Broadcaster & Editor in Chief Melanie Sykes talks to FRANK
On turning 50 …
I’m really excited about turning 50. Turning 49 last year wasn’t great. I’m not sure why. I just felt fed up and didn’t have any mojo to celebrate, but this year I feel completely different. I cannot wait to welcome in the next stage of my life.
The last decade has been fascinating, challenging and a period of extreme personal growth and I am grateful for all of it. It’s life and I have to learn to roll with it and take all positives from it no matter hard in parts it has been. I have my health and the mutual love of my children, anything else is a bonus.
On the pandemic and
lock down …
This last few months has been a lesson in staying in the moment, otherwise it would have been too overwhelming. The death toll and the way in which people have been affected by the virus has been devastating and of course a worry.
My youngest Valentino has nephrotic syndrome (A kidney disease) and we have to be very careful to keep him protected. He is also Autistic so the virus as a concept has been hard to explain. He has missed school and has been afraid to leave the house with me. But we talk a lot and I hope I have helped to soothe his worries. However home schooling has not been easy. I have unlimited patience as a mother but not as a teacher. He has told me how rubbish I am at it and how he cannot wait to get back to school. He makes me laugh every day with his brutal honesty. I’m not sure if that’s what he has inherited from me or a trait of his condition.
My eldest, Roman was unable to sit his A levels but will be hopefully going to Uni in October all being safe. He has coped very well with the situation.
The boys have been with me for much of lockdown which was challenging to say the least in our flat and I had to go for the occasional short drive and have a scream in the car when I needed to.
Luckily for me I have been able to work, of course with this being an online magazine its been business as usual, as I do most things on my laptop from my dining room table.
My voice over work has been able to continue as it’s me alone in a sound booth and my radio show with Alan Carr has been able to go ahead by us sitting in separate studios whilst being connected by Facetime.
For me, the lockdown and the run up to my big birthday has been a time of great reflection. I have thought a lot about my life and future and where I would like it to be for the next chapter. I aspire to live here in the UK for half the year and the other, elsewhere for a better climate and quality of life. I am in the process of working on that and only I can make that happen.
“I cannot believe I have been in the TV and Radio game for 24 years now and I still suffer with imposter syndrome. It was never in the plan to be known and be on telly. It was thrust upon me at at time when it was hard to turn the opportunities down. I was a 26 year old model and it seemed like a good time. That said, I suffer terribly from ‘stage fright’ and that has simply never gone away.”
On being a mother …
Awwwww the children, the lights of my life. Roman is now 18 and Valentino is 16.
I don’t share them on social media and they have asked me to not talk about them in detail in the media. They deserve and are entitled to their privacy. I respect them and that.
They are my reason for being. I am pretty much their sole provider and always have been.. I have obviously taken work to provide for them and had to turn work down if it takes me away for too long. They come first always.
I have a good relationship with their father and we share them as much as we can.
I wasn’t particularly a maternal type who craved having children prior to my body clock telling me so on the run up to my 30th birthday and thankfully it absolutely kicked in proper the day Roman was born.
Juggling a child with Autism and a child without any challenges has been difficult for me to balance, in terms of the attention I have had to find equally some how, and I have probably failed at that a lot. You can only do your best though, right.
I check in with them all the time to see how they are doing emotionally and although they may find their feelings difficult to articulate, at least they know that I am interested, if nothing else.
I am a very grounded mother, I have always treated them as intelligent beings, never dumbing things down.
Although my relationship with them is that of a mother, they still see me as human being. They hear me laugh, they hear me cry and that is important. You cannot pretend to be perfect.
They both know that nothing is off topic (for them) and that it would be very difficult for them to shock me and they know I do not judge. It’s just not my style.
Who knows if I have succeeded in bringing up well adjusted children. They always get good reviews from other people but the proof will be how they behave as men, as friends, as partners and as family members going forward.
As for Valentino he may never be independent of me, which obviously isn’t a problem. We will see how he evolves.
“My youngest Valentino has nephrotic syndrome (A kidney disease) and we have to be very careful to keep him protected. He is also Autistic so the virus as a concept has been hard to explain. He has missed school and has
been afraid to leave the house with me. But we talk a lot and I hope I have helped to soothe his worries.”
On love and relationships …
I don’t often talk of such things in print as I am very protective of my private life but I will say I love to be in love, it just hasn’t happened for a long time. It is going to take someone very special for me to succumb to it again, somebody who will add to my life and enhance it. It’s interesting when you are single people assume it’s not by choice, but it is for me. I have no interest in just settling.
Sometimes I travel alone, I dine alone, I go to the cinema alone, all by choice. I am extremely comfortable with and enjoy my own company.
I don’t need a father for my kids, I don’t need to be financially supported and I’m not sure if I want too much domesticity with someone. I enjoy my life and I don’t want to negotiate what I watch, when I go to bed, when I eat and I don’t want to share my bed on nights I don’t want to.
love taking care and being a support to a man but I will not give away that energy to someone who is simply not worth it.
Yes I get lonely sometimes but better that, than having those feelings within a relationship. Been there, done that, got the certificates.
I merely want a companion, someone to love and him to love me in return, someone to have fun with when it is convenient for him and me without ever feeling obligated.
On health …
I try to be healthy but I’m not always. Sure I exercise, its habitual, part of my routine and has been for about twelve years now but I have absolutely no interest in getting people to change their habits and influencing them. Do what suits you. Live and let live, thats what I say.
