JACKIE Bird has been fronting the BBC’s Hogmanay Show for, what 72 years now?

Does she feel she’s getting the hang of it?

“It’s actually a 105 years,” says the presenter, grinning.

It offers confirmation that while she’s lost the red-head hair style, and perhaps a few pounds of bodyweight over the years, the fitness-conscious presenter still retains a sense of humour.

She adds; “What we’ve worked out is, if you count the Millennium show, which I fronted from Shetland, , this is the 20th year I’ve been on telly at Hogmanay.”

Jackie could never have imagined fronting the show for two decades, unless clairvoyancy is part of her skill-set?

“I think when you get older phrases like ‘twenty years’ trip off the tongue all too easily, especially when you remember we’re supposed to have three score years and ten on this earth.”

What does she put her longevity down to?

Beauty, talent . . .,” she says, laughing. “No, what do I put it down to? Well, the fact that when I was offered the gig at the time of the Millennium show the BBC had asked everybody in the building. And even the tea lady had knocked it back.”

Surely not?

“Surely yes. It’s about being in the right place at the right time. And when you get the gig you try hard not to mess it up.”

She pauses and adds; “The fact the show is live helps me a lot. I present the news which is of course live, and there’s this awareness you cannot have a person on a show who messes up the timings.”

It’s certainly squeaky bum time for presenters. And Jackie Bird is certainly a safe pair of hands. But does she agree 20 years ago a woman wouldn’t have been allowed such a lengthy stint, given TV was more ageist?

“Well, I guess Moira Anderson was doing it.” She reflects; “I don’t know if that’s the case. But I do know everyone goes on about it. And I have to say I’m into meritocracy rather than the (gender) politics of it.”

Yes. It should be about talent. And if you’re cheaper than everyone else out there, that would increase your chances of going the distance?

“You have not spoken a truer word,” she says, laughing.

Not a bit of it. I’m sure you appreciate your own value. She smiles and says nothing. Which says everything. But there’s little doubt Jackie Bird loves the chance to work on this light entertainment variety format.

“I have a music background,” reminds the woman who once worked with Paul Weller as a backing singer.

“And I get to do a range of work. Working in news means you have to keep your natural ebullience under wraps, but thankfully I also get to become something of a broadcasting chameleon.

“I work on pipe bands championships, I’m just back from France where I was working on the big Armistice programme, I get to do the election. And Hogmanay allows me to show another side of my personality.

“So many presenters are often put in a box.”

What of spending the past 20 years away from parties with friends and loved ones at Hogmanay. Is there a degree of sacrifice in this?

“No!” she says emphatically, grinning. “What do you think, my poor friends are weeping because they don’t get to spend the evening with Jackie? Are you kidding?”

But it’s a, sort of, sentimental time of year. What of being apart from family and the chance to reflect (she’s married with two grown up children.)

“No, it’s part of the work. It’s like Election Night. I would feel I was missing out if I weren’t there. It’s part of my broadcasting calendar.

“And when I get the call every year to come and host the show I’m incredibly grateful.”

The BBC’s festive line-up live comes from the Old Fruitmarket in Glasgow. Singer Alesha Dixon will be be performing some of her biggest hits and Gregor Fisher will celebrate the 40th anniversary of Scotch & Wry by paying homage to Rikki Fulton and his best-known alter-ego, the Rev I.M. Jolly.

Des Clarke also offers his take on the events of the past 12 months.

To add to the mix, Bryan Burnett will be Edinburgh overviewing the street party and the Concert in the Gardens headlined by Franz Ferdinand.

But what of Jackie Bird’s year gone by?

“It’s been Brexit and blinking Brexit,” she says in frustrated voice. “But in news terms nothing outstanding.”

What of her personal life? “I’m pleased to say there have been no triumphs or disasters. I’ve still got my nearest and dearest.”

That’s not to say Jackie Bird is content with her life. She wants to challenge herself even more.

“I want to write, and I took myself off to write on my own this year. And I have to say I tried but I couldn’t think of anything to type. “Maybe it’s because I didn’t have a deadline. But it just didn’t happen. Perhaps I was trying to write for the market rather than write for myself.”

Indeed. You have the experience of a woman of certain years. Use it.

“People keep banging on about my ‘certain years’,” she exclaims in mock horror. “Anyway, how old are you?” About five certain years more than you, Jackie.

“Listen, I went to see Paul McCartney on Friday night and he was amazing.”

She adds, grinning; “If he can do that we – of certain years - can do anything.”

Bet Macca couldn’t front a live Hogmanay show from Glasgow.

Hogmanay Live 2018, BBC1 Scotland, 11.30pm.