How Gwyneth Paltrow launched my podcast and changed my life

A 1998 rom-com opened doors for me that I could never have imagined

The year is 1998 - when Saturday nights as an 11-year-old consisted of going to the video shop down the road and renting a film for the night. This is how classic rom-com Sliding Doors first came into my life.

If you’re unfamiliar with the film, the premise revolves around the idea that small moments in our lives can put us on very different paths. It’s illustrated by following the life of Helen (Gwyneth Paltrow) as her life splits into two depending on whether or not she catches the tube, and was the first of its time to follow a parallel life story happening at the same time.

I was instantly captured by this ‘sliding doors’ concept. Since then, I have always been fascinated with the idea that ‘everything happens for a reason’, looking into the ‘what-ifs’ of my life, as well as the world and people around me. Fate, timing, coincidence - whatever you might call it, I came to believe that certain things in our lives do happen for a reason.

Fast forward 21 years. I had been searching for something more to fulfil my drive and purpose outside of my job as director of events and activations for WeWork. I had always loved interviewing people and moderating panels through work, and during the pandemic, I had the chance to interview quite a few famous people for digital events such as Dame Kelly Holmes, Matt Dawson and Elizabeth Day. This really cemented my love for delving into people’s lives and wanting to inspire people by telling the stories of others.

Podcasts were always something I had shied away from; I felt like I wasn’t well-known enough to launch my own, especially as there were already so many out there! However, my own sliding doors moment came one day when I was sat with my sister, and started to think about what I could call my show (if I had one).

’Everything happens for a reason’ was the first thing to come to mind, but there were already so many with that name. And then - as if by magic - the film came to me. ‘Sliding Doors’ - a concept I had loved for so many years, and one where I’d be competing with only a few similarly-named podcasts. I quickly snapped up the Instagram handle @slidingdoorspod, and something about the whole thing just felt right. 

I’ve always been a fan of podcasts with a defined structure, such as Desert Island Discs and How to Fail, so I wanted my concept to work in the same way. We’d discuss a number of sliding doors moments (which we all have) from my guests’ lives - the things that led them onto their current path. Whether they’re big and flashy or small and seemingly inconsequential.

I said to myself that I would ask five people I knew through work and other contacts to come on as a guest - if they said yes, then I would actually do it. They all did, and so Sliding Doors was born! I drew an outline of my logo, bought a mic, wrote my bio, got a theme tune, and started to record - with my first episode released on 1st January 2020.

Two and a half years later, I’m about to release my 11th Series and my 70th episode with past guests including Bradley Walsh, Martin Kemp and Candice Brathwaite! Sliding Doors has totally changed my life over this time. As I’m fully independent, I need to do everything myself and I’ve had to self-teach a lot of things! It has made me a happier, more confident person as I’m putting a lot of energy into a real passion; I love discovering my guests’ sliding doors moments and then delving into the story further to see how these have brought them to where they are today.

It's very hard to pick my highlights, but some of my favourite moments include Rachel Stevens randomly being approached by a producer and joining S Club 7, Andrea Mclean reluctantly going on a blind date and meeting her husband, and the convoluted story of how Dan Schreiber met his hero and became a QI elf and an award-winning podcaster!

I’ve also held two live podcast recordings which were amazing to be able to do in front of an audience. I even released a mini-series, Sliding Doors: Your Story (which has another series coming out this Autumn) where I spoke to seven everyday people about an extraordinary sliding doors moment in their lives. It was such a good experience; the people I spoke to were so inspiring and had such stories to tell.

However, my biggest achievement so far has to be SD25, another miniseries which was released in May this year in celebration of the film’s 25th Anniversary. In a sliding doors moment itself, I managed to get in contact with writer and director Peter Howitt and express my interest in celebrating the film through my podcast. Over an eight-month period, I managed to gather together the cast and crew of the film and write a mini podcast-docuseries (with a 15,000-word script!), telling the amazing story of how the film was made, from the people who made it. 

Few other films have made such an impact, or coined a term used by so many in our everyday lives and culture, and over four episodes, I tell the story of the film, investigate the theory of sliding doors moments, and hear anecdotes from famous faces such as Steven Bartlett and Laura Whitmore. I also held a special anniversary screening of the film in Notting Hill with Peter and John Hannah, and a room filled with the people who made the film possible - the best night ever! And who would have thought 11-year-old me would one day be doing this?

I’m so excited to see where the show goes in the future, and to be able to hear even more amazing sliding doors moments and stories….so does this get you thinking about what your sliding doors moment might be?