Changes: Sara Cox
The audio version of this episode is available here.
Annie [00:00:05] Hello, my name is Annie Macmanus, welcome to Changes. This week's guest is one of the most beloved broadcasters in the UK. Her name is Sara Cox. Currently BBC Radio Two's drivetime host, Sara has grown up in our public consciousness. We know her for being relentlessly funny, and incredibly warm, and self-deprecating and just deliciously northern. Her Bolton accent always shining through. She started out as a model before turning to TV. Maybe you remember her on Channel Four's, The Girlie Show, in the nineties where Sara looked after a feature called Wanker of the Week where, along with hand gestures, she would meticulously explain why said person was a total wanker that week. She went on to work at Channel Five, presented MTV Hot, and then became a regular on The Big Breakfast where she did interviews in what was set up as her father's caravan with people like Robbie Williams and Leonardo DiCaprio. She was in her early twenties, she was beautiful, she was ballsy and she was effortlessly funny. And because of her charisma, people just took to her. She was always in the papers, she was always in gossip magazines and she went on then to get one of the biggest gigs in broadcasting in the UK, the Breakfast show on Radio One, following in the footsteps of Chris Evans and Zoe Ball. It was at Radio One that we met and subsequently became friends, which you will hear about in this episode, but since then Sara has moved on to Radio Two and has kept a career in television alongside that. She hosted that wonderful show, The Great Pottery Throwdown, for a while, and her own book show is still on the television, it's called Between The Covers and that goes out on BBC Two. It's a big contrast to Wanker of the Week, I think you'll agree. Sara has also turned her hand to writing herself. Her best selling memoir is called Till The Cows Come Home, and she has a novel out called Throne and is working on her second novel now. Sara came round to my house one night at the end of summer, actually, it was a very hot, balmy night. She'd just finished her radio show and we went down to the rave shed and had this conversation. Let's get into it... Sara Cox! Welcome to Changes.
Sara [00:02:26] Hi babe! This is a nice treat.
Annie [00:02:27] Are you nervous about this? Real talk.
Sara [00:02:30] I'm doing a sweat check... on my palms.
Annie [00:02:35] I was just like looking up- you haven't done that many podcasts.
Sara [00:02:36] I don't do many podcasts. I say no to loads of them because I just feel like, you know, I'm talking at a lot of people for 3 hours, Monday to Friday. So when I get asked to talk more *whispers* I'm just like no.
Annie [00:02:51] *Whispers* no you're good, thanks.
Sara [00:02:52] I just- I'm going to- there'll be a day where I'll just run out of words. And I'll just be, you know, I'll have to then communicate through modern movement and dance, and nobody wants that.
Annie [00:03:03] They won't, though. And that's why you have your job. Because they'll never be- that day will never come *Sara laughs*. Your mouth will be still moving if you're unconscious. Like it's muscle memory, you just won't be able to stop.
Sara [00:03:14] 'What were her last words?' *both laugh*. She kept talking, even when she was dead she was still... twanging on *laughs*.
Annie [00:03:26] She was throwing her head to Wham! after this trail *both laugh*. So we're here to talk about change.
Sara [00:03:28] Yeah.
Annie [00:03:29] How are you with change?
Sara [00:03:31] Gosh, that's a really good question. I don't think I'm very good with change.
Annie [00:03:38] Right.
Sara [00:03:38] It's complicated, isn't it? Because I feel like change is actually really good for ya. To embrace it is healthy. And to, you know- I'm obsessed about this podcast I heard years ago- it wasn't a podcast actually it was like a Radio Four thing and it was Armando Iannucci and he was talking about when your little time goes really slowly because when you're six, you know, everything is new in the world and you're having new experiences all the time, and as you get older, time goes quicker. And he was really exploring why and how the brain handles time and how your perception of time going quicker, and it's because you don't do anything new as you get older so there's no little markers dropping in your brain like 'today I learned this, I saw this for the first time, I sat on one of these for the first time, I ate this for the first time'. You don't have these first time markers anymore so your brain wave just goes like *blubbering noise*. I mean, that's not scientific but-
Annie [00:04:34] But it sounds accurate.
Sara [00:04:37] Ooo yeah! And time just then slips through your fingers. And I think change is something that is helpful to drop those little markers, you know, when things happen in life because it's a new event.
Annie [00:04:50] It's so true. That's exactly what it is. But do you find that that's happening less now?
Sara [00:04:55] Well, I'm trying to make change happen. I'm trying to do things. I'm trying to- I'm learning Italian on an app.
Annie [00:05:03] Are you, babe?! I'm learning Irish on an app.
Sara [00:05:06] Sì! Are you?
Annie [00:05:08] Yeah! Shah *both laugh*.
Sara [00:05:11] How is it going?
Annie [00:05:13] I didn't know you were doing that! I've been doing that for like erm, three months, four months now. I'm on an 108 day streak, babe. I'm on Duolingo.
Sara [00:05:21] That's impressive. No, I'm on *accent* Pimsleur
Annie [00:05:23] Okay. So interesting. So you're trying to learn- we're both doing the same thing.
Sara [00:05:27] Yeah, because I feel like it's- I mean, my brain must be like-
Annie [00:05:30] It's good for your brain that.
