Her job is communicating the events of the day, but devotees of the ITN World News for Public Television, her half-hour London-based weeknight report, will surf the English—or any other—Channel for a glimpse of Daljit Dhaliwal. “The camera either loves you or it hates you, and it does appear to definitely love her,” says London’s Channel Four News anchorman Jon Snow, crediting Dhaliwal’s “good bone structure.” Since her ITN debut in 1995, the 36-year-old journalist, whose broadcast airs in the U.S. on some 40 PBS affiliates as well as over the Internet, has inspired an unofficial Web site and long cyberspace discussions in which one fan hailed Dhaliwal’s name (pronounced DAL-jeet DAL-iwal) as “one of the most memorable and melodious names in all of tellydom.” Says William Baker, president of the New York PBS affiliate WNET: “She has become—which is very unusual in serious news journalism—almost a cult figure.”
The 5’2″ London-born daughter of Indian immigrants (so conservative, she says, that they were “horrified when I first plucked my eyebrows when I was 16”) doesn’t do anything special to stand out. “Bit of lip balm, bit of powder and, if I’m feeling really extravagant, maybe a bit of mascara,” the unmarried Dhaliwal says. “But I don’t go out with red-hot lips and masses of blusher.” In fact, on weekends her face goes bare. “I like to give my skin a chance to breathe after all the makeup I wear for work,” she says. Dhaliwal does confess to applying “an awful lot” of her favorite beauty product, Elizabeth Arden’s Eight-Hour cream (“It’s fantastic,” she says, for her dry lips), and she concocts her own facial massage oil from “a little bit of olive and wheat-germ oils.” But that’s on her own time. She doesn’t fuss before going on camera. “I think all this overgrooming distracts from what you’re there to do,” she says. “So long as you look presentable and tidy and you’re not sitting there in a T-shirt, that’s the main thing.” Dhaliwal in a T-shirt? To her viewers, that’s must-see TV.