INTERVIEW: Stacey Dooley
From Strictly Live to Conversations with.. Stacey Dooley has a busy start to 2020. How she found time to talk to us is anyone’s guess
Documentary filmmaker, author and TV presenter – and not forgetting Strictly Come Dancing champion – Stacey Dooley has become the voice of a generation, firmly establishing herself as one of the BBC’s most celebrated broadcasters through her hugely popular investigative documentary series, covering a diverse range of topics from across the world; from arms dealers in the USA to Nigeria’s female suicide bombers.
Her upcoming UK tour, Conversations with Stacey Dooley, will see her share tales from these remarkable experiences, discuss the challenges of journalism in a constantly shifting media landscape and, of course, that glitter ball win in 2018.
Having left school at 15 and never studying journalism professionally, Stacey’s career as a broadcaster and journalist began whilst working at Luton Airport, when she was chosen to travel to India to work as a contributor on BBC Three’s Blood, Sweat and T-Shirts.
She has since gone on to front a string of stand-alone series for the channel investigating stories around the world as well as in the UK.
Stacey is also the author of the bestselling book On the Front Line with the Women Who Fight Back in which she drew on her global encounters with incredible women in extraordinary and scarily ordinary circumstances.
We caught up with the multi-talented Stacey to find out more…
If I told a very young Stacey Dooley that she’d be touring the country one day, what would she say?
I mean I would have probably believed it; my teachers might have told you otherwise. You know, I’ve said this a million times, you never take for granted that people are on your side and support you and are interested in what you have to say. It could have gone very differently for me, so I’m full of gratitude.
You have met many people from different walks of life – who is the most interesting person you’ve met?
I’d be pushed to say one! That’s the highlight of the job you know, you go to the most unusual parts of the world, sometimes you are in hostile environments and sometimes you’re surrounded by extreme privilege – and you just meet people that you just wouldn’t cross paths with ordinarily and I love that. I met Barack Obama when he came over here, that was pretty cool. I have interviewed Theresa May, and lots of politicians around the world. I’m very, very fortunate in that sense. There is never a dull moment.
Do you think the world of documentary film making has changed much since you started out your career?
Yes, I suspect it probably has. I think documentaries have come back into fashion, certainly over the past few years, everyone has a growing obsession with Louis Theroux, it’s at an all-time high. I think we are very curious, there is this insatiable appetite for information. And we are in a position now where we can find out what’s going on around the world. It’s very immediate, so I feel really lucky to be a part of that scene and documentaries always rate brilliantly and they always do really well.
What would you say has been your career highlight to date?
Oh wow! I’ve made loads of films, but you’re proud of different films for different reasons. The films we made concerning the Yazidi community in Iraq are some of the ones perhaps I’m most proud of. Having said that, we have just made a really compelling documentary – I think it will be really important – about psychosis and mental health more broadly in South London, so much closer to home. I’m really proud of that.
What is your fondest memory of Strictly Come Dancing?
I shouldn’t say winning, should I? Because that’s too showy. Kev and I loved the Paso. I was never going to be the best dancer; I was against a Pussycat Doll (Ashley Roberts) and a girl from Steps (Faye Tozer) – both amazing dancers. So, it was just about us taking ownership of our own journey. The Paso was when I felt really proud actually of what we were able to achieve. It felt like a real story, there was narrative there and it was storytelling in a different way. I loved the Paso so much it was brilliant. Also, learning how to dance from one of the best dancers in the country was a real treat; it was amazing, the best time!
What else will you be working on before the tour starts?
It’s non-stop. I’m doing Glow Up: Britain's Next Make-Up Star at the minute which is a make-up show, and then when I finish that I’m going off to do a documentary on spy cameras, and then I’m going to a few places where we will be looking at new drug routes. After that I go to USA to spend some time with women serving life in prison, then in January and February I will be doing the Strictly tour, which I wrap on the ninth and then on the tenth I start my book tour in Glasgow, which is very exciting.