Sara [00:05:32] So crispy now! *Annie laughs* and I wasn't great with languages at school, but now it must just be like- you know.
Annie [00:05:39] Yeah, it's good to exercise different parts of your brain, isn't it?
Sara [00:05:41] Yes.
Annie [00:05:41] And I think you and I- I don't wanna speak for you so please contradict me if I'm wrong, but I think we are maybe similar in that there's a lot of just trying to hold life down. There's an element of kind of, for me anyway, of like change being inconvenient because you're just doing so much you can to kind of hold everything down and keep everything floating and run the house and remember everything and do everything, so sometimes it's just like I don't have time for change. As lovely as it sounds, no I don't have time. I just have to get through this week and this week and this week. But whenever it does happen, then you realise how important it is and how much you need it.
Sara [00:06:15] Yeah, I feel like I get very- like I really just want to get back to my little nest.
Annie [00:06:21] Yes.
Sara [00:06:22] Too much.
Annie [00:06:22] Yes, we were talking about that weren't we?
Sara [00:06:24] Yeah, and I'm trying to get out of that habit because I think my husband's quite like that, Ben's quite like that, and I think that really has an influence on you. Like, you know, whatever your partner does obviously has a massive influence on you. Mine doesn't drink and is quite happy to chill at home and loves being at home, and so that then obviously influences, you know, your behaviours as well. So I mean, I'm pleased he's not going out to all night drum'n'bass raves on a Tuesday.
Annie [00:06:54] Yeah. I think if you had to choose one or the other, the first one is better.
Sara [00:06:59] Absolutely. 100%. But at the same time, you know, when I do go out I'm like, oh yeah, I'm like, go out blinking into the world like a little mole *laughs* from it's hole like *puts on voice* 'ooo there's a world out here' *Annie laughs*.
[00:07:07] *Short musical interlude*
Annie [00:07:18] Let's talk about the change that happened in your childhood, like the biggest change, would you say? Or the most impactful change for you.
Sara [00:07:24] I think the most impactful one was probably when we moved- basically, I was born and raised in Bolton, and then we moved out of Bolton just for a few years. So it was for the last year of primary school.
Annie [00:07:39] Right.
Sara [00:07:39] And what changed was there had been a bit of an uplift in my mum and step dad's fortune-
Annie [00:07:50] *Surprisingly* Oh.
Sara [00:07:50] Where they basically got to run a conservative club. They're sort of like, licensees by trade. So before that there'd been a lot of unemployment with my stepdad, my mum holding down two or three jobs. It wasn't quite Angela's Ashes, *laughing* my mum goes mad at me *Annie laughs* for me going 'there was 18 of us sharing one pair of pants and we lived in a crisp packet' and she's like babe, it wasn't that bad. I'm like yeah sorry *both laughing*. But, you know, she worked really hard, my mum, and then they were doing holiday relief at various different sort of like weird pubs and stuff.
Annie [00:08:27] What's- I'm so- what is holiday relief?
Sara [00:08:29] Pre filling for somebody on holiday so some- you know some- people who run like-
Annie [00:08:34] Their own business or their own pub or something?
Sara [00:08:36] A pub, yeah. Anyway, they then got to be steward and stewardess of Boothstown Conservative Club, sort of on the outskirts of Manchester, about 20 minutes away from where I'd been brought up, perhaps a bit longer. And we lived in the accommodation that was attached to it.
Annie [00:08:54] Who's we?
Sara [00:08:54] Me, my sister- I've got two sisters, two brothers. It was me, my next up sister, the other ones were big and grown up, and it was just a bit of an upswing for us as a family to me, because suddenly they were working and had jobs and I went- started off at a new school, a primary school, and I made some really lovely friends there and felt really secure. It was around the corner from me. It was just quite a big change to be in this new area, making new friends. And then before I knew it we were starting at the secondary school and actually my first year at the secondary school there was lovely, at Bedford High School. Got the bus there with our little pals from primary school. It was probably my happiest time at school because when we moved back to Bolton, I kind of got bullied quite a bit because I was the new girl again but, you know, it was a real shame because I was really settled. I loved Bedford High, it was a really nice school. You know, we got up to scrapes, like I'd nick a couple of me step dad's fags when he was having a snooze in between shifts at the Conny Club, and we'd go over. And like, that thing when you're little where you like, break into the school playground where you spend all your time anyway *Annie laughs* and then that's where you go in your spare time because *laughs* it's so- the jeopardy of being there when you're not supposed to be there.
Annie [00:10:15] Yeah. So how many years were you at this school then before you- in that secondary, before you went back?
Sara [00:10:18] We might have just started the second year, and then I moved. So not long at all really, it's a real shame. But for for months, for years afterwards, I would get two buses from Bolton to go back and hang out at Boothstown on the precinct there.
Annie [00:10:35] Really? Because you had those friends that you had, you were able to keep?
Sara [00:10:38] Yeah, so I just-
Annie [00:10:40] You stuck with them.
Sara [00:10:42] Kinda clung onto them, yeah. Walking through fields trying to get to the bus stop for the last bus and stuff.
Annie [00:10:47] Babe, I never knew that you were bullied, and I can't imagine you being bullied.
