So it’s August and I’ve decided to have a mini break in the sun with one of my dearest friends… and as I sit here typing the rain is lashing down and we’ve had thunder and lightening… and I’m not even in the UK! I’ve just realised I haven’t updated my blog properly since at least April. Apologies! So here’s a whistle stop tour of the last few months for me…
May has to be the total highlight of my presenting year as it’s RHS Chelsea Flower Show for a whole week. The one place I work where we’re all totally upstaged by the blooms, displays and gardens over the 11 acre, or so, site. And this year was no exception. Here’s a snap of the presenting team (well, most of us) standing outside our ‘green room’ behind the scenes at Chelsea.
I talk about this show being my highlight, well I didn’t expect to be interviewing HRH The Prince of Wales on the preview day! We chatted about sustainable urban drainage at the Greening Grey Britain garden which beautifully illustrated this theme. His Royal Highness has been doing a lot of work on sustainable urban drainage through his Prince’s Foundation for Building Community. He was funny, charismatic and very well informed! We’d met the week before at a Garden Party at Buckingham Palace. I went with my girlfriend and it was a truly wonderful day. Here we are in all our finery and OTT hats.
June saw the weather change for the better just as I jetted off to Australia for filming Wanted Down Under. I took the rain with me. Typical!! This must be a theme…..Hard to believe but it’s the 10th series and I’ve filmed 8 of them. It was a quick trip, visiting Melbourne, Cairns, Port Douglas, Sydney then home.. not even time for jet lag.
So much work goes into making this remarkable series and I can take very little credit for the bulk of the effort! Months and month of preparation, finding the right couples and families, organising visas and travel details….. In all honesty, it must be a logistical nightmare. For me, the most rewarding part of the show is the final section, where we find out once and for all whether the featured family are going to make the biggest decision of their lives’ (I can even hear the drum roll as I type….) Filming with the majority of the families has now finished, the life-changing decisions have been made and either they’re now busy packing or looking at their lives back in the UK and thinking ‘well life isn’t that bad’. Most of August is spent with the BBC Northern Ireland team who make the show in Belfast. We’re currently busy in the edit (with the exception of a few days off to holiday in Majorca) where I’ve been voicing the first 20 shows. You’ll have to waituntil January 2016 to see the new series..
July saw me return to Escape to the Country, with it’s sister show Escape to the Continent back on our screens which I filmed in the Autumn last year. Dorset and Devon both seem to be a popular choice for our contributors wishing to ‘escape’ and whilst in Dorset I tried my hand at Beach Polo. Yep, it does what it says on the tin and a truly splendid afternoon was spent in Sandbanks learning or ‘trying’ to master this skill. Half the things I try my hand at are not only new to me, but courtesy of Escape I’ve had some fantastic experiences, for which I am very grateful, including this one … me, a beautiful polo pony, a gorgeous afternoon cantering along the sandy beach and once in a blue moon I even managed to hit the ball. I’d call that bliss.
I’ve been covering some holiday leave for Vanessa Feltz, or Lady V, over the past few weeks on BBC Radio 2. If you’re an early riser you may have heard me and for those who tweeted and text in here’s a big ‘thank you’! Having spent so long in the music industry it feels like going back
to my roots… I’m still mastering the desk (I managed to lose the news for 15 seconds) and play in the right jingle at the right time but I adore being there and will be back again in September.
Some of you may have noticed from my Twitter account that I’m a professional and personal coach working with large corporations as well as with individuals, on a one to one basis. On my next blog I’ll write in more detail about the kind of work I do (which I’m very passionate about) but for now I will share a wonderful book with you, which I’ve been reading on holiday – Feel The Fear And Do It Anyway by Susan Jeffers… Let me know what you think.
Lastly, Wanted Down Under Revisited repeats have been going out again on BBC1 in the mornings and, by your reactions and the viewing figures, these are doing very well indeed. More to following in January….
Well it looks like the sun has decided to reappear so I’m going to try and grab a few more hours in the sunshine… . I’ll spare you the bikini shot but leave you with this instead.
Wishing you all a good summer and a few more lazy, long days.
Hi, Nicki C with you on 2mail duties for the first time.
I’ve had a wonderful time sitting in for Lady V in the mornings over the last few weeks. As I began my career in the music biz, I can’t tell you what a treat it is to be part of Radio 2 and to be able to play the songs I love the most.
