How We Met: Daisy Goodwin & Lucy Worsley
Interviews by Elizabeth Heathcote, The Independent on Sunday, 16 May 2010
Lucy Worsley, 36, is chief curator at Historic Royal Palaces, which looks after the Tower of London, Hampton Court Palace, Kensington Palace State Apartments, the Banqueting House in Whitehall and Kew Palace. She is also the presenter of 'If Walls Could Talk: An Intimate History of the Home', made with Daisy Goodwin, which will air on BBC4 later this year. She lives in London with her partner
I knew Daisy's mum, Jocasta Innes, first. Jocasta is a very beautiful, celebrated interior decorator, and I knew she had a famous, glamorous, beautiful daughter who worked in television. And I thought, she sounds really annoying, the sort who would make me go tongue-tied and shy.
Then, five years ago, Daisy's company decided to make a programme about the history of the home, which is exactly what I am interested in. For the audition I had to lie in bed and make a speech about 17th-century childbirth. Just that day I had been researching how women often had their portraits painted just before they went into confinement, as it was pretty likely their husbands would never see them again, so I was full of gory childbirth detail.
Afterwards, people told me a famous anecdote about how, when Daisy was a schoolgirl at Westminster, there was a programme made about the school and she had this cameo where she sat on the headmaster's desk and told him what to do. I got the impression of this seductive, ball-breaking siren, someone arrogant and almost self-satisfied. I had two more auditions before we met, by which time I was terrified of who I might be meeting.
What I hadn't realised was that despite being this TV big-shot, she just really loves books. We talked about historical fiction, historical underwear and the Victorian aristocrat in the book she was writing and whether she would ever go skinny-dipping. All of a sudden I felt less scared.
She called me and said, "I think you've got what it takes, you can have your own series." It was this wonderful Cinderella moment. She seemed like a fairy godmother, but that makes her sound older than she is. She is powerful and mysterious and maybe a bit dangerous. Maybe a white witch.
One of the things I admire about Daisy is that she is strong, opinionated and successful, yet you never forget that she is a woman. She is not an honorary man.
She is not a totally happy, smiley person. She is open about things such as depression, relationships, fractured families. She is also complex and contradictory and constantly surprising. There is a really exciting sense of what will she do next.
She got into hot water recently about the slightly naughty but funny things she said about the Orange shortlist, that the books were all depressing and about rape. I was in her office that morning, and she was under such pressure. But there was still a lot of good, human, female cackling going on through all the hot water.
Daisy Goodwin, 48, is a TV producer who, during a long career at Talkback, devised shows such as 'Looking Good' and 'Home Front'. She now has her own production company, Silver River. She is also a TV presenter and edits anthologies of poetry. Her novel 'My Last Duchess' is published later this year. She lives in London with her husband and two daughters
I first saw Lucy on tape and thought she was just wonderful. She is eccentric and sparky and she really knows her stuff. There aren't nearly enough women historians on TV. I had plans for this new series and I thought she was the one. She is authoritative, enthusiastic and you know she is not thinking about her lipgloss. That's not what it's about for her.
She did a tape for us and she was great. She did all sorts of things including an interview in a public toilet. One of the things we want to show is the way women were limited. For example, for Victorian women there were no public toilets and there came a point midway through the century where respectable women could no longer piss in the street and it meant they were confined – they could only go as far as their bladder would take them. That went on till Selfridges opened with toilets.
Lucy looks like a cross between a Mabel Lucie Attwell child and a bright young thing. She has this Mitford girl appeal. She has a wonderful bob, very big eyes, a slight lisp; she's very short and skinny and she has terrific energy. I can absolutely see her as the heroine of an Evelyn Waugh novel, driving around town in a sports car.
Our first conversation was wonderful, about Victorian underwear. I did history at university and we share that fascination with what it was like to stand in one of those dresses for three hours, and where did you have a pee? The minutiae of daily life. Later, she took me into Kensington Palace and showed me Queen Victoria's knickers, which were quite something – huge.
She is surrounded by details and facts; it must be really absorbing. To have lived in Hampton Court [as Lucy did for her book] must have been extraordinary.
Her life is very different to mine. She is more of a free spirit; I have commitments, children and so on. But she has a touching quality of being really interested in what you have to say. So many historians are obsessed by one tiny thing, but she gets the big picture. She is not an ego on tiny stick legs or pompous like lots of TV historians; she is just fascinated and curious.
'Courtiers: The Secret History of Kensington Palace', by Lucy Worsley, is published by Faber, priced £20
© 2013 Lucy Worsley