Michelle Eagleton, better known on social media as @showbizshel, spent her youth as an actress appearing on stage and TV in shows such as Children’s Ward, Coronation Street and Heartbeat.
Her passion for acting and the theatre shaped her career in broadcasting, where she has been entertainment reporter for over 20 years interviewing the likes of Sir David Attenborough, Dame Joan Collins and Sting.
Along with this, she has been a theatre reviewer for numerous media outlets, sat on the panel of the former Manchester Theatre Awards, and Michelle currently chats theatre on BBC Radio Manchester every Wednesday on Becky Want’s Afternoon Show.
What got you started in your field of work?
I started out as an actress, which I did until my early twenties starring in TV programmes like ITV’s Children’s Ward, Heartbeat and Coronation Street. I was at the same drama group as actors like Suranne Jones, Jane Danson and Samia Longchambon, so when I see them nowadays at events we reminisce about the old days and the fun we all had. After giving up acting I went back to university to study Journalism and that’s when I took a different path. It was inevitable though that I would specialise in entertainment reporting given my love for performance and I have never looked back since. I remember one of my first journalism job interviews was in London and involved me being sent out to interview Steve Coogan. As fellow Mancs we hit it off and I got the gig. You can take the girl out of Manchester…
Who have been the biggest influences on your work?
In the past I’ve worked with Gabby Logan and Clare Balding and watching them has taught me a lot. They are two very strong women within the media industry who are at the top of their game. The amount of research they do on the projects they present on is immense and they are like a font of knowledge in the sporting field. I may mainly present on entertainment and the arts but the sentiment is still the same – to make sure I know as much as I can – that way you can deliver the best interviews and performance.
What is your proudest achievement so far?
Outside of my TV and radio work I love championing local businesses and my community. When the pandemic hit it made me realise even more how important it is to support our local people and shine a light on the great things they do. With that in mind I set up the Alkrington Community Spirit Awards where I live and gave people the chance to nominate neighbours, businesses, children etc who had done good deeds during lockdown. There were so many heart-warming stories I heard it was difficult for me and the judges to choose who actually got the awards.
We held the awards ceremony last February and it was a really emotional event. I managed to rope in some of my celeb friends from the likes of BBC’s North West Tonight, Coronation Street and even our Mayor of Manchester Andy Burnham to announce the winners. It was an incredible evening and I was proud that I got to honour so many well-deserving people.
What does your typical day involve?
There’s no typical day in my life, I put on a number of hats regularly. I might be lecturing in Journalism at Salford University’s MediaCity campus one day,or heading across to the BBC Radio Manchester studio to chat theatre with their afternoon presenter Becky Want. Other times I will be planning for my weekly online theatre magazine show Live in the Hive, whether it’s booking in guests, editing video footage, or recording an interview with one of the stars of a show. I’m also Mum to two children, Daisy, 11 and Harry, 7, so that keeps me on my toes, too!
And how do you relax on your days off?
I started running in my late twenties and I really love it. For me it’s the best way for me to relax and switch off, so I will pop in my air pods and put my trainers on and run around listening to a good podcast. I’m lucky I live near Heaton Park which is a beautiful place to go for a run and also walk my dog. It clears my head and makes me appreciate being in the moment.
What is the best advice you have been given or can give?
I think the best piece of advice I could give someone is to ‘write your own story’. Don’t let anything get in the way of your dreams, if you want something go out there and make it happen. The only person who can change our destiny is ourselves so if you want to change your story at any point then just do it.
If things hadn’t worked out, what else could you have seen yourself doing?
When I was younger I used to write plays and then perform them for my family. I could see myself having done that, perhaps a northern comedy or two for the stage. It would still have to have a theatrical link as the theatre is in my blood. I swear I was born with my jazz hands in the air!
Tell us one thing about yourself people might be surprised to hear…
I almost got the part of Twinkle in BBC One show Dinnerladies. I was pipped to the post by a ‘little known’ Manchester actress, Maxine Peake! It’s crazy when I look back that I got so close to getting that role, but I will never forget how incredible it was to audition for the legendary Victoria Wood and recite lines with her. I think they definitely got the right girl for the part as look what Maxine has gone onto since. I am in total awe of her.
Red or Blue?
If you could change one thing about Manchester, what would it be?
I’d make it the capital city. Call me biased but I think Manchester has so much to offer, from history to culture, creativity and innovation. I lived in London for a year for work but I couldn’t wait to get back home. I just feel we would make a great capital and just imagine if the Queen moved here!
And finally, what do you love most about Manchester?
The passion – there’s nothing like it, it oozes out of the buildings, the air and of course, the people who live there. Nothing can break Manchester because of the passion, it’s like an ever-lasting Phoenix and it makes me swell with pride to be Manchester born and bred.
Live in The Hive will be broadcast on I Love MCR’s Facebook page and YouTube channel every Sunday at 8pm, launching on Sunday 9th January. You can follow @liveinthehive on Facebook, @liveinthehive21 on Instagram and Twitter. The show will also be available on I Love MCR’s website every Monday to watch back if you miss it.