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The multi-talented MISS SHEPHARD

Helen Shephard is best known as a presenter on Five’s SuperCasino. Maria Pierides went over to her place for a coffee and a chat, and discovered she is not just a one-trick pony, bringing more to the table than initially meets the eye

For those unfamiliar with the combination of late-night television and roulette, the words ‘Helen’ and ‘Shephard’ may not ring any immediate bells. Helen is one ninth of Five’s SuperCasino presenting squad, and as the baby of the SuperCasino family, having been there just over two years, she has done well to stand out and have her own voice on the team.

When it comes to getting to know someone, there’s nothing better than visiting them at home to get a sneaky peak into their life. On first impressions, Helen seems like a normal, down-to-earth girl with the same qualms, hang-ups and worries as every other twenty-something girl. It’s obvious that her bubbly on-screen persona is just an extension of the way she is off-air. She was slightly worried about the appearance of her barely-dried hair, as we were filming the interview for our website, but decided to accept that the Gambling audience would prefer it ‘au naturel’. Before we hotfooted it to Helen’s house, we checked out what she had to say for herself on the SuperCasino website, and there were quite a few stand-out facts which we couldn’t wait to ask her about. Almost on cue, as she opened the door, was her inquisitive Italian greyhound Womble, who made more than a few appearances during the interview, grabbing the majority of Helen’s attention almost to the point of distraction whenever he emerged in the corner of her eye. This isn’t to say she is easily distracted, but it was clear to see that he is a big part of her life; she says that on days when she isn’t working, she spends most of her time dog walking.

Helen speaks fondly of her role in SuperCasino, and of her fellow presenters, struggling to pick a favourite, but admits to a slight craving for on-screen time with the other girls due to the new boy-girl format of the show. “I actually miss working with the girls, but I do enjoy working with the boys. I think I have good on-screen banter with Bryn and Derek, mainly because they completely take the mickey out of me and I get bullied, but it’s all quite amusing.”

Helen has many of the traits associated with a typical ‘girlie girl’, including a love of fashion and, naturally, being partial to a bit of gossip, saying that it’s her top priority upon arrival to the studio. “Generally, I arrive and just sit and gossip in the green room, and then I’ll realise I only have 25 minutes to get ready and have a mad panic trying to sort my hair and make-up.” When asked to share some insider secrets into the running of the show, the first thing that came to mind was the boys’ appearance, stating that, “the boys wear loads of makeup. Fake tan, mascara, eyeliner, they wear it all,” revealing that further powder is applied during the off-screen moments.

It’s common in our youth for us to aspire to be like certain celebrities, and if it wasn’t for a young Helen seeing fellow Essex girl Denise van Outen on The Big Breakfast, her eyes may not have been opened to the world of presenting. “I was always doing drama and stuff, and then I decided I wanted to be a journalist, but then I thought I could be like Denise van Outen. So I thought I’d do a journalism degree and get into it that way, plus I was always really interested in fashion so it was a last-minute decision – for some reason I just went down the fashion journalism route.”

Despite describing herself as a model and presenter, it’s fairly surprising to see that she is so shy and introverted around the subject of modelling. When the subject is raised she rather plays down her modelling achievements, which seems at odds with the girl in the pictures. But, although she says that presenting “is definitely my main focus”, she does enjoy the modelling aspect. “I did a jewellery show for Harrods two weeks ago and there was this necklace which was covered in diamonds. It was worth £200,000 and I was thinking ‘Oh my God! I’ve never seen so many diamonds in my life’. I didn’t get to keep any though.”

Helen does seem to be something of a triple threat with her presenting, modelling and journalism to fall back on. When she isn’t taking care of Womble or presenting SuperCasino, she enjoys live music events, opening up about her love of festivals and appearing to have a broad taste in music. “I hate having to decide what genre of music you like because I like a bit of this and a bit of that.” She lists indie bands, Paloma Faith and Lady Gaga as favourites, mentioning several times she was seeing the latter in concert that night.

As the presenter of a gambling show, we had to ask Helen about her previous roulette experiences. She told us she’d only played a few times prior to joining the show, although she expressed great interest in playing some more. “I would really like a night out in a casino so I can go and play and see if I’m actually any good.” She also told us that she plays the National Lottery, and it may come as no surprise to learn that Womble even chooses her numbers for her. “I actually won £10 last week, but I got four numbers and still only won £10. How did that happen? Obviously everyone must have picked those numbers.”

Maybe what gives Helen the outlook on life she has today is her eight-month world trip, an experience that she has great memories of. She says that despite backpacking not being on the cards for a second time, she does recommend it as something people should experience at least once in their lives. Her one piece of advice? “Don’t take too much stuff, because my back was killing at times and you just don’t need that much stuff.” She also says that this was one of the reasons why casinos were not on her list of go-to places during her trip: “I don’t think they’d let me in with a backpack; they’d probably think I was someone dodgy.”

During her anecdotes of the trip, it was clear that she is quite nostalgic about her travels, so we weren’t shocked to learn that she is going on yet another exotic jaunt. “I’m going away for another three-and-a-half weeks in January. I’m going to Singapore and Kuala Lumpur and then on to Australia. I really miss travelling. I had an amazing eight months backpacking.” But she said she ended her previous trip in order to “get back to reality”. But if reality is presenting a successful gambling show and modelling expensive products on the side, it doesn’t sound too unpleasant to us. As Helen admits, “I could think of far worse jobs!”
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