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'Women in sport should never be put off by their sex'

Published 10/10/2015

Gabby Logan on BBC’s The Edge
Gabby Logan on BBC’s The Edge
Gabby Logan on BBC’s The Edge
Gabby and Kenny Logan

Never one to shy away from a challenge, Gabby Logan has made the leap into TV game shows. But, she tells Gemma Dunn, she will always champion women in a male-dominated arenas.

Gabby Logan is the picture of health when we meet to discuss her new TV project, despite having worked late the night before, and has no qualms about sharing her "simple" formula.

"I look at food and health as one," explains the 42-year-old. "It's about taking more of a holistic approach to your wellbeing, but it takes time. In my early 20s, I didn't eat breakfast, but I felt so much better once the penny dropped. Now I have more energy than I've ever had."

Logan needs that energy in buckets, as a working mum of 10-year-old twins Lois and Reuben, with a demanding schedule (she's been a presenter for BBC Sport since 2007).

Her son, she says, is "obsessed" with all the big sporting events, adding: "It's nice that they pay an interest in what I do and think it's cool".

But there are moments when it's tough being away from her young family.

"It gets harder as they get older, as they need you for support. When you leave a six-month-old, you're the one that's feeling it, but when you leave a six-year-old, there's a lot more emotion on both sides," admits Logan, who's been married to husband, former rugby star Kenny Logan, for 14 years.

"We were actually telling our kids off this morning at breakfast, for giving the babysitter a hard time last night. We were both working, so I was explaining to my daughter that we're not out gallivanting! They just want to come with us."

The former international gymnast, who appeared on Strictly Come Dancing in 2007 ("I'm hoping eventually people will forget that I've done it and ask me again ...") exudes an air of calm confidence, something that undoubtedly comes from years of live broadcasting.

"I gained a really good grounding from sports presenting and journalism. I was very lucky to get in at a time when I could do that, and spend a long time learning my craft. And live sport gives you a great skill set for other areas of television."

In recent years, Logan's also presented The One Show, reality show Splash! - which saw celebs attempt to master the art of diving - and is now the new host of BBC One daytime game show The Edge, having taken the reigns from Mark Benton.

"I've done a lot of pilots for quiz shows and I've wanted to work on one for a long time, so I'm thrilled to be involved with a show that I really enjoy," she says of the programme, which invites contestants to answer quiz questions in a bid to bowl balls down cash lanes while avoiding rolling over "the edge".

"It came about very quickly, which rarely happens in television. Because there's been a first series, there was already confidence behind it, so it was just a case of tweaking the format."

While she openly admits that she "can't spend all day watching quiz shows, as I work and have kids", Leeds-born Logan does own up to being drawn to the show's unpredictability.

"I'm a fan of the physical and mental side of The Edge. I like that the outcome can change; someone who races forward with questions may have a bad roll, and someone who wasn't so fast may finish up in the final two and manage a good roll. There's a risk that you can blow it all," she explains.

As for giving the bowling a go herself ... "I'm a bit gung-ho" she confesses. "I spend my time telling people to reign it in, and then my roll goes straight off the edge.

"I've completed 25 episodes and I'm still not able to judge it. It looks like a simple skill but it's really challenging."

There's no doubt Logan's enjoying this new genre.

"(After filming) I kept saying to my husband, 'I've found my calling'. The relationships and dynamics that surface within a show such as The Edge really appeal to me."

Growing up in an active household (her father was former Welsh international footballer Terry Yorath), Logan was introduced to the world of sport long before infiltrating the traditionally male-dominated - and often sexist - business of broadcasting in her 20s.

Discussing her early days, she explains that while there's now an evolving tide of women in sport and, likewise, presenting and punditry, that's not always been the case.

"When you're at the vanguard of something, you think perhaps progress will come quicker, but there are lots of factors. It's also a representation of who's interested," she says. "You've got to get women to feel confident, so that they can work in the game. There's a lot of great role models in sport now, and women should not feel put off by their sex."

With a daughter of her own, Logan is keen to set a positive example, and says "body image isn't an issue" in their household.

"I talk to my kids about food and how good it can make us feel. My daughter has porridge for breakfast, so we discuss the effects it has on her energy, whereas my son wants to know which food will make him stronger in his sport. Their relationship with food is about power, rather than being slimmer."

Happy to reflect, but equally focused on her future, Logan is humble in her achievements and a true advocate that things will evolve as they are supposed to.

Speaking of her current position (she is also presenting a new property programme on BBC Radio 5 Live), the TV and radio host is clearly delighted to be working on two projects that she's wanted for a long time.

"While there's an 'instant success' culture in today's society, actually you've got to work at things for a long time," says Logan. "Learn your trade and do your 10,000 hours."

The Edge begins on BBC One on Monday, 2.15pm

Belfast Telegraph

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