Fareham dance teacher lands star spot as television chat show host
Switch on to Spotlight Television tonight and you'll see Hayley Palmer, at ease in the interviewer's chair, grilling a celeb about what's propelled them into the tabloid gossip columns.
Hayley, 38, knows how to work the camera and get the best out of her subjects.
But don't be fooled, she may look like a seasoned pro but she's actually only been in the front of the camera and microphone for the past three years.
Although life is now a whirl of film premieres and glitzy television awards nights, it's through dogged determination and hard work that she changed careers from dance teacher to chat show host.
By her own admission, Hayley, from Fareham, has always loved to chat. She says: 'I was always in trouble at school for talking and being theatrical. But I knew, even then, the academic route wasn’t for me.
'I was desperate to be a Butlin's Redcoat but my mum said I needed to get a proper job, I needed to do something "sensible".
'So I went off and did a secretarial course and absolutely hated it. Instead I went into dance and fitness because I’ve danced all my life.'
Hayley set up her own dance school in Fareham, which thrived, and in 2016 she was invited on to a small radio station call The Voice to talk about it.
And it changed the course of her life.
'I absolutely loved everything about it. I knew radio and presenting was what I wanted to do. I would not leave them alone.
‘I offered to do every shift going. I loved to talk and they encouraged me, it was fantastic.'
Hayley did hospital radio, recorded her own podcasts and eventually landed a breakfast show.
She worked her socks off – early rises, late nights, long shifts for little or no pay.
'This industry is such hard work,’ says Hayley with a sigh.
'You can't just walk into a job at Radio 1.
'And I started a lot later in life so it was even harder for me but I was on a mission because I wanted it so badly'.
Hayley supplemented her income by teaching dance in London two days a week. 'But I just loved it,’ she beams.
There were also stints on Shoreditch Radio and then a drive time show on Vibe 107.6 in Watford, which she describes a 'thrilling'.
'That sort of show isn't for everyone, and a lot of people in that position would panic, but for some reason I just loved it.
'I loved nothing more than giving shout-outs to my friends and making my mum turn the telly off and tune into the radio to hear me.’
Hayley’s aware that most people her age are married, settled in stable jobs, with their own homes. But Hayley is not interested.
She says: ‘My parents have always worried about me and wondered where they've gone wrong,’ she laughs.
‘Most people my age have a sensible, settled job and lifestyle but there is nothing stable about my career.
'I know that at any time this can change but I'm willing to take that risk.
‘And my parents are actually very, very supportive.
‘They have always known I’m a bit different and they encourage me.
‘They would hate for me to do something just for money, rather than something I love.'
One thing Hayley is very clear about is that her career has not been handed to her on a plate.
She says: 'I have had a lot of rejection but I've just had to get over it. Obviously it hits you hard every time when you want something so badly.
‘It can crush you. It feels like a boyfriend breaking up with you. But I probably deal with it better because I'm older.
‘Daily meditation has really helped me, and by being really grateful for what I have, and using visualisation techniques. This industry is very cut-throat – you might be flavour of the month one moment and the next month you're out.
‘I have been rejected lots of times.’
Probed on whether she has a man in her life, Hayley becomes uncharacteristically coy.
'I’m married to what I do! I work every minute, every second.
‘People look at me and think I'm lucky but they have no idea how much effort I have put in.
‘I’m not lucky, I work really, really hard. I'm always thinking ahead and planning.’
On the Sofa with Hayley begins today on Spotlight TV at 4pm. Find it at 376 on Sky and 516 on Freesat.
Hayley explains how it all came together.
‘I started doing an 80s music show on Spotlight TV. People send me their requests and we have an absolute ball. I asked them (station directors) if I could do a chat show because I love talking and they said, "If you produce it, edit it, and present it, it can go out".’
Filming began in February this year and among the guests is Love Island star Paul Knops, Geo from X-Factor, Ben Jardine from Celebrity Big Brother and Freddie and Alex from C4's The Circle.
Hayley adds: 'It's been fantastic. I don't put any pressure on the guests, there are no awkward questions, we just have a chat. That is the best way to get the best out of people.’
She is rightly proud of herself and hopes it will pave the way for even bigger things.
'I've done it all myself with hardly any budget. I plan to take it to ITV and MTV and show them what I can do with almost nothing. It's like a pilot for them.'