On television, Emma Freud initially worked on cable television programmes for children, before co-presenting LWT’s The Six O’Clock Show from 1986. In 1987, she co-hosted TVS’s travel quiz for children, Worldwise. Later that year, she briefly earned a certain media notoriety for presenting a chat show, Pillow Talk, in which she interviewed guests whilst in bed with them, as part of LWT’s late-night strand Night Network. In one episode, she interviewed Jeffrey Archer whilst he was seemingly completely naked although both later confessed that he did in fact have Y-Fronts on.
In 1986, Emma Freud also appeared as Princess Diana in a Thames Television special, spoofing the Royal Variety Performance, alongside impressionist Mike Yarwood, who appeared as Prince Charles, among other roles.
In 1990 and 1991, Emma Freud presented two series of Plunder, an afternoon chat show on BBC2 in which she interviewed guests about their favourite television clips. Emma Freud has also presented Channel 4 programmes, such as The Pulse on the subject of health, and The Media Show. She fronted Theatreland for LWT, on the topic of entertainment.
On the radio, she has been a regular contributor to Radio 4’s Saturday miscellany Loose Ends, hosted originally by the late Ned Sherrin, now by Clive Anderson. In 1988, she was one of the launch presenters of GLR, where she presented the weekday 10.00 am programme. One of her producers during this period was Chris Evans. She also appeared on Just A Minute on 14 April 1990, playing against her father, who was a show regular.
In 1993, Emma Freud first appeared on Radio 1, deputising for Nicky Campbell on his late night show Into The Night. Later that year, she was invited by the network’s new controller Matthew Bannister to reinvent the lunchtime programme previously presented by Jakki Brambles. From January 1994, Emma Freud appeared on the station every weekday between noon and 2.00 pm, presenting a mix of music, interviews and interactive news features. Her programme was praised by some but it proved unpopular with many who preferred the old mainstream pop fare. In Simon Garfield’s 1998 book on Radio 1, The Nation’s Favourite, Bannister claims that Freud was “treated very badly by people at the station, especially other women”.