BBC newsreader Fiona Bruce lives in London with her young family and drives a Citroën Grand C4 Picasso. She tells us why she’s smitten with diesels……
WD: How did you become a BBC newsreader?
FB: I got into TV after a couple of false career starts. I landed a job as a researcher on Panorama because I met the producer at a wedding. Then I became a reporter, and later, the opportunity of being a news presenter came completely by chance. I was off air between contracts and I just asked if I could try it out. Then presenting the Antiques Roadshow came later on the strength of what I was already doing.
WD: You’ve also been seen on Top Gear, haven’t you?
FB: Yes, and it was great fun being the Star in a Reasonably Priced Car – I actually busted the clutch! I didn’t manage much of a lap time, but it was torrential rain, like a monsoon, and I was aquaplaning all the way round. I went careering off over the grass! At the time, I was thinking “I wonder whether I’ll roll the car” but according to The Stig that’s not possible!
WD: Didn’t you turn them down originally?
FB: Yes, they asked me before and I said no. But my son is a huge Top Gear fan, so I agreed later.
WD: What was your very first car?
FB: It was an Austin Allegro with a square steering wheel. It was cheap – 500 quid – and it was maroon. I wasn’t very good at looking after it. One day I parked it behind a cement mixer, and when I came back, there was cement across the back of it. Then another time, when I was driving, there was no oil in the engine and it completely seized up.
WD: So after you’d wrecked that one, what next?
FB: I bought my parents’ Golf, which I thought would be a good bet, but it kept going wrong. My finances were hand-to-mouth at the time, so getting it fixed sent me into paroxysms of anxiety. My parents got fed up with bailing me out!
WD: Was the next car something more reliable?
FB: No, after that I had a moped for a bit. I lived in Greenwich and my boyfriend was in Blackheath, and I needed to go up the hill – so it was easier than walking. Then it got nicked, which was a huge relief. The police turned up two years later saying they’d found it, but I’d long since had the insurance money by then.
WD: When did you buy your first diesel?
FB: That was a car I bought with my husband – a Volvo XC90, because we wanted something big and roomy. The reason we got a diesel was because we had a Jeep Cherokee, and that drank petrol like there was no tomorrow! So the next time we changed cars after the Volvo, we went for a diesel as well – the Citroën Grand C4 Picasso.
WD: Why did you make the change from the XC90?
FB: I really liked, it but I wanted to get rid of having a 4×4. We don’t need one. I walk the children to school, and I don’t drive to work, so it didn’t make sense to have it. It was a hugely comfortable car, but I didn’t want to be driving something like that.
WD: What do you like about the C4 Picasso?
FB: It’s a fantastically comfortable car and it’s a seven seater, which is very handy for ferrying the kids’ friends and for when my parents are staying with us. For someone like me, having a car that automatically switches on the headlights and the handbrake is great. The seats flatten down brilliantly well – better than anything else I’ve found, and that’s very useful when you want to carry anything. It drives well and it’s responsive and economical – everything I need.
WD: It has quite a lot of kit, which bit’s the best?
FB: I love my parking sensors, they’re so useful. I love the blinds in the side windows for the kids, and the DVD players in the back are great for them, too. The sat-nav is really handy. There’s an amazing amount of technology on the car. I think the computer system on the car could launch a rocket from NASA!
WD: What kind of a driver do you think you are?
FB: I’m not a petrolhead, and my mileage is very low. I would describe myself as efficient and speedy, but I don’t take any enormous joy from it. It’s a comfortable means of getting from A to B.
WD: What kinds of cars particularly appeal to you?
FB: I like convertibles, but only if they’re easy to use. I want to press a button to drop the roof. We have two young children, so it wouldn’t be practical to have an open car – they’d get blown to pieces in the back!
WD: Now that you’ve had a couple of diesels, what do you think you’ll go for next time?
FB: I like the Citroën because it costs me less to run. In this day and age, you don’t want to be using too much fuel, which is why I prefer diesels.
WD: How long do you think you’ll go on as a newsreader?
FB: I’m 45 and at the moment I’m hugely enjoying what I do. But I’m always conscious that there are loads of other things I want to do. The list is endless – I want to learn horseriding, I want to be able to play tennis properly, I want to learn to knit, and get back to the piano which I used to play. There are so many places I want to go and see. I’d love to get a dog, but that doesn’t fit in with how busy I am.
WD: The BBC has been accused of ageism against female presenters. What’s your view?
FB: On the contrary, with all the focus, I think that there’s never been a better time to be a woman doing what I do.