SUNRISE: Stephen Dixon

HE gets me out of bed at 7am every weekend for a fix of his dry northern wit.

But next month I can have a lie-in as Sky TV presenter Stephen Dixon will be taking time off from his breakfast show hot seat to enjoy ‘Sunrise’ Gibraltar-style, as a guest speaker at the Literary Festival.

If you’ve seen him on the box you’ll already know he’s a teetotal, vegetarian, techno geek Trekkie and Dr Who fan, so he’s in for a treat in Tardis-sized Gibraltar. If he doesn’t sneak off to visit the Rock’s Luke Skywalker-christened Skywalk, I’ll eat my lightsaber.

But if you thought all TV news hacks were hard-bitten cynics, you’re in for a surprise. Our Stephen’s softer side will be on show at the festival where he’ll be regaling us with stanzas from his first poetry book! So what else is surprising about this clean-cut bachelor who’s every mum’s idea of the perfect son, including his own. Here’s my (non-Dirty) Dozen Dixon Did-You-Knows:

  1. He has a tattoo on his ankle inscribed with the words of St Augustin: ‘Love is the beauty of the soul’.
  2. That’s also the title of his first poetry book which left the Sky newsroom ‘gobsmacked’, he says. ‘I’m quite hard nosed at work in terms of my attitude to news so I think people were surprised I’d got this soft side.’
  3. When presenting Sunrise he goes to bed at 7.30pm and sets his alarm for 3am. ‘The hours are not good but that adds to the excitement, not living a normal life, living on the edge.’
  4. The first news presenter in the world to break the 2005 London bombings story, he reflects: ‘It was very scary but you just get on with it. The whole thing is not to panic viewers so you have to be very clear what you’re saying. It’s only driving home later that it sinks in.’
  5. He lives in a bachelor pad in Milton Keynes but always has company under his duvet – his cat Timmy.
  6. Originally from Newton, Barrow-In-Furness, this Lake District lad stays loyal to his northern roots. If you don’t catch him scoffing scones at Gillam’s Tea Rooms in Ulverston with his mum and dad, he could be sailing on Lake Coniston with his brother.
  7. His life on air was inspired by his granddad who built the first telly in the village in 1953 so that everyone could watch the Queen’s Coronation.
  8. Sky TV provides his snazzy Pierre Cardin suits, ties and shirts.
  9. He was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes at 17. ‘It’s a challenge but one I enjoy, because it encourages me to focus on my diet and health.’
  10. Favourite books: ‘Crime drama, Lee Childs’ Jack Reacher books, Richard Castle books, fantasy, escapism… partly due to the job which is often very grim and real.’
  11. What his co-presenter Gillian Joseph hates about him most: “He’s always embarrassing me, we have these private conversations in the break, then he tells everyone when we’re back on air.”
  12. And what she loves: ‘He’s an absolute delight to work with, it’s not like work when we’re together, it’s just fun fun fun.’

Catch his talk at The Convent on November 16 at 2pm. www.gibraltarliteraryfestival.com