Sara [00:10:51] Did you not? Oh I was really bullied. I'm quite soft, I am quite soft. Even in recent years, if there's like, not so much but- knocking 50 now, I'm definitely, definitely toughened up but it's taken like 50 years *laughing* God! You know. I'm quite soft, I'm quiet like- if I feel- I can even make myself get a bit hot thinking about it, you know, that feeling like- it wasn't getting, like, battered, it was stuff like- it was the classic, I hate to say it, of girls doing that bit of a whispery thing in class.
Annie [00:11:25] Ohh no.
Sara [00:11:25] Or that little just trying to trip you up as you walk, as you are waiting outside the classroom to go in, you know, a little elbow here and there, a little bit of like ganging up and, you know, a bit of your friends not really wanting to stand up to-
Annie [00:11:41] Stand up for you.
Sara [00:11:42] Because they don't want to then get in the firing line themselves. Although, I did make frien- really, two nice friends there who I'm kind of in touch with and they sort of looked out for me a little bit.
Annie [00:11:54] But did it affect your learning? Did you lose confidence in that stuff as well? Like did that-
Sara [00:11:59] Well, I was very-
Annie [00:12:02] Very academic *laughs*.
Sara [00:12:09] Yes! I mean *both laughing* what I was going to say is another A word which was 'average'. I was very average as a pupil. I was average everything, I mean, I was in every sports team going and I was the worst player in everyone *Annie laughs*. Like, you know, I think I just like the smell of minibuses *Annie laughs*. I don't know what was wrong with me. I was like the real lame duck of every team without fail. Hockey, oh I could never get the stick the right way round *Annie laughs*, it's impossible, isn't it? Still now. You can only hit it with a flat side, what's the point of that? *Annie laughs* I'm like ahh, so complicated.
[00:12:40] *Short musical interlude*
Annie [00:12:50] So you are the youngest of five?
Sara [00:12:52] Yeah.
Annie [00:12:52] As the youngest of four, I have opinions on, like, how that shaped me, I suppose. How has it shaped you being at the kind of, the end of a big family like that?
Sara [00:13:02] Well, I guess there is an element of like, by the time it comes to number four or number five, your parents have just done so much parenting that they're like-
Annie [00:13:15] They're done.
Sara [00:13:16] *Sighs* 'yeah we're done now, go on, get on with it'. There's a little bit of that and there's a little bit of being indulged if you're the baby, you know, because you'll always- you'll forever be the baby. You will forever be, you know, the cutest one, the youngest one and I think you sort of naturally play up to that a little bit by wanting to, you know, make people laugh or, you know, I could always, you know, wrap my dad around my little finger. The same dynamics are still there. It's so bizarre, you get- you get older and nothing changes, it's the same dynamics with your siblings.
Annie [00:13:53] Yeah.
Sara [00:13:54] You know, like we- I went away to Italy for a weekend with my mum and my next sister up who's four years older. She's really good with languages. She'd brushed up on her Italian and this is before I started learning and we were in Bologna and, you know, I'm a grown ass woman, and my sister was like ordering stuff and doing all the accent and I just regressed. I was like 12. I was like, *puts voice on* 'oh my God! What's she doing an accent for even? Eughh' *Annie laughs* you know this kind of thing because she was always so smart and always so good at languages and stuff *laughing* and I was always a bit jealous.
Annie [00:14:31] Yeah.
Sara [00:14:32] But given a half a chance behind her back, I used to like, show off about how amazing she was. *Puts on voice* 'you know my sister worked in Paris when she was at university and a taxi driver thought that she was French-Canadian because her French is so amazing and her accent's so amazing. He thought it was her first language' *Annie laughs*. You know, that's like, what I used to trot that story out because I was so proud of her underneath it but when you're there and you're in the moment, you know, you just regress don't you. So bizarre!
Annie [00:14:54] It's crazy. Yeah, yeah, I do it every time I walk through the front door of my house in Dublin.
Sara [00:15:01] Yeah, where you're just suddenly a teen again.
Annie [00:15:02] All the siblings regress into the roles that they were. So my role as the youngest was definitely the kind of diplomat, the unofficial like, keep everyone happy, make everyone laugh.
Sara [00:15:12] Oh really? Interesting. Yeah, yeah you've got to massage the mood and change the ambience. There was a bit of that- because there was a divorce in our family and it hit the older ones much more, you know, affected them much more than me and I was quite young.
Annie [00:15:22] What age were ya?
Sara [00:15:23] I think I was like six, seven.
Annie [00:15:26] Right.
Sara [00:15:26] And they were all much bigger and teenagers and stuff, especially the older ones so it's much harder for them. So I think there was an element, a little bit, of people putting on a brave face when I would come sweeping into a room because I wouldn't really understand.
Annie [00:15:39] What was going on.
Sara [00:15:40] What was going on or why people were upset.
Annie [00:15:42] Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah.
Sara [00:15:44] So I think I probably got used to that, like ooo, when I walk into a room peope start smiling at me! *Laughs*.
Annie [00:15:49] And then there's an expectation!
Sara [00:15:50] And then fast forward *both laugh* welcome to me show! *Annie laughs* You know, ahhh! God. Reel it in.
