See Classic FM’s Charlotte Hawkins in cinemas this autumn
- Credit: Archant
The presenter, who lives in Surrey, is bringing an André Rieu retrospective to the big screen
For the past nine years Charlotte Hawkins has been in the enviable position of travelling around the globe, introducing one of the world’s most popular conductors to audiences across the world via live cinema streams.
However, the coronavirus lockdown has put paid to the Good Morning Britain host and former Strictly Come Dancing contestant’s 10th trip to introduce André Rieu in his home city of Maastricht.
“It’s very disappointing for André,” says Charlotte, who also hosts Smooth Claissics , a Sunday evening show on Classic FM. “He loves putting on a series of concerts for people. It is going to look very different this year.”
For 2020’s cinema stream, Charlotte will be interviewing André in a pre-recorded show about his last 15 years putting on lavish spectacles in the Dutch city interspersed with clips from some of his favourite performances.
“He and the Johann Strauss Orchestra have created such fabulous music over the years,” says Charlotte. “It’s a great opportunity for people to go and see to have that bit of normality again.”
She believes the power of music lies in the way it makes us feel better – she loves the idea of musical escapism. It’s something which dates back to her early years growing up in Sidlesham, West Sussex, where her father Frank was a vicar.
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“My dad loved classical music,” says Charlotte of Frank, who died of motor neurone disease in 2015. “He would blare it out at any opportunity. It was the soundtrack to my childhood. I grew up surrounded by church music from a very early age. I played several musical instruments, but they all fell by the wayside.”
One instrument she has returned to is the piano. “It was a New Year’s resolution to relearn the piano,” she says. She was able to show off her skills live on Good Morning Britain last December, when she played a duet Bluebird with its composer, pianist Alexis Ffrench. “I was terrified,” she says more than six months on. “I love that piece of music, I spent last year teaching myself to play it. I’ve worked in live television for a long time, but that was one of the most terrifying things I have done.”
That experience really underlines how she feels when she sees André leading his musicians. “I have watched the Johann Strauss Orchestra in action – every note they play is absolutely perfect,” she says. “Having been in that situation I know how difficult that is. I’ve seen them in rehearsals going over it again and again. I appreciate the hours of hard work that goes into playing an instrument to that level. I should have been practising in lockdown, but I found 101 other things to do.”
She’s not considering bringing her new found skills to a wider world by following in the footsteps of Alexander Armstrong, Myleene Klass or Hugh Laurie and creating an album of her own performances. But she would like to be responsible for a recording in a different way. “It would be amazing to pull together some of my favourite pieces – I’m someone who is always saying ‘You have to listen to this’,” she says. Listening to music is her way of unwinding. “Good Morning Britain is an intense
environment,” she says, having transferred to ITV’s flagship breakfast show from Sky News in 2014. “Sitting next to Piers Morgan raises its challenges in itself. It’s nice to come back home and listen to music – to have a bit of musical escapism.”
Charlotte lives in the Surrey countryside with husband businessman Mark Herbert, their five-year-old daughter, Ella Rose, and rescue dog Bailey. Aside from her time travelling to present Good Morning Britain – which requires a 3am alarm call – she has been spending her lockdown at home. “I’m really lucky,” she says. “I live in a place where I have a lovely garden that keeps us busy. We have a local community farm shop not too far from us, where we can get our supplies. From our doorstep I can go for a run or a cycle ride.”
Although this year she celebrated 20 years reporting the news, having started out as a trainee on Meridian, she has never covered anything quite like the coronavirus pandemic. “It is completely unprecedented,” she says. “It’s something which has shaken up the whole world and turned everything on its head. Nobody saw it coming. Often with breaking news stories you’re covering it for a while, then it goes away – this one has been day in, day out. My heart goes out to all those people who have lost so many lives, which is heartbreaking.
“As a journalist and a broadcaster in the thick of it you feel a huge sense of responsibility. It’s how you talk about the restrictions, what people should be doing and shouldn’t be doing, the health advice, you have to take it really seriously and you need to challenge politicians to make sure the right decisions are being taken.
“We’re lucky in that we have Dr Hilary [Jones] on hand who can give the latest health advice, but when we say to people: ‘Let us know if you have any questions’ we have been bombarded with so many fears and uncertainty. I hope we’re coming out the other side of it now.”
André Rieu’s Magical Maastricht – Together In Music comes to cinemas nationwide from September 18 to October 15. Tickets available via andreincinemas.com