag me Annie Macmanus, I always love to see how you react to these episodes and it's just so helpful to be seen and to be shared by you lot so thank you so much if you do. There's a whole catalogue of episodes to listen to. If you have missed any at all, go back and check 'em out and we'll be back next week. Changes is produced by Louise Mason with assistant production from Anna de Wolff Evans. See you next time!