TV’s Angellica Bell on her new look at retirement and her Yorkshire family roots

TV presenter Angellica Bell is hosting a new podcast which looks at retirement from a different perspective. Abi Jackson reports

Angellica Bell. Picture: Snooty Fox Images/PA.
Angellica Bell. Picture: Snooty Fox Images/PA.

Ever find yourself scrolling social media and feeling a bit rubbish? Perhaps take a leaf out of Angellica Bell’s book.

“I haven’t had Facebook for years, I rarely look at Twitter. Also, unfollowing people that don’t make you feel good. You’ve just got to be a bit ruthless,” says the TV and radio presenter.

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For Angellica, cutting back on screen time is self-care. “Sometimes it’s things like not having the phone around, and not always looking online,” she adds, as we chat about her approach to looking after herself.

Angellica Bell with husband and then fellow presenter Michael Underwood at the Farnborough International Airshow in Hampshire in 2016.Picture: Andrew Matthews/PA

As a result, she says quite relaxed. “And it means I can form my own opinions and get my information from reliable sources – and then also not necessarily share it with everyone. Not everyone needs to know your opinion, you know?”

Putting these boundaries in place has been a conscious choice, largely because she didn’t want to be “wasting time”, explains Angellica. She has other things to be doing.

“I want to start crocheting; my gran taught me to crochet when I was little, so I bought a crochet stick and I want to do that. Also books – I’ve got books by my bed that I want to read, and I want to learn how to roller-skate. If you lose yourself on Twitter, the next thing an hour’s gone. And I don’t want to be one of those people – I’ve had friends pass away young – I don’t want to get to a point at the end of my life where I think, ‘Oh I wish I’d done that; I wish I’d spent less time scrolling on Twitter’.

“I think the moment counts so much,” she adds. “And you can’t get that time back.”

Rewirement podcast with Angellica Bell takes a new look at retirement Pictur: Rewirement/PA.

Although she was born and raised in West London, Angellica has strong ties to Yorkshire as she explains.

“When my mum remarried my stepdad (leader of Ealing Council Julian Bell) and his family were from Sheffield and the Peak District, they welcomed us with open arms and really made me feel part of the family.” And she is clearly proud of that side of her family.

“My family have always been really part of the community both in Hathersage and Sheffield,” says the 45-year-old mum of two.

Angellica studied politics before making her way into TV, becoming a household name in the early-Noughties on CBBC. More recently, she’s been co-hosting The Martin Lewis Money Show and The One Show, and won Celebrity MasterChef in 2017. Angellica, who is married to fellow former CBBC presenter Michael Underwood (now a schoolteacher) has also ventured into podcasts and recently recorded a new series of Rewirement.

As the name suggests, it’s all about reframing retirement and sees Angellica chat with a range of guests, including experts on topics like financial planning and health, as well as people who’ve embraced opportunities to retrain, relocate or restart later in life.

“It’s challenging stereotypes about retirement and encouraging people to think, actually, I can still be healthy, happy, financially comfortable,” she says.

“Loads of older people now are living really fulfilled lives, it’s not just about having a cup of tea and doing word puzzles. It’s travelling, exploring the world, fulfilling dreams they always had.”

One of her favourite interviews was with a man who, after losing his job in the mines, decided to do something totally different and trained as a ski instructor.

She also talked to a woman who did a master’s degree in her 50s, someone who finally got their dream home after retiring, and people who found love further down the line.

“It was so lovely to talk to those people, and they opened up about personal things, stuff that’s happened to them and how they navigated their way through it. It’s been really eye-opening for me as well. There’s so much wisdom amongst the older generation, people who have lived their lives… I spoke to an amazing person, Patrick, who came out (as LGBTQ+) later in life and had to adjust his life, and you do think, ‘This is an inspiring story, gosh’. Everyone has their crosses to carry, and their lives, but it’s amazing when you hear it.”

The podcast aims to provide advice too – but Angellica is keen to emphasise it’s not about “telling people what to do”, rather “empowering people to make informed choices.

“You’ve got to do what’s right for you. Sometimes, when you’ve got all these other people saying this is what you should be doing, it can be quite confusing.

“You have to live with yourself, you know how you feel about things, you have to really be in tune and tap into those feelings to get the best out of you. And that’s all that matters, isn’t it? How you feel and what makes you happy.”

She was having this conversation recently, she recalls, about how easy it is to compare ourselves – which she says “is almost like being your own personal destructive weapon. There’ll always be someone doing something different, or doing something you might perceive to be better, but you never know exactly what’s going on”, she adds.

“I think all life experiences will hone the essence of your being, really.

“Wisdom with experience has helped me to reconcile little things I wasn’t really sure about, but I think I’ve always been like that,” Angellica ponders.

“I think one of the reasons is when I was growing up, I didn’t have much, so I always think everything I have is a bonus. If I’m looking at it like that, for me, it puts things into perspective.”

Listen to Rewirement with Angellica Bell and Legal & General on Apple, Spotify and all podcast providers.