Steph McGovern told she’s ‘perfect on paper but not in real life’ in harsh Uni knock back

Steph McGovern tears up over Chris Kamara's early life story

Presenter Steph McGovern, 38, explained she was offered an interview at Oxford University after getting top A-Level results, but was later rejected and told she wasn’t perfect in real life. Recalling the moment on her The Steph Show, she branded the feedback “harsh”.

How harsh is that?

Steph McGovern

Speaking yesterday, the presenter explained: “I applied for Oxford as I was like the swat at a school, the one who had done the best in their A-levels and all that jazz, beaten the statistics and stuff. 

“I went for my interview and I was the only one there who didn’t know what we were going to be asked.”

Despite her best efforts to impress the interviewer, she later discovered she had been rejected from the university.

Recalling the moment, she added: “Do you know what they said to me when I didn’t get in?”

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“My headteacher – who was just proud I had got the interview – read me the letter, ‘She’s perfect on paper, but not in real life.’ How harsh is that?”

Stunned by her admission, show guest and chef John Whaite replied: “That has to change, because kids are growing up with this idea that because they come from where they come from they’re never going to achieve anything in life.

“You can take them into school and teach them about etiquette, but all that is going to do is dilute their identity.

“And that is also going to create division at home because if kids are forced to be unlike their parents that might create major rifts in family settings!”

The reason behind Steph’s rejection is unknown, however she has previously admitted her northern accent was often frowned upon and criticised.

The Middlesbrough-born presenter previously wrote in Radio Times: “Despite being a business journalist at the BBC for ten years, working behind the scenes on our high-profile news programmes, I was viewed by some in the organisation to be ‘too common for telly’.

“Unfortunately, there are quite a few people out there who are nasty about the way I talk.

“You would think that after nearly two years in the job, people would be used to my Teesside tones.


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“To be fair most are, but there are still some viewers who can’t accept that someone with my accent can have a brain. It means that I regularly get abuse about it.”

The journalist also once said she “really fell out” with her ex BBC Breakfast co-star Bill Turnbull after he queried the way she pronounced particular words.

Discussing the moment with Bill on her show earlier this year, she explained to viewers: “One thing we couldn’t agree on though, was how you said some certain words.”

She then told her former colleague she wanted to “resolve” their humorous feud once and for all as she challenged him to a word pronunciation game.

On how the pair pronounced the word poor, Bill said: “P, double o, r, it’s one syllable only.”

“Bill I’m really sorry, you’re wrong, it’s poor,” she replied, as she repeated the word as two syllables.

Refusing to back down, the Classic FM presenter replied: “If it was poor (two syllables) you’d spell it p, double o, e, r, with a hyphen in the middle.”

The Steph Show airs weekdays from 12.30pm on Channel 4.

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