From Children’s BBC to reality TV presenter, Angellica Bell speaks candidly about her amazing life off-camera.Dressed in black tights, Ugg boots and a knee-length dark-green T-shirt dress, TV presenter
Angellica Bell hops out of a silver Mercedes taxi and enters the south London studio where her Flavour cover shoot is taking place. In the flesh she is extremely slim and a lot shorter then she appears on TV. Gone is the short bob she used to have when she worked on Children’s BBC (CBBC) now she’s sporting a long mane of jet-black hair which she pushes back off her shoulder as she greets the waiting Flavour team. She is as infectiously chirpy just like she appears on the box, but she’s no longer the cute girl that you may remember. She is all grown up hosting reality and factual entertainment shows and is ready to show everyone her sexy side. So that’s exactly what we let her do.
Flirting with the camera
Slipping into a short gold dress and six-inch purple stilettos Angellica shows off a great set of pins and she isn’t afraid to flirt with the camera. At ease with every click, her friendly persona shines through and it’s easy to see why she’s a successful presenter. For many people their big break happens when they least expect it. Sometimes it’s a matter of being in the right place at the right time and that’s exactly how Angellica’s dream came true. ‘After graduating from uni with a degree in politics, I started temping at the BBC and got spotted,’ says the star. ‘One day I was temping, the next day I was on live afternoon TV. I can’t describe the change. I thought that I was in a bubble.’
Getting the job may have been easy, but presenting isn’t as simple as it seems. Like any job, practice makes perfect. ‘Hopefully nobody has those tapes of the first few months because I was shocking,’ she says laughing reminiscently. Angellica presented the prime-time children’s TV slot for six and a half years. If you can cast your mind back to those early days, Angellica admits that she didn’t look like a typical presenter. ‘I was fat, I had glasses and I wasn’t really glam looking. I looked like a bit of a geek.’
Despite how she looked, it was evident that Angellica had natural talent and her career has flourished ever since. During her time at CBBC she was the main anchor for The Saturday Show, Xchange, 50/50 and Short Change. Although Angellica will always be associated with children’s TV, she has presented shows including Holiday Hit Squad and Departure Lounge. She got her groove on in Dance Xtra for BBC Entertainment, explored behind the scenes for EastEnders Xtra and looked at the abolition of the Slave Trade tracing her St Lucian family line back to Senegal in Angellica: Time Traveller.
She is currently a roving reporter on BBC1’s topical daily programme The One Show and a savvy air hostess on ITV2’s reality show Celeb Air, which follows 10 celebrities as they run an airline. All the celebs have undertaken a rigorous six week training programme organised by Monarch Air and Lisa Maffia and Mica Paris are two of the stars taking part. Having featured in Channel 4’s The Games, Lisa is no stranger to reality TV. However this area is new to Mica. Angellica admits that confident and feisty Mica is her favourite celebrity taking part. ‘She is a diva in a really lovely way, she’s so funny, she doesn’t like to be told anything and she likes her sleep. I love her, but everyone on that show is brilliant. They’ve all got different strengths.’
Enjoying her current role as the hostess with the mostess she’s having fun, but she hasn’t taken her eye off what she wants to do next. ‘I would love to present Saturday night programming. Shiny floors, live audience. I’d love it,’ she states pausing for a minute at the thought. ‘Prime time shows and family entertainment is definitely what I want to do as I don’t want to alienate my younger audience. That would be amazing. But if I… let’s not try and jinx it. It will happen, it will happen,’ she repeats like a mantra, convincing herself.
Just a matter of time
With many genres of programming under her belt, it’s just a matter of time before Angellica will get to front her very own X-Factor or Strictly Come Dancing, so she has nothing to worry about. Even though the popular presenter has graced our screens for many years, she is still one of the very few UK TV hosts that we don’t know much about. So what was life like for Angellica growing up? Raised by a single mother in West London with her two sisters, life was a far cry away from the world of glitz and glamour she lives today. ‘I never thought that I would make it. I never thought I’d be able to afford to buy my own car. I used to walk to school because we didn’t have a car and my friends helped me sometimes because I didn’t have any lunch money. So that has given me the drive to work hard for what I want and to be able to buy what I want.’
Angellica loves to cook and invites her mum and sisters round to dinner as she feels that, family is important because they keep her grounded. It’s because she does normal everyday things with her family and friends that the presenter is confident that the newspapers would never be able to run a scandalous article on her. ‘I am quite low key,’ she says. ‘I’ve not smoked and if I’m going to go drinking I’m not going to go where the paps are going to see me ‘cos I like to have a good time.’ Newspaper’s love stories on presenters. The likes of John Leslie, Fern Britton, Kelly Brooke, Denise Van Outen and Fearne Cotton have all made the headlines for things other then their presenting, but Angellica has managed to stay under the radar until now.
The only thing that the papers can dig up on her is a bit of so-called dirt on her love life, but when approached about it, the 30-year-old is open and honest. ‘Everybody thinks maybe I got married too young,’ she says. ‘We just weren’t compatible. It just wasn’t working.’ After 18 month’s of marriage to personal trainer Stuart Amory, she announced the split and at the same time confirmed her relationship with GMTV presenter Michael Underwood – who she has been friends with for nine years. They have been together for over four months and from the pictures in the press they seem to be incredibly happy, but she laughs at the idea of them still being in the honeymoon period. ‘See I don’t think that we’ve had the honeymoon phase because that boy was the same guy I was on CBBC with a few years ago.’
‘What is funny is I started CBBC and Michael was a bit jealous that I came in and got the best shift so he was a little mean to me. I was like ‘What have I done to him?’ but now I know that he liked me from the moment I walked into the building, but I didn’t see that.’
Over the years their friendship has grown as they’ve worked and travelled abroad together. ‘It was strange at first because he’s a mate,’ she says. ‘Can you really fancy a mate? She pauses at the thought, then goes on to say: ‘He’s amazing. He’s just funny. We laugh all the time. Don’t get me wrong he winds me up! He’s a man. But we do have a good time. Maybe it’s a bit like a fairytale. You’re friends with someone for a long period of time and then it blossoms. It’s pretty cool, I’m happy.’
There are also benefits of going out with someone who does the same job: ‘If you have appointments and you’ve made arrangements and filming over-runs he’s great. If you’re with someone who doesn’t understand they’re like: ‘We’ve arrangements!’ And I get that, but working in the media you can’t have a schedule. So it’s good that we are both in the same business and that we understand where each other is going.’
With a new man, a truly fantastic family and new TV series, Angellica appears to have it all. She works and raises money regularly for a number of different charities and is on the board at her local school and is happy with where her career is heading. She admits that race has never been a factor which has hampered her success. ‘I don’t think people look at me on TV and think ‘Oh she’s a black girl’, I think they think ‘That’s Angellica’. I have white, black and Asian children. Men of all colours come up to me and say: ‘I really fancy you’. We’ve got to realise that we’re in a different state of play and with the media attention on Barack Obama at the moment, he’s making other people more aware of that fact too.’
With an incredible presence, bubbly personality and positive attitude, I’m pretty sure we will see Angellica on our screens for a long time to come. With her background in politics, maybe she will get to interview Barack Obama if he reaches the White House…
Watch Celeb Air on ITV2 Tuesdays at 9pm and The One Show, weeknights at 7pm on BBC1. To hear