Robyn Richford: the TV and radio personality talks to Mill Magazine
A noted personality across TV and radio, Scotland’s own Robyn Richford talks us through her inspiring story of persistence that has led her to a successful career
When you’re growing up in a provincial town, the concept of transcending its boundaries to reach the wider world can seem daunting, if not entirely unobtainable. For Lenzie-born Robyn Richford, it took a while for her to realise that she wasn’t consuming television with passivity.
Instead, the TV and radio presenter – who has since worked for BBC, C-ITV, Five, Sky One and more – was fantasising about being on those sets that her small-screen inspirations inhabited.
“I was always interested in it, but I guess that I didn’t put the pieces together until later,” she recalled.”I think it’s because I don’t come from a showbiz background and everyone around me did more conventional jobs. I remember watching CITV with Cat Deeley and I’d be looking at it like ‘I want to be her’.
“I think I had a sense that it just wasn’t for someone like me, one, with my background and two, with my accent. There weren’t Scottish voices on these big shows that I was watching. There wasn’t a Lewis Capaldi out there, everything felt very Scottish-centric as opposed to anything on a global or national scale.”
Initially training as a dancer, Robyn was given a scholarship to a performing arts school in London. Upon realising that her aspirations were different from her theatre-oriented classmates, Robyn spent time dancing on a cruise line. At that point, an ethos of nothing ventured, nothing gained was applied to pursuing those unrequited televisual aspirations that she’d harboured since her youth.
“it’s lovely that I’ve reached a point where it’s like ‘we’re hiring you for Robyn’, rather than to meet a quota of Scottish people”
“I basically got off that ship and rebranded myself as a telly presenter,” she declared. “I started to make YouTube videos and then followed that up with a whole series that I produced while I was working in a restaurant to make ends meet. It was a winding road though, I did everything from sales to dressing as a banana and handing out newspapers.”
Although it was taxing and could’ve discouraged less determined people, Robyn Richford accredits this four year spell of unrelenting work, uncertainty and perseverance with paving the way for the much smoother path that she strides down today.
“I’ve got a wee saying that if you hang around the barbershop long enough, you’re bound to get a haircut in the end and I think that was very much the case for me (laughs). A lot of this game is knowing that you just need to keep at it and realising, those little steps have made an impact.
“Sometimes, when the people around you are getting houses, having kids and doing all these amazing things, you wonder if you’re getting left behind,” she pondered. “But, you just need to trust your gut. In Scotland, we grow up in a culture where you don’t want to be a show-off or that person at the bar saying that you’re great, but I think leaving that bubble taught me that there were people who are way less qualified than me that are telling people that they’re way more qualified.”
Having manifested her career path prior to that concept becoming commonplace, Robyn’s big break came on ITV’s Scrambled.
“That was my first gig and I can’t tell you the feeling I had when I got that call,” she said of learning she’d got the job. “I was alone in my flat when I got a call from my agent and I was in hysterics. It was a moment of euphoria, as I’d been working towards that for years.
“I’d obviously convinced myself that I was a kids’ presenter, but it still felt wild when It actually happened. I’ve done bigger jobs in terms of my CV now, but that was still the ‘oh s**t moment’ (laughs).”
Based around 12-hour filming days, Robyn said that the experience was a much-needed baptism of fire in that it taught her that she could overcome any obstacles that might come her way.
“I’m dyslexic and every Sunday night, we’d be sent this ringbinder of scripts as there was no autocue. So, that was such a training ground and that’s what’s great about starting out in kids’ telly and it’s why so many people do it.
“It’s such a fast-paced learning environment and when it came to the actual presentation, I just loved it. Who doesn’t want to play games for a living? Although, the gunge isn’t that fun to get out your hair,” she comically conceded.
“When I got there, I realised the production company I was working for was the same one that made the morning show I was watching with Cat Deeley all those years ago, so it was a full circle moment!”
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During her tenure at Scrambled, Robyn Richford started covering on BBC Radio 1 and over the years, this has provided opportunities for live television on BBC iPlayer. An indefatigable and driven individual who is also reporting live from movie premieres and touring high schools on the behalf of the BBC to interview celebrities such as Andy Serkis and others about their life story, Robyn is relishing everything that this era of her career is bringing.
“Working on Radio 1 has always been surreal,” she recalled. “During lockdown, I was in a studio on my own, but five million people were listening. I love getting to try out different shows. Now, I will be the host of a brand-new show on Capital Scotland on mid mornings from 10am-1pm. This starts in May and I’m so excited!
“I think getting a slot in a radio home that I love was definitely the goal for sure,” she said of the new role. “I always thought that would be incredible and now, it’s lovely that I’ve reached a point where it’s like ‘we’re hiring you for Robyn’, rather than to meet a quota of Scottish people.”
From having ‘how did I get here?’ moments while interviewing Miranda Cosgrove of iCarly fame to feeling nervous around fellow presenters even though they’re now her contemporaries, not one hint of the lustre of the job has come off for Robyn and as a result, her enthusiasm is infectious.
With exciting new projects in the pipeline, Robyn is eager to share her knowledge with anyone who, like her, may be eager to enter this field, but feel that it may be unassailable.
“I think you have to be clear on who you are as when it comes to casting, they want to see the finished product. So, when I was trying to get into kids TV, I zoned in on that. So, from what I can see from peers and people on the come-up, it seems like the best way.
“Once you’re in there, then you can explore everything else like I did. So, if music or sport is your thing, promote that at the time. I hate the word niche as people always say it and it seems very limiting, but you should know what your aim is.
“I feel like I’m on the path now for a longer career and I’ve passed that first job step,” she said of her current career trajectory. “I can say that I’ve actually got a good feeling for 2023 and it’s the first time in a while where I’ve felt that way (laughs).”
Keep up with everything Robyn Richford via Instagram @RobynRichford or visit her website.