Edith Bowman was born in 1974 and grew up in Anstruther, Fife. While doing a Communication Studies degree at Queen Margaret College in Edinburgh she did work experience at Radio Forth, which set her on the way to stardom.
Bowman’s first on-screen job on television was as a news presenter for MTV UK, and she went on to present many shows for the station. Since then she has been a regular presence on British screens and airwaves, with a CV that includes Top Of The Pops, reporting for the BBC on the marriage of Prince William and Kate Middleton, Celebrity Antiques Road Trip, numerous presenting slots on BBC Radio 1, BBC Radio 2 and BBC 6 Music, and most recently the Coast to Coast Food Festival with her old radio sparring partner Colin Murray.
In her Letter To My Younger Self, Bowman, who married Editors frontman Tom Smith in 2013 and has two children, reflects on how her ambition and determination drove her to success, and how her grandad proved to be a massive inspiration.
By the time I was 16 I was desperate to learn to drive and have the freedom to get out of Anstruther [a small coastal town in Fife] and go to gigs and the cinema. Anstruther didn’t have a cinema, so my dad started to run this big projection system in the function suite of the [Bowman family-run] hotel, mostly for putting the football on at weekends. But on a Saturday morning he set up a little film club and put on stuff like Bugsy Malone and The Goonies. It was amazing to have that; I would sit and help him stamp people’s membership cards when they came in, things like that. And there was always music around, with my mum taking me to gigs and the bands playing at the hotel every Saturday. There would be little folk nights in the cocktail bar, road shows from different radio stations coming in, street parties to celebrate anything that we possibly could – so there was this constant musical soundtrack in my life.
My mum recently found some more old reels of family films that she put onto DVD. My dad was often filming us on holidays or at Christmas and my mum’s house now has every wall covered in photos – there’s hardly any wall space left. These days we’re really bad at printing pictures so since my first kid Rudy was born I’ve been making a big photo album with hundreds of pages of pictures every Christmas. And I give them to my mum and dad, and Tom’s [husband Tom Smith, frontman of the band Editors], and we’ve got ours. Spike, my nine-year-old, absolutely loves sitting on the sofa with them, looking at all the pictures and remembering places we went, things we did. The thing I love about that is the conversation it encourages. We talk about past times, places, people. I think any opportunity to do that is beautiful, actually.
It would be unbelievable to the teenage me that I ended up being on the radio or the telly. There was definitely a dream of getting involved in that world in some way, but it felt completely unattainable. But I kept trying to break into radio, even if I thought it was an unlikely thing. I was persistent, I pestered Radio Forth [in Edinburgh] constantly and I wouldn’t take no for an answer. I hounded the programme controller about getting work experience, and I think it got to the point where he was just like, oh my god, get her in just to get her off my case. So I went to see him and he was horrible. He was like, well, what do you want? I said I’d like work experience and to learn the ropes and by the end of it have my own radio show. And his response was: I can’t put someone with an accent like yours on the radio.