When I was a child, there was one television presenter in particular that I'd rush home to see after a long day at primary school. That was Angellica Bell. Even from that young age, I knew she was an utter professional in her role, giving her all every time she appeared on screen and making sure all those watching from home were brought into the magic of CBBC.
It's that brilliance which has seen Bell's career go from strength to strength, and allowed her to land an exciting new job at Scala. Here, we chat to her all about that, as well as everything she's done to-date!
Tell us about your new role at Scala. Why attracted you to take on a presenting role on this new classical music radio station?
Scala is such an exciting new addition to the world of classical music – the first station of its genre to launch in 30 years. When I got the call, I thought this is going to appeal to so many people and bring a fresh feel to classical music, I knew straight away that I wanted to be a part of it.
Scala is all about fusing classical music with modern life which means I have the freedom to play a real variety of tracks, some that you’d expect but then I can throw in something unexpected too and it works! I host the new Saturday morning show on Scala radio from 7-10am. It’s a show with an upbeat feeling as I want to connect and uplift the audience and get them going on the weekend.
I really love my slot and was so excited and honoured to be asked to lead the weekends on the station, alongside my fellow presenters Simon Mayo, Chris Rogers and Anthea Turner, and Mark Kermode.
Do you think people are listening to classical music more now than ever?
What people perceive as classical music is definitely changing, and I think with that a new audience is being drawn in. It’s funny, at home I always listen to classical music as it seems to keep the family feeling relaxed and as chilled as possible as we set about our day. People seem to be listening to classical because we are more tired and wired than ever before and there is so much emphasis on well-being and mental health. Listening to classical music is a great way to unwind.
Plus, so much modern music is now being re-visited in a classical style – you can hear an Ed Sheeran song played beautifully by an orchestra, watch live renditions of seminal albums in clubs or experience Blue Planet live at the Royal Albert Hall with a full orchestra – classical music has become more of an experience that people want to immerse themselves in. And, I think film music scores have helped bring classical music to the forefront too with films like The Greatest Showman and scores by the likes of Hans Zimmer being streamed online.
Have you always been a fan of classical music?
Yes, I have, and I don’t think many people would know that about me. I used to be in my school Madrigal choir growing up which toured Europe and saw us singing in St Paul’s Cathedral. My music teacher Mr Gordon Pullin was such an inspiration to me and, given that I had never been exposed to classical music as a young child, he really took me under his wing and showed me how the music can make you feel.
I dabbled with playing the cello as a youngster too and just didn’t take to it, but in 2017 decided to put that demon to bed and took my grade three gaining a distinction. I was so happy. I’m going to think about taking my grade four this year if I get a free moment.
I love all sorts of music though and will always love R&B and music with a strong beat for fun nights out!
Did you always know that you wanted to be in the world of broadcasting?
Yes and no! Honestly, I seriously had no idea what lay ahead for me and that used to scare me at a young age - I guess no-one really knows. I had thought about being a lawyer and had a place to convert my BA Politics degree to Law at a university in London.
I always liked drama and acting at school having completed my acting grades, and at university spent some time performing and was also in a play at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival which maybe opened me up to the idea of working in broadcasting. I guess I never thought my dream would come true. I appreciate how lucky and blessed I am.
What has been your career highlight? Or highlights!
There have been so many amazing moments that it’s difficult to single one out. Some experiences have helped me develop as a presenter, others as a person and some have stretched my mental and physical abilities with amazing results.
Working on CBBC was just incredible – the breadth of work and genres I could work on was extensive, and I learned how to present live television by being on BBC One every afternoon which gave me a real buzz.
More recently, I have to say winning Celebrity MasterChef in 2017 is certainly up there as a highlight too – when John [Torode, the presenter] called out my name as the winner it was just amazing.
You’ve had a long and successful career; do you feel like you have paved the way for more females to consider TV as a career?
For me, when I started working on television, I was quite naive as to exactly how amazing my job was and the impact it was having on those people watching me. Maybe that was a little bit of insecurity at the time as TV is a funny business, as it’s not real sometimes.
It’s only now that I’m wiser and have young people come up to me at buses, on trains or in the supermarket and say, ‘you were my childhood’ and ‘thank you for what you did on TV’, that it’s starting to sink in.
I’ve had young people say to me it’s because of me they want to present or work in the industry. That makes me feel so good and emotional. I am a woman and a black woman and if I have paved the way for others, then I’m proud of what I have achieved and will continue to do so.
Do you think it is important to be a role model for others?
It’s very important for me to be a role model and I try and encourage others to fulfil their dreams and ambitions. I do believe anyone who chooses to be in the public eye has a responsibility to be aware that their actions can influence others. But at the same time, we are all human and can make mistakes or bad choices. I do try and pick my jobs carefully and think about the impact they could make on myself, my family and the general public.
Who are some of your favourite artists?
This is a really difficult question to answer because I like so many people. Missy Elliott is amazing, Prince, Whitney Houston, Sam Smith, Adele lots and lots. My favourite classical musicians would be Elgar and Mozart, but again there are so many to pick from it is hard to single out a favourite.
How about your favourite place to hear live music?
I have to say I do love going to the O2 as there’s always such a great vibe and buzz and I’ve had some brilliant nights there. Festivals are also good – I loved CarFest last year, the highlight was seeing Richard Ashcroft perform – simply amazing, his voice is incredible.
Do you listen to music while you cook?
Yes, I do. I still buy CDs and have quite a large collection – I love to cook and dance around the kitchen whenever I can! It’s the best fun and my little ones love it too. Also singing whilst cooking is great – such a laugh!
Who would be your dream interviewee on your weekend show on Scala Radio?
Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber – he’s so talented and I love a musical. I can imagine he has got many a tale to tell and would be rather charming!
Click here to check out Scala radio! Angellica Bell's show is every Saturday, from 7am to 10am!