TV Diary: Dawn Airey

TV Diary: Dawn Airey

Wednesday, 8th March 2023
Twitter icon
Facebook icon
LinkedIn icon
e-mail icon

Soccer mom Dawn Airey cheers on her daughter playing the beautiful game on a freezing February night, and enjoys two big weekend matches

The art of relaxation has always eluded me, which is probably why, in my plural life, chairing three boards and sitting on another three makes my diary resemble a detailed train timetable. I wouldn’t want it any other way.

I have been looking forward to the CEO meeting of the Women’s Super League and Championship Clubs. It’s a chance to have a constructive, focused dialogue outside the board about our mission to be the most competitive and innovative leagues in the world.

Ironically, the meeting is at the Andaz hotel in Liverpool Street. The last time I was there was a rather OTT Channel 5 programme launch. Happy days.

Four out of five nights a week, my 13-year-old, Matilda, plays football. Tonight, it is my turn to take her to the Brentford ground in Gunnersbury. It is bloody freezing, colder than winter nights in NYC, but I shout encouragement from the sidelines along with other mums and dads.

Little girls in football kits dreaming of becoming professional football players. Their heroines are Steph, Beth, Lucy, Georgia, Leah. It is wonderful to observe and know you are contributing in a small way to this sporting revolution.

Tuesday is a National Youth Theatre day. I have always loved everything about the theatre. Despite being rejected as a member of the NYT 40 years ago, I have chaired the company for the past 12 years.

It is lunch at Coutts with our patron of 30 years, HRH Prince Edward, our brilliant artistic director and CEO, Paul Roseby, and some of our alumni.

Then it is off to The Duke of York Theatre to watch our rep company in Much Ado About Nothing, but interpreted in the style of Love Island, as befits a youth theatre. It is quite brilliant. Four- and five-star reviews follow. Our last night is sold out.

The evening is topped off with a G&T with All3Media’s Sara Geater back in Chiswick. A chat about our teenage children and television of yesteryear. We have been friends since our Channel 4 days – 30 years ago. I thank her for the series tip, Apple TV+’s Slow Horses.

It is the District Line commute to WeWork by Monument to catch up with Neelay Patel, the CEO of Digital Theatre+, an educational technology subscription service.

We talk about how we can continue to make our content relevant, contemporary and compelling for students and teachers alike.

We review target acquisitions, as we intend to scale and float the business within the year.

One of the joys of having been around a bit are the approaches for speaking engagements. Having worked for tech giants, Murdochs, Gettys, Richard Desmond and been in telly in the 1980s – still pretty much the Life on Mars era – I have an encyclopedia of stories to entertain and horrify.

Tonight, Channel 4 has asked me to talk to the indies it has invested in about leadership and change. Lorraine Heggessey and I have a good old natter.

A weekend of double football – Matilda is a mascot for Brentford’s first team match. Even Dulcie, our eldest, goes to this game.

Who is sitting in front of us? Greg Dyke, Peter Salmon and Stuart Prebble. What is it about football and television? It is entertainment, of course.

Sunday, we are guests of Arsenal, the sun is shining and there is the usual joyous family atmosphere. Holloway Road is a sea of red and blue. A brilliant match attended by 47,000 at the Emirates for this London derby – Arsenal Ladies vs Chelsea. Life doesn’t get much better than a full English followed by a game of footie.

Dawn Airey is the former CEO of Channel 5 and has been a senior executive at ITV, Channel 4, Sky and Getty Images. She sits on the board of Channel 4.

You are here