Miquita Oliver on bankruptcy and boozing: ‘I lost everything but I turned it around’

It’s been more than two decades since Miquita Oliver made her TV debut on Channel 4’s Popworld . Although just 16 at the time, she and her co-host Simon Amstell managed to attract a huge fan base and elevate the series to cult status, thanks to their awkward-yet-cool dynamic and offbeat jokes.

The cheeky pair were known for putting bizarre questions to their high-profile guests, including “Have you ever licked a battery?”, “Do you ever feel like you’re right in the middle of a car crash?” and “Have you ever got off with Calum Best?”

Memorable moments included roping Britney Spears into a round of speed dating and interviewing Fame Academy graduate Lemar from across a car park with a megaphone – just so they could call the chat Lemar From Afar.



Miquita Oliver has been very candid about battling back from bankruptcy

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For both of the young presenters, the show provided a springboard to a successful TV career. But Miquita found the transition was a tricky one.

Being thrust into the limelight at such a young age was a shock to the system and she found dealing with her fame very difficult.



Miquita found fame alongside Simon Amstell on Pop World
Miquita found fame alongside Simon Amstell on Pop World

Although she went on to present on T4 and fronted her own show, The Month With Miquita on 4Music, she made headlines thanks to her boozy nights out with best pal Lily Allen.

On her friendship with Lily, Miquita still describes the singer as her “sister”. She tells us, “We’ve known each other since we were born, that’s not going to go away. We’re extremely close and I love having friends that I’ve known since the day I came onto the planet. And I think to go through that incredibly intense experience in my twenties with Lily was great.”

While the pair had lots of fun, Miquita admits she was burnt out by 26. Two years later, in 2012, she hit another low when she had to file for bankruptcy over an unpaid tax bill. “I lost everything but it was a real lesson in surrendering to a moment and being humbled, and then having to pick yourself back up and live differently,” says Miquita as we chat to her on Zoom from her East London flat.



Miquita shares a laugh with her close childhood pal, Lily Allen
Miquita shares a laugh with her close childhood pal, Lily Allen

“I did come out of that but then, a couple years later, I was finding things hard. But I stood up again and my life changed.

“It took me a good four years to reassess everything that happened in the past decade. I learned a lot and one of those things that were the importance of spending time on my own. I live alone now, which is something I never thought I’d do, and I love it.

“Although my twenties were manic, I was saying to Lily [Allen] the other day that we were also two young women working really hard, at the top of our games in our careers when we were pretty young. I’m really proud of that.”



Miquita reveals her mixed feelings about getting older now that she is 38
Miquita reveals her mixed feelings about getting older now that she is 38

She reveals that therapy helped her a lot when she was struggling and when the Covid lockdowns hit in 2020, she started going again.

“Life isn’t that simple and you can’t just simply quick-fix issues,” she says. “It’s a commitment to yourself. During the lockdowns, having that person to talk to kept me sane and I still have therapy every week.”

Miquita has just turned 38, and says her thirties have been a far more settled time. Her pace of life has slowed and she has relocated to Clapton, where she says she enjoys the calming influence of nature.



Miquita shares a close relationship with her mum, Andi Oliver
Miquita shares a close relationship with her mum, Andi Oliver

Her parents live around the corner, too, and she has a particularly close relationship with her mum, The Great British Menu star Andi Oliver. But she does admit that getting older is something that worries her.

“Turning 38 was a shocker!” she laughs. “Coming to terms with being a woman who is ageing, especially a woman who has been known since she was 16, is hard.

“People expect you to still look 16. So that’s always been quite a lot of pressure for me, and I’ve always felt like I was letting people down by ageing. But I’m trying to embrace getting a bit older, to acknowledge the privilege of it.”

It’s something that she has particularly appreciated since nearly losing her life in the Boxing Day tsunami in Thailand in 2004.

She was on holiday with Simon and as they ran to safety, they got separated and believed each other to be dead. They were eventually reunited and spent the day sitting on a hill, in case there was a second tsunami. She says it was the worst experience of her life.



Miquita is working with Diet Coke to encourage everyone to have an unapologetic attitude to their style
Miquita is working with Diet Coke to encourage everyone to have an unapologetic attitude to their style

Miquita is also busy working on a new fashion campaign with Diet Coke called Love What You Love, which encourages everyone to adopt a positive, unapologetic attitude to their own style. Miquita has always embraced her individuality and admits she’d rather shop in charity shops than on the High Street.

“I love second-hand clothes because I feel like you have to go with your gut and trust yourself a lot more,” she explains. “On the High Street, you’re just told what’s cool, what you should be buying. I like that second-hand clothes have a story and you have to figure out what stories you’re drawn to.”



After finding fam at a young age, Miquita admits that getting older in the spotlight is tough
After finding fam at a young age, Miquita admits that getting older in the spotlight is tough

Of course, it was her quirkiness that first drew people to her on Popworld and many fans would love to see her reunite with Simon. So could it be on the cards?

“I’ve tried!” says Miquita. “But Simon will not work with me again. I don’t know why. He’s like, ‘It was brilliant. Let’s just leave it there’. And I’m like, ‘Yeah… but we were so good!’

“So for now, I’ll just have to be happy having him as my friend. He’s a very, very important person in my life but I’m not sure the TV reunion is going to happen.”

Her days of working with Simon may be behind her but she still has brilliant memories of their time hosting the series and is rightly proud of what they achieved.

“It was this very small show in the dreg ends of the breakfast slot of weekend TV, but because of Simon and I, and our ideas, and what we and the team made, it became this huge hit and I’m so proud of it to this day,” she adds. ‘People still shout’ Popworld !’ at me on the street and I love it. I think we really did something great.”

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