Annie [00:15:58] Well, let's fast forward then and in preparation for this, I had a little look at you as a young woman on television *Sara laughs* Fucking hell babe! The Girlie Show, The Wanker of the Week.
Sara [00:16:11] I wrote all my own wankers, you know-
Annie [00:16:13] Did you!!
Sara [00:16:13] I wrote my wankers.
Annie [00:16:14] Because I really recognise that from your Radio Two links.
Sara [00:16:16] Yes, yes, yeah. And that- and I was so proud of them.
Annie [00:16:21] Really clever writing!
Sara [00:16:20] I was really proud of my wankers. I remember now, at the offices in London's Notting Hill, at The Rapido offices, you know who made the crazy shows with err, what's it called that French- Jean Paul Gaultier and all that, they made those crazy shows.
Annie [00:16:37] Yes, yesss!
Sara [00:16:38] And Rapido TV and all that. And I remember being in one of the little offices there and going, 'I've written a wanker, I think it's quite good. I think it's okay' and like reading it out for them and they were- they encouraged it.
Annie [00:16:49] Yeah, yeah, yeah.
Sara [00:16:51] Here's enough rope *laughs* hang yourself on TV, babe *Annie laughs*. Oh thanks, great! But yeah, you're right, it's funny isn't it that that's-
Annie [00:16:59] Yeah, and The Big Breakfast. Presenting that with Johnny Vaughan, who I completely forgot about as a human being. My bad. Remembered him when I saw that, he was very good TV presenter.
Sara [00:17:10] He was great on telly. I love Johnny, he was so quick. I mean, the whole thing on The Big Breakfast was everybody was kind of like 25 and under. Everybody. Every cameraman, every camerawoman, every sound recordist, everyone was young.
Annie [00:17:28] You look like such a baby.
Sara [00:17:31] Working hard. Partying hard.
Annie [00:17:32] Such a baby.
Sara [00:17:33] Yeah, I was a babe. I was a little baby. What was I? Like 23, 24 maybe, yeah. And yeah, I had no fear. There's a famous clip where Johnny goes, what are you up to for the rest of the day Sara? And I go, I think I'm just going to go home and... Make love?
Annie [00:17:59] *Both laugh* everyone pisses themsel- this is just after he's reading the morning newspapers or something and she goes 'just gonna go home and make love' and then there's a big laugh and then you go 'if he's up for it that is!' *both laugh*.
Sara [00:18:03] And then they like- the camera whizzes round- you know, they got the family of the week there *Annie laughs* and still like --- I'm just like no fear. Just like, why not say it just to get a laugh? But I remember saying- you know, I'd never try and say it to like, try and be sexy or ought.
Annie [00:18:17] Yeah, yeah, yeah.
Sara [00:18:18] It was just to try and make people laugh and say the unexpected. But also there creatively, they were brilliant at The Big Breakfast, you know, they let me be Dr. Cox where I'd stick on a massive moustache and review CDs. And I'd be like sniffing the CDs and that and I was like this grubby kind of doctor like *puts grimey voice on* 'ooo let me have a- *sniffs* ooo this is a new one from Genelia *sniffs* oh' *Annie laughing*. And they were just- and I'd have a guest sat there with me and like- and I still get asked now like, was that really your dad's caravan in The Big Breakfast and I'm just like *laughing* no is it heck! What, the one with a man playing a keyboard in the toilet? No that wasn't real *both laughing*. Oh gosh. The Big Breakfast I was- I would do a lot of holiday filling or I would go on and do different little slots on there like in a caravan and- and it was great. And I was around the corner from here and you know they'd- where I live, the little flat, it's actually quite nice now, I could throw a scone from me front door and hit it.
Annie [00:19:14] Where is it babe?
Sara [00:19:14] It's on the end of your street, right out your door, the last one on the left.
Annie [00:19:16] You used to live on this street?!
Sara [00:19:18] Yeah.
Annie [00:19:19] How did I nev-?!
Sara [00:19:19] On the first floor flat, I've definitely told you.
Annie [00:19:21] How did I-
Sara [00:19:22] We might have had a wine.
Annie [00:19:23] My bad.
Sara [00:19:23] I've definitely told you but yonks ago.
Annie [00:19:26] There you go, my memory.
Sara [00:19:28] And it was when it wasn't quite as nice around here. There was a lot of graffiti on the wall. Like, cars from the BBC used to come and just be like... this can't be it? *Both laugh* They'd ring on, 'I'll be down in a minute!' *Annie laughs*. Oh my poor mum used to come to this scruffy little one bedroom flat. Don't smoke now obviously, but she used to come in and just first thing- I mean she, she barely got her coat off, kettle would be on first obviously, second she'd be washing me ashtrays *Annie laughs*.
Annie [00:19:59] Love her! And one of the clips on The Girlie Show I watched, she was in the audience as well, during Wanker of the Week as well *both laugh* and I was just like wow! What did she make of it all?
Sara [00:20:07] She's always loved it my mum. She's awesome. She is 4 foot 11 of like- she's a, she's a firecracker. She's incredible. You can chuck her into any social situation and she'll just fly.
Annie [00:20:21] Wow.
