This much I know: Pixie McKenna

I always knew I’d be a doctor. I grew up in Cork where my father was a GP and I’m the third generation of doctors in my family.

As kids, we were very much involved in his work. We all mucked in and helped out. We knew his patients. We even knew which ones were genuinely sick.

I was a pain in the arse as a child. I grew up in a household with four older brothers, the only girl. I was always standing on the kitchen table reciting French poetry or wanting to present the Eurovision or to play at Wimbledon.

Because I left, lots of people say ‘so was Cork not good enough for you?’ But actually, I wasn’t good enough for Cork. 

When I graduated from UCC I didn’t get onto the GP scheme there which was the single most monumental thing that changed my life. That’s why I went to England. But I do believe ‘don’t go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.’

The media work began because I applied for a screen test for a show on Channel 4. They told me I was fabulous and gorgeous, and, not having had any showbiz experience, I believed them. I never heard from them again. 

They wouldn’t reply to my phone calls or emails which I found horrendously embarrassing. But someone who saw that original screen test recommended me for something else which led to me being the onscreen doctor in BBC Three’s Freaky Eaters. Then came Embarrassing Bodies.

The most disgusting thing I ever had to deal with on Embarrassing Bodies was a manky foot. This woman had had a plaster on her foot for three months. 

She left it on while she showered because she had an in-grown toenail. When I removed the bandage, it was more revolting than the toe itself.

I wouldn’t be the meditating type. In fact I’m quite the opposite. I run and cycle. I’m working up to a triathlon.

I met my husband in a bar in Amsterdam. He’s Scottish. And his work has nothing to do with blood and guts. We live in Cambridge with our four year old.

I’m great at having a routine when it comes to work. I get up a 5.45am every day, like a robot. But outside of that I’m not organised at all. I’m a nightmare. 

If my husband left me I’d probably have no job and no child and no life at all really.

My biggest challenge is juggling motherhood and work. There is no such thing as having it all. It is really just one phenomenal juggling act. And, sometimes, you drop the ball.

I certainly hope there is some kind of afterlife. Maybe a great big party with G&Ts and plenty of Tayto. Like most Irish girls of my generation I went to a convent school so I have never sat an exam or done any major event that has not been sponsored by The Poor Clare nuns. 

I mightn’t be first in the door to mass every Sunday but I’m absolutely Catholic and will send my daughter to a Catholic school.

If I could change one thing in our society, I’d love to see people looking after themselves better. It is obesity, not finances, that will ruin our society, leading to an increased rate of cancer and premature death. 

And I’d ban iPods. They are antisocial and it’s dangerous for people to wear them when they’re running or cycling, as they can’t hear what’s going on around them.

There are so many things I wish we’d learned at school, which we didn’t. Like how to manage money. And all about sexual health and contraception. I don’t think we should rely on parents to teach those things to kids. 

They should be part of the core curriculum. I was 18 when I first held a penis in my hand. It belonged to a dead man. I was dissecting his body.

So far life has taught me that if you go out there with a smile and a good attitude, then good things are more likely to happen. Don’t be miserable.

  • Dr Pixie McKenna and Dr Phil Kieran will bring their RTÉ One series You Should Really See a Doctor to the Cork Summer Show tomorrow, June 19. Anyone wishing to apply, or to obtain further information regarding the TV series can email


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