It’s easy to see why Bruce Forsyth has nicknamed his glamorous co-presenter Tess Daly “Miss Sunshine”. With her blonde good looks and an always-sunny demeanour, the mum-of-two lights up the nation’s living rooms whenever she’s on TV.
Down-to-earth Tess Daly is the darling of prime time TV in her role as veteran Bruce Forsyth’s co-host on the glitzy jewel in the BBC’s crown - Strictly Come Dancing. And as one half of another golden couple in her personal life – that being with husband Vernon Kay – Tess is sitting pretty at the top of the celebrity ladder.
The ambitious blonde was born in Stockport, but a fiercely ambitious streak coupled with movie star looks meant she was always destined to head to London and pursue a career in showbiz.
She began a modelling career and appeared in several music videos before breaking into television, presenting a modelling competition on hit breakfast show The Big Breakfast in 1999.
It was her big break. Soon afterwards offers of other high-profile TV stints came pouring in, and she fronted a wide array of programmes including children’s show SMTV.
It was while she was working on an assignment for the BBC that Tess met the man who would become her husband. There was an instant attraction between the pair, both of whom had been fashion models and both of whom were born in the North West.
"I was living in New York and commuting to do TV and he was the catalyst that brought me back,” she remembers. “It's funny, as a model I'd lived all over the world for 12 years and I ended up with a boy from around the corner!"
Bolton-born Vernon popped the question on Christmas Day 2002, in front of the entire family. And the bride-to-be didn’t hesitate in agreeing to be his wife.
"Our parents were married for life so that's the attitude I've gone into marriage with,” she’s said. “That's what I expect… There was no divorce in my family. I know times have changed and divorce rates have gone through the roof. But I've gone into it with an optimistic viewpoint."
The couple wed in September 2003, and Tess’ ailing father Vivian was there to walk her down the aisle. He passed away 18 days later. “I fell apart,” admits Tess.
Three months later, Tess discovered she was expecting her and Vernon’s first child, and she landed the gig on Strictly Come Dancing shortly afterwards.
“My dad loved ballroom dancing," she’s revealed. “He got me into it when I was a kid… Now it is wonderful to think I've done something that would have really made my dad so very proud.”
Baby Phoebe came along in October 2004, followed by second daughter Amber in May 2009.
But in February 2010, the nation was hit with headlines unveiling Vernon’s indiscretions with a string of glamour models, who had come forward to claim the TV star had been bombarding them with racy text messages. Tess was left “shattered” by the revelations.
Live on his Radio 1 show, Vernon apologised for his actions and said: “I've been an idiot and I've let my family down”.
Heart-broken Tess took some time out of the limelight, but came back fighting. “It's been tough as you can imagine, but I've taken some time out to think things through,” she said.
“At the end of the day, we've had ten great years together, we've got two beautiful kids, and we both think that's worth fighting for… Dealing with it in private is difficult enough, but dealing with it in the public is even harder. I've had so much support from everyone that I meet really, not just family and friends - that has really touched me a lot and has been amazing.”