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Annabel Giles obituary

Annabel Giles, who has died of glioblastoma aged 64, was first a model who earned up to £16,000 a day and became the face of Max Factor before using her knowledge of makeup and clothes to break into television as a presenter on the popular ITV teatime show Razzmatazz. She later became a bestselling novelist and a psychotherapist.

She joined Razzmatazz in 1986, in a slot giving teenagers makeovers so they could look like their favourite rock celebs.

“A lot of pop stars these days are very unimaginative, so people like Sigue Sigue Sputnik and Ozzy Osbourne are a godsend for me,” she said at the time. “But rockers such as Bruce Springsteen, Bryan Adams and Big Country have no real image – it’s all just shirts and jeans. There’s not enough colour in pop music these days.”

Giles herself had married a big name in the music business, Midge Ure, the previous year. His own “colour” came from fronting the band Ultravox and masterminding, with Bob Geldof, the 1985 Live Aid concert for famine relief.

Annabel Giles, right, at the Brit Awards in 1986, with her husband, Midge Ure, left, and Paula Yates and Bob Geldof.
Annabel Giles, right, at the Brit Awards in 1986, with her husband, Midge Ure, left, and Paula Yates and Bob Geldof. Photograph: Alan Davidson/Shutterstock

She left Razzmatazz after just one series to give birth to their daughter, Molly, then returned to television in the first series of the BBC’s Saturday morning children’s programme Going Live! (1987-88), giving style tips, alongside the presenters Phillip Schofield and Sarah Greene.

Then, she and Greene fronted both runs of the ITV daytime series Posh Frocks and New Trousers (1989-90). Greene described herself as “Mrs Potential Buyer”, asking direct questions to Giles as the style expert. The programme adopted a less serious approach to fashion than its established BBC rival, The Clothes Show. Giles emphasised comfort over style, saying: “As long as you wear clothes that look decent and feel warm, then nothing else really matters.”

Her TV career continued to flourish. She interviewed everyone from a Butlin’s Redcoat to Dusty Springfield for ITV’s Night Network programme in 1988 and 1989, was Derek Jameson’s co-presenter on his Sky show, Jameson Tonight, during 1989, and presented the etiquette slot The Done Thing for This Morning from 1993 to 1995. She also took part in the BBC radio show Loose Ends from 1992 to 1993.

There was even an acting role, as Grania Pringle, in the 1993 television version of Jilly Cooper’s raunchy novel Riders, after its producer, Roger Gregory, saw Giles’s photograph and judged her “confident and full of life” qualities to be perfect for the part.

Brimming with confidence, she took her one-woman show Looking for Mr Giles to the Edinburgh festival fringe in 1995 and tickets sold out. She returned the following year with Anyone Can Be a TV Presenter.

Back on actual television, she was the “roving reporter”, alongside Bob Monkhouse, for Monkhouse’s Memory Masters on BBC One in 1995, and presenter of another gameshow, the Channel 5 series Period Rooms, in 1997.

The presenting jobs eventually dried up, but Giles continued on screen, on and off, in quizzes, gameshows and reality programmes.

Born in Griffithstown, near Pontypool, Monmouthshire, she was the daughter of Jane (nee Ferard), a nurse, and Charles Giles, a Fleet Air Arm pilot, and was brought up in the Scottish town of Lossiemouth, in Moray, Malta and Wimbledon.

Aged 16, Giles was expelled from her boarding school for running off to watch a Steve Harley and Cockney Rebel concert, and being spotted smoking in the street.

Five years working as a secretary (1977-1982) included a job with an advertising agency where her potential was spotted and she was signed by Models 1. Alongside Max Factor, she was known for Revlon and Pond’s face cream advertisements.

Giles met Ure when she appeared in videos of Ultravox’s 1984 hits Lament and Love’s Great Adventure. Shortly afterwards, she jilted her husband-to-be, Brian Rutherford, a graphic designer, a day before their planned wedding and disappeared with Ure. Although she and Rutherford attempted a reconciliation, the relationship broke up. She secretly married Ure on the Caribbean island of Montserrat.

Giles and Ure split up in 1989 and later divorced. In 1998, she had a son, Tedd, from a subsequent relationship, splitting up with his father – whose name she never revealed – shortly after the birth.

As work fizzled out, Giles had bouts of depression and faced the added challenge of her son being born with XYY syndrome and being autistic.

Broke, Giles was set to return to secretarial work when she had the idea of writing a novel. Birthday Girls (2001), interweaving the stories of six women’s landmark celebrations, became a bestseller. She followed it with Crossing the Paradise Line (2003) and The Defrosting of Charlotte Small (2006).

Later returns to television included appearances in the reality shows I’m a Celebrity … Get Me Out of Here! in 2013 and Our Shirley Valentine Summer in 2018.

After retraining, she worked as a counsellor and psychotherapist, and from 2018 until earlier this year was an agony aunt on Eleri Siôn’s BBC Radio Wales show.

Molly and Tedd survive her.

• Annabel Claire Giles, television presenter, author and psychotherapist, born 20 May 1959; died 20 November 2023