From receiving her OBE to sustaining a serious injury falling off a horse, Lorraine Kelly’s 2012 has already been action packed. and knowing our guest editor, