■ The TV presenter, 36, on the beauty and wonder of cheese, haircuts on lockdown and worrying about her sister
What inspired your new podcast Thanks A Million?
I tried lots of different wellbeing techniques and gratitude was the thing I kept coming back to — it’s an easy way to shift your frame of mind. It’s like mindfulness for cynics. My dad isn’t going to do a downward dog but he can write down three things he’s grateful for to shift how he feels. Writing things down that I’m grateful for changes how I feel and I talk to people about what they’re grateful for in this podcast — a mixture of writers, actors, comedians and ‘real people’. It’s a lovely thing to do and very timely.
Have you been surprised by anything people are grateful for?
You think people will go for profound moments in life but it’s often very simple things. Marian Keyes chose a handbag her siblings got her with a picture of them on it. Aisling Bea was most grateful for a Dust Buster. She finds it therapeutic.
Quite often people are grateful for people who had a big impact on their lives that they didn’t realise at the time. What are you grateful for?
Cheese. It come into its own during lockdown — it keeps for a long time, it’s nice grated on things, you can have it in lumps straight from the block or you can put grapes around it on a cheese board and be a bit posh. I like a real stinking blue or if I’m going for cheddar it’s got to be an Irish brand — Horgan’s mature cheddar.
Are you still finding the cheese you want or has it all been panic-bought?
There’s still a good supply. People have been panic-buying tins of beans as if the apocalypse has come and we can never leave the house again, whereas I am more refined. If I’m going down I’m going down with a big, stinking hunk of blue cheese.
Has the lockdown made us more grateful in general?
It’s woken us up to key workers — people who are putting themselves in danger. I’m sure they’d prefer to be at home with their loved ones in safety but they’re out there working for the greater good, often in roles that aren’t well paid or aren’t things we see in the media as things to aspire to. But those are the people we are all rightly so grateful for now. I hope we don’t forget that quickly. I hope people are grateful for the sacrifices they’re making when all the rest of us have to do is stay at home and stay out of each other’s way. My sister is a nurse and she’s gone back to work after a period of parental leave. It worries me all the time. You see the number of healthcare professionals who have contracted the coronavirus and who have died from it. I have massive admiration for people who are selflessly putting themselves in harm’s way for the benefit of the rest of us.
How are you dealing with worrying about her?
I respect her decision. It’s a vocation for nurses. She was watching the news and seeing the things that were happening around the world. She said, ‘Having gone through this training I cannot sit at home and watch other people do the job when I’m needed there.’ It doesn’t even feel like a choice for her. It feels like an obligation and the right thing to do.
You started as a fashion journalist. Will this make us less consumerist in future?
People are comfort-buying online. I bought a plant for the living room recently but I’m not buying sequinned tops. I don’t see the point of getting dressed up for a Zoom quiz. When you’re at home all the time you realise what you use, what you don’t use and the things you value. I’ve had a big clear-out. I think there’ll be less of a focus on buying things after this now we’ve all seen each other looking like wrecks on social media. The facade has dropped.
What social media trends have you been enjoying?
Previously Instagram was the place for perfection and now it’s the place for horrors. We’ve seen Emily Maitlis cutting lumps out of her husband’s neck with shears — I’m really enjoying the hairstyles happening on there and seeing everyone letting it all hang out.
Who should be Alex Jones’s new regular One Show co-host?
Me! I’m quite enjoying the revolving door approach, however. Matt Baker’s left a big space to fill.
Did you enjoy your stint on the show?
I loved it. I love live telly — I like how it can all go t**s up in a really short space of time. I like to live on the edge. And I got to chat to some amazing guests on that sofa, then seamlessly move on to a short film about barn owls.
What tips do you have for aspiring TV presenters?
Run for the hills. Become a chef or a yoga teacher. Start a vegan burger joint. You just have to work your arse off, be enthusiastic, be naturally curious — and you need to be lucky along the way too.
■ Thanks A Million is available from all podcast providers. Scanlon presents Your Home Made Perfect on BBC2