They get to pose the difficult questions and put interviewees on the spot every day in ITV’s regional news programme, Westcountry News, but especially for Devon Life Kate Haskell turns the tables and gets the lowdown on presenters Ian Axton and Kylie Pentelow
They may both be married to other people but five nights a week Ian Axton and Kylie Pentelow are united in an on-screen partnership and, for better or worse, it has to work for the viewer to welcome them into their living rooms. Whilst theirs might still be in honeymoon stage compared to other TV partnerships, it’s clear when you talk to them both there is a strong connection and a commitment to bring us the news that matters as well as celebrating the region.
How long have you both been working together and what was your first impression of each other?
Ian: I’ve been presenting ITV News here in the West Country since 2010. Kylie joined me on the sofa in 2013.
Kylie: We first met very late at night in a hotel bar; this isn’t as dodgy as it sounds! I really wanted to meet Ian before we did a screen test together. Our opinion and news judgement are very similar; that was clear from the very first meeting. I also laugh at his ‘dad jokes’ which makes him happy!
Ian: As part of the interview process I had to carry out a number of on-screen auditions with presenters who wanted to work here and I can honestly say I really liked Kylie from the moment I met her. It was a bit like speed dating!
How did you start out in TV?
Ian: My background is in radio and I stumbled into TV, even though it had always been an ambition. I was ‘between jobs’ for a while back in 2001 and was given a short placement in ITV’s Southampton newsroom. I’ve been with ITV ever since!
Kylie: I trained as a journalist and worked at The Bath Chronicle newspaper. I then got a job as a trainee journalist at the BBC where I worked for 12 years. I was lucky enough to travel around the country and the world as a reporter, covering all sorts of hard news stories and features.
Why do you think regional TV is still essential viewing?
Ian: As long as people care about where they live, where their children go to school, the treatment they get at their local hospital, the state of their roads etc, there will be a place for local news on television. It’s our job each night to focus on the stories that really matter to people and the issues and the characters that make the West Country such a special place.
Kylie: There is nowhere else on TV where you get the chance to see what’s happening where you live, and celebrate your region. Working in the South West, my favourite part of the country, is an absolute pleasure.
There have been enormous changes in regional TV over the past few years...how has this been for the better?
Ian: The changes that we’ve seen in regional television over the past few years have ensured its survival. It’s important to remember that ITV is a commercial channel - we’re not funded in the same way as the BBC.
In a multi-platform media world where we can get news 24 hours a day who do you think watches regional news?
Kylie: I am always surprised at the huge range of people who watch regional news; from young mothers to retired couples. The feedback I get from people is fantastic - although what they seem to comment on most is our colour co-ordinating outfits!
Ian: I don’t think you can categorise our viewers - we really do get people of all ages and backgrounds watching us, it’s a real mix. I know some people who aren’t at home in time to watch at 6pm so they tune in to ITV+1 at 7pm!
You interview so many people each day but has there been anyone that has left you truly inspired?
Ian: It’s never the celebrities that inspire me the most, although I loved interviewing Devon’s Ade Edmondson as I’m a HUGE fan of his band The Bad Shepherds! It’s always the ordinary people who have done something amazing against the odds who make the biggest impression on me; from families fighting for justice to fundraisers going to extraordinary lengths for causes they believe in.
Kylie: As Ian said, we are so lucky to interview celebrities, sportspeople and politicians - but always the most inspiring are those ordinary people who have gone through hardship or tragedy and are using their experience to help others.
Ian - you also present The Westcountry at Westminster....do you relish the chance to have more time to interview politicians and get to the heart of the matter?
Yes, politics is my professional passion and the programme gives me a great chance to not only debate the issues of the day with politicians but also to hold them to account. We’ve exciting plans to refresh the programme later this year.
Kylie - you now also present for ITN...what do you love about that and do you get more nervous than when you do the day job?
It’s fantastic working on the national and international news. It is very different from my job in the West Country - but both are challenging in different ways!
What’s the funniest/worst thing to happen live on air whilst you have been working together?
Ian: There was a moment involving a strangely shaped cucumber. I will say no more, but if you Google ‘Ian Kylie Cucumber’ you’ll see what I mean…..
Kylie: Ian made me laugh so much I couldn’t read the autocue.
Ian Axton: '! It's always the ordinary people who have done something amazing against the odds who make the biggest impression on me'
Dressing room gossip - things you never knew about Ian & Kylie
Ian: I was sacked from a job as a cinema projectionist because I played the film reels in the wrong order.
In my teens I won an award for acting and one day want to return to the stage
I can sing Halfway Up the Stairs in the style of The Muppets
I’m always a regular at the Chagstock music festival.
Kylie Pentelow: 'I am always surprised at the huge range of people who watch regional news'
Kylie: I love life drawing (drawing from the human form!).
I have a vintage caravan that I refurbished - even sorting out the floors! I use it every year for the Glastonbury festival
I love to watch my favourite TV shows like Sons of Anarchy and Game of Thrones while wearing a fan t-shirt.
I’m a HUGE Agatha Christie fan.
People who work with me refer to my look to camera as the ‘Pentelow Pout’.
So how well do they really know each other?
Being good sports Ian & Kylie agreed to take my special Mr & Mrs style quiz
How many sugars does Ian take in his tea/coffee? - None Ian says: None.
What is his worst habit in the studio? Sorry to say it - but he doesn’t have any! Ian says: Tapping the desk in time with the theme tune.
Which is his favourite on-screen tie? Red with white spots. Ian says: Anything striped.
Who is Ian’s secret celebrity crush? It’s no secret - weather presenter Lucy Verasamy. Ian says: NO COMMENT!
Who takes longest doing their make-up and hair for the show - you or Ian? I take longer to do my make-up - but Ian takes longer in the dressing room. Ian says: Kylie
Who tweets more ? Ian will say me - but check out his number of tweets - it’s HIM!! Ian says: Me, but Kylie Instagrams and I don’t!
What is Kylie’s favourite food? - Dark chocolate. Kylie says: All kinds of chocolate.
Can you name her two dogs? - Audrey and Lulu. Kylie says: He’s right.
What is her favourite on-screen outfit? - She has hundreds and loves them all! Kylie says: A navy and black one.
Who is Kylie’s secret celebrity crush? - David Cameron. Kylie says: It’s Clive Owen!
Who takes longest doing their make-up and hair for the show? – Kylie. Kylie says: Definitely Ian!
If Kylie saw your Twitter page open on your PC at work would she be tempted to tweet something on your behalf and if so what would she write? I think and sincerely hope she would avoid the temptation! Kylie says: I would send a DM to Lucy Verasamy from Ian with hearts and kisses…only joking!