Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 24 July 2014

We ask Kerry McLean about the special relationships in her life

Close family: Kerry McLean presents Radio Ulster's afternoon slot

The 39-year-old from Ballymoney presents BBC Radio Ulster each weekday from 3pm. She is married to fellow BBC broadcaster Ralph McLean and they have two children, Tara (7) and Dan (6).

My husband, Ralph

I first saw Ralph when I was 14 and snuck into Kelly's in Portrush. He was standing against a wall and I spent the whole night walking past him, but he never noticed me. I have since found out that he's really short-sighted, so he just didn't see me!

As it turned out, Ralph and me started at the BBC in the same week and we became friends – that was 20 years ago. I then went off and travelled, lived in Scotland and London. When I came back to Belfast he walked into the office on my first day back and I thought, 'Wow, I forgot about him'.

We laugh all the time – he's definitely my best friend as well as my husband. He's never shouted at me and every single argument we've ever had has always ended up in giggles – I don't even know how that works!

My children, Tara and Dan

Being a mum is crazy, it's the best and hardest job in the world. Just before I had my first baby my granny told me that once you have a child, your head and heart will never be your own again. It's so true, because you spend your whole life worrying about them and thinking about them.

At the same time, they're the sweetest things. I discovered this morning my son had grafittied the walls in the bathroom but it read, 'I love Mum, from Dan' with lots of kisses. I had to tell him off, then give him a hug.

Tara is such a little princess and is disgusted with half of the things Dan gets up to. He's half-monkey and is always climbing things, so we can spend a lot of time with him in A&E.

My sister Seanagh

Seanagh is two years older and lives in Ballymoney too. We never got on when we were younger, we physically battered each other.

When I came back to Northern Ireland, Seanagh was living in Belfast and I ended up renting a room from her. We started to get to know each other as adults and she's the person I'm closest to, after Ralph. Particularly since we've both had kids we have more in common.

My parents, Fern and Sean

My parents live in Ballymoney – that's why we moved up there when the kids were born. They've been together since they were teenagers. My dad worked in South Africa as a game warden, met my mum on a visit home and never left. He's a retired civil servant and mum is a trade unionist, although she was a teacher. I have never won an argument with my mother. It's why I was such a well-behaved teenager because I was so scared of what she would put me through! With my dad, though, I could always get what I wanted.

I'm from a big, close family and every year about 20 or 30 of us will go to a hotel and take it over for a mini-break. Ralph holds his own with us very well and his family are lovely, too.

My secret crush is ... George Clooney

It's not so secret, as I talk about it on the radio all the time. I've told Ralph before if George came knocking I would have to lift my suitcase and wave goodbye!

Who I go to for advice

I go to my mum most of the time – she's had many panicky phonecalls in the wee hours when I'm worried about the kids. If not her, then I go to my granny, mum's mum. Everyone calls her Mummy Mary and she's very much the matriarch of the family. She raised four children and has seen it all and has a lot of good advice to give.

There's nothing you could go through that she hasn't been through herself.

My mentor

I was fortunate to work with Sue McGregor on the Today Programme in my early 20s. She was such a lady and so polite to everyone. Watching her, I realised that to get ahead you need to be nice and do the graft.

My fantasy dinner party

George Clooney, of course. He doesn't even have to speak as long as he sits opposite from me and I can look at him all night. Then I would ask Rob Brydon as he absolutely cracks me up, he's just such a funny guy. Next I would ask Bruce Springsteen. I get teased at the office as I try to sneak him on to the playlist every day, as I'm such a big fan. Finally, I would ask Harlan Coben the crime writer. I'm reading his books at a rate of knots and he's the first person whose books I've read where I haven't been able to guess the plot.

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