IF TESS DALY has ever had a moment to be truly grateful for the stress of working on live television, it was while filming one of the early episodes of last year’s series of Strictly Come Dancing. “I had a sickness bug and I was literally green,” the 49-year-old remembers. “My poor make-up artist Amy had to paint me three shades darker because even my fake tan had faded off my face. “I needed a bowl next to me during rehearsals and then I had to take travel sickness pills so I didn’t throw up during the actual broadcast.
“I felt terrible but a live show must go on. Fortunately, adrenaline is our friend. It’s fight or flight – you can’t be sick so your body makes you forget.”
It seems that as well as helping cavemen escape predators back in the day, the hormone brings benefits to presenters who aren’t feeling their perkiest, increasing their pain thresholds and sharpening their minds.
“That’s one of the reasons I love live television, the adrenaline is like super fuel,” says Tess.
“You might be sipping on a Lemsip beforehand but once that red light on the camera flicks on, you’re flying and completely forget any ailments.
“It’s why you don’t see any presenters sniffing on live shows or pulling a crumpled tissue out of their sleeve.
“You forget you have a cold or a bug and just get on with it. Then, once it’s done, you can collapse in a heap again.”
That rush of hormone isn’t all positive though and Tess, like many of her fellow presenters, finds it hard to come down from the “high” being live on air creates in the body.
“The adrenaline definitely remains an undercurrent for a few hours after you finish,” she says.
“You’ve had the energy surging and the adrenaline peaking all evening so I get home and find I can’t sleep until two in the morning on Saturdays.”
Tess with fellow Strictly presenter Claudia Winkleman
TESS, who lives in Buckinghamshire with her husband, fellow presenter Vernon Kay, 44, and their daughters, Phoebe, 14 and Amber, nine, has found one sure-fire way to bring herself back down to earth after the show – chores.
“I just get stuff done around the house,” says Tess, who is an ambassador for multivitamin supplement Wellwoman.
“I start folding all the uniforms and sorting the school bags out for Monday.
“Checking things off a to-do list, that’ll soon send me to sleep. Or I’ll watch something on Netflix. I have to try and chill out and get some sleep because on Sunday it’s all systems go – I’m in full mum mode doing fun stuff with the girls.”
Despite working a 14-hour day every Saturday during Strictly’s three-month run, there’s no such thing as a lazy Sunday morning for Tess.
“I haven’t had a lie-in since I became a parent,” she laughs.
“But that’s because I want to be the first one up. I wake up at full speed, although I can’t speak until I’ve had a strong builders’ tea.
“I set the alarm 20 minutes before everyone else wakes so that by the time they show their faces I’m ready for them.”
Tess never stops
Luckily for Tess, she doesn’t ever struggle to get by on only five hours sleep.
“I can do it and still run around all day but not if it’s over a few consecutive nights,” she says.
“On Sundays I’ll definitely need seven hours again.”
That doesn’t mean that Tess doesn’t know what it feels like to be exhausted though – and she has daughter Phoebe to thank for that. “The no-sleep years were diabolical,” admits Tess, whose eldest wouldn’t settle easily.
“We literally didn’t sleep for the first three and a half years which is why there’s four and a half years between our two girls.
WE WERE so sleep deprived and would compete with our friends about who was getting the least. Vernon and I always had the worst stories.
“It was tough in those early years. I would go to work and have to lie down on the sofa for half an hour at lunchtime.
“But you do what you can because you have to and number two slept 12 hours a night from about three months which was amazing.
“I could never go back to those dark days of sleep deprivation.”
Tess with presenter husband Vernon Kay. The couple have two daughters, Phoebe and Amber
The presenter will be celebrating a significant birthday next April but it doesn’t look like hitting 50 means she will be slowing down.
“I feel no different now to how I’ve ever felt, my energy levels are exactly the same,” she says.
“I jump out of bed and don’t sit again until 9.30pm at night. But I wouldn’t have it any other way – I have that speedy metabolism. I’m like a Duracell bunny, I just keep going and long may that continue.
“I come from quite fit stock though. My mum’s 75 and she’s never been in hospital and is still wearing a bikini on the beach, so fingers crossed.”
Tess Daly is the face of Wellwoman, the UK’s leading women’s multivitamin supplement brand.
Visit vitabiotics.com for information
WHAT IS ADRENALINE?
ADRENALINE is a hormone that triggers the body’s fight-or-flight response.
It causes our air passages to dilate to provide the muscles with the oxygen they need to either fight danger or flee and triggers blood vessels to contract to redirect blood toward major muscle groups, including the heart and lungs.
Its release reduces the body’s ability to feel pain which is why you can continue running from or fighting danger even when injured. It causes a noticeable increase in strength and performance, as well as heightened awareness, in stressful times.
After the stress has subsided, adrenaline’s effect can last for up to an hour.
For more info go to hormone.org