Michelle Ackerley Reveals Wedding Plans and Career Insights on BBC Morning Live

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The Journey to Morning TV Stardom

Landing a prime time slot on morning TV working alongside long-time friend and former flatmate, Helen Skelton, is undeniably a dream job for Michelle Ackerley. However, appearing in front of a camera wasn’t always an obvious career path, admits the TV presenter who grew up in Mobberley and was a pupil at Alderley Edge School for Girls.

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“I studied psychology at Manchester University and in my second to third year, I became interested in psychology within the media,” Michelle explains. “My psychology tutor at the time used to do a lot of work within the media – it was the days when Big Brother first aired and was seen as a social experiment. My tutor would feature on TV magazine shows to discuss body language and personality profiles – I found it so fascinating.”

After applying for a work experience placement at BBC Manchester, Michelle’s television career kicked off – and she’s never looked back. Starting out as a producer developing scripts and ideas for programmes like Blue Peter, her talents in front of the camera were unveiled after she was asked to present Totally Rubbish for CBBC. She has since fronted popular shows for the BBC including Panorama, Watchdog Test House, Council House Crackdown, Fake Britain, and Fraud Squad. Michelle has also been a regular host for BBC’s The One Show, and she also hosts Crimewatch Live, alongside Rav Wilding.

Authentic Reporting and Diverse Representation

Talking to her it’s easy to see why she was an obvious choice for BBC Morning Live. Her warmth, authenticity and genuine interest in people is self-evident. “It’s never been about getting my face on the telly! It’s been about creating stories that really matter,” she reveals. “I realised that I really enjoyed being out and communicating with people – it’s the job that I’d do even if the camera wasn’t in my face. Now that I’ve been in the industry for a while, I do feel if I look back to when I was a kid, having more diverse representation on television is so important. Aside from presenting, I am setting up more diversity schemes and initiatives so that we can recruit more diverse talent across the board – both on and off screen,” adds the 39-year-old, who is an ambassador for SmartWorks, a charity which helps women secure employment through coaching.

“Presenting is my career first and foremost, but there’s a lot of things that I am equally as passionate about,” she adds. While BBC Morning Live features light-hearted segments such as how to untangle Christmas tree lights, the magazine show uncovers more serious and untold stories – something Michelle fervently advocates. “We do deal with some really difficult and moving content,” she continues, “we always ask, how can we really talk about this? How can we engage people in the stories that really matter. It’s about striking the right balance.”

Adventures in Investigative Journalism

Before taking on a TV reporter role on Watchdog UK, Michelle was keen to ensure her features were authentic and show the viewers exactly what the emergency services teams do. “I’ve abseiled down buildings with the fire brigade, been petrol-bombed by riot police, and sat on the roof of cars, whilst they’re sinking into water,” adds the daring reporter.

A Family Affair on Screen

The need for authenticity is a recurring theme to Michelle’s work, which led her to work with her own mum, Mavis Ackerley, a personal trainer and life coach turned presenter and agony aunt, who lives in Alderley Edge. They first worked together on a segment about excavating the Reno nightclub in Manchester. Linda Brogan, a regular at the famous club, organised a reunion to excavate the dance floor and host a one-night event. Mentioning it to her mum, Michelle learned that the club was close to Mavis’ heart, and she was invited to attend the reunion and reminisce about her past experiences on camera. The mother-daughter duo has since presented BBC’s Dirty Rotten Scammers to explore the world of cyber fraud and Mavis also appears as an expert on BBC Morning Live. “We love working together and hanging out. It is so much fun,” says Michelle. “Fingers crossed, there’s a few more projects coming up this year on telly so watch this space.”

Highlights and Work-Life Harmony

Ever the professional, Michelle admits that TV presenting can involve meeting difficult or less friendly interviewees, but she refuses to take it personally. “You never know what is going on in someone’s life so there’ll be days when people are in and out of the studio.”

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As for career highlights, Michelle divulges interviewing Hillary Clinton as a real honour – “a surreal experience, but she was very calm and down-to-earth.” Meeting Oscar-winning Trainspotting and Slumdog Millionaire film director Danny Boyle remains a memorable experience. “Danny was flying out to hang out with his best pal, Leonardo DiCaprio, the next day but spent time speaking to film students in the studio. He was humble and interested in other people and that’s a real measure of a person – that interview had a real impact on me.”

Wedding Bells and Future Plans

Ambitious and focused, Michelle believes in a good work-life balance and this year plans to get hitched to former rugby union coach and Brentford performance director Ben Ryan this summer.

“We’re toying with the idea of celebrating in Fiji as Ben coached the Fiji sevens team to achieve their gold medal at the Rio Olympics in 2016, so he has a whole other set of family and friends. I think we’re going to have a marriage celebration in London, too. When you work in sports and telly it’s like a military operation to make sure that our diaries are in sync. We’ve got particularly good at that,” smiles Michelle.

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With the desire to have a family – “I would love to start a family if I am lucky enough to be able to do that, that would be fantastic” – Michelle reveals that moving back to Cheshire is the goal. “I’ve stayed in many different cities across the UK, but there’s something quite different about going back to Cheshire, it really feels like home. For me, it’s that connection to the community, to the people. I can walk through Alderley Edge, pop by for coffee and cake at the Wizard Tearoom and end up chatting to people that I know – you never really feel alone, that sense of community is special and supportive.”

A Final Note from Michelle

For now, Michelle commutes to Manchester to present Morning Live alongside Gethin Jones, Kym Marsh and guest presenters including Sara Cox, Kimberley Walsh, Gaby Roslin and Rav Wilding.

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“I have absolutely loved being a part of the show so far, which we know can make a real difference to people’s lives,” she ends. “I’m looking forward to keeping our audience’s company in the mornings and doing that alongside friends.”

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