Sky’s the limit for sport presenter

OLIVIA Wayne is a familiar face to those who wake up to Sky Sports News HQ.

As co-presenter on Good Morning Sports Fans, the Londoner delivers the day’s sports stories on a daily basis.

She has to get up at 3am most days, though — and it is something she still isn’t used to despite more than six years of rising early.

Olivia told the Jewish Telegraph: “I don’t think you ever get used to it, although when the alarm goes off at that time it is not a shock any more.

“Once you’re up and you’re up and at ’em, it’s great. Shift work generally can wear you down, but it’s fine.”

The early starts will continue for Olivia — but from November it won’t be for work.

For the 31-year-old is pregnant with her first child, which is due in three months.

She has been married for three years to DJ and producer Zeb Wayne, the son of Jeff Wayne, who is best known for his musical adaptation of War of the Worlds.

Olivia and Zeb have known each other since they were 12 and were married in Hampshire under a chuppa in August, 2013.

Olivia, who was raised in Mill Hill, London, read American and Canadian studies at the University of Birmingham.

But, while there, she was not sure about which career route to choose.

It was when she went to Los Angeles to study at UCLA as part of her course that she realised a career in front of the camera may be a good option.

Olivia said: “I took loads of drama and film courses at UCLA.

“We had amazing directors and producers who would come in and give guest lectures. That’s how I got the bug.”

While in LA, Olivia secured a work placement at Warner Bros.

And on her return to the UK, she took internships in banking, law and public relations.

“I tried out a lot of things, but being in LA whetted my appetite, so I thought I would give presenting a go,” she recalled.

A spell presenting for a fashion production company followed before her agent sent her show-reel to the bosses at Sky Sports News HQ.

They told Olivia that a presenting job was hers if she wanted it.

“I had a lot of work to do before I went on air,” she explained.

“I worked on the production team and learned about news gathering and how the whole process worked.

“I practised presenting and, at the same time, gained my National Council for the Training of Journalists diploma.

“We had tutors from the NCTJ who would come into Sky.”

And, after a six-month process, Olivia was ready to go on air.

She had always been interested in sport, especially football and tennis, but confessed she had to brush up on her knowledge on the large number of sports the channel covers.

“I didn’t know much about boxing at the time, for example, apart from the well-known boxers, so I had to learn about the different fighters and divisions.

“You’re learning all the time and sport is not the type of thing which is hard to get into.”

A Chelsea fan, she first started watching the Blues when she was in junior school, during the days of Dennis Wise, Frank Leboeuf and the mercurial Gianfranco Zola.

“I remember going to the open training sessions and having my autograph book signed,” Olivia continued.

“My mum, dad and brothers are all Chelsea fans, too, although my grandpas supported Arsenal and Tottenham.”

A regular working day for Olivia involves arriving at the Sky studios, in Middlesex and doing her prep for the morning ahead

She’ll meet with the production team and discuss ideas and stories, such as a football transfer which could break during her shift, or a manager being sacked.

“I was on air when (Manchester United manager) Louis van Gaal was sacked and Jose Mourinho was appointed,” Olivia said.

“It is really fun when something like that happens, even though, with van Gaal and Mourinho, you knew it was going to happen.

“I was on air when Jose left Chelsea, too, as well as breaking the news that Oscar Pistorius had killed his girlfriend.”

Another memorable story she covered was when Muhammad Ali died in June.

“I went on with 10 minutes to spare as the girl who was supposed to be on had overslept, so I had no time to do any research,” Olivia remembered.

“That kind of thing really gets your heart pumping.

“We had Chris Eubank and other amazing guests talking to us about Ali.

“It showed the effect and power that sport can have.”

Mistakes are par for the course on live television, but Olivia takes it all in her stride.

She said: “Things go wrong all the time, but that’s the beauty and fun of it.

“The other day, I didn’t realise I was on camera and I was leaning over looking at my computer — the director was screaming in my ear!

“I think viewers kind of like it when that happens as it shows we are not robots.

“Mistakes are about how you handle them. If you laugh them off, I don’t think anyone really blinks.”

Luckily, she rarely gets nervous when interviewing big names.

“I think if I had to interview Jose Mourinho or Sir Alex Ferguson, I would feel the pressure more,” Olivia said.

“During the week, at 10am, we often have pundits in to talk and they are usually really nervous as some of them are not used to being on camera and articulating themselves.

“I was quite nervous when I met Andre Agassi, but only because I had to ask him to film a little video for my husband to show at our wedding. I was scared he would say no, but he didn’t.”

Olivia is on Twitter but, like many well-known people, has endured her fair amount of negative comments on the social media website.

“I don’t take it to heart,” she explained.

“When I announced I was pregnant, some people were scathing, saying I’d let myself go.

“I don’t really care, to be honest — someone once said don’t take on board anything good or bad. I think that is a useful tool.

“I sometimes receive funny responses which make me chuckle, but I see Twitter as more of a useful information tool for work.”

There are a number of websites dedicated to Sky Sports News HQ’s women presenters — not that it bothers Olivia too much.

“It probably is sexist if you think about it, but I find most of them to be quite respectful,” she explained.

“There are some which are vile, crude and inappropriate.

“Unfortunately, if you are a woman in TV, you do get that.

“In an ideal world, there would be websites dedicated to focusing on what we have to say rather than what we look like.”

Olivia and her family belonged to Mill Hill Synagogue where she was bat chayil.

She was a member of the Jewish youth groups Noam and RSY-Netzer as a youngster and always books Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur off work.

Her Jewish roots came to the fore when she was asked by friend Darren Richman to interview his grandfather Zigi Shipper for the film 84303. Zigi was born in Lodz, Poland.

Raised by his father and grandfather, when the Second World War broke out, his father escaped to the Soviet Union — and was never seen again.

Zigi and his grandparents were sent to Auschwitz — but only he survived.

Tattooed with the number 84303, Zigi was liberated by the British in 1945 and arrived in the UK two years later.

“It was nice to probe and go deeper in an interview,” Olivia recalled.

“Holocaust education is so important and I would love to get involved with it more.

“Survivors are reaching an age where first-hand accounts are not going to be around much longer. It is essential their stories are told.”

While her Jewishness is important to her, Olivia said she doesn’t “bang on about being Jewish”.

She explained: “When antisemitic incidents are reported in the media, I will retweet them, for example.

“I don’t hide it, but it doesn’t come into my day-to-day working life, other than the Zigi interview. I like many aspects of the religion.

“When my friend and I arrived in LA to go to UCLA, it was Rosh Hashana, so we went to the nearest synagogue.

“We were invited back to one of the members’ houses for lunch.

“It doesn’t matter where you are in the world, if you meet someone else who is Jewish, you feel part of their community.

“Some of it feels a little antiquated, but I guess that is the way religion is.

“I take Judaism for its morals and principals and really appreciate my identity and culture.”

Her colleagues at Sky regularly take an interest in Olivia’s Judaism, too.

“My boss is super into it. His best friend growing up was Jewish, so he is always asking me about Friday night dinners and the festivals,” she said.

“On Shavuot, I’ll bring in my mum’s cheesecake. John Davies, one of the presenters I am regularly on with, is a devout Christian and he loves Israel, so we have great conversations about religion.”

© 2016 Jewish Telegraph