Aggie was born in Rothiemurchus, near Aviemore, Scotland. At Kingussie High School, she discovered an aptitude for languages. ‘I can say “filth” in German, French, Italian and even Latin!’ Aggie was taught the art of cleaning by her mother, who deployed a dizzying array of remedies for spots and stains.
Aggie studied for a bilingual secretarial qualification in Aberdeen, then came to London to work at the Foreign Office. ‘On my first day they told me I had been security-screened and I would actually be working with MI6!’ She hadn’t quite envisaged a career as Miss Moneypenny, and after two years of high-level secrets crossing her desk (she won’t tell you, so don’t ask) she left to join the press office of the National Union of Students. It was there that she got a call from her older sister Kerry, who was a journalist working on Woman’s World. Aggie’s career in magazines now began in earnest, working on a string of national titles, before arriving at Good Housekeeping as associate editor in charge of the Good Housekeeping Institute, which is where they test all the latest consumer appliances, develop and test recipes and investigate new cleaning products and gadgets.
In August 2002 Aggie was asked if she would like to be considered for a TV series. At the screen test she was introduced to a rather scary lady called Kim. ‘I’d never met anyone like her,’ Aggie remembers fondly. Kim and Aggie were asked to comment on and clean a researcher’s grimy flat. It was, of course, the birth of ‘The Nation’s Dream Cleaning Team’.
Aggie lives in London with her architect husband Matthew and sons Rory, 12, and Ewan, 8. ‘After each show Ewan appears wearing rubber gloves and asks, “Mum, can we clean now?”’ The highlight for her so far was appearing on V Graham Norton: ‘Rory thought it was the height of cool. Kim and I had our own dressing-rooms and a gift with a note from our host, saying, “Many thanks and lots of wet kisses.” You don’t get that at the houses we visit!’ When Aggie’s not working, cleaning or tending her allotment, she adores cooking. ‘On my day off, I could happily bake all day long.’
Britain’s number one cleaning ladies have kindly taken time out from their busy cleaning schedules to answer a few questions from our editor. Following hot in the heels of their hit TV series How Clean Is Your House?, here they reveal their own personal views on cleaning and how clean they really are.
Have you always enjoyed cleaning?
Kim: I have always enjoyed cleaning tremendously. From when I was a very small child I always wanted to be spotless.
Aggie: I've always enjoyed a clean environment, and having been brought up by a very house-proud mother known all the theory (and practice) but not necessarily enjoyed cleaning. Since working on the series, have become a bit obsessed.
Which part of cleaning do you enjoy the least?
Kim: I am not keen on cleaning the bath.
Aggie: The feeling that, having got the place spic and span, the good work is quickly being undone by the rest of my family.
What is your one pet hate?
Kim: My one pet hate is people walking into my house in filthy shoes.
Aggie: Hate changing beds (but love clean sheets!).
Should you clean every day?
Kim: No need to clean every day if house is generally kept in good order and is cleaned on a regular basis.
Aggie: Need to do SOMETHING every day, even if it's just putting on a wash or doing some ironing, otherwise things build up v quickly and it gets depressing and insurmountable. Kitchen and bathroom need to be clean at all times.
What is your one top tip?
Kim: My one top tip is clean as you go, never allow cleaning to build up.
Aggie: One top tip. Most days I am out of the house either filming or in the office. I have a 15 mins a day rule, even when I'm rushing off out and know I won't be back till late that evening if I have a do on. I can get one job a day done in that short time. If I do the 15 mins in the morning, I feel as if I've achieved something and that I'm on top of things.
How clean is your house?
Kim: My house is spotless!
Aggie: Cleaner than some people's, not as clean as others. A healthy average, I would say. Mind you, there's the playroom. Well, that's another story...