To that end, I accepted the challenge of picking 20 of my favourite songs of all-time. That list changes day-by-day and hour-by-hour, but I think you’ll enjoy the ones I finally settled on.
Nicki Chapman has worked with many of the biggest pop stars in the world, but what are her favourite pop songs?
Wonder no more as she’s hand-picked 20 of her faves just for 2mail!
From Pharrell to Blondie, this is her personal tour through her musical life.
Radio 2 celebrates the life of one of the nation’s greatest stars with another chance to hear Cilla Black’s career-spanning chat with Johnnie Walker.
From her early days to the heights of fame, this show proves why she will always be in our hearts.
Mumford & Sons were live in session for Jo Whiley from Maida Vale, where they covered one of the 80s biggest hits.
But which one?
You will love their version!
Irreverent comic Julian Clary joined Simon Mayo to chat about writing his first children’s book The Bolds.
He says he found his inner child writing this tale about a family of hyenas in Teddington and that the whole tale came to him in a couple hours.
Now in it’s 51st year, the Cambridge Folk Festival is one of the musical events of the summer.
Mark Radcliffe was back this year to lead Radio 2’s coverage of the festival, which saw performances by Joan Baez, Nick Mulvey and Peggy Seeger.
Being part of the BBC1 presenting team for the RHS Chelsea Flower Show is one of my favourite jobs in the year – in fact I’d go as far as saying it’s the jewel in my presenting crown! Chelsea is such a heady mix of glamour and celebrity, drama, art and most importantly world class horticulture. Here are a few things I would recommend you don’t miss this year from our eleven hours of coverage…
We try to capture each and every aspect of the show throughout the week starting with the great build (filmed over the past 4 weeks or so come rain or shine) the official royal opening on the Monday afternoon, medals, tears and tantrums through to the individual designers, growers, plants men and woman and the teams and teams of horticultural experts and enthusiasts who make such a lasting impression on us all.
My week actually starts on the Saturday when I get a chance to walk along Main Avenue, marvel at the Artisan and Fresh Gardens and the explore exhibits and nurseries of the Great Pavilion, trying to ignore or perhaps pacify the odd stressed designer and have a very privileged view as everything begins to flourish and take shape. To me, a
passionate and enthusiastic amateur, it looks like organised chaos but in actual fact there’s precision behind the madness which is revealed first thing on a Monday morning.. but more of that later…
Over the coming week around 157,000 people will walk through the Gates of the show, but if you choose to watch from the comfort of your own home you’re certainly not going to miss out.. The screen team include Monty Don, Joe Swift, Sophie Raworth, Carol Klein, Rachel de Thame, Chris Beardshaw and Andy Sturgeon. I’m delighted this year to be joined by James Wong, garden designer and botanist for our daily afternoon show at 3 pm on BBC1 who, I’m hoping, will sharing plenty of ‘take home’ advice as well as his expert knowledge.
The highlights of the week would start with Monday which is the Official Opening of the RHS Chelsea Flower Show. Before the Royals arrive, in fact first thing, you can spot many a celeb and VIP person perusing the grounds. Dame Helen Mirren, Ringo Starr, Rod Stewart… the list goes on. Monday is a very hot ticket. Tuesday is RHS Members Day but also Medals Day – I would say the true high point and it’s a very early start. The judges have decided and it’s time to see the results. Arriving at the grounds around 6 am in morning, I’ll head towards the Show Gardens in my best outfit and heels with my camera team ready to capture the moment as the RHS ladies tear around the site giving out those all important medals.. will it be a gold, will it be silver or a disappointing bronze?? Over the years we’ve seen every emotion from the recipients, with many a tear too – often from the men!
This year there’s plenty of anticipation as designing doyen Dan Pearson returns to Chelsea after an absence of 10 years, Prince Harry’s charity Sentebale will be exhibiting a design to draw attention to the plight of vulnerable children in Lesotho, Chelsea first timer Kamelia Bin Zaal aims to provide sanctuary to reflect the beauty of Arabic and Islamic cultures and Adam Frost, a particular favourite designer of mine, returns once again aiming for another gold medal.
I have to mention the expert floral designs and arrangements. Every year I attempt on my programme to improve my skills with a little help from the experts. I make up with enthusiasm from what I lack in talent. As a patron of NAFAS (floral design with excellence) as least I should get a gold for effort. These ‘attempts’ are much to Joe Swift’s amusement might I add..
