Gloria Hunniford: ‘Helping viewers is a privilege’

Returning for a new run of Rip-Off Britain, Gloria Hunniford tells why she loves helping viewers, the joy of family and why work keeps her strong.

Gloria Hunniford

by Jane Oddy |

I find my energy increases when I go to work, it really does,” says consummate professional Gloria Hunniford. “My work ethic is still strong. When life has felt like shifting sands, work has been a solid platform for me. My New Year’s resolution every year is to try to get a better balance between work and time off, but I never seem to crack it. I made that resolution again this year!”

One of her passions is her popular BBC television series, Rip-Off Britain, in which she and the presenting team investigate and expose consumer scams.

This month Gloria (81) is fronting Rip-Off Britain: Holidays, with co-presenters Julia Somerville and Angela Rippon, followed by a week of live shows towards the end of January and early February.

She reflects: “The three of us have built up a credibility over the years. The viewers trust us to give them information about scams, energy bills and their rights, from housing to holidays. I am very proud of the fact that it started 14 years ago, and that we are still going strong.”

‘When life has felt like shifting sands work has been a solid platform for me’

For the new series about holidays Gloria says they came across many customers who couldn’t get their money back or have been ripped off somehow. “The other big issue with holidays is getting the right insurance for the right trip. Sometimes people will just get the cheapest and they think they are covered for accidents and emergencies, but they’re not.

“For me, one of the best things about presenting the show is finding out information for the viewers and helping them.”

When it comes to scams Gloria’s top tip is to trust your gut instinct. “The point is to always remember the old adage ‘If something looks too good to be true, it usually is’. All of us can get carried away by a bargain but if you have a suspicion about it stand back, check it with your family and friends before you get sucked into something. I also live and learn through the Rip-Off programmes about tips that I hear too; I have in my time saved money on car and house insurance, because I listen to what the experts say.”

However, she was unwittingly a victim herself when her identity was stolen in 2016. She was defrauded of a large sum of money by a female impostor, after a woman arrived at a bank branch with two people whom she claimed were her daughter and grandson. “I was furious because it wasn’t even a push button payment. Someone gave part of my savings account away to three people. They gave it over on the strength of a fake driving licence. This woman had all my details on the licence but it was her photograph.”

Thankfully Gloria was reimbursed of the stolen money. While Gloria’s career has always been important, it’s her family that comes first and Gloria lights up talking about her sons Michael and Paul. “I’m Irish so you never want your children further away than around the corner. I speak to them all every day.”

Gloria Hunniford's daughter and family

Gloria lost her beloved daughter Caron Keating at age 41 to cancer in 2004. Both Caron’s sons, Charlie (27) and Gabriel (24), are her pride and joy, as are her other grandsons Jake (26), and Beau (24), her son Paul’s children. She also has much-loved step- grandchildren with her husband, former Bond Street hair salon owner Stephen Way (81), and the couple managed to see them all before Christmas.

Gloria's husband

Gloria has been married to Stephen for more than 23 years and they live in Kent. She reveals her eldest grandson Charlie recently bought his first flat with his girlfriend. “Normally I would buy sweaters for Christmas presents but this year it was non-stick pots and pans. It was so funny. I spoil them all totally. It’s my job.”

How would she feel becoming a great-grandmother? She smiles, “Well, I’m not yet but Stephen is a great-grandfather already four times over. We’re back to buying baby things again.”

Away from work and family Gloria reveals she would like to learn the piano. “I’d love to do that and you can take it up at any age. It’s on my Bucket List. I’ve never played the piano, our little two up two down in Portadown in Northern Ireland would not have housed one when I was young, but Stephen plays it a bit.”

She also revealed last year that she is going to get a tattoo, following in the footsteps of Dame Judi Dench who had her first tattoo at the age of 81.

After many years helping consumers and being the recipient of grateful thanks, who would Gloria like to thank personally herself?

She pauses: “Dan Gilbert who helped to start my BBC broadcasting career in Belfast. He saw something in me and gave me opportunities I never would have dreamt of. And more recently my dog walker, Lisa. She walks my King Charles spaniel Polly three times a week and if Polly ever has to stay with her, she gets to sleep on Lisa’s duvet! I’d like to say a huge thanks to her. I don’t know what I would do without her.”

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