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Next, she seizes on giant baubles stacked in a glass jar, sizing them up, laughingly, as a little bit “chi-chi”, before rounding on me: appraising my spangly jumper as suitably festive. Being at home with kids and husband and putting twinkly lights up: bliss.” Having reached a career zenith on the flagship BBC radio show, stepping down altogether in May in order to focus on motherhood was a bold move.After a 10-year career at BBC Radio 1, where she interviewed every pop great, from Coldplay and Ed Sheeran to the Foo Fighters, in a role that often demanded 7am starts and returns home at midnight, she has packed it all in this year, to focus her attention on family. But Cotton – dressed down today in ripped jeans and a slouchy mustard jumper – describes it less as a slamming on of the brakes, more as an arrival at a crossroads; rebalancing rather than retiring.Not to mention the chicest festival hair looks, red carpet-worthy updos, wedding ideas and off-duty style ideas for the weekend.
“We spent all day yesterday decorating the house and making it all Christmassy,” the 34-year-old enthuses, before showing off the fruits of her labour - from fir-festooned bannisters to a behemoth of a penguin - to her 1.2 million Instagram followers (she has 6.7 million on Twitter). Though much has been made of the station’s mandate to lower the average age of its listenership (currently 32 - 29-year-old Clara Amfo has since taken over Cotton’s slot) she bristles at the suggestion it had anything to do with her departure. Plus, I really wanted to put my focus back into TV.I came from TV and it got pushed to the side to an extent, as I had to focus on Radio 1 because it is such an all-encompassing job.” Cotton, who grew up in Eastcote, a suburb of north-west London, is clearly keen to focus on replicating the childhood she had with parents Mick and Lyn, both 62, which she describes as “really normal”.Despite wishing to draw a line under the incident, she is vociferous in her self-defence, blaming one article in particular for setting off the furore.“To me, the critic doesn’t count unless they are doing the same job,” she says.
But she has accumulated her fair share of critics over the years.After fronting a slot for the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations, the BBC received 4,500 complaints for the network’s “banal” coverage of the event: the most fevered discussion focusing on her item about royal memorabilia, which showcased a sick bag with the Queen’s face on.