Broadcaster, youth rights activist and author
Gemma Cairney is an award-winning broadcaster, youth rights activist and author who is passionate about empowering young people.
Gemma presented BBC Radio 1’s Social Action Show, The Surgery for a number of years and regularly presents on BBC Radio 6 Music both fronting specialist series and depping the Weekend Breakfast Show. She has authored a number of award-winning radio and television documentaries.
After attending The Brit School and a brief stint in fashion during her early 20s, Gemma’s unique, infectious broadcasting style was swiftly spotted by the BBC. She graduated from BBC’s 1Xtra, alongside Trevor Nelson, to Radio 1. Prior to The Surgery, she hosted the early Breakfast Show and the Weekend Breakfast Show.
Gemma’s radio documentaries include: Dolly, Dylan or Daft Punk (BBC6 Music), What the F: the Story of Feminism; Never Mind The Cobblers: The Rock ‘n’ Roll Cobbler, and Mali Music, which saw her travel to Mali to discuss the country’s music ban and interview its emerging stars. Tempted by Teacher and Bruising Silence (BBC Radio 1) have seen her awarded two Sony Golds. Her interview of Grace Jones for Amazing Grace (BBC 6 Music) won the Best Music Show Rose d’Or.
Her acclaimed television documentaries include: The History of Feminism (BBC2, BBC Learning), Riots: The Aftershock and Dying for Clear Skin (BBC3). Gemma has presented the BBC’s Glastonbury Festival coverage and co-hosted BBC1’s New Year’s Eve coverage which had more than 12 million viewers. In 2016 Gemma co-hosted the BBC Music Awards on BBC1 alongside Claudia Winkleman and Fearne Cotton.
In 2014 she made royal history by hosting a live Google hangout from Buckingham Palace for The Queen’s Young Leader project alongside HRH Prince William and HRH Prince Harry. She also co-produced internet entertainment show, The Fox Problem.
As an ambassador for Oxfam, Gemma runs Oxfam’s Rumble in the Jumble celebrity jumble sale which has raised more than £60,000 across the past two years and also lends her support to Women’s Aid.
Gemma’s debut book, OPEN: A Toolkit for How Magic and Messed Up Life Can Be was published in 2017. With her natural flair, Gemma launched the book by touring the UK on an open-top bus, which she painted yellow and named Dandelion; recording podcasts and hosting parties on board as she went.