My best teacher

8th December 2000 at 00:00
I was never going to be top of the class at school because I'm dyslexic - but I could dance and act, and I was good at art. I could always do amazing things given a few toilet rolls and some sticky-backed plastic. It's no wonder I ended up on Blue Peter.

I was a happy child and I got on well with most of my teachers. At Norton county primary, Stoke-on-Trent, there were a lot of nice teachers. Mrs Moss, who taught me when I was about eight, became a friend of the family. I now know her as Auntie Marguerite. She was keen on projects and the first one I remember being truly interested in was about the ancient Egyptians.

We learned about the geography of Egypt, Cleopatra and Tutankhamen. We did lots of drawings, which went up on the wall, and Mrs Moss always gave us plenty wwof encouragement.

The atmosphere in her classroom was happy, but we were disciplined. She was the sort of teacher who commanded respect. You knew how far you could go and if you pushed her too far you'd get a slap across the legs.

She was quite large (although she has lost a lot of weight since), with nice eyes and short, curly hair. My mother got to know her through helping to make outfits for the school plays and productions that Mrs Moss put on with another teacher, her friend, Mrs Shenton.

These school performances at Christmas and at the end of the summer term were taken seriously and a lot of effort went into them. They would be put on for two nights, with lights, music and proper make-up. Mrs Shenton, who also became a family friend and is now known to me as Auntie Margaret, was in charge of the costumes.

My first theatrical performance, apart from plays my mother had put on at Sunday school, was as an angel in the school Nativity. It was a non-speaking part. I had to stand on stage and look angelic. Later I remember playing Scheherazade, a moonbeam, a sandman, a nightingale and a cherub. I still have the outfits I wore as Scheherazade: a headdress made out of an upturned margarine tub covered in black velvet wth a yashmak attached and pantaloons made from old curtain material. I keep them in a dressing-up box for my husband's daughters.

My form teacher before Mrs Moss was Miss Sutton. She had fallen under a train and lost both her legs. She was delightful and commanded great respect. She walked with two sticks and was amazingly adept at squeezing herself between the desks on her wooden legs. Although we realised she couldn't jump up and chase us, nobody took advantage. Sometimes she gave us stern talks, but rarely do I remember her getting angry or sending anybody to the headmaster's office.

We had a lovely headmaster called Alan Bailes. He had been imprisoned in Japanese POW camps in the Second World War and so was fiercely against corporal punishment.

My early schooldays are memorable for all the fun. School life became more serious when I moved on to the local convent, St Dominic's. I remember being interviewed by a marvellous lady called Sister Mary Edward, who took me to an educational psychologist because, although I was ahead of my age in reading and above average intelligence, I couldn't spell. Finally it was deduced that I had a form of dyslexia.

As a child I never really got into serious trouble. I was too scared of my mum finding out.

TV presenter Anthea Turner was talking to Pamela Coleman

The story so far

1960 Born in Stoke-on-Trent

1982-85 Works in local radio

1986-89 Presents music programmes on Sky Television?

1987 First terrestrial TV appearance, on children's programme But First This

1988-91 Presents Top of the Pops on BBC1

1990 Marries DJ Peter Powell. Joins British Dyslexia Association

1992-94 Presents Blue Peter

1994-96 Presents National Lottery Live on BBC1

1996 Showbusiness and BBC Personality of the Year

1997-99 Presents holiday show Wish You Were Here

2000 Presents Your Kids are in Charge with sister

August 26 Marries businessman Grant Bovey

October Autobiography, Fools Rush In, published.


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