Sue Beardsmore

The former Blue Peter producer and BBC presenter, Sue Beardsmore, has an exciting new role, leading the restoration and developmentof Birmingham Botanical Gardens for future generations


I came to Birmingham in 1977 to work for the BBC at Pebble Mill as a secretary. My first step into the studio was as a ‘floor assistant’ on programmes with stars from Basil Brush to Oliver Reed. I moved on to be an assistant producer on Blue Peter (sounds grander than it was) which involved writing and film making. I ended up in the Midlands Today newsroom and began presenting when Breakfast Television started in 1983. I worked as a presenter for the next 20 years before training young broadcast journalists and presenters around the world. For the past seven years I’ve been on the National Lottery Heritage Fund committee in the Midlands.


I’m very excited to be taking over as chair of trustees at Birmingham Botanical Gardens. There are tremendous plans to build on the wonderful heritage of the gardens and restore and develop this gem for future generations.


I’m not great at ambitions – I always do whatever comes along as well as I possibly can. I’m focused on the Botanical Gardens and want as many people as possible to know them, love them, learn from them and be inspired by the diverse botanical world they explore.


I remember the excitement of getting my first job after a string of rejections (I still have the letters). I’m delighted to have been married for coming up to 45 years. I loved almost every moment of my time at the BBC. I’d also rate making it to the US for the first time in two years to see my son and his family without getting Covid and with properly filled in paperwork as a major success.


If I was to offer my younger self any advice it would be not to be quite so scared of getting things wrong as you really do learn a lot from mistakes; and never under-estimate how much detail you need to plough through for something to work.


I love its history, the fact that people from every corner of the globe have made their homes here, and its heritage as a manufacturing city. You can still get most things made here if you dig around, and along with plenty of new ventures, some of the older companies are still going strong, such as Hudson’s, the whistle makers in the Jewellery Quarter. I love walking the canals, poking around the host of great museums and archives. One place I make sure every visitor sees is the Shakespeare Memorial Room, now at the top of the library, and of course, the Botanical Gardens.


If I’m not doing anything else, I usually have a book in my hand. It’s always exciting to find a new author you like. I’ve always been a swimmer, too: a lifeguard in my teens and a synchro swimmer well before it became an Olympic sport.