Sara [00:20:22] She can mingle, she can mix, she can talk to anybody. She's brilliant. And she's always been a massive support and I always loved it. I think it was harder for my dad because, you know, dads and their little girls.
Annie [00:20:31] Of course.
Sara [00:20:33] He was literally like, *puts on deep accent* 'are you going to err like, carry on with that telly then? *Annie laughs* cause your modelling were nice n that?' basically going when you were just a photograph and you weren't talking, calling people wankers *both laugh*. --- he was like, okay. But for mum, I mean she absolutely loved it. Like we used to go out- we used to go out with like 'Weeeel', you know from TFI Friday?
Annie [00:20:57] Yeah, yeah, yesss!
Sara [00:20:57] I loved Will! He was a good mate. We used to go out- I'm proud to say I gave my mum my worst ever hangover drinking champagne till like 5 a.m. at the Met bar.
Annie [00:21:07] Oh my God. It's so brilliant! It's so nineties! I love it, I love it!.
Sara [00:21:09] It's so nineties. Wyclef Jean in one corner *Annie laughs*, Donna Air coming over to say hi with the Appleton sisters. It was the best! So good.
Annie [00:21:21] Oh my God. Do you have many memories of the nineties, babe?
Sara [00:21:25] Well, yeah, I've got like little snapshots. I've got Heat magazine *laughs*. Basically my diary. Just look in Heat magazine. Oh, God I was there on Primrose Hill with Snoop *Annie laughs* poor dog.
Annie [00:21:38] Oh Snoop!
Sara [00:21:38] Bless him. Still got his ashes by me bed.
Annie [00:21:41] Have you babe?!
Sara [00:21:41] He was in the pantry for a bit like near- he was near all like the breakfast cereals and stuff, I was like this is too risky.
Annie [00:21:46] Think it needs a bit of wheat bran or something *Annie laughs*.
Sara [00:21:51] Like, I think it's off? Sprinkled some on, 'no mum! You've eaten Snoop!'. Yeah, he's by me bed bless him. Yeah, I remember loads of it. I mean I was kind of- I worked quite hard for quite a lot of it, but then I also kind of partied hard, you know? And, you know, my career might have taken a different trajectory if I had reined in the partying a little bit. But having said that, I wouldn't be sat here now probably with you- if I'd have reined in my partying I certainly wouldn't have met my husband at Glastonbury *laughs* that time when you were there- The man who's now my husband. So, you know, I will take it. I will happily take all my bad behaviour and keep it thanks and not swap anything.
[00:22:36] *Short musical interlude*
Annie [00:22:46] What would you say is the biggest change you've had in your adult life?
Sara [00:22:51] *Tuts* oh I'd say my husband but that's just too cringe isn't it?
Annie [00:22:52] No it's not. Of course it's fucking not.
Sara [00:22:53] Is that alright?
Annie [00:22:55] There's been some- especially in the context of him being a second husband, I think that's interesting. But tell me, tell me.
Sara [00:23:00] You know, I don't want to see him as a second chance because that does him a disservice BUT I was in a really unhappy place and in a really unhappy marriage with a young child and, you know, the Carly Simon song, I Wasn't Looking, But Somehow You Found Me, just sums up, you know, how I feel about Ben really. About just- *whispers* THANK FUCK. Like it freaks me out. Like, if we hadn't have met, like what the hell? How different the last 18 years would have been. And I'm sure a lot of people who are lucky enough to have met their soulmate feel like that. I think that's quite common to be like, you know, shit, what if? You know, and I'm just so, you know, I'm really, I'm really grateful for him and for sort of the changes that he brought about in my life.
Annie [00:23:58] And what were they? Talk me through some of what that looked like... or felt like.
Sara [00:24:00] Well, I guess just- maybe at last I felt a bit looked after.
Annie [00:24:06] Okay.
Sara [00:24:06] Which is-
Annie [00:24:06] After a very wild time. So intense work wise, pressure, being in the spotlight.
Sara [00:24:11] Yeah, well maybe you'd think, Coxy is the last person who needs looking after, but actually, I think I was-
Annie [00:24:17] Not at all.
Sara [00:24:18] Yeah, I think I was ready to be kind of... protected. I was going to say reined in a little bit, but what we did was we partied and then slowly over the years, we've reined each other in and we've both got to a really good place so that actually we're in a really good space where we can concentrate on our careers and look after ourselves and enjoy, you know, just life together.
Annie [00:24:44] Yeah. So tell me what Ben did.
Sara [00:24:47] I wasn't supposed to be choosing Ben you know, as a change.
Annie [00:24:49] Was that a last minute change up?
Sara [00:24:50] Yeah, that was a bit of a last minute because Ben has massively affected the person I am and my confidence or what I'm about. And whatever shit is going on, we can- we will always be able to laugh and try and equip each other. Whatever is going on.
Annie [00:25:07] Yeah. What did he say on the night that you met him that made you realise he was the one?
Sara [00:25:13] Well.
Annie [00:25:14] Or do. Within reason *both laugh*.
