Valerie was an actress. She was RADA-trained (1955 – 1957) and worked in the theatre initially. She later worked at Tyne Tees Television as an announcer and interviewer for the regional news magazine programme North East Roundabout (1959 – 1960); she left the programme in 1960 to marry James Sargent, who was stage manager of the Sadler’s Wells Opera Company. Valerie also worked at Granada Television, Associated Rediffusion and Anglia Television during this period.
Valerie joined the BBC in 1960 as an in-vision BBC TV announcer, working alongside Judith Chalmers, Meryl O’Keeffe and Sheila Tracy in the evenings. She later introduced the first space flight with Yuri Gagarin (12th April 1961) and was on duty when the first satellite pictures from the USA, via Telstar, were received to Goonhilly Downs in Cornwall (12th July 1962). She went on to present regional news programme South Today (1964) and the arts magazine programme Town and Around which would lead to her famous marriage. She interviewed a variety of people including Rudi Lance and his chimps from the Bertram Mills Circus, and the Russian clown Oleg Popov (1930 – 2016).