We’ve recently had the pleasure of welcoming Milly Griffiths to the Gemporia team as our new TV host. But Milly has a family connection, as she’s the eldest daughter of our ever popular presenter Ellis Ward. We caught up with them both to talk about life, love, family and their inspirational mother-daughter relationship.
A very warm welcome to Gemporia, Milly. How are you finding it?
Milly: It’s the most unbelievable job in the world! I feel incredibly lucky to be able to say I’m a presenter at Gemporia and I love every aspect of it. I am not only surrounded by incredible people doing a job I love but I also get to see some of the finest jewellery and gemstones in the world. How many people can say they get to do that?
What’s it like for you both working under the same roof?
Ellis: It’s a little bit amazing, although our shift times mean we don’t really get to see each other at work. However when we do cross paths, it’s just lovely to give her a big hug and a kiss. Oh, she’s gorgeous.
Milly: I love working in the same place as mum, she’s my best friend and the fact we get to spend even more time together is amazing. I can’t quite believe we work together, it’s like having your biggest supporter with you all the time. It’s truly amazing. I have to keep pinching myself to remind me this is reality!
You’ve done a show together haven’t you?
Ellis: It was on Christmas Day! How precious a moment and a memory I will cherish forever. I was so proud, I could have burst. The best Christmas Day ever.
Milly: I loved every minute of it, it was the quickest show and I also think the audience really enjoyed it. When you put the two of us together, we just never stop talking! It was almost like being at home.
You must have such pride, Ellis?
Ellis: Words simply can’t express the pride I have. My little angel is all grown up and watching her on her shows never ceases to amaze me. She is so passionate and articulate about everything she brings to screen and is honestly a mini-me in the way that she simply loves her job.
Milly: I think it’s always been a dream of mine to be a presenter, I just never really thought I’d be able to do it. When mum said that I should audition I thought I may as well give it a go, and I haven’t looked back.
What was your audition like?
Milly: Oh my goodness, my audition! Mum gave me a few tips but she wanted me to do most of it off my own back. I found it really nerve wracking. I went in knowing I could sell something of my choice as well as a piece of jewellery, so rather than take anything with me, I thought I’d sell an 'idea', a table for two with dinner and drinks at a restaurant I used to work at. Because it was something I loved, it was the most natural thing in the world. It’s different to what I was expecting, but it is everything I ever dreamed of and so much more.
How are the rest of your family, and how have they responded to you joining Gemporia?
Milly: They’ve been incredibly supportive and I think they’re really proud of me. I don’t think any of us anticipated that I would take on the Gemporia torch alongside mum but it’s been the best move ever.
Ellis: The family are really good, thank you for asking. They’ve all reacted so positively to Milly working with me. It was a huge surprise to us all that she wanted to follow in my footsteps, as she studied law at university. Now we all think that Milly is exactly where she should be.
How did you first get into the business Ellis, and what were your ambitions growing up?
Ellis: As a little girl I dreamed of being a ballet dancer. I even thought I’d change my name to Ellisia Wardinsky. How funny is that? Needless to say, it didn’t quite work out. I do however think my life has been a life less ordinary and to be honest, if I wrote it all down, no one would believe me. Seriously. I could tell you stories that would make your hair curl.
You danced at the Moulin Rouge and in the West End didn’t you?
Ellis: I did indeed, at sweet sixteen as well. I was at a boarding stage school and had gone to London on the train to audition. I initially lied about my age and when I got the job I had to admit I wasn’t 18. To my delight they still allowed me to go but only under license from the British government. That meant me having to report to the British Embassy in Paris every two weeks to say I was alive and well. After my audition, I had to admit to my school that I hadn’t actually gone to a doctor’s appointment and that I was leaving to go and dance at the famous Moulin Rouge in Paris. My headmistress told me that I would never be anything other than a common little showgirl. To this day, I can’t believe that my parents didn’t scupper my dreams and allowed me to go. How crazy is that? What an experience it was too. Unforgettable, and memories I’ll cherish forever. When I hung up my dancing shoes after being part of the original cast of ‘42nd Street’ in the West End, I modelled extensively all over Europe.
How did this lead to your first job in TV?
Ellis: Eight years later I successfully auditioned as a co-host for ‘You Bet’ with Bruce Forsyth and Matthew Kelly. I had to pinch myself so many times that this was happening to me. I did five series of the Saturday night show. The forfeits were the funniest and I believe there are a few clips of them rumbling around on the internet. I can’t believe what they roped me in to do.
Have you had any embarrassing moments on-air?
Ellis: In all my years of TV and tens of thousands of live hours, I’ve never ever burped. However, a couple of months ago, a tiny one popped up to say hello. My director, the fabulous Christian Wheeler, laughed so much he nearly fell off his chair. He’s even got the clip and replays it to me on a regular basis!
Milly: I’m not quite sure I’ve had any embarrassing or incredibly funny moments yet. I do sometimes lose control of my words though and I end up saying something completely wrong and then have to make my little rewind sound and start again!
Luca stole my heart from day one and is my absolute favourite. We’re not really allowed the dogs on the sofa but I always let him sit with me, he’s my shadow.
Right, we must talk about the dogs!
Ellis: So… we now have four dogs! A tiny, teacup Yorkie called Kiki who we’ve had for five years, and three rescue greyhounds, Luca (five), Lyla (four) and Luna (five). We’re completely and utterly besotted. If you’d have told us a year ago that we would have a greyhound, let alone three, we would have said you were stark raving bonkers. But they are such a gentle breed, with buckets of ‘elegant crazy’, and they sleep for around 21 hours a day.
