1 – Her name isn’t even Tess!
Tess was born in Stockport on 27 April 1969. She has a younger sister called Karen, and her dad, Vivian, worked in a wallpaper factory mixing dyes and her mum, Sylvia, worked in a paper mill. But her actual name is Helen Elizabeth Daly.
2 – Her parents wanted her to work in banking
Vivian and Sylvia are also perhaps the reason Tess has a strong work ethic (even if she ignored their career advice).
“My mum and dad considered a good job either nursing or working at a bank because, then, a job at a bank was for life and you had an interest-free mortgage and a pension. My mum thought that was the perfect job and tried to persuade me,” she said.
We’re glad she didn’t listen!
3 – She started working aged 17 when she was scouted as a model
Tess was discovered outside a McDonalds in Manchester a few weeks before she turned 18. She worked all over the world modelling for brands and on magazine covers.
4 – She can speak Japanese
Tess was sent to Japan as her first destination during her modelling years – and learned some of the language while she was there. Impressive!
5 – She’s not the biggest fan of French men
Modelling also took Tess to Paris where she lived for five years.
“I was on the Paris metro and a couple of blokes grabbed me by the arm and demanded that I leave with them. When I said ‘no’ they got nasty so I had to give them a wallop,” she recalled in 2009.
“Parisian men have such a high opinion of themselves but they’re the worst dancers in the world,” she added.
6 – She has appeared in TWO Duran Duran music videos
Tess makes a sultry cameo in the video for their 1990 song Violence of Summer (Love’s Taking Over) and has a rather starring role in the video for their follow up song Serious (set in a circus). Rock and roll!
7 – She strips naked in another music video
Not content with perking up Duran Duran videos, Tess also features in the Sweet Harmony music video for elector dance band The Beloved in 1993.
8 – Her break into presenting was a little make-shift
Tess moved to New York while still a model when a friend suggested she try interviewing. She grabbed a camera and rang up controversial British writer Quentin Crisp and asked if she could interview him. He said yes. They hit it off. And footage from the chat went into a show reel that Tess used to land presenting roles back in the UK.
9 – The Big Breakfast was her big break
Producers at Channel 4 were impressed when they saw Tess’s showreel and immediately snapped her up to host a spot on iconic early morning show The Big Breakfast for their Find Me A Model competition (she was an expert in modelling, after all). She then went on to host other shows including MTV dating show Singled Our, SMTV Live, Smash Hits TV, and Make Me A Supermodel.
10 – Strictly brilliant
Tess joined presenting legend Sir Bruce Forsyth in 2004 when the BBC’s Strictly Come Dancing show launched and has been the longest serving host ever since – appearing on all series and specials since. Brucie left the show in 2014, with Caludia Winkleman taking over from him. Tess took three weekends off in the second series to give birth to her first daughter.
11 – She’s very close to Bruce
“He wouldn’t want to think of himself as a father figure to me, more of a friend – he’s got five girls [and a son] of his own – but he was always a very supportive presence,” Tess said in an interview last year.
“I can still ask him about anything. He’s a special chap. Every time I see him, I tell him I love him and give him a hug,” she added.
12 – Charity star
Tess landed another iconic hosting role in 2008 when she joined the late Sir Terry Wogan to host the annual Children in Need television show.
Most recently she hosted alongside Radio host Greg James as Children in Need aired for the first time this November following Terry’s sad death at the start of the year.
13 – She is very forgiving
Tess started dating Vernon Kay in 2001 and the two tied the knot in 2003. They welcomed their first child in October 2004 and their second in May 2009 and it seemed like they were a rare celebrity couple to have a solid marriage.
But then in February 2010 Tess’s world was rocked when accusations of Vernon sexting via text and Twitter made headlines.
“We’ve had ten great years together, we’ve got two beautiful kids and we both think that’s worth fighting for,” Tess said at the time.
Their marriage was rocked a second time in March this year as more accusations of sexting emerged (involving the same glamour model, RhianSugden, as the first time) but the pair seem to have weathered this one too.
We’re not sure we could be as forgiving…
14 – She is a motor mouth
During a Guardian interview in 2010 it is noted that Tess spoke at a rate of 116 words per minute! She could totally talk for Britain!
15 – Tess was very close to her dad
Sadly Tess’s dad, Vivian, died in September 2003 – 18 days after Tess and Vernon got married.
While the star is glad her dad saw her walk up the aisle, she is sad he never got to meet Phoebe and Amber.
“It breaks my heart that he never knew his grandchildren because he would have adored them. I can just see him bouncing them on his lap, and it makes my breath catch in my throat,” she said.
16 – She is a hands on mum
Tess prides herself on the fact she has never hired a nanny and thinks it is great to be as involved in her children’s lives as possible.
“I don’t want to hand over a role that I so thoroughly enjoy myself. I love those moments – the homework, the school run, when I get to chat to other mums. That’s real life,” Tess says.
17 – And she’s a sensible parent
And don’t expect Tess and Vernon’s girls to be one of those typical spoiled kids of famous people types.
“We’ve always been aware of teaching them the value of things,” Tess says.
“I try to explain that stuff doesn’t just arrive, and that when we go to work, it’s to pay for holidays and treats. I’d hate to have a spoilt brat – I’d think I hadn’t done my job properly. I want them to be appreciative,” she adds.
Good parenting advice all round, really.
19 – Don’t get her started on inheritance tax…
“It’s disgraceful,” she raged in an interview six years ago.
“It’s effectively triple taxation because you’ve paid tax on your earnings, you then buy a property, you pay stamp duty for the privilege of buying it, and then you pay for it for 25 years; you want to pass it on to your kids, but you can’t because they have to sell it immediately to pay 40% death duty. To pay taxes on a property that’s been paid for with money that’s been taxed!””she seethed.
Actually, she kind of does have a point… we’re outraged too!
20 – Kate Moss is her style icon
They’re both blonde, they’ve both done modelling, but Tess definitely looks up to Kate for a bit of style inspiration.
‘Channelling this look right now! Rockin hair n make up! a bit of #katemoss #rockchick #supermodel,’ Tess wrote alongside a snap of Croyden’s finest on Indstagram.