Hayley Palmer: The Essex presenter on how she talked her way onto TV

PUBLISHED: 09:46 10 November 2020 | UPDATED: 09:57 10 November 2020

Hayley Palmer

Hayley Palmer

Archant

As a presenter on Sky Music and the host of two TV talk shows of her own on Gidea Park-based Sky channel Spotlight TV, Hayley Palmer is never short of words. Nicky Adams asks her how she came to be in front of the camera

There’s never a moment’s silence when Hayley Palmer is around.

‘Ever since school, I’ve been in trouble for talking!’ says the host of The Memory Lane 80s Show and At Home with Hayley, on Sky’s Spotlight TV.

‘I struggled with every job I had before this one, and it’s taken me until my late 30s to realise that television presenting is perfect for me – I love people and I love talking.’

It’s no surprise that hosting television talk shows is the ideal job for Hayley, but making the leap from an office to a television studio took some courage.

‘I was so fed up at work that one day I just decided to take action,’ explains Hayley. ‘I applied for a work placement at ITV and was successful. I knew that was a sign that I had to pursue my dream career.’

Hayley Palmer with Didi Conn, who played Frenchie in Grease (photo courtesy Hayley Palmer)Hayley Palmer with Didi Conn, who played Frenchie in Grease (photo courtesy Hayley Palmer)

Hayley gave up her salaried job for work experience as part of the production team behind the ITV2 show Dress to Impress.

‘It was a real insight into the magic behind TV,’ says Hayley, ‘and I also had the chance to watch Holly Willoughby and Phillip Schofield on This Morning, as well as Loose Women, so that was very inspiring for me.’

Soon after, she was invited to present Spotlight TV’s The Memory Lane 80s Show and now has the pleasure of chatting to some well-known guests every Saturday evening.

‘It’s a fun show and I’ve interviewed some lovely celebrities,’ says Hayley.

‘On my 80s show, Kim and Marty Wilde were a real highlight for me, and just beautiful people. I loved hearing all of Mike Stock’s (of Stock, Aitken and Waterman) stories from the 80s.

'I was fascinated by Toyah Wilcox and The Fizz (formerly known as Bucks Fizz). Cheryl Baker, Mike Nolan and Jay Aston were a real joy to interview, as were 80s DJs Pat Sharp and Mike Read.

'Every guest has been amazing really and we always get on so well. I find they don’t want to leave the studio.’

Finding out people’s stories, and especially how they made it into the music industry in one of the most iconic decades for chart hits is what motivates Hayley.

‘It seems to take most people about 10 years to be an “overnight success!”’ says Hayley.

‘I also love hearing from my viewers as the 80s show really does bring back a lot of memories for people.’

With The Memory Lane 80s Show attracting quite a following, Hayley was also asked to present her own show, At Home with Hayley, for Spotlight, which is based in Gidea Park.

‘I’m not from Essex, but my producer is from Maldon, and I find I really enjoy being in that corner of Essex and getting to know local people,’ she says.

There are plenty of local guests for Hayley to chat to on her show too.

‘At Home with Hayley is really relaxed and gives me a chance to have a good natter with people, some of whom don’t have to travel too far to the studio,’ says Hayley.

‘On the show I’ve had Duncan James and Antony Costa of Blue, Courtney Act and a comedian called Charity Shop Sue — I’ve never laughed so much!

'The most surreal guest I have ever interviewed is Didi Conn (who played Frenchie in Grease) who was so lovely.

'Guests love the format. They pick their favourite songs of all time, so it’s enjoyable for them as well as me, and the people watching.’

Although Hayley loves to talk, she also enjoys listening to what her guests have to say.

‘More often than not, an interview doesn’t go the way I thought it would in my head,’ she admits, ‘but the key is to hear what the guest says and go with it.

'There’s no right or wrong way of presenting – everyone has their own strengths and quirky ways, and this makes you unique.’

Doing background research is also important.

‘You have to really know your guest when interviewing,’ Hayley explains. ‘I try to “mirror” the guest, so if he or she is on the shy side, it’s my job to bring out the best in them.

'It takes a lot of time to really feel confident and at ease in front of the camera. I remember when I first started, feeling conscious of my every word and action, but the more relaxed you feel the better, and it shows on camera.’

Even lockdown didn’t stop Hayley having conversations with celebrity guests on air.

‘I just changed my dining room into a green screen studio and still managed to produce and present my two weekly shows,’ she explains. ‘I’ll never go back to an office job, there’s just not enough time for talking.’ 

Catch The Memory Lane 80s Show at 9pm on Saturday nights, and At Home with Hayley at 7pm on Wednesdays on Spotlight TV (SKY TV 376/FREESAT 516)

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