EXCLUSIVE: Angela Bishop opens up about raising her daughter after the loss of her husband

After losing husband Peter Baikie in 2017, Angela and daughter Amelia tell The Weekly that he will always be a part of the wonderful life they built together.
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The unexpected moments are what hit Angela Bishop hardest.

Reporting out of the Australian Grand Prix in March, knowing that her car-mad husband Peter Baikie – who died of a rare cancer in November 2017 – was missing from the spot he usually occupied right by her side during the race, thrilled by the action.

Meeting people for the first time who innocently enquire, “And what does your husband do?” And celebrating Mother’s Day with their 11-year-old daughter Amelia who, the veteran entertainment reporter says, has inherited so many of the best qualities of her father.

“You’ve got to quickly have a dash to the loo and have a cry then reapply the mascara and come back again,” Angela, 51, says of attempting to keep a brave face on in public.

“I don’t try to keep the grief in when it hits, otherwise I’ll do myself an injury. You’ve got to go and find somewhere to have a little cry. I do it a lot in the traffic in the car, or in the carpark at work. You just have to let it out.”

Crying is something she will do her fair share of over the next few hours of our interview. Talking about the loss of Peter is sometimes cathartic, other times devastating.

Today, Angela tells The Australian Women’s Weekly, it’s the former, helped no doubt by the fact that Amelia, who joyously sings, dances and poses her way through our photo shoot, is self-confident and grounded, a poster child for resilience.

“She’s incredible,” Angela says of her daughter who loves drama, eisteddfods, creating her own short films and baking with her mum every Sunday night.

Angela says being a single mother call calls her to play both good cop and bad cop. (Image: Alana Landsberry)

“Some days I think I’m resilient, others I think I’m cactus. I haven’t got enough distance to be able to look at it objectively. I don’t know if I ever will. But you have to get up and put one foot in front of the other and keep going. And, of course, I’ve got the best reason to do that.”

Mother and daughter are clearly close, with Amelia excitedly sharing stories of their many road trips and adventures, and dropping spontaneous kisses on Angela’s cheek while declaring her “the best mum ever”.

“We kind of instinctively know when the other needs cheering up,” says Angela of the dynamic the pair shares.

“I know Peter would be very proud of Amelia and what she has been achieving. She’s been working so hard on her school work this year and she’s a big help. We are a good team.”

Teamwork has been key from the very start of Amelia’s entry into the lives of Angela and Peter, who swiftly became inseparable after meeting at a late night bar in 2002, marrying three years later.

At just two days old, Amelia had emergency life-saving heart surgery – a risky operation that the family wasn’t sure would be successful.

“We banded together and became ‘Team Baikie’ – together we could tackle anything,” Angela recalls of the terrifying time.

“She came out of that surgery so strongly and fed straight away. She got out of hospital two days before doctors thought she would. She’s such a tough little girl and we thought, ‘Right, we are a team, we are invincible.’ And that’s how we attacked Peter’s cancer. We thought, ‘We can beat this, but it has to be the three of us.’ That’s always how we were. And we feel like we are still the three of us.”

Despite Peter no longer physically being with his girls, he’s very much still a huge presence in their day-to-day lives. When a decision is due to be made, they consult Peter.

“Amelia will say, ‘Well, Dad would do …’ and I say, ‘You’re absolutely right, so that’s what we’ll do,'” says Angela.

Peter, Amelia and Angelia.(Image: Supplied)

“I’m a single mum, not by any choice or planning, but unexpectedly. I’m in a difficult situation where I have to be both good cop and bad cop now. I have to get her to bed at a reasonable hour, get her to brush her teeth, do her homework. So when I’m good cop I try to be really good cop. We’ll do spur-of-the-moment things and just have fun.”

Helping her to do that has been Angela’s mother, Bronwyn (former and formidable Liberal Senator, now the grandmother Amelia affectionately refers to as BB) and an incredible support network of family and friends. Fellow Network Ten star Carrie Bickmore has been a huge pillar of strength in Angela’s darkest days. Carrie lost her husband Greg Lange, father of her son Oliver, to cancer in 2010.

“She has been a really good friend,” Angela reveals. “She’s passed on bits of advice to me for Amelia, which has been fantastic, because it’s so hard to know what to do. Being able to talk to someone who understands what you’re going through has been a really big help.”

That help has also come from her colleagues on the Studio 10 panel. The tight-knit co-stars were rocked again in February when panellist Kerri-Anne Kennerley’s husband John passed away. The news was announced when the show was live on air, a moment which saw Angela break down inconsolably on screen.

“It was such a shock because I’d seen John just two weeks before at the opening of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and he and Amelia were chatting away,” she recalls. “

It brought it all back, because I just knew it’s the worst time in your life. But we are there for Kerri-Anne, for whatever she might need, whenever that might be.”

Angela says of her daughter Amelia, “We kind of instinctively know when the other needs cheering up.” (Image: Alana Landsberry)

The same sentiment, she adds, no doubt goes for viewers of the morning show. Having been on air for 30 years with the network – an anniversary she marks this month – Angela says she was overwhelmed by the public response to her personal tragedy.

She received a flood of letters, messages, cards and gifts which, when she finally felt strong enough to read through them, proved to be an unexpected lifeline.

“I saw this outpouring from people, which was so beautiful and heartfelt that it restores your faith in humanity,” she says.

“Watching Amelia’s friends rally around her at the funeral was the same. As soon as it was over, they formed this giant circle and all gave her this massive hug and they’ve been by her side ever since. It restores your faith in humankind.”

Remembering to celebrate the good moments, rather than focusing on the bad, is what gets the pair through as they forge the next chapter in their lives.

“Gratitude factors a lot in our world,” Angela says.

“If you can think of something every day that you’ve got to feel grateful for, it’s a good way to keep your spirits buoyed. I don’t know if I succeed every day to be honest but it’s more often than not, put it that way.”

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