"I could never have married a man who didn't get on with my dad" … Melissa Doyle.

"I could never have married a man who didn't get on with my dad" … Melissa Doyle. Photo: Edwina Pickles

Melissa Doyle
Television presenter, 44, married

 

I was born in Artarmon in Sydney's north. My dad, Robert, was raised on a cattle farm in northern NSW. He got about in R. M. Williams boots and moleskin jeans. My mum, Virginia, was a city girl. She was beautiful and elegantly dressed and never left the house without heels.

Melissa Doyle with her father, Robert, in 1972.

Melissa Doyle with her father, Robert, in 1972. Photo: Courtesy of Melissa Doyle

My parents were different people, and divorced when I was two. From then on, weekdays were spent with Mum and weekends with Dad. Dad would come and pick me up in his red Valiant. Apparently I called it "Daddy Red Car". I have nothing but happy memories from those years, as I had two homes in Sydney and two loving parents. Then, when I was 12, I moved in with Dad. I'm a daddy's girl!

Dad is one of my dearest friends. We are extremely close. He has been this lovely, kind, warm figure in my life. Growing up, he thought it was important to pass on his love of the bush and animals. He took me to cattle shows and taught me how to recognise a quality Angus steer. He also taught me how to pitch a tent and change a tyre.

One of the nicest things he gave me was self-confidence – that I could do whatever I wanted as long as I worked hard. He also instilled in me the notion that nobody is better than anybody else, which I have passed onto my children, Nicholas, 12, and Talia, 10.

Doyle with her husband  John Dunlop in Hong Kong in January this year.

Doyle with her husband John Dunlop in Hong Kong in January this year. Photo: Courtesy of Melissa Doyle

Dad was diagnosed with kidney cancer in 2008. My world shattered. He was my big, strong, tough dad and for the first time I saw vulnerability. He moved in with us and I took charge of everything, which was my way of coping. He conquered it, but two years later he was diagnosed with bowel cancer, and so we went through it all again. It was a traumatic couple of years, but if anything, it made our relationship stronger.

When Dad recovered, he fulfilled a childhood promise to take me to Paris. So in 2010 we spent a week in the capital, then hired a car and drove around the French countryside. We drank red wine and toasted his remaining kidney. The memories from that trip I'll treasure forever.

I could never have married a man who didn't get on with Dad, but my husband, John [Dunlop], has always understood Dad's role in my life. Dad lives close by and is always popping in. He is extremely fond of John, and John has become the son he never had.

I first met John when I was 23 and a journalist for WIN TV in Canberra. He was working for Australian Swimming and asked if I'd participate in a celebrity swimming race. We hit it off over the phone and he asked me out. I said no. Then he rang again a few days later and I thought, "What the hell?" We went out for dinner and talked so much the restaurant had to usher us out.

John is just a really nice, decent human being. He is also fantastic looking. I am attracted to him in all sorts of ways. While we were dating, he used to leave love notes. I'd find them on my car windscreen or hidden in my apartment. Early on, he also gave me a lovebird for his "lovebird". After 18 months we got engaged and two years later, in 1995, we got married.

I credit John [who works in sports marketing] with my being able to combine a career and parenthood, as he's my biggest supporter. My work as a Seven News TV journalist has meant travelling to places like Beijing and Athens for the Olympic Games. When I tell John I have to go away, he says, "Fine, I'll manage things at home." My son, Nicholas, is a carbon copy of John, which is kinda cute, but personality-wise he's like me.

Kochie [David Koch] has also been a great support. He was my co-host on Sunrise for 14 years. We couldn't have sat next to each other for all that time if we didn't have a genuine, warm friendship. A woman's magazine wrote that we didn't get along, which really upset me as he is a loyal, kind man.

Both times when I was pregnant and we had to travel, Kochie would insist on carrying my bags. One time, after Talia was born, we were broadcasting from interstate. I needed to express milk and the floor manager was yelling for me to come to the set. I was getting emotional and Kochie yelled back at him, stating I'd be out when I was ready. He always looked out for me.

Blokes have a great perspective on life, which is different to us women. At times we can over-analyse things. I will stress about a situation and drive myself crazy, contemplating it from all these different angles. Then one day John said: "Control the controllable." It's one of the greatest lines I've heard. I like that men are more black and white.

 

Alphabet Soup by Melissa Doyle, published by Allen & Unwin, is out now.