Aidan Browne: We enjoyed Emily in Paris so much we went there to celebrate my wife's birthday

Gail Bell asks experts and people in the public eye what keeps them going. This week: television presenter, Aidan Browne

Gail Bell

Up and at it – what is your morning routine?

When I waken up, I glance at email messages to see if there is anything important to deal with and then – eventually – I get going.


What might you eat in a typical working day for...Breakfast?

On a very good day, I’ll have a fat-free yoghurt, granola and fruit for breakfast. Most days will include a cup of very strong coffee.


Usually, a sandwich and a break from the laptop.

Evening meal?

Something substantial and not always healthy.


Is nutrition important to you – do you take health supplements?

I take a couple of vitamins and I do try to achieve the recommended target of ‘five a day’ fruit and veg.


Ever been on a diet – if so, how did it go?

Yes, I tried a supplement diet about 25 years ago which involved two meal replacement drinks per day and a sensible evening meal. It was all going very well until we visited and stayed with friends in Newtownards on the Friday night. I went to a brilliant Indian restaurant with our host and accepted a couple of complimentary drinks while the evening meal was being prepared. Enough said...


Weekend treat?

There’s nothing better than takeaway, light refreshments and something fabulous on TV. I recently watched Nolly on ITV X and thought it was one of the best dramas I have ever seen. Helena Bonham Carter is a joy to watch in anything, but her depiction of the great Noelle Gordon moved me very much. Mark Gatiss was mercurial as one of my great television heroes, Larry Grayson.


How do you keep physically and mentally fit?

I’ve been attending a couple of really brilliant resilience and mental toughness courses through Belfast Met and our tutor, Catherine McIntosh, has been fantastic. I’ve starting a daily walk and 'reframed' my attitude to exercise, which was very necessary.


Best tip for everyday fitness?

Because I needed to exercise, I purchased a pair of really good walking shoes. This investment 'makes me' walk every day, accompanied by our lovely Cockapoo, Rosa, who assists while I stop to practise short box breathing and mindfulness exercises. I look forward to fresh air and 'head space'.


Were you a fan of schools sports/PE or do you have a memory from those days that you would rather forget?

I loved sport at school, but unfortunately was not very good at it. I vividly remember being the last person in the class to successfully complete the high jump in our school gym, keeping everyone waiting. Apologies to Mr Gardiner.


Teetotal or tipple?

As Dame Edith Evans once said: “A half-bottle of Beaujolais would not come amiss.”


Stairs or lift?

Nearly always the stairs in Belfast Met, but never in UTV, where the studios are on the eighth floor.


What book are you currently reading?

Our son, Laurence, bought me a beautiful book for Father’s Day called Shakespeare for Every Day of the Year edited by Allie Esiri, which is absolutely delightful and a perfect tonic at the end of a busy day. It introduces a beautiful mixture of sonnets and extracts from plays related to the day and season of the year.


Best Netflix?

I don’t watch a lot on Netflix as I devour news and documentaries. Sarah Clarke’s Up Close: Home Terror programme on UTV was compelling viewing and as impactful a piece of documentary television as I can remember. On a lighter note, our daughter, Rebecca, was home over Christmas and introduced us to Emily in Paris on Netflix. We enjoyed it so much that we recently flew over to that beautiful city to celebrate my wife, Joanne’s, birthday.


Most surprising thing you've learned about yourself over the pandemic?

That I can make some technology work – with a little help from IT support at Belfast Met.


Any new skills or hobbies?

Like that famous UTV commercial from a few years back, I now ‘Go walking’.


How do you relax?

I relax simply, by enjoying food and spending time with family.


What are your goals for 2023?

To get as many talented students from Belfast Met to attend Royal Television Society events and get networking with people who can give great advice.


What time do you get to bed and do you think you get enough sleep?

I nod off just before 11pm and I just about get enough sleep.


Biggest gripe or regret?

I’ve spent too much time over the years over-thinking. Barbara Bush said to President George H W Bush after his defeat in 1992: “George, it’s over, get over it.” Good advice.


Have your priorities in life or perspectives changed?

Becoming a parent many years ago changed everything. The former American Congressman, JC Watts, once correctly remarked: “The greatest title a man can have is ‘Dad’."


Has Coronavirus – or any health epiphany or life event – changed your attitude towards your own mortality?

I’ve always believed in living life to the full every day and I am so grateful to have my wonderful family and friends in my life.

:: Aidan Browne, Chair of Royal Television Society in Northern Ireland (RTS NI) Student Awards, senior lecturer in the School of Creative and Digital Industries at Belfast Metropolitan College and news presenter on UTV, presents the 10th RTS NI Student Television Awards in partnership with Northern Ireland Screen at the Black Box in Belfast on March 29.