By Barry Hindmarch
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For two decades now, Dawn Thewlis has been the Queen of North East Sports and news, presenting the local evening sports news on both BBC and ITV. After 20 years at Tyne Tees, she has now transferred to BBC, and looks to be a good signing! Toon Talk managed to persuade her to take a few minutes out of her busy schedule to answer a few questions.
Hi Dawn, were you always interested in sport as a child, or did this develop later?
My dad had been a professional footballer before I was born (with Newcastle and later a string of Northern League teams) and also played cricket for Northumberland, so I grew up in a sporty household and sport was always part of my life. In those days girls weren’t allowed to play cricket, at least not in Northumberland otherwise I would probably have wanted to be a cricketer myself. Instead I started off with ballet and then went on to do gymnastics before I went to secondary school where I played all sports– swimming, tennis, hockey, netball but specialised in athletics – 100m 200m and long jump.
How did you get into TV sport?
I was taken on as a trainee in news and sport by Tyne Tees after I finished University – one of the lucky ones!
Did you find being a woman in a male-dominated area a problem, especially when you started out?
No , it has never been a problem for me. I was brought up in a male dominated environment and so being in another one at work seemed quite normal to me. I have always been able to stand up for myself so never considered it tough. It may have been tougher on the men accepting a girl/woman in their midst, but I never let their prejudices bother me.
Do you play any sports – what is your biggest sporting achievement?
All the sport I did in my youth has left me with dodgy Achilles so I can’t do that much anymore. I swim and would ski all the time if I could – I love it! My biggest sporting achievement was competing in the English Schools Athletics Championships and being joint fourth in the country in my age group that year.
Do you support a particular football team?
Well, I was born in Newcastle so I have to support them especially as my dad played for them (if only in the reserves). But working in sport in the north east I can honestly say I support all our teams and have a particular soft spot for Middlesbrough. I want them all to do well as it puts our region on the map and am probably one of a very few who hopes for a draw come derby day!
Who were/are your sporting heroes? Who have you met through your work which has most pleased you?
I don’t have heroes any more, but when I was growing up it was Nadia Comaneci (the Romanian gymnast) Malcolm Macdonald, Dennis Lillee, and Daley Thompson. The sportsman I’ve most enjoyed meeting is David Ginola !
What do you consider the highlight of your career so far?
I’m not sure I would call it a career highlight, but reporting on the Falcons victorious Powergen Cup final at Twickenham in 2004 was one of the greatest weekends ever.
After you Abba performance, could a singing career be an option???? (Dawn, along with fellow presenters Alfie Joey, Kim Inglis & Jeff Brown performed as Abba at the Josie’s Dragonfly Trust charity show at the Theatre Royal last year)
Anyone who saw that performance will know that singing is definitely NOT a career option! That performance was my Waterloo!
What did you think of Newcastle and Sunderland’s season just gone?
Newcastle surprised everyone including me. They’ve certainly punched above their weight and Alan Pardew has done a tremendous job instilling the self belief that saw them get into Europe! As for Sunderland, I was sorry to see Steve Bruce go - he was great with the media and a genuine chap, but they’ve really started to show what they’re capable of under Martin O’Neill and are exciting to watch. I wouldn’t want to put money on which one of them was going to finish highest in the Premier League next season.
Dawn can currently be seen presenting on Look North on BBC1, week nights, 6.30 – 7pm.
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