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Sixty Seconds with Charlotte Hawkins

The Good Morning Britain and Classic FM host, 44, on how she deals with Piers Morgan and the highs and lows of Strictly

What’s your Young Classical Star Back To School special all about?

It’s great to look at the up-and-coming artists who’ll be the next generation of big classical stars and on my Classic FM show every Sunday I feature a young composer or performer. On my first show in January 2018 I featured the cellist Sheku Kanneh-Mason, who a lot of people now know because he played at Prince Harry and Meghan’s wedding. I’m not saying I’m solely responsible but I like to think I got in there early! We wanted to do a back-to-school Young Classical Star special so that’s what’s happening on September 1. My daughter Ella Rose is starting school for the first time that week so it’s a big moment for me and a nice occasion to mark.

What can listeners expect from the show?

We’re going to be featuring a whole load of young classical stars such as Sheku and his older sister Isata, who’s just released her debut album, and Rebecca Dale, who’s a brilliant young composer. We’ll look at some traditional artists and composers, especially those with a bit of a story. Mendelssohn wrote the Midsummer Night’s Dream overture when he was only 17 and it premiered just after his 18th birthday, which is incredible. It’s great to hear the stories behind pieces we’ve loved for a long time.

Brilliant: Composer Rebecca Dale

Do you have a lot of young listeners?

We do. We have students getting in touch who listen when they’re revising — 1.3 million young people under the age of 35 tune into Classic FM every week, which is brilliant. I think a lot of people turn to classical music because they have such a crazy life with so much on. Music transports you to another place — it’s a bit like musical mindfulness.

You got your Classic FM slot not long after doing Strictly. Did it open more doors for you?

I think it allows people to see a different side of you. We all get stuck in our comfort zone and Strictly was so far out of mine. It’s terrifying and exhilarating at the same time, and I learnt a lot from it. Then I went on to do the Sport Relief rowing challenge, BBC versus ITV, and that’s something I didn’t think I was capable of.

Did you enjoy Strictly?

It was amazing. I’d love to have stayed in longer but I’m not a performer in the same sense others were. The feeling that 11 million people are watching your every move, will you forget your moves? I did for one of the dances — the worst happened and it was pretty awful but it’s not like anybody died. You think, OK, just get on with it and come back stronger. Brendan [Cole] had my back, which I was very grateful for. It’s sad he’s not a part of it any more.

A sore loser: Piers Morgan

You, Susanna Reid and Richard Arnold from Good Morning Britain have done Strictly. Would you like to see Piers Morgan do it?

Yes, but he wouldn’t because he doesn’t enter things he doesn’t think he’s going to win. Believe me, I’ve said, ‘Put your money where your mouth is, stop having a go at me for my dancing and show everybody yours,’ but I don’t think that’s ever going to happen. He says they wouldn’t be able to pay him enough. It’d be brilliant, though. I’d obviously start a campaign to get him voted out in week one, just because of the satisfaction on a personal level. I’d then never let him forget it, as he never lets me forget.

How is it, hosting with one of the most contentious men on TV?

It’s the same for me as for the people watching at home — you never know what he’s going to say next. You think it’s going to be a particular kind of morning, then Piers will get the bit between his teeth and he’ll be off.

How often do you agree with what Piers says?

[Laughs] I couldn’t possibly comment. People say to me, ‘How can you sit there and not say anything?’ but you can’t go up against Piers every time you disagree because you’d be there all day. You pick your battles for the things that either mean a lot to you or you think you can win.

What time do you wake up?

At 3am. I did it for seven years at Sky and five years now at GMB so you get used to it. You realise you can make it work and catch up with sleep at some point. I try to be in bed by 9pm, not long after my four-year-old!

What’s next in your career? Will there be more reality shows?

Despite the early mornings I’m doing the job I always wanted to do, so long may it continue. I work with people I genuinely get on with, who make me laugh every day. I think maybe my reality show days are over, though. It’d have to be the right one. My husband lives in fear of me being persuaded to do something like the jungle because he says I don’t like bugs, the dark, heights… but there’s a little part of me that thinks it would be good to challenge myself.

Charlotte presents her Young Classical Star special at 3pm on Sunday on Classic FM — available on 100-102 FM, DAB digital radio and on Global Player