Susie Fowler-Watt: A Week to remember
PUBLISHED: 12:07 09 August 2016 | UPDATED: 12:19 09 August 2016
Copyright Archant Norfolk 2016
Three cheers for the brilliance of young people today and in our own past, says the BBC Look East presenter
My university college is celebrating 40 years of admitting women, and asked me to contribute to its special website to mark the occasion. I had to answer a series of questions, such as “Who are your female role models?” (Answer: my mother and grandmother, who both worked full-time in demanding jobs, while bringing up their families with great love), and “What do you understand by gender equality?” (Answer: women being given the same opportunities - and pay - as men, without having to act like a man to get them!)
But there was one question which I mulled over for quite a while: “What advice would you give your younger self?” The reason this made me pause for thought is that, looking back, I think my university-age self didn’t actually need too much advice. She had real energy, focus and passion. She wasn’t brimming over with confidence, but she was much braver than I am now - I think that age and motherhood have made me more cautious. If anything, I think my younger self could give me some advice!
I often think that society should value young people and their contribution more. When you are twenty-ish, the world is your oyster (even if you don’t realise it). You have much less to lose if something doesn’t work out, and your brain is firing on all cylinders. You have the time to read, to learn, to try out new experiences. You can work hard and play hard, and get up the next day raring to go at it all again.
Put bluntly: you have an awful lot to bring to the table. Yes, life experience is valuable (we probably don’t want a twentysomething as prime minister), but so is energy, versatility and brain power (just think of the young whizz kids working behind the scenes at Number 10). Even my 11-year-old regularly outsmarts me - you can almost see her brain growing every day!
I think it’s sad that so many young people aren’t even registered to vote. I know they don’t necessarily feel as invested in their local communities - don’t own properties, send their children to schools etc - but it is their world too, and most importantly, their future. Their opinions are worth the same as their parents’ and grandparents’.
I still find it funny that people my age are now running the show (as politicians, chief execs, professors) - are they really old enough? But it won’t be too long before today’s young people are in charge. Let’s appreciate them now, and make good use of all that wonderful youth and vitality. My advice to my younger self? Go get ‘em girl!
I had an extraordinary week earlier this summer, which sums up just how incredibly lucky I am to do my job. In the space of just three days, I interviewed Boris Johnson (this was during the EU referendum campaign), anchored an outside broadcast, hosted an audience with the acclaimed theatre director Sir Trevor Nunn, and presented the region’s NHS Innovation awards. A few days later, I interviewed the prime minister live in the Look East studio.
Such a variety of challenges - all stimulating, nerve-wracking and exciting in equal measure. The audience with Trevor Nunn was a particular thrill, as I love the theatre and have seen a lot of his productions over the years. He became artistic director of the Royal Shakespeare Company at the age of 28 (NB young people!), and was back in his home town of Ipswich to direct A Midsummer Night’s Dream - the last of Shakespeare’s 37 plays left for him to do.
Normally when we do interviews on Look East, they run at around two to three minutes long (even Boris and the PM were only five minutes). So to get the chance to interview Sir Trevor for a whole evening was magical. Even then, we ran out of time!
The political interviews were a different style, of course, but the principle for all interviews is the same: I have the privilege of representing the viewers/audience. I ask what I think other people would like to ask, and challenge the answers accordingly.
So yes, it was a big week - but you’ll be glad to know that my feet stayed very firmly on the ground. My oldest friend’s reaction when she saw a photo of me with David Cameron in the studio? “Nice shoes!” #perspective