By the end of the week I’ll either have been bronzed by the sun or soaked to the skin, I’ll have walked countless miles around show grounds and will have fought off the hay fever coughs and sneezes but who cares, because it will have all been worth it for the Greatest Flower Show on Earth.
So as I sit here typing, it’s certainly warming up and my garden is beginning to look more like a garden … at last. When the weather changes for the better, it certainly makes filming up and down the country for ‘Escape…’ a lot more pleasurable.
My first admission is I failed with Lent this year. I normally wax lyrical around this time, saying I’d given up chocolate, sweets, bread etc, etc but within two weeks of Pancake Day it was all over. I hang my head in shame. Wish me better luck in 2016
A few highlights I’d love to share since my last update. Had a tremendous night at The Brit Awards as a guest of the sponsors Mastercard. I was glammed and buffed to the max as this is the music industry’s biggest shindig of the year. Bumped into the gorgeous Ricky Wilson and spent a fair while swopping judging stories and comparing my Pop Idol days to his experience on The Voice. We both admitting to lovely ‘the journey…!’ I missed Madge’s fall which is hard to believe as I was seated so close to the stage. Couldn’t understand the fuss until I saw the footage later than night. Ouch. What a recovery, a real professional but we knew that didn’t we. Although my feet said ‘home’ my heart and head took me to the Sony Music Aftershow Party… it didn’t disappoint. Mark Ronson, Paloma Faith… and other artists far too young for me to recognize. It’s times like this I miss my time in that industry…
I’ve had a couple of foreign trips, one for work the other play. We’re just finishing filming Escape to the Continent and my final show or ‘proposed move’ for my couple was to Malta. Having been there on holiday but overlooked it’s historic past and incredible architecture, it was a delight to go back and see it at it’s best – in the spring with just the locals for company. Can’t recommend it enough for a break. Also on the vacation theme, the hubster and I decided to go to Istanbul with two of our closest friends for Easter (don’t mention eggs). I’d thoroughly recommend going away with friends that are: a) really knowledgeable about a region b) book fantastic restaurants and c) great company. We held on to their shirt tales and were guided throughout the four days. Instanbul is a city of two halves, one side European, the other Asian. In my book you get the best of two worlds… Had a guided tour and dinner at the newly opened Soho House Instanbul – a former US Embassy which has been transformed into the perfect weekend retreat in a bustling city. It rocks on a Friday night. That’s all I’m saying…
Looking forward to hosting the First Time Buyer Awards later this month for the third year running and gearing up for one of the true highlights of my year, being part of the RHS Chelsea Flower Show team. Which reminds me, must give the garden some attention…
Lastly, I’m back Escaping to the Country (with and without the thermals) and enjoying touring the UK once again. May have secured a house sale already… don’t faint. Interesting couples, some splendid houses and many a mile driven… it’s what my spring and summers are made of!
See you soon, Nicki
Well March is now with us and as I sit and type, the sun is shining and spring has nearly, very nearly, sprung.
It’s been a really interesting start to the year with plenty of travels to places I’m not overly familiar with. I was delighted when P & O invited me once again to join their ship Aurora on part of its world tour as one of their guest speakers. Sadly I couldn’t spare the full four months (yep, that’s the full ‘world tour’). In January, I flew to Rio to join the ship and its passengers after spending a few days in the city itself. And what a city it is… You do have to have your wits about you but if ever there’s a place on earth that celebrates it’s beaches, carnivals, music and football, it’s Rio de Janeiro.
The highlight of this part of the trip had to be visiting a ‘favela’ called Vidigal high up with views across Ipanema Beach… a once in a lifetime experience where we drank, sampled the local cuisine and ate like kings… From there we visited Montevideo, the capital of Uruguay, Punta Arenas in Chile – a sprawling city on the edge of the Magellan Straits and the wonderfully named Ruta del Fin del Mundo (route to the end of the world) and then decided to add a few days in Buenos Aires before returning home.
In February we recorded some Escape to the Country Specials. It was great to catch up with the other presenters – Jules, Alastair, Jonnie and Sonali. As we spend over half a year on the road recording the series we rarely get a chance to actually meet up, swap stories and find out who sold the most houses – not usually me sadly! These Specials will go out later in the year on BBC One.
