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Angela Scanlon: Eamonn Holmes is brilliant - he is so much fun and also really supportive

Irish TV presenter Angela Scanlon, who will host the Royal Television Society NI Programme Awards in Belfast next month, tells Una Brankin how selling designer handbags at a stall led to a career on the box

Angela Scanlon is the redhead who outshines - literally - broadcasting queens Davina McCall and Holly Willoughby in the current TV ads for Garnier hair colourants.

The Irish presenter landed the glossy commercial alongside the famous twosome after she made a sparkling impression on BBC's The One Show and on the Robot Wars series, which she co-hosts with Dara O Briain.

Belfast-bound on November 16 to host this year's Royal Television Society (RTS) NI Programme Awards at The MAC, the vibrant 33-year-old can hardly believe her luck.

"I grew up watching Davina doing those ads; it was surreal to find myself there beside her," she says. "I kept thinking, 'have they made a mistake? When are they going to throw me out?'

"I never thought TV work was an option - I didn't plan to be in this job; no-one in my family and nobody I knew was, either. It happened by accident."

Now London-based, Angela grew up "outdoorsy and tomboyish" in Ratoath, Co Meath, half an hour's drive from Dublin, where she has an apartment. She's the second eldest of four girls; her parents own a construction company and she credits them with giving her an independent streak, having encouraged her and her sisters, as children, to make cakes and jam to sell to the neighbours.

That early entrepreneurial training led Angela - who's known for her intelligence and quick wit - into a business course after she left school, and a handbag stall in Dublin city centre.

"I'd no notion of doing media studies," she recalls. "I started selling bags imported from London at a stall outside Powerscourt Shopping Centre while I was still a student.

"I ended up doing personal shopping to make money and through that I got asked to do styling for Xpose on TV3 and Off The Rails on RTE, which was great experience.

"I'd get a call from Xpose in the morning to come in and do a piece at 1.30pm and I'd have to book the models, do the styling and the commentary. I learned how to produce very quickly."

This gave the charismatic newcomer the experience to pitch herself for presentation roles and self-made documentaries, including Angela Scanlon's Naked Truth and Oi! Ginger, on the perception of redheads and the reactions invoked by the flame-haired among us.

As her fame grew, she was even given her own column in the Irish Independent Weekend magazine.

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Versatile career: Angela Scanlon presenting Robot Wars

"I was a bit of a giddy messer at school but I'm naturally curious and I did love writing - although I cringe when I read my diaries from back then," she admits. "I loved writing my column for the Independent; it was good to branch out from fashion. But I was travelling a lot then for TV work and I couldn't keep it up."

Cited as one of Vogue magazine's Ones to Watch in 2013, Angela was chosen to co-present RTE's Getaways travel show with Belfast's Joe Lindsay, and reported from destinations such as Croatia, Italy and Majorca. Based in Belfast for her segment on the Causeway Coast, she developed a genuine affinity with the city.

"There's a slightly different humour in the north - very wry and dry," she remarks, before launching into an uncannily accurate Belfast accent. "I tuned in fairly quickly. There were a few colloquialisms I was completely unaware of, like, having a 'wee biccie' with every cup of tea."

"But there's not a massive difference between northerners and southerners. I love Belfast; it's a great city."

Filming for the first series of Getaways coincided with Angela's marriage in June 2014 to her long-term boyfriend, eco entrepreneur Roy Horgan, from Cork. While putting the finishing touches to her Wicklow wedding plans, she managed to fit in a modelling job for Japanese Elle magazine between filming for Getaways. On the big day, she wore a custom-designed vintage-style dress by Offaly designer Sorcha O'Raghallaigh, who has previously created costumes for Lady Gaga.

"I designed my wedding dress myself, which made it really special but a slight disaster - it started out as a two-piece and I was still sewing it together before I walked up the aisle," she laughs (she has a big dirty laugh and huge open-mouth smile, like actress Kate Hudson's).

"With the Getaways filming, we barely had time for a honeymoon. It felt like I was everywhere and nowhere, which is quite unsettling in many ways. It wasn't normal."

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Shining star: Angela Scanlon is in demand on television

She left Dublin in 2016 to pursue television work in London, living with Roy in Hackney, initially. The couple moved to a more spacious house in a leafier area recently, near her friends Sharon Horgan and Amy Huberman, where she takes to the couch to binge-watch drama series when she manages to get some time off.

"Roy's a Game of Thrones fan - he says I ruin it for him by constantly commenting on technical things, like the camera angles and the cutaway shots," she chuckles.

"We've both lived here for three years - I don't think I could cope if Roy wasn't based here too. He's a self-employed businessman. He likes to keep out of the spotlight."

With that, the listening-in PR person on the line asks me "to move on" from personal questions, her presence a sure sign of Angela's now starry status across the water. She remains unpretentious and chatty, however, and slightly incredulous at her rapid ascent to celebrity.

Following in the footsteps of her fellow countrymen Graham Norton and Dara O'Briain, she gets invited to all the best parties in central London.

"I was at a reception in the Irish embassy in honour of Gloria Hunniford - I met her and Eamonn Holmes there," she enthuses. "Eamonn's absolutely brilliant. I was more aware of Eamonn, growing up, than Gloria, as we were always plugged into the Irish channels.

"I love him; he's so much fun and really supportive. He contacted me via Twitter to offer his support, which was so brilliant - I'm sure he has a lot to be getting on with. And Gloria's a force of nature. She's lovely and she's still a knock-out - she's a little ball of energy and as fresh as a daisy. She's still so passionate about what she does."

She adds Claudia Winkleman, Zoe Ball and Emma Willis to the list of broadcasters she admires, as well as the late Terry Wogan. She has a very Irish gift of the gab and the ability to think on her feet, an essential prerequisite for live television presenting.

Earlier this year she hosted The One Show with Matt Baker, while Alex Jones was on maternity leave, and she joined the programme again this summer for a special week from the Antrim Coast.

She says: "I can't wait to head back to Belfast to host the television awards. Northern Ireland is a real hub of creativity internationally with award-winning productions like Game of Thrones, Line of Duty, The Commute and The Fall - I love Gillian Anderson and the sheer scale of the production on Game of Thrones is breathtaking.

"It has done so much for tourism. It's a massive boost to a tiny place like Northern Ireland. It could have been a flop but it has blown everyone away."

Much admired for her sense of style, she hopes to find "something vintage" to wear to the RTS Awards. She isn't averse to flea markets and she likes quirky design.

"I love Simone Rocha - I went to her show at London Fashion Week," she says. "She doesn't radically change her collections from season to season; the clothes are so ethereal. I'm not girly at all when it comes to fashion, though. I'm quite practical.

"There was a grey Prada jacket with beading down the side I wore for a photoshoot recently, that I liked. It weighs a tonne. I don't spend that much on clothes or shoes or bags but I got a Balenciaga jacket for £280 once - that was a good bargain.

"I'm not into leggings - they are not trousers. You're only supposed to be wearing them when you're jogging. I like skinny jeans and runners. They don't have to be Converse but the best ever pair I wore were Converse."

It seems the world is currently Angela's oyster. She's now a regular on The One Show and Radio 2, and the go-to girl for music festival and awards night coverage, including the BAFTAs.

"There's other stuff in the pipeline I can't talk about," she adds, predictably. "The States? I've never thought about it. Although if an opportunity came up, hmmm, I wouldn't say no."

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