Documentary maker Stacey is made of tough stuff – but it doesn’t mean she’s immune from getting homesick…
Now is a big fan of Stacey Dooley and her hard-hitting TV shows. Stacey, 30, first rose to fame fronting Blood, Sweat And T-Shirts back in 2008 – a documentary that saw her travel to India to investigate the horrific conditions in sweatshops.
After its success, the Luton-born presenter put together her own series of docs and she’s now a staple over on BBC Three, looking into issues as far-ranging as sex trafficking, abortions and gun crime.
Now Stacey’s back with a seriously shocking new show, looking at just how easy it is for youngsters to buy drugs on apps like Snapchat – more about that later.
Stacey found time while busy filming in Northern Ireland for a chat with Now – and she was an absolute dream. Amiable and direct, we can see why people in tricky situations often choose to open up to her.
While usually one to keep her private life just that, she does, however, open up to us about life with her live-in boyfriend Sam, 29, and lets us in on exactly what she gets up to when she’s in Ibiza with her pals…
Hey Stacey! What are you up to in Northern Ireland right now?
I’m filming a documentary on the DUP [Democratic Unionist Party – currently in a parliamentary deal with the Conservatives]. Everyone’s very lovely here, actually – I’ve just been here in Belfast and they’re all very sweet. People come up to me and tell me they’ve been watching my documentaries.
What do you as a stress buster when you’re not filming?
I’m very un-rock ’n’ roll. I’m very uninteresting! I love to spend time with my boyfriend Sam and my dogs. I’ll maybe go away for a couple of days with Sam. I’m going to Ibiza tomorrow for a friend’s 30th birthday and I can’t wait. You’ve got to work hard but make sure you’re still living, I suppose.
You say you live with your boyfriend – do you miss him while you’re away?
Of course. It’s difficult. I recognise how lucky I am to be given these gigs and to work really hard, and my career is something I’m very, very proud of, but it does mean I go away for a long time sometimes. I might be out of reach for days without mobile reception on the back of a boat in Brazil. It’s hard, but Sam’s very patient and very understanding.
We see you on telly so much but we don’t know much about you – you’re always presenting other people’s stories…
Yeah, I think that’s very true. The reason why I’m not particularly forthcoming with my private life is because it’s so dull! I think anyone would die of boredom. It’s me in the flat with my dogs and my boyfriend. It’s not very rock ’n’ roll at all!
How long have you been together?
Two and a half years. It’s quite a long time, isn’t it? I’m not quite sure where that time’s gone, it’s odd.
You said you’re going to Ibiza – are you a bit of a secret party animal?
[Laughs] Oh my God, I don’t even drink these days. The girls take the piss out of me and say: ‘Are you gonna have half a shandy, Stace?’ But you know, I do love being with the girls and I love Ibiza – I’ve probably been there 10 times. It’s escapism and it’s nice to let your hair down and to not worry about enormous issues and things that are depressing.
We’ve watched your new documentary, Kids Selling Drugs Online [in which Stacey meets drug dealers who sell a variety of class A drugs to kids via apps], and we were completely shocked…
It’s crazy, right? I felt old making it, too. The fact that drugs are readily accessible to really young kids on apps like Snapchat and Instagram was news to me.
Do you think this is an issue that the government should look into?
Exactly that. This is going on and it’s happening more or less in an adult-free zone. Now that it’s clear what’s going on, surely we have some sort of moral responsibility to make change? There’s no question about it.
In the show you meet some drug dealers in Glasgow and at one point one gets out a huge knife to demonstrate what he’ll do to the police or his rivals if they get in his way. How do you cope in stressful situations like that? You’re always so cool on camera…
I’ve been making these documentaries for about 10 years now, so I suppose I’ve seen knives and machetes before and, generally speaking, people are never threatening towards me – they’re just trying to tell you their side of the story. So I don’t usually feel particularly concerned or afraid. But it is still very surreal.
You’ve done loads of different documentaries over the years and we recently saw the one about mums sexually abusing kids, often their own, in the Philippines. You seemed very visibly shaken in that one…
That was emotionally very difficult to accept and understand. It’s just tragic and heartbreaking that this is a booming business over there. It was just so painful and so difficult. It’s such a complex issue because these families are extremely poor and I think some of the women think it’s almost circumstantial. These women think it’s their only choice. Clearly it isn’t. It was probably one of the saddest documentaries I’ve done.
Do you find it hard not to take the issues you confront in your documentaries home with you?
I think you have to accept that you can’t change the world – unfortunately there are dark corners to it. But you have to switch off. I think I’d drive myself insane if I took it all home. I have to constantly remind myself how fortunate I am and how privileged I am. It’s brilliant when kids come up to me in the street and say: ‘Stacey, we watched your show and now we realise this is going on and we’re fundraising for it at school.’ That’s such a great feeling, getting people thinking.
What do you think you would’ve done if you hadn’t done Blood, Sweat And T-shirts?
I can’t imagine. My life could be so different and that’s why I’m always so grateful. I think I could still be at Luton Airport selling perfumes for a living. I don’t think I’m particularly good at anything else, to be honest. Maybe I’d be a personal shopper!
You do always look amazing! Where do you like to shop?
I love shopping. My pals have got second-hand shops in Brighton, so I go there for vintage stuff. I love Selfridges, too, if I can afford it. And Céline if I’m feeling really flash. I definitely go shopping far too much.
How do people respond to you on Twitter? Are people nice or do you ever get trolled?
It’s totally a mixed bag. I think that’s fairly standard – you’re never going to keep everyone happy, which is fair enough. You know, at the start it really fazed me, but as you get older I can’t really be arsed. You can’t take yourself too seriously.
What about in the future – what other topics do you want to look into?
I’m going to Russia next, to look at domestic violence. They’ve amended the law over there, which basically means unless your bones are broken or you’re hospitalised by your husband, you haven’t really got a leg to stand on legally in terms of prosecution, which is obviously horrific. It’ll be crazy to film, but also so interesting.
You said that you’re quite a homebody when you’re not on telly – do you ever go out to showbiz parties?
There’s the BAFTAs – that’s pretty showbiz, isn’t it? You bump into loads of people you really admire.
Who’s left you starstruck?
I bumped into Louis Theroux at the BAFTAs – he’s a genius, I just love him. He was such a sweetheart, too – he really entertained me. I was like: ‘You’re my hero!’ It was very cringe.
Did he say that he likes your documentaries?
Yeah, he did. It was very, very sweet.
Wow, that’s such a compliment…
I know, he’s the king – the
king of documentaries.
Stacey Dooley Investigates: Kids Selling Drugs Online is available now on BBC Three via iPlayer and will air on BBC One at 10.45pm on 10 August