Career

Congratulations Tammy Wells - 30 years as the Briscoes lady and still loving it!

Her upbeat nature and melodic voice has won the petite Cantabrian many fans, with hundreds turning out to store openings just to glimpse her.

By Lynley Ward
The Briscoes lady Tammy Wells celebrates 30 years in job

Tammy Wells strikes a cheery pose, deftly balancing a cake adorned with burning candles in one hand, as she celebrates one of her biggest career milestones.

It's hard to believe it's been 30 years since the Briscoes Lady arrived on our TV screens with her trademark effervescent personality, inviting us to open our wallets and snap up some bargains at the homeware store.

So we wouldn't expect anything less than the iconic face of the company to be fizzing with delight, smiling broadly, as she insists it can't possibly be three decades.

"Time passes so fast! It really feels like I've been doing it for 15 years. It doesn't feel like a long time at all," she enthuses.

The seemingly ageless frontwoman, who first hit our screens back in 1989, knows she has been extraordinarily fortunate to land a job she adores that gives her an enviable work-life balance.

Hairstyles have come and gone over the years but Tammy's smile is as warm as ever.
Hairstyles have come and gone over the years but Tammy's smile is as warm as ever.

Her upbeat nature and distinctive melodic voice has won the petite Cantabrian many fans, with hundreds turning out to store openings just to glimpse her or shake her hand.

Though Tammy (56) says a lot of her own bubbly personality is injected into her alter ego, the two remain separate identities.

"She is probably my happy, bouncy, most gregarious self. I love meeting and talking to people, but equally I like my own really quiet time. Everyone has always thought of me as an extrovert, which sometimes I am, but to be perfectly honest I'm quite introverted as well. After I've done a stint up in Auckland, I need to go back to my home and garden and enjoy the quiet."

But today, as she opens up to the Weekly about reaching the 30-year mark, she's suddenly reduced to tears when we touch on those closest to her.

"I've got two adult sons," she begins, her confident, sunny voice dissolving in emotion, "and they're just cool. They're divine young men. Cameron is 25 and lives in New York and James is 27 and lives in Auckland.

"It always astounds you as a parent seeing them grow up and come into their own. You realise what special human beings they are, and you're grateful for all the times you tried to guide them and give them advice and even told them off! It's so worthwhile. It all falls into place and then you can step back, which is lovely.

"And I'm married to a very nice man," she adds, reaching for a tissue.

"He was my high-school sweetheart, and I fell in love with him when I was 14 and married him at 22. He still farms and we're just a nice combination because he's such an honest, hard-working, patient person who teaches me so much about myself and I'm sure it's vice-versa."

Tammy remains grateful the job that has made her such a prominent figure in the advertising landscape meant she could raise her boys and forge a successful career.

"It has given me an amazing lifestyle, where I was able to bring up my children and participate a lot in their lives and schooling but also gave me time to just be Tammy. I would come up to Auckland to film and didn't have to be a wife or mother, but then I'd get to go home and return to my garden."

She's long used to people turning their heads when her distinctive voice comes within earshot and being quizzed "all the time" about upcoming sales.

"I guess the price I pay is that I'm recognised but because they're such lovely ads, people respond to me really nicely. People will come up to me and say, 'I love your ad,' or 'What's on special at Briscoes?' and then they'll leave me be.

"Because I portray on screen who I am, I'm like everybody's old friend or a family member, and I think because they haven't been contentious ads and people are used to me being in their lounges – and for some in their bedrooms – they're just used to me being in their house. They know me and trust me."

And without question, you will find Briscoes bargains in her home.

"There are a lot of Briscoes products, but I actually also love old and retro so I have a really eclectic, colourful mix."

Tammy has no plans to call time on the much-loved role.

"The best thing about being the Briscoes Lady is that mostly it doesn't feel like work and it's fun. It's a character, but it's me. Then I get to go home and be Tammy. It just works really, really well."

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