Countryfile presenter Julia Bradbury is known for her love of the great outdoors, but now she’s on a mission to tackle the UK’s biggest preventable illnesses, as Keeley Bolger discovers
There’s an easy way of working out whether Countryfile presenter Julia Bradbury considers you a good friend. Simply note what she feeds you.
“I love Jerusalem artichoke soup because it’s so delicious and healthy, but I can only eat it among close friends and family,” says Bradbury, who explains artichokes have gas-inducing properties.
And with one of her trademark throaty laughs she adds: “If I could find a way of harnessing that wind power in my house then I’d be chuffed!”
It’s this kind of friendly banter that has made her such a hit with viewers. And the BBC has capitalised on Bradbury’s appeal by asking her to champion its new two-part programme, Long Live Britain.
In it, the keen rambler and her co-presenters, cheeky ex-cricketer Phil Tufnell and TV doctor Phil Hammond, will encourage people to make small changes to their lifestyles in a bid to tackle three of our biggest preventable diseases - Type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and liver disease.
“Long Live Britain is a call to arms to raise awareness of these three preventable illnesses,” says Bradbury, who grew up in the Peak District and Sheffield. “In some cases, if the disease is diagnosed and caught in time, they can be curable.”
Bradbury and the two Phils went to Manchester City’s Etihad Stadium to carry out a huge public screening exercise for the diseases. To encourage people to take part, West End star Jodie Prenger, EastEnders actor Ricky Grover and Benidorm actress Crissy Rock were tested.
“You can potentially live with these diseases and not know,” says Bradbury, “which is why this was such a great opportunity for people to have a free screening. Hopefully doing so will open up the subject for debate.”
Though Bradbury is in fine fettle, she’s always keen to learn new ways to keep herself super-healthy.
“I was desperate to get tested,” she says. “I wanted the full works but we had such a busy weekend that we didn’t have time. If I had the opportunity I definitely would have gone for the liver scan.
“I think we’ve all had those years when you’re young and you’re knocking back the booze and you think, ‘Oh it’ll be fine’, and then in later life, you think, ‘I wonder what my liver is like?’”
Bradbury, who turns 43 on July 24, has always maintained a healthy lifestyle and often heads to the Peak District for rambles with her dad.
“I’m obsessed with health,” says the star, who started her TV career as GMTV’s Los Angeles correspondent. “My mum is Welsh-Greek and she’s always been health-conscious and fed us well as children.”
“Everyone tells you the first few years of your child’s life are so important and now I have a little boy I’m very careful with what I feed him.
“I think people will be surprised at how easy it is to slip up and make mistakes in your life that have an impact,” she says.
“It’s as simple as, ‘Have I done some exercise?’ ‘Am I going to have chips or vegetables today?’ It sounds like it’s not a big deal but it’s a huge deal.
“Adding 10 years to your life because you took care of your diet and health is worthwhile.”
l Long Live Britain starts on BBC One on Monday, July 22.