Sara [00:25:17] What happened was, was that one of my really good mates at the time, I was there with her and her boyfriend was a friend of Ben's. And so all that happened was that the four of us partied and I, within half an hour or an hour of meeting him, maybe within an hour of meeting him we were like, one of us went like 'champagne!' like let's get a bottle of booze. We're at Glastonbury but let's get a bottle of champagne or cava or whatever. Anyway, so we squeezed through to the bar and stood at the bar and I think I went, 'I'll go and get it' and then when I went to get it, I noticed- basically what I noticed was he was watching me, but he was watching over me. Like keeping an eye on me because I was kind of quite- I was really recognisable then and I was young and I had that sort of reputation for being like, wooo! Like you could come up and shout something.
Annie [00:26:14] Yeah, yeah in your face.
Sara [00:26:16] I'm actually quite- I'm not shy but I'm quite laid back and when I'm, you know, when I'm out I'm not necessarily jazz handing everywhere and so, you know, I would attract that sort of attention and he just watched over me and was just making sure that I was all right. And I've never really had that before. And it was a real eye opener and it's such a simple little thing. And also, he was just you know, he was just really hilarious and lovely and, you know, kind of hot. He was kind of hot. And so, yeah, I was just really attracted to him. Just thought he was really lovely. Nothing could happen at the time, obviously.
Annie [00:26:50] I remember the next day-
Sara [00:26:51] I had to make my excuses and leave. But yes, and the next day you-
Annie [00:26:56] The next day you couldn't, you didn't have a voice.
Sara [00:26:59] You laid the foundation stone upon which-
Annie [00:27:03] We became friends.
Sara [00:27:05] Our friendship is built because you did me a solid, as they say.
Annie [00:27:06] So you had to- you had to host a show in the afternoon. They were joining all the presenters up to co-host that day and I was chosen to co-host with you, and you couldn't talk. Well you could but it *loses voice* sounded like that.
Sara [00:27:17] I mean, I couldn't even do that much. It was awful.
Annie [00:27:20] So we had to go round the whole of Glastonbury, took up the healing fields, do some pottery, which is lol because look at what happened later on in your career, and we had to meet people and we had to go to all these different tents, but actually, funnily enough, I remember going up to the Stone Circle of which there is a lovely photo of us somewhere-.
Sara [00:27:37] Is there? Would looove a copy of that.
Annie [00:27:37] Gorgeous photo of you and me with Glastonbury behind us, and some guy coming up to you and really like being really full on and overfamiliar and you were just not having it. You were just like, no, I don't want it. And I remember being like, whoa! That's not okay. How he fucking just- radio isn't it where people are so overfamiliar. And then that joined up with telly as well.
Sara [00:27:59] Yeah, I think people are often surprised that I'm not like 'oi oiii!' like 24/7. Now obviously it's calmed down, although getting the tube home the other night someone went 'Sara Cox!' at me on the tube.
Annie [00:28:14] Oh my God, nooo!
Sara [00:28:15] I looked and like, this guy sort of went ---
Annie [00:28:18] Thumbs up.
Sara [00:28:18] At me and I was like mmm, and I was probably looked a bit grouchy but I'm like shut up. I was embarrassed because-
Annie [00:28:24] Of course, then the whole tubes looking at you.
Sara [00:28:27] Scurried off. But yeah, I would get quite a bit of that. But you did me- I mean, yeah, you really looked after me for that whole show so thank you? *Annie laughs*. God I should have said thank you. Yeah, I literally couldn't speak cause I'd just been up all night having the best time.
Annie [00:28:40] Well, it is Glastonbury, come on.
Sara [00:28:42] Yeah.
Annie [00:28:42] So let's talk about work really quickly and how your attitude to work has changed, because you, in my experience, are always such a grafter and yeah, I was interested in your, your kind of feelings about working and ambition and all of that business. You have had such a long and successful career, like you've really stuck it out with so-
Sara [00:29:05] Yeah, I've been knocking around for so long now babe!
Annie [00:29:07] Yeah, but you've managed to stay at a really amazing level of success where you've kind of met- you've grown and you've grown old gracefully in everything you've done and you've- you've got your book show, you did your Great Pottery Throwdown, you're doing Radio Two now, so it's kind of like you've managed to make everything work for you as you've grown older.
Sara [00:29:23] There was definitely some dips, but I managed to disguise them a little bit as being like-
Annie [00:29:29] Maternity leave.
Sara [00:29:30] A bit like maternity leave *laughing*. Yeah I really love spending time with my babies *Annie laughs* *Slightly off mic* I've got no job, give me a job! *laughs*. No it was kind of like after kids, things would be a bit quieter, but actually it was fine because then I was around for the kids a bit more, so on the quieter times it was very much a transitional time between things tailing off at Radio One and picking up with Radio Two. There was the sort of quieter years towards the tail end of Radio One and I, I used to joke that I spent, you know, the second decade of my career making up for, you know, trying to change people's minds about the first decade of my career. So it took a long time for perceptions to change that, you know, I wasn't just gonna run on the telly and call people a wanker.
Annie [00:30:16] Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah.
Sara [00:30:17] And so I did lots of radio and radio was going well, but TV I couldn't really get much of a foot in the door because they still had this perception that I was just this gob on a stick who'd just be, you know, shouty, and I wasn't. And I was doing lovely stuff on radio and it was almost a bit like, hello? And you know my agent used to take me round to meet commissioners and stuff.
Annie [00:30:39] No way.
