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BBC's Susanna Reid on Strictly, her Croydon schooldays, and her beloved Palace

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A NATIONAL TV star and one of 'Britain's sexiest women' – Susanna Reid has come a long way since her schooldays in Croydon.

But football keeps bringing the BBC Breakfast news presenter home and her love of Palace ensures a part of Croydon will be forever in her heart.

"I am a big Crystal Palace fan," said the 42-year-old, soon to be gracing our screens as a contestant on BBC show Strictly Come Dancing.

"I was born in the area so it is natural to support Palace.

"And then when I worked at Five Live a friend there said 'let's get a season ticket,' back in 1995.

"That was one of the years that Palace made the play-offs."

Nowadays, however, the mother-of-three's punishing schedule makes it harder to get to matches, and the season ticket is no more.

She commutes from her home in Lambeth to the BBC's new headquarters in Manchester to front BBC Breakfast during the week, dashing back to pick up her three young sons from school.

It may push her schedule to the brink, but Susanna says she leapt at the chance to join Strictly.

"I wanted to do it because on Breakfast we have interviewed people who have been on Strictly through the years and they are so buzzy about it," she said.

"When I danced for the Children in Need special I think we all got a little bit bitten by the Strictly bug.

"It is like being with a cloud of sequins. It's absolutely fantastic; it gives you such a buzz and a glow."

Her children, aged 11, nine and seven, are getting used to mum's new moves.

"My children have had a look because I recorded what I did in the rehearsal room," she added.

"The comment yesterday was 'Kevin [her professional partner Kevin Clifton] can really dance but mum, you need to step it up a bit'.

"I was afraid they would be embarrassed but I think they are used to seeing mum on television."

Susanna was born in Purley in 1970 – "it has changed a lot since then" and then lived in Warlingham, Surrey, and Selsdon.

She attended Croham Hurst School and the private Croydon High – and has "nothing but good memories" of her time there.

At 16 she moved into inner London with her mother and attended St Paul's Girls School in Hammersmith.

She "honestly could not assess" how much attending the leading private school shaped her life, adding: "I found St Paul's to be a really inspiring place.

"It was quite intimidating to begin with but I had two great years there and some outstanding, particularly inspiring teachers."

But while she may be a serious news presenter nowadays, the media tends to focus on her appearance.

"I think it is unavoidable when you are on TV and I just try and ignore it as much as possible," she said.

"I am a professional doing my job and I think its important that viewers love what you do."

Susanna has made FHM's 'world's sexiest women' list (at no.96), and Zoo Weekly's top ten 'Britain's sexiest mums.'

But she would advise budding journalists to work on their resilience rather than their appearance.

She recalled, age 11, penning a review of a production of Joseph and the Amazing Techni-color Dreamcoat and hopefully sending it in to Croydon Advertiser.

She said: "I got a sweet, short reply [saying no]. If I got knocked back I bounced back.

"The other thing is to take advantage of all your opportunities. That was the advice mum gave me – always take your opportunities."

BBC's Susanna Reid on Strictly, her Croydon schooldays, and her beloved Palace


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