Wanted Down Under is just finishing now on BBC One, but already the team are filming the new series which will air in Spring 2016. I fly out to Oz later this year. This series has been a huge success and thanks to all of you who have been tweeting or on Facebook with your views and thoughts on our families. It’s a huge challenge and decision to move to the other side of the world… Could you do it? Listening to your comments, it seems the Revisits are so popular and more will follow in 2016…
Most of last summer was spent filming Escape to the Country but also our second series of Escape to the Continent – it does what it says on the tin. I particularly love filming this show, exploring new areas of Europe, showing our couples a possible new way of life, but also giving them a reality check on what this ‘new life’ might entail. We’re just finishing off this second series. I’m off to Malta with my next couple, and the show should air later on this year. Hopefully early summer.
I’ve posted on Twitter a few photos from The BRITs, which was fabulous and brought back memories of my years in the Music Industry… seeing Take That perform again was like déjà vu! I met Ricky Wilson, currently doing great business on The Voice, and spent far too long swapping judging stories comparing Pop Idol to the entertainment shows of today. We all love a ‘journey’!!
On a personal level, since being inspired by the Spanish Riding School in the autumn, I’m now back in the saddle and trying to ride each weekend. You can call me the ‘happy hacker’. I’m currently on Lent… I won’t bore you with the details, but will share that it’s been harder than ever. Hopefully by the time I write again it will all be over for another year…. I’m back on BBC Radio 2 in a few weeks time, just about to start filming the new series of Escape to the Country, and am starting to get excited about the RHS Chelsea Flower Show. OK, it’s not until May, but a girl can dream….
Well here we are in 2015 and it’s shaping up quite well. I hope everyone had a great Christmas and New Year (it seems ages ago now). So far this year I’ve celebrated a birthday, sat in for the lovely Janice Long on BBC Radio 2 for ‘After-midnight’ (always such a pleasure and thanks for those messages) and am getting ready for more filming on Escape to the Country, plus some talks and a wonderful cruise with P&O … Wanted Down Under is currently on BBC1 every morning at 9.15 am and gauging by your twitter and Facebook comments, you’re thoroughly enjoying this new series. I love to hear your feedback… Also keep an eye out for some new episodes of Escape to the Country too. They’re coming up shortly. Have a great 2015. Nicki
What a crazy couple of months and a great autumn it’s been. Now I’m definitely struggling to adjust to this winter weather (when are those Australian dates coming up again….?!).
It’s this time of year that you start to reflect on the year to date… and it’s certainly been a busy one. Always having the travel bug, a return trip to Oz for Wanted Down Under was a delight, plus visiting Cambodia and Vietnam for the first time has to be one of the best experiences I’ve ever had.
One of the ‘jewels’ in my presenting career is hosting the RHS Chelsea Flower Show and this year was no exception. Bring on May 2015 for yet another floral frenzy….. And where would I be without Escape to the Country. I think I may have even sold the odd house or two. Seriously!!
Highlights of the last couple of months alone have been travelling the breadth of Europe for Escape To The Continent as well as hosting The Spanish Riding School of Vienna. I was working, or should that be watching, in awe as Carl Hester, Lee Pearson and Natasha Baker, our Olympic and Paralympic gold medalists, gave their dressage demonstrations to audiences of thousands at Sheffield and Wembley Areas.
I’m finally enjoying some down time back home (log fire and some good/bad TV, yes please) and looking forward to spending the Christmas season with family. I’ll also be popping into BBC Radio 2 to host some shows towards the end of the month and early January (they’re my family too, don’t forget!), so make sure you send in your festive requests and you may get a shout out and dedication from yours truly.
Keep an eye out for the new series of Wanted Down Under on BBC1 in January. Tears and tantrums a plenty, plus hopefully some life changing moments too!
Wishing you all a very Merry Christmas and a wonderful new year!
See you all in 2015!
So firstly thank you for checking out my brand new website, it’s a fresh start with lots of things coming up so keep checking in for the latest updates.
This summer has been barmy (and I’m not just talking about the weather); we’ve just wrapped on Wanted Down Under for another series and I’m already missing it. For those who don’t know, the series sees me fly out to Australia or New Zealand with families for a week long relocation trial, after which they have to decide whether they want to re-locate. I love to get to know the families and their dreams but it’s a big move and a massive undertaking.
Escape To The Country has also been in full swing. We had the pleasure of traveling the length and breadth of the British countryside from Cornwall to North Yorkshire, with my wellies at the ready! However, I’m happy to report they stayed clean and unused this series.
I’m excited that there is word of further ‘Escapes’ with the second series of Escape To The Continent also being filming a little later this year. Not that I’m keen or anything but my suitcase is ready and waiting at the door..