Smooth’s operator Jenni Falconer
Radio & TV presenter Jenni Falconer chats with Angela Sara West about her Wandsworth life, presenting her Smooth radio show from her sofa during lockdown and her winning formula for wellbeing
Jenni Falconer first burst onto our TV screens back in 1994, looking for love as a contestant on Blind Date. Her bubbly personality and ease in front of the camera caught the eye of BBC Scotland, who invited the then university student to try her hand at presenting, seeing her launch her glittering TV vocation. She has since gone on to co-host GMTV’s entertainment segment Entertainment Today, presented a wide range of programmes, including several series of Channel 5’s Fantasy Homes by the Sea, been the face of the BBC’s National Lottery Big Draw, and reported on I’m a Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here!
She’s interviewed some of the biggest names of the big screen, too, including Will Smith, Ian McKellen, Patrick Stewart, James McAvoy… but admits that one interview did leave her lost for words. “I have been lucky to interview some incredible TV, music and movie stars over the years…” Jenni tells me. “Tom Cruise has always been amazing and interviewing Daniel Craig for the Bond premieres is always exciting. Some of these big stars can leave you a little starstruck, of course, but essentially, they’re just doing their job and you’re doing yours, so remembering that sometimes helps you not to get too flustered…”
Although it was a different story when she first met Leonardo DiCaprio, she admits. “He was just staring directly at me… I got lost in his gaze and completely forgot the question. He answered, regardless… who knows what he was saying, it was all a blur!”
As well as her TV work, Jenni is also a natural on the radio and now gently eases us into every weekday on Smooth Breakfast in London and nationally on Smooth Extra, and across the UK mid-morning on Saturdays.
Jenni, who was born in Glasgow, has called south west London her home for the last 20 years and, during lockdown, she presented the show from her beautiful Wandsworth home that she shares with her actor husband James Midgley, nine year-old daughter Ella, and their pet pooch Alfie. “Lockdown was definitely a strange time… My daughter was at home instead of being at school, my husband was working from the kitchen, and I even hosted my radio show from the sofa for a few weeks!” she says.
“It was a difficult time with a lot of uncertainty, but I loved spending so much time with my family. I never see my daughter in the morning, nor do I her to take her to school as I’m on air at Smooth 6-10am. “However, in lockdown she could see me, as I worked from home. Likewise, my dog was in heaven as he got breakfast at 5.30 every morning and could lie by my side whilst I worked… He did bark once when I was live on air though!”
In 2018, Jenni gave the family home she’d been living in for a decade a facelift, finally creating her very own luxury ‘Fantasy Home’. With her flair for interior design, arty Jenni was very hands-on with the process, totally transforming her abode over the course of six months from a “building site” into a stylish living space with floor-to-ceiling windows, complete with a bespoke kitchen with state-of-the-art appliances, a bathroom boasting beautiful wooden panelling and free-standing bath, and a luxurious living area with a cosy log fire and balcony overlooking the garden.
“I love the area… the fact that you are close to the commons, the river, it’s easy for work in central London, and equally easy to get out of town, too!” she tells me. “There are great shops, restaurants and bars… and I also love the community. Our friends own the Italian restaurant, Marco Polo On The River, down by the river between Wandsworth and Putney, so that’s one of the places we love most, especially in the summer months.”
And that’s not the only place you might bump into the presenter. “I am really into my exercise,” she reveals. “I particularly love running, and can often be seen running around the place! Eamonn Holmes has driven past me a few times on his way to This Morning and said he recognised that running style!” She is a keen Marathon runner, and has created a running motivation app called Start2Run, as well as a podcast for runners. “I think running is a great tool to stay fit physically, but it also has huge mental health benefits. For me, it’s my meditation, it de-stresses me, can be done alone, can fit into your day when you have time… and it’s free!”
Smooth operator’s running order
For her podcast, RunPod, she chats with renowned names from the world of sport and entertainment. “I’ve had some amazing guests, from Peter Andre and Liz Earle, to James Cracknell, former SAS star Jay Morton and Tim Peake… every single person has a unique story to tell, and their reasons to run all vary. They’ve been hugely popular and many runners saved them to listen to back-to-back whilst running the virtual London Marathon in October.” An avid participant of the annual event, Jenni has raised funds running the Marathon for The Children’s Trust, Breast Cancer UK, CLIC Sargent and Cancer Research UK in the past. “I was envious, as I sadly couldn’t take part this year because I was recovering from a metatarsal stress fracture.”
When not out running, she can be often seen practising her swing on the green. The Golf Sixes Pro-Am tournament a couple of years ago saw Jenni compete against other famous faces, including Brian McFadden, Chris Hughes and Vernon Kay, on the fairway. “I play a lot of golf. There are plenty of courses along the A3, so it’s easy to head there after work.”
With her passion for pounding the pavements, coupled with those gruelling early wake-up calls her career now entails, Jenni is conscious of the toll it can take on her body. She’s a big fan of collagen supplements – so much so that she has just launched her own. “I’ve been a keen runner since my twenties, and collagen supplements were recommended to me by a TV doctor colleague when I started doing marathons in 2009,” she reveals. “I’ve taken collagen in supplement form ever since. It’s brilliant to aid recovery after exercise, but also really promotes healthy bones, joints and cartilage.”
Jenni also discovered that collagen supplements delivered numerous other health benefits, not only aiding recovery after running, but also visibly aiding her hair and nails, alongside giving her a “healthier glow”. Jenni tried various collagen brands. “But I could never get all the vitamins I wanted… so my husband proposed I create my own!” Jenni used her experience and extensive research to create Kollo, a formula that contains collagen and vitamins and tastes good, too.
“We launched Kollo in April. It was definitely quite nerve-racking to be launching a new business in lockdown, but we felt we should still go ahead with our plans, although it was hard to predict what the consumers would do.”
Feedback so far has been phenomenal. “We have a lot of fans of the brand – both male and female – and quite a few famous faces, too! It’s an amazing product that has incredible benefits. We’ve also heard from people struggling with pain from arthritis, which, they say, has eased. Others have noticed reduced skin flareups, or recognised its benefits for easing Menopause symptoms.”
Home is where the heart is
With her Wandsworth home the perfect place for Jenni to unwind, how does this busy TV & radio presenter/health & fitness guru like to chill? “For me, relaxing at home is exactly that; feet up, watching movies with my daughter and husband, Alfie the dog curled up next to us, and that’s perfect, especially on a rainy autumn or winter’s day!
Joe Wicks on positivity and parenting