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Tess Daly Opens Up About Her Real Name And Reveals Why She Had To Change It

Ash Percival
·Entertainment Editor, HuffPost UK
·2 min read

As the host of Strictly Come Dancing, Tess Daly is one of the most recognisable faces on TV – but you may not have realised that her name isn’t actually Tess at all.

The presenter was actually born Helen Daly, and opened up about her real name in a new interview, in which she revealed the reason why she had to change it.

Speaking to Weekend magazine, Tess explained that when she started out as a model at the age of 17, there was a model called Helen Davies already on her agency’s books, so was told change her name as it was too similar.

Tess Daly has fronted Strictly Come Dancing since 2004 (Photo: BBC)
Tess Daly has fronted Strictly Come Dancing since 2004 (Photo: BBC)

She said: “My agent was obsessed with [the actress] Nastassja Kinski at the time, who was in the film Tess, and thought I looked like her.

“So Tess it was. I was gullible and impressionable. Mind you, two weeks later I was in Japan then travelled the world. Paris, Milan, New York.”

Tess revealed that her mum Sylvia is “really the only person” who calls her by her real name, and “that’s not often”.

She continued: “She tends to call me ‘love’, so when she does say ‘Helen’ it can take me a while to respond.”

She added: “I’ve never changed it by deed poll or anything because I think it would be disrespectful to my parents.”

Tess' real name is Helen (Photo: BBC)
Tess' real name is Helen (Photo: BBC)

Tess’ modelling career initially took her across Asia and Europe, and she ended up living in Paris for five years before moving to New York, where she was based for another five years.

Speaking about her early modelling days, she told The Guardian in 2010: “Initially I was terrified… I could barely speak to anyone from home without crying and having to keep the tears from my voice because you didn’t want them to worry about you. Yeah, it was tough. [I was] penniless as well and then I started to work a little bit and I really enjoyed it. Had to go through the pain barrier though.”

While living in New York, one of Tess’s friends who arranged red carpet events, suggested she buy a video camera and film herself interviewing celebs at events. It paid off when she sent her showreel to Channel 4, who quickly signed her up to front the Find Me A Supermodel TV competition.

From there, she went on to host the likes of Get Your Kit Off, Singled Out, LA Pool Party, Smash Hits TV, SMTV Live, Back To Reality before landing a presenting gig on Strictly Come Dancing in 2004.

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This article originally appeared on HuffPost UK and has been updated.