25/01/2016 07:24 GMT | Updated 25/01/2016 07:59 GMT

WISE WORDS: 'Real Marigold Hotel' Star Jan Leeming On Leaving The Past Behind, And The Price Of Love

In the latest in our WISE WORDS interview series - where stars from a whole range of fields share the important life lessons they've learned along the way - we’re posing some of the big questions to Jan Leeming.


Best known as a TV presenter and newsreader, Jan has been a familiar face on our TV screens for four decades. As well as reading the BBC News throughout the 1980s, she co-hosted the Eurovision Song Contest in 1982.

Jan has joined seven other celebrities to sample retirement life in Jaipur, India, in 'The Real Marigold Hotel'

More recently, she has has taken part in reality show 'I'm A Celebrity... Get Me Out Of Here!' where she took part in a record number of bush tucker trials. She has also appeared on 'Come Dine With Me' and other TV specials.

This week sees her joining a group of seven other celebrities taking part in a real-life experiment, based on the premise of hit film 'The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel'. Just as those characters moved to India to enjoy their retirement in warmer, more exotic climes, so these celebs, including Jan Leeming, Patti Boulay, Miriam Margolyes, Sylvester McCoy and Wayne Sleep, travel to Jaipur to spend a few weeks in apparent retirement, soaking up the charms of Jaipur, India, and seeing if it would suit them to live.

To mark the show, which begins tomorrow on BBC1, Jan speak to HuffPostUK, sharing her thoughts about lessons learned along the way, when she's been at her happiest, and some of the harder lessons learnt along the way...

Jan joins Patti Boulay at the Taj Mahal as part of their big adventure

What do you do to switch off from the world?

I will read a book- usually an historical novel or I will go for a walk along the beach.

How do you deal with negativity?

These days I walk away from it. Life is too precious to waste time dealing with negativity. These days I try to focus on the good things in my life - the areas in which I am blessed especially in having good health, a wonderful son, friends and an interesting life.

When and where are you happiest?

I think the happiest period of my life was in my early twenties when I lived in Sydney, Australia. I fulfilled my dream of becoming a professional actress and I adored the sun, sea, sand and the outdoor life. I also much admired the way the Australians just accepted you for what you were - they had no side and it didn't matter a damn who your father was or how much money you or your family had. It was as close to an egalitarian society as one could come.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?

Although it is difficult to practise, learning to leave the past behind.

What has been the hardest lesson you’ve learned?

The hardest lesson is that no matter how much you might love a man, there is no guarantee that the love will be returned or constant.

What would you tell your 13-year-old self?

To thine own self be true. Follow your instincts, follow your dreams and be honest.

What 3 things are at the top of your to-do list?

To learn to speak French fluently; to see more of the world whilst I still have my health; and to see my son happily settled in a good relationship

What do you think happens when we die?

I do think we leave something of ourselves behind in the form of 'aura' for want of a better word. I can sense 'presence' in places and I'm sure this is the 'energy' left by the departed.

When do you feel a sense that we live in the presence of something bigger than ourselves?

I only have to look at nature - the flowers, trees, mountains, the sky and the stars to realise that we are mere 'specks' in the Cosmos

What do you try to bring to your relationships?

Understanding and Trust. Without trust there can be no true love.

What keeps you grounded?

The knowledge of all my faults and failings keeps me very grounded.

What was the last good deed or act of kindness you received?

It came from my son. Although he could not really afford it, he bought me a business class plane ticket to Australia to see him and arranged and paid for my accommodation. It meant a huge amount to me and, although I will find some way of repaying him, the 'Gift' touched my heart greatly.

Also, whilst filming in India I was talking to a lovely English woman who rents an apartment in the Havelli of an Indian Princess. At the end of the interview I happened to say that we'd been working so hard we'd had not time to shop and I very much wanted to buy a saree. The Princess/landlady left the room and returned carrying a pink saree which she gave to me as a gift. A beautiful gift from a stranger. I was very touched.

'The Real Marigold Hotel' begins on Tuesday 26 January at 9pm on BBC Two.

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