Sara [00:30:41] It was awful. She was like an aunt trying to sort of marry off her you know-
Annie [00:30:46] Her niece.
Sara [00:30:47] Her frumpy niece with a beard. And it was awful. It was so embarrassing. But she was like, this is what you have to do and I'm still with Mel now, with that agent. Same agent who was swinging round a pole during me breakfast show in Ibiza *Annie laughs* on a vodka and tonic at 7 a.m., I might add. And I'll tell you what happened, what was amazing was they asked me to host the Children in Need version of Sewing Bee, and I did that, and it went really well and I loved it. And that's when people started to go- cause it was on BBC Two, and that's when people start going, oh.
Annie [00:31:22] Yeah.
Sara [00:31:23] She's fine, she's not sweary or shouty, she's actually quite warm and nice. And I'd kind of been doing that on the radio-
Annie [00:31:28] The whole time, yeah.
Sara [00:31:28] I'd been quite warm and nice for quite a while on the radio. And then Love Productions then made Great Pottery Throwdown and asked me to host and I was cockahoop!
Annie [00:31:37] I remember.
Sara [00:31:38] I couldn't believe it. So happy and it was such a lovely show.
Annie [00:31:42] We need to talk about the change from- well, it's not a change because you still do your main job, your day job, but I suppose the change to being an author. When did you decide to write a book? I can't remember what was that? Well, obviously you wrote your memoir and that was a huge success.
Sara [00:31:56] Yeah, I love my memoir! I kept getting asked if I'd want to write parenting books... and I'm like, no.
Annie [00:32:03] Sara's gagging. Just if you're listening.
Sara [00:32:10] *Laughing* that's so immature init, sorry. You know, like Sara's like- *mockingly* Coxy's Kooky Guide to Parenting!
Annie [00:32:15] Yeah, yeah, yeah! I'm sure you were asked to write books about your fucking, like, young adulthood, like, but you can't remember any of that!
Sara [00:32:23] Yeah, I was just like oh my God, Zoe Ball's lawyers'll be banging onto me *both laugh*. I wouldn't do that. Yeah, and she- we have an unspoken pact *both laugh*.
Annie [00:32:33] Zip it!
Sara [00:32:35] So I was never going to do that, you know, a memoir of like, my work life and any sort of parenting thing so when I did have meetings with publishers and stuff, you know, because my agent was like, you should think about it because you- the way you are on the radio, that would transfer well to the written word in a memoir. And I talked a lot about the farm whenever I met anyone talking about what sort of book I'd do I'd end up, you know, talking about growing up on the farm so that seemed the most natural thing to do. And so, yeah, I wrote Till the Cows Come Home, but that was like such a pleasure, because it's just your own story so it's all there.
Annie [00:33:11] How'd you feel about writing now? Your writing now. You're a book- you're a memoir and a novel down.
Sara [00:33:16] You do get a little bit of sort of 'stay in your own lane-ism' with trying to write a novel.
Annie [00:33:22] Yeah but is that coming from you?
Sara [00:33:23] Yeah, no one else. *Together* it's all internal.
Annie [00:33:26] Yeah, I got that too.
Sara [00:33:27] Yeah. Did you get a touch of that?
Annie [00:33:29] Of course. Imposter syndrome.
Sara [00:33:32] Yeah. I think everybody gets a little bit of that when they're trying something new, I guess.
Annie [00:33:38] Yeah. Babe, do you have a plan? Like a long term plan work wise? Did you say you're coming on 50 now? Let's say in ten years time, do you still want to be doing telly? You still want to be doing radio? What's the-
Sara [00:33:48] Would love still to be doing both! I would definitely love still to be doing radio for sure, and I'd still like to be writing really, and I'd still like my horse, not the same horse or she'd be a ---. She'll be out to pasture.
Annie [00:34:03] Yeah.
Sara [00:34:05] And hopefully I won't be *Annie laughs*. I mean, I can't imagine not working. I mean, I love it so much. I mean, it's weird, isn't it? As women sometimes you're a bit- because I fell into different jobs and different career changes, I've always been like, no, I'm not ambitious. You know, I've just fallen into things. I've not had any plan. But actually, I do think I am quite ambitious.
Annie [00:34:28] Yeah, it's funny that it's- there's something uncomfortable about claiming that word as a woman. Why the fuck shouldn't you be allowed to be ambitious?
Sara [00:34:36] I know, it's a little bit- I think it's almost- it's a bit like a dirty word sometimes. It's almost framed up there with bossy a little bit.
Annie [00:34:43] Yeah, but it's also- there's something- it's kind of connotations that come with it of kind of like competitiveness or a kind of one-upmanship.
Sara [00:34:50] 'I would do anything to where she's at', you know like it's a bit unseemly, unladylike. And obviously now I think that's absolute bullshit. And I think I am quite ambitious and I do want to, you know, keep doing what I'm doing, but I am, you know- well as long as I get an hour or so everyday to regress and ride around on me pony.
Annie [00:35:09] Yeah. You need that.
Sara [00:35:10] And be with my dogs.
Annie [00:35:10] Yeah. You need the dog, you need the animals. Never known anyone who's got such a harem of animals, as you.
Sara [00:35:16] Well I've just bought a pizza over cause otherwise it was another cat *laughs*.
