There is something very poignant for Charlotte Hawkins about the annual Bonfire Night Classic FM Pet Classics programme, especially this year.
Originally it was hosted by TV and radio presenter Bill Turnbull, with Charlotte taking over in 2021 due to his poor health.
Bill sadly died on 31 August this year following a battle with prostate cancer.
“I stepped in last year because of Bill’s health,” Good Morning Britain presenter Charlotte explains.
“Having lost him now, it will definitely be a poignant show for us this year, because I know it was really special for him.
“I sent him an email last year and I said to him, ‘You know, I am just borrowing this [show], thank you for letting me borrow it temporarily.
I really look forward to having you back.’
“It’s really sad he’s no longer with us, and we’re missing him very much.”
The 47-year-old has lots of great memories of working with Bill, both at Classic FM and on Good Morning Britain.
“He was such a gentleman, he was so lovely to work with. He had such a lovely sense of humour and a twinkle in his eye.”
She adds, “As part of his health regime, he’d been doing all sorts of yoga and stretches, so in the ad breaks on GMB he quite frequently would get up and do all these stretches, putting the rest of us to shame.”
A regular presenter on GMB for eight years following seven years on Sky News Sunrise, Charlotte, who lives in Surrey with husband Mark and seven-year-old daughter Ella Rose, is pretty experienced at getting up at 3am to appear on breakfast TV.
The star explains that her early morning regime involves never putting the snooze button on her alarm, plus “quite a few cups of tea in the morning and usually about three breakfasts” during the day.
“I used to tell my husband, ‘You know, some people would get up and make their partner a little cup of coffee or breakfast first thing in
the morning,’ and he’s like, ‘There’s no way I’m getting up at 3am to make you a cup of tea!’” she laughs.
“I’ve been given strict instructions to creep out as quietly as possible [in the morning]. And I have the bedtime of a seven-year-old – I go to bed at the same time as my daughter!”
Ella Rose has already shown an interest in doing what Charlotte does for a living, too.
Earlier this year, she accompanied her mum to the GMB studio so she could see what it was like – and while she was there, she got to meet singer George Ezra.
“She was so excited because she absolutely loves him, and I sent a message to his team and said, ‘If she could have a photo of him or just say hi, that would make her day.’
"And they were like, ‘Would she like to ask him a question?’ So when I asked her, she was absolutely thrilled, and she proceeded to draw up a whole document of interview questions that she wanted to put to him. So it was very much all her own questions,” Charlotte says.
She interviewed George Ezra live on air and, as Charlotte says proudly, “She did a brilliant job interviewing George. And how lovely was
it that he kind of came to life answering her questions.”
Ella Rose certainly didn’t seem fazed by meeting her favourite pop star up close, but Charlotte admits that she herself has been a little starstruck in the past, especially when meeting people she loved when she was a teenager.
“I remember when I first interviewed Bros, and you know, I had their posters on my wall,” she confesses.
“And it’s really hard when you’re sat opposite them interviewing them and you can just feel your face go red because you’re getting really embarrassed about it.
"And they are so lovely. They gave me a big hug. Every time I see them I keep thinking of the posters on the wall and their albums. I’m very much a Brosette.”
Of course, one member of Bros, Matt Goss, was competing in the current series of Strictly Come Dancing, and Charlotte was a contestant herself back in 2017. So does she have any advice for the Strictly celebrities this year?
“I love it – it’s such a special show,” she says. “You’ve just got to love every moment, just make the most of every moment, because you never know when your journey is going to be over.
"It’s the most amazing thing to be part of. Just go out there, give it your
all and do your best, and I think you should just be proud of that.”
However, with the glitz of the ballroom now far behind her, Charlotte is focusing on Pet Classics – which features a selection of relaxing music specially chosen to calm pets during the fireworks season.
She first presented the show last year, and it proved hugely popular. “When I did the show, people would send in pictures and I remember vividly this photo of a greyhound.
"They showed me what their greyhound was like the previous year – shaking and really obviously scared. And then they sent a picture of
the dog listening to Pet Classics and it was just curled up in bed.”
Charlotte has a dog of her own – a rescue pup named Bailey – and she saw firsthand how calming music helped her pet when fireworks were
let off each year near their home on Bonfire Night.
“For many years, Bailey really hated fireworks,” she says. “She’d always run and hide somewhere. She was always really upset with them and music was something that helped her.
"She’s an elderly lady in the dog world now – she’s 17 – so she can’t hear them now. I suppose that is the one benefit to going deaf when you’re a dog – you don’t get quite as distressed by all the fireworks.”
The programme will be broadcast on 4 and 5 November (and available on Global Player from those dates) and Charlotte has teamed up with the RSPCA to share tips and advice for pet owners on how to keep their pets calm, whether it is a dog, a cat or even a horse.
Charlotte adds, “What surprised me last year was the number of photos of different pets.
"We had people sending in pictures from farms – we had horses, we had donkeys, cats and even an iguana!”
Charlotte presents Pet Classics on Friday 4 and Saturday 5 November, from 5pm to 9pm, on Classic FM – available on 100-102 FM, DAB digital radio and TV, on Global Player and ClassicFM.com
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