People’s opinions around this topic are interesting though. I was speaking to a cab driver recently about health and I said I don’t drink or smoke anymore and he said “I’ll never give them up, life is too short” to which I replied “ and these things can make it shorter!”
That said, I listened to an audio documentary on ‘BBC Sounds’ recently called ‘The Secrets of the Super Old’ There was a lady who was 115 years old and was smoking. Her Doctor told her she should stop that and her reply was, “The last Doctor that said that to me, is dead now.” Which made me laugh.
There are no hard and fast rules for longevity but there are things you can do for yourself that make you feel good.
Keeping my core balanced, my body’s flexibility and maintaining some muscle strength are the things I am more interested in as I age.
Food, well my preferred diet is that of a student, cheese on toast, packet noodles, bacon butties and peanut M & M’s. its such an effort for me to eat fruit and veg, but obviously I do. I have a balanced diet but naturally I would prefer to eat crap.
Yoga and weights and ballet based exercises are the combo I use at the moment, as and when I feel like it. I am in tune with my body’s needs and respond accordingly. Everyone is different so I don’t feel its my job to tell people what to do either way.
On ageing …
I have a youthful spirit and that will never change. I have suffered some set backs in life as we all do but I cannot hold anger and its impossible for me to be bitter. It’s just not in my nature and I think that reflects in my core being and what emanates from me.
I haven’t been at the whim of my life, I have mostly taken it by the scruff of the neck and dealt with things as and when they have arisen. I’ve tackled things that could have potentially buried me or giving me prolonged unhappiness. I have cut these things out and have done this alone. The older I get the less I will tolerate.
Aesthetically I am faring quite well so far. As we know genetics play a huge role in this as is taking care of oneself physically, emotionally and mentally, which I have got covered.
They do say mediation is anti ageing and that is a daily habit for me along with some kind of exercise and a relatively healthy food intake. You know, I’m doing what I can.
I would not rule out surgery in the future, if thats what I want, I’ll do it. It’s my right to choose either way. I could not give a stuff about anybody else’s opinion.
One of my idols is Jane Fonda. I just love her. She said that she hasn’t been brave enough to age without a bit of help. I love her honesty and in the future I might feel the same. Time will tell.
I was watching a documentary on David Foster, about his amazing career and at the end of the programme, he said he probably has 15 summers left at best and it made me think I might have 35 summers left at best. It really does give a tangible perspective on things going forward. Don’t waste time, seize the day and try find the joy in every moment before my time is up.
On broadcasting …
I cannot believe I have been in the TV and Radio game for 24 years now and I still suffer with imposter syndrome. It was never in the plan to be known and be on telly. It was thrust upon me at at time when it was hard to turn the opportunities down. I was a 26 year old fashion model and it seemed like a good time. That said, I suffer terribly from ‘stage fright’ and that has simply never gone away. I hate being centre of attention and being in front of an audience but I just push through and do it anyway. I absolutely love my voice over work and my radio show. I find it much easier, as there is no extra process, I just ‘am’. Even shooting for the magazine and being on set meant bringing some kind of ‘other me’ energetically, in order to get it done.
On women …
I am a woman’s woman and that is a fact. I love and admire women. I celebrate all our successes and I appreciate the struggle.
I feel so devastated when women do not support other women. Not just when it is directed at me because every time it happens it is directed at all of us. There is a culture of jealousy and competition that can happen between some women and the thought of it pains me. We must stick together. We are up against it as it is.
On Men …
I have sons and I hope they turn into decent men. I have male friends who I love dearly who are great fathers, decent partners and who’s opinions I seek. I would love to find a good man to share my life with. romantically. Sadly in all realms of life, most, not all, but most men are pretty basic and disappointing.
I feel a bit sorry for British men who have adopted the limited vocabulary of the television character, Keith Lemon, when talking about, and to women. I would be surprised and indeed it would be a miracle, if any of these men are actually getting laid!
On Frank …
I just love being Editor in Chief of FRANK and writing interviews and sourcing content. I love working with the brilliant women on the team, Millie Copper my partner and Frank’s design director, Annabel Kerman our fashion editor, Fiona Eustace our beauty editor and all the contributors, writers , artists, therapists etc we feature.
All the women on our covers are over forty. It was probably the first thing that I was insistent on when it came to creating the magazine. The magazine is a celebration of mature women with their abundance of experience and all they have to offer. It was a no brainer that our models should and would be over forty.
The process of putting the magazine together every few months is intense with such a small team but it is worth it. I feel so much pride when its published and you all get to see it and have a good read.
“I haven’t been at the whim of my life, I have mostly taken it by the scruff of the neck and dealt with things as and when they have arisen. I’ve tackled things that could have potentially buried me or giving me prolonged unhappiness and I have done this alone. The older I get the less I will tolerate.”
PHOTOGRAPHY Elisabeth Hoff
FASHION EDITOR Annabel Kerman
HAIR Tim Crespin at Angeli & Co using hair by Sam Mcknight
MAKEUP Aimee Adams using Kate Somerville Skincare and Bare Minerals Cosmetics
STYLING ASSISTANT Molly Taylor
alighieri.co.uk, emiliodelamorena.com, gina.com, guess.eu, jimmychoo.com, michaelkors.co.uk, mywardrobehq.com, nynne.co.uk, williamwilde.com, wolfordshop.co.uk,
Read the full issue HERE