Guns, gangs and glitter as Stacey Dooley brings live show to Shrewsbury
She lifted the Glitterball Trophy when she featured on Strictly Come Dancing.
And she has established herself as one of BBC’s celebrated presenters through her hugely popular investigative series, which have covered a diverse range of topics and engaged a new generation of younger viewers.
Stacey Dooley is 12 years into her career and during a rare live performance at Shrewsbury’s Theatre Severn on Thursday she will talk about her remarkable career so far, where she’s headed next and how news and investigative journalism are evolving in such a highly polarised global political climate and a shifting media landscape.
Dooley has clocked up more than 80 documentaries while taking on terrorists, drug dealers, rightwing extremists and more.
She has been splashed across the tabloids after getting into a relationship with her Strictly Come Dancing partner Kevin Clifton, and endeared herself to the public with a voracious appetite for her job.
“I’ve always had a decent work ethic, probably because of my mother, when it was just her and me,” she says. “She just worked so hard. She’d get up at silly o’clock, clean her pal’s house, then do her day job, then work in pubs at night.
“My mum stands up for what she thinks is right. She’s tough. I’ve always been quite bloody-minded. You’ve got to have the courage to say what you believe.”
She rebelled during her teens when she started drinking, clubbing and skipping lessons at school.
“I probably drove my mum loopy. I wouldn’t come home and I’d be out smoking and drinking,” she continues. “I’d steal. Nothing ridiculous like cars. I’d just go down the Arndale and rob a couple of Morgan tops.
“The thing I nicked the most was blue eyeliner from the chemist. I was always wearing blue eyeliner and blue mascara, which, on reflection, probably wasn’t my best look.”
She lost friends to drink and drugs, which persuaded her to get back onto the straight and narrow. She worked for a while at Luton Airport and local pubs before breaking into TV.
Though she tackles tough subjects, she does so without fear.
“I’m such a wimp. I don’t even like flying, so it is slightly ridiculous that I do this job,” says Dooley. “I was in Maiduguri, the birthplace of Boko Haram, and there were times when I thought I might have to leave early because I can’t handle feeling frightened like this. Every night you could hear the military shelling, and you’re thinking: ‘How am I going to get out?’”
Inevitably, fans have focused on her success on Strictly and her relationship with Kevin Clifton. And Clifton has tipped her to take over from Tess Daly and Claudia Winkleman when they decide to move on.
Though Dooley isn’t really in the frame to replace the well-established double act, she has hosted Strictly Come Dancing Live on its 2020 nationwide tour.
“Everyone’s been really lovely and Ore Oduba, who I love and who I think is so wicked, I was mindful that it was his gig for a couple of years.”
Though Dooley has been fronting documentaries for more than a decade she still finds it hard to call herself a journalist. “I still don’t really feel like a journalist to be totally honest with you. I’m a bit more relaxed and it’s a bit more informal.”
She didn’t study at a journalism school and when she was asked to feature on Newsnight she had no idea what the show was. The call came after she’d featured in Blood, Sweat and T-shirts, which investigated the working conditions of Indian sweatshops. “I didn’t even know what Newsnight was. But actually, (Jeremy Paxman) was very accommodating and very lovely.”
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