Celeb interviews

Kirsty Duffy – Action Girl

Kirsty Duffy

Kirsty Duffy has had a fascinating career including co-presenting The Wright Stuff on Channel 5 for six years, being the roving reporter on Live with Gabby Logan and presenting at the London 2012 Olympics, where she hosted the Taekwondo. Soon she will be back on our screens co-presenting Coast V Country with Dr David Bull. She talks to Lynda Clark about her work, her property experiences and gives some great advice for ftbs

Kirsty is full of fun and one of the bubbliest people I have talked to in a long time. She has been taking a little down-time since having her beautiful daughter Freja-Amelie with her partner Ben Richards – an actor, known for his roles in Holby, The Bill, Footballers Wives, Hollyoaks and, most recently, in the West End, playing the lead in The Bodyguard opposite Beverley Knight – but she is now very busy filming the new series of Coast V Country, which she loves doing.

“I had a very happy and busy childhood and have two sisters and a brother. We lived in a small, rather modest house and I shared a bedroom right up until I left home. It was needs must at the time, but I so wanted my own space and to stamp my own personality on my room. I loved Taekwondo and swimming and was a very keen dancer and singer. My grandparents were a very big part of my life. My grandma got bored very quickly and had very itchy feet and so moved home all the time. I thought it was very exciting and, even when questioned on why she kept moving, she said she needed a fresh start and she genuinely loved the whole moving experience.”

Kirsty left school and had this overwhelming need to perform and be on stage. “I did two seasons at a well-known holiday camp as a performer. It was very good fun and eventually I was in a pop group there. I decided to move to London and was in an all-girl band, which was great, but I still felt I should be doing more. I went on a reality show called Cruel Winter where we had to do some pretty horrible challenges, but I won and got £10,000, which was amazing! I paid back my parents the £3,000 they had given me to help me out when I moved to London. I really didn’t know what to do next and wasn’t sure whether I should put the rest of the money into going to drama school, or make a showreel to see if I could get any work and an agent.”

She settled on making a showreel, then found an agent who decided to give her a chance and put her forward for a casting for a presenting job on a live show. “I went along and got the job, which really started my career.” During this time, Kirsty started buying and selling property with her boyfriend at the time, which she really enjoyed. “Even as a little girl, I loved walking along the road and looking through net curtains to see the rooms inside houses. I was fascinated by people’s homes. We bought properties and completely renovated them and then sold them – it was very exciting and I throughily enjoyed all the hard work.”

Still not sure what to do with her career, Kirsty decided to go to Law school for a year, but eventually she knew it was not going to be the right choice for her. She then met a man who was an estate agent, who told her that her property experience and know how was amazing and took her on to work with him. “I was still working in TV filming for Most Haunted Live and doing lots of corporate work, including filming on the North Sea oil rigs, when I was offered a job to co-present The Wright Stuff with Matthew Wright for Channel 5. I learnt so much on that show about how journalism and media works. I also met the man of my dreams and we are now together. I had been out with boyfriends, but I really wanted to settle down and I decided that, the next time I met somebody, it would be the person I set up home and had a family with. Ben came on to the show and, after three or four phone calls, he asked me out. I decided not to wear any make-up, tied my hair back and just wore ballet pumps, so that he could see the real Kirsty! As soon as I sat down, though, I regretted it and thought to myself ‘why didn’t I wear heels?’ We really got on well and it was becoming quite serious, when he then said that we needed to talk as he had some things to tell me. He said he was not interested in just dating, but that I would need to think about things after he had spoken to me. He told me that he could never have children and he was in remission following bowel
cancer and, as you can imagine, I was very shocked. I only ever wanted a family, but I told him that I would rather be with the right person and not have children than the wrong person and have them. Believe it or not, a year and a half later I was pregnant, which was a miracle.”

She didn’t have an easy time, though, and was rushed to hospital with a blood clot and was prescribed complete bed rest. After a difficult pregnancy, their daughter Freja-Amelie was born and they bought a little cottage in Herfordshire. Kirsty said, “We absolutely love it, although it is a little small now we have Freja. Ben was working on Hollyoaks and, five days after she was born, we decided to move to Liverpool so we could all be together when he was filming. We were in a hotel for six weeks and then rented for a year, which was fine, but not like being in your own home.”

Now that Kirsty is very busy filming Coast V Country, she is away from home and obviously misses Ben and Freja. “As Freja is still very young, she is able to travel with Ben and come with me when I am filming. Otherwise, it isn’t too bad as I get home on a Thursday and leave again on Sunday afternoon, and Ben looks after Freja when I’m not there, so I never have to worry. Coast V Country is a really great series where house-hunters search for their dream home and are in a dilemma as one wants to live by the sea and the other in the countryside. I find homes for people who want to live in the country and David finds places by the coast.”

One of the highlights of Kirsty’s career was presenting at the London 2012 Olympic Games and hosted the Taekwondo. “It was such an honour to be part of it and the Games really united everyone, which was incredible. I had to keep the crowd interested in what was going on, which was a challenge in itself. Afterwards, we were given a glass award of the Olympic rings as a keepsake, which is very special.”

Kirsty has some excellent advice for first time buyers. She said, “Everyone has high expectations of what they want, but you have to be realistic and ask yourself what you really need in the home. It will not be your forever home and, although we have a vision of where we want to live, the biggest thing to ask yourself is can you afford it? It is important that you set a budget and stick to it as, if it doesn’t work out, there will always be another home and I really believe that, if it is the house for you, it will work out in the end. If the interior isn’t quite to your liking, then you can change it as that is only cosmetic, but it has to have scope, tick all the boxes and feel completely right. Also, never buy a house based on your furniture as you can sell the furniture and start again. The home is the biggest investment you will ever make, but a sofa won’t last for long, so don’t base your decision around it. It is very important to live in a home before you start changing it around, as only by actually living in it, will you be able to make proper informed decisions about what to do. Location is also very important and I always say it’s best to buy the worst house in the best area than the best house in the worst area.”

The new series of Coast v Country will be on Channel 4 on weekday afternoons from 19 June. If you can’t decide between living by the coast or in the country and would like to appear on the programme, please email househunters@coastvcountry.co.uk

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