Milly: They are such a wonderful part of the family, the house would feel empty without them. Kiki definitely has small dog syndrome, she acts all tough like a big dog but she’s so tiny it makes us laugh! Luna is sassy, always nosing around and never leaves anyone alone. Lyla is very shy but very loving, she’s mum’s favourite. Luca stole my heart from day one and is my absolute favourite. We’re not really allowed the dogs on the sofa but I always let him sit with me, he’s my shadow.
Do they go everywhere with you and do you all walk them?
Milly: We do all walk them, but mum enjoys it the most. We try to take them with us as much as possible, it’s hard to walk anywhere without being stopped because they are so beautiful and so gentle. They really are a sight to behold in their spotty coats, you can see them a mile off.
Ellis: We amble around the village and I’ve become known as ‘the mad greyhound lady’. They really feel the cold, so we have several coats and sweaters for each of them. An elderly gentleman told me the other day that he looks out for us on our walks as he loves to see the “tablecloths walking up the road”.
What’s your idea of a perfect day?
Milly: Probably breakfast in bed, then seeing my friends or spending time with the family. If we’re talking super lavish treats, then I would have to say a late lunch with endless amounts of champagne and exquisite food and then a trip to the spa for a full body massage, facial and manicure.
Ellis: My perfect day is to be at home next to a roaring fire, curled up on the sofa with the dogs, watching a movie. I wouldn’t say no to a glass of bubbly and a chocolate or two. (Just to make it ideal, you understand?)
You renovated your family home yourselves didn’t you?
Ellis: We did indeed. We’ve always renovated houses, but this one has been our greatest endeavour. It’s been three-and-a-half years so far and we still have another six months to go. It’s a fabulous, quirky old farmhouse that dates back to the early 1500s. My husband Robert has more vision than you can shake a stick at. He’s even learned to plaster. He’s worked his magic and it’s truly beautiful. For the last few years I’ve had the vacuum cleaner as an extension to my arm! A thankless task on what has essentially been a building site. I love work! I come to work for a rest!
What are your favourite pieces of jewellery? Do they have a special meaning to you?
Ellis: My favourite piece of jewellery is my engagement ring. I still marvel at the beauty of it. It’s very special to me. My husband proposed to me after five days and I hadn’t even kissed him. I kept him waiting for a week before I said yes, of course. Everyone we knew said it wouldn’t work but we celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary earlier this year, so I think we proved them wrong. We both knew from that very first moment we met. There was never a doubt in my mind.
My husband proposed to me after five days and I hadn’t even kissed him. I kept him waiting for a week before I said yes, of course.
Milly: My Diamond earrings that I got from mum and dad for my 21st birthday. They are large square princess cut solitaire studs and they are really quite dazzling, I shall never part from them. They make any outfit look incredible and they are so breathtakingly beautiful.
There’s a lovely quote about motherhood that says, “A daughter is a little girl who grows up to be your best friend”. Does that sum up your relationship well?
Ellis: That heartwarming quote couldn’t be more apt. Only very recently, Milly and I spent a fabulous day together. We went for lunch, giggled, gossiped and shopped all afternoon and finished our day together at a spa for a massage. There’s never a quiet moment when we are together and I cherish our friendship. I don’t take that for granted as it’s so precious to me. I only hope that wherever she finally lays her hat, she lives nearby so I can still see her every day. I love the fact that all three of my children still live at home. I never want them to leave and I understand how lucky I am that I’m close to them all.
Milly: Mum is my best friend and I couldn’t imagine not being as close to her now, I love to do things with her and we always have a giggle. It’s nice to be able to talk about work and understand what’s going on and I have my biggest supporter and number one fan with me at all times, it’s completely incredible. I feel so lucky.
How do you inspire each other?
Milly: Mum is my biggest inspiration for so many reasons. From as early as I can remember my mum has worked and because of this I never experienced the gender gap. In my eyes women always worked and were always as important as men and my dad completely backed this idea up as well. In fact I remember being at school at around six years old and we were asked what our parents did. I told them my mum worked as a TV presenter and they asked why my mum worked and I asked back “Why doesn’t yours”? She is a strong, fiercely loyal and incredibly kind with the biggest heart I’ve ever known a person to have, she is one of the world’s most special people and lights up any room she enters. She loves us all so tremendously and is so selfless by putting all of us first in everything she does. She has taught me how to be a wonderful person, an independent woman and most of all how to be kind to every single person. That is the most important thing, I believe. She taught me to always dream big and achieve even more. If I become half the person she is I will be the luckiest girl in the world.
Ellis: Milly has inspired me from the moment she was born. I can still see her tiny, knowing little face looking up at me as I introduced her to this world, with a shock of jet black hair. It’s ingrained in my memory. She’s such an old soul. Kind, compassionate, intelligent and beautiful to boot. She can also sing like an angel. She’s faced unbelievable adversity and has never ever grumbled about it. She’s one very special young lady that I’m proud to call
my daughter. I’ve always tried to instill in her that she can do whatever she wants to do. To dare to dream, hold her head up high and to be who she wants to be. As her headmaster once told me, “It doesn’t matter what Milly does, she will always float to the top”. That struck a chord with me. He was right and I’ve never forgotten it.
Lastly, when can we tune in and see your shows?
Ellis: I look forward to seeing you all on Gems TV from 11am to 3pm. We’ll have a giggle together whilst collecting some of the most beautiful jewellery in the world. As I say on-air, come and see what’s going on inside my head!
Milly: All our lovely collectors can catch me from 3am to 7am on Gems TV, and I look forward to meeting you all.
Click here to watch Gemporia's Gems TV channel LIVE.