Annie [00:35:21] Or another dog, you just got another dog!
Sara [00:35:23] *Laughs* we can't get another do- I mean.
Annie [00:35:24] How many have you got? Two- two dogs? Three dogs?
Sara [00:35:27] Three dogs, two cats, two tortoises and a horse *both laugh*. I mean, you know.
Annie [00:35:35] Three kids and a husband.
Sara [00:35:37] My brain I think still is back on the childhood farm.
Annie [00:35:40] I just feel like you are- like you thrive from having things to do and people to look after, like you're a nurturer by nature... or is that wrong?
Sara [00:35:48] I don't know if I'm a nurturer you know, I just think I'm a project person.
Annie [00:35:53] Ahh.
Sara [00:35:53] So now, like, I'm going to try and learn Italian and, you know, it'd be nice to go off somewhere where no one will speak English to me, in Italy.
Annie [00:36:00] Yeah.
Sara [00:36:02] But also I think I'm quite a project person so now I bought this random pizza oven and now I'm going to learn how to make the best pizzas in north west London.
Annie [00:36:12] Well I'm looking forward to the invite.
Sara [00:36:13] You're going to come round and have some.
Annie [00:36:15] Puttanesca, please babe.
Sara [00:36:16] I'm not- yes, I can do that. That tuna?
Annie [00:36:21] Olives, bit of capers.
Sara [00:36:22] I don't- I mean, I'm not a big pizza eater *Annie laughs*. I don't know what I'm doing.
Annie [00:36:24] It's not a dog.
Sara [00:36:29] Yeh, so it's not a dog.
[00:36:29] *Short musical interlude*
Annie [00:36:39] What is the change you would still like to see moving forwards? If anything, if you have to change something about your life or, you know, or if it's not your life, the world around you. That's fucking vast though.
Sara [00:36:51] *Blows air* that's too big isn't it, God.
Annie [00:36:52] Yeah, it's a bit big.
Sara [00:36:55] So I'm just going to be selfish and do it for something for me I think.
Annie [00:36:57] Yeah, it's easier.
Sara [00:36:58] I think the dream- I still think very much, which I've said to Ben 'ahh, this won't happen, it's too late', but he was like, 'babe not necessarily, once we've fully binned off the kids and they've left home', you know, I think for me, returning to a little farm is the dream, is the real dream-
Annie [00:37:19] Really? Seriously?
Sara [00:37:19] To be honest, joking aside yeah, that's the dream one day. When the kids are big and they've moved away and we'd rent the house out and-
Annie [00:37:27] What would Ben do on this farm?
Sara [00:37:29] Well, he's told me, you know, he's like, babe, if that's what needs to happen, I'm with you. So we could find his inner farmer *Annie laughs*. I mean, the first time he came up to me dad's bless him, stood there in some borrowed wellies by the bullpens in the drizzle, he's like what the hell? *Annie laughs* so we'll see but I think that for me- not yet, but one day, to be there. *Laughing* remember when you came round the other week, and I didn't think I looked that bad and you were like, 'you know babe, in that outfit I can really see you in the future on your farm in your scruff' *Annie laughs*. It was just a pair of Crocs. Was it the Crocs, a fleece-
Annie [00:38:16] And just a nice faded jean.
Sara [00:38:20] Fair play, quite an ill fitting jean *Annie laughs*. I was like, I thought I looked quite good! Was going out to the club *laughs*.
Annie [00:38:20] It's farm chic. Farm chic babe.
Sara [00:38:28] Yeah, no. And that's when I'm in me happiest, when I'm in my scruff. When I'm in, you know, my little riding boots and my joddys and when I like- and I'm a bit smelly, you know, smell a bit of horse and I've got a manky fringe. That's when I'm really happy when I'm kicking about like that. So it'd be really nice if I could combine that with work carrying on, then that would be the dream, I think.
Annie [00:38:53] Okay, babe. Well, I wish you luck for the farm dream. I hope I can come se-
Sara [00:38:56] *Laughing* wish Ben luck more than me.
Annie [00:38:58] I hope I can come and see you.
Sara [00:39:00] Hundred percent. We'll have Puttanesca.
Annie [00:39:02] Puttanesca pizza over the fields. Yes, yes, yes.
Sara [00:39:05] Sounds nice.
Annie [00:39:06] Thanks babe.
Sara [00:39:06] Thanks, darling.
Annie [00:39:12] Thank you so much to Sara Cox. Of course, you can hear her on Radio Two every single day on drive time. Go and check out her book as well, it's called Throne, and the memoir if you want to hear more about that kind of bucolic, blissful childhood that she had on her parent's farm. And if you did enjoy this episode and you're just a fan of radio and you want to hear some more from broadcasters, we've had some amazing broadcasters on this podcast actually. Fearne Cotton, Trevor Nelson and Louis Theroux have all been on Changes this year, so go and take a listen to those episodes if you fancy. Do please rate, review and subscribe to Changes, it is so appreciated and if you fancy sharing it on social media too, that would be amazing. The more people we can get listening to these episodes the better, we want to tell our stories far and wide. Changes is produced by Louise Mason through DIN Productions, and I'll be back next week with more! See you then.