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Relatively Speaking: We chat to Marie-Louise and Carita

By Karen Ireland

Marie-Louise Muir is presenter of The Arts Show on BBC Radio Ulster, as well as its monthly television version, which returns to BBC2 in October. Her mum Carita, a singer and former special needs teacher, shares her love of the arts.

Name: Marie-Louise Muir

Age: 47

Occupation: Radio and TV arts presenter

Relationship to Carita: daughter

I have a dream job as the face and voice of arts for BBC radio and television, and I absolutely love it. It's a job I have always wanted to do and I feel very fortunate. I present the Arts Show on a Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday at 6.30pm on BBC Radio Ulster and from October onwards I will be presenting on TV once a month on BBC2.

Before I started working in radio I worked in arts management and then got the opportunity to do some freelance presenting on BBC Radio Foyle in 1992; things just took off from there.

I was an assistant producer in television for a few years, before returning to radio presenting.

My life is very busy - I am married to Johnny and we live in Belfast with our two daughters, Catherine (10) and Rebecca (7); the girls have a more hectic social life than I do.

I get my love of the arts from my mum, Carita. Growing up first in Newry, and then in Derry, mum was always very artistic. As a trained classical singer, she was always out rehearsing and working with a drama club or church choir.

She was a special needs teacher but also taught speech, drama and singing. I would come home from school some days and there could be 20 children in the living room rehearsing for a singing festival or someone upstairs learning a new song. That was mum's gift and my dad's - they loved to do things outside the norm.

Mum and I have always been very close - she is my best friend and my anchor.

She still lives in Derry so I can't just drop in. We have a favourite restaurant just outside Derry where we go to just sit and chat.

Mum is a real straight talker, but she never takes sides - she tells things as they are.

She can be strict with the grandchildren. She just has to give them a look and they know granny means business.

My mum should have been a professional singer, but she chose to put her family first.

She is an incredible person. She has had breast cancer and come out the other side. She is a strong woman."

Name: Carita Kerr

Age: 77

Occupation: retired special needs teacher

Relationship to Marie-Louise: mother

While I am retired now, I loved my work teaching special needs children as well as speech and drama. It has been amazing to see all the children I have worked with grow and develop from babies into young adults.

The arts have also been important in my life, from producing plays and musicals to singing. Despite this passion, though, I gave up work when I had my three children. Then my husband and I opened Derry's first creche. It was a wonderful job and something I am very proud of.

The experience taught me how to deal with others - I learned to step back and think about things before acting in certain situations.

Now, I enjoy spending time with my five grandchildren. I always say the great thing about grandchildren is they can visit for as long as possible - but they go home at the end of the night. I have them all spoilt rotten, though.

Marie-Louise and I have always had a close relationship, so we are very fortunate. I am very proud of her and all that she has achieved. I am proud of all my children.

It is amazing watching her on television or listening to her on the radio, as she was the shyest child you could ever meet. She used to literally hang off my skirt or hide underneath it she was so shy. Now she is so confident.

Kindness is her great quality. She is a real natural at her job because she gets the best out of people.

I listen to her on the radio every night she is on and she knows I will tell her the truth. If I don't like something or think she could have done it differently I will tell her.

Marie-Louise and I go to the theatre or concerts together. We also compare and swap books as I am an avid reader and always have a book for her."

Enjoying some artistic licence...

  • Marie-Louise Muir graduated from Trinity College Dublin with Honours in English
  • She then trained as an arts administrator working for IMPACT92, Derry City Council's Arts and Cultural Festival
  • In 1992 she started working for BBC Radio Foyle on programmes such as Look West ■ She then spent six years working in BBC television as an assistant producer on programmes such as Country Times and Children in Need
  • In 2004 she starting presenting Arts Extra on BBC Radio Ulster, a role she took up full time following the birth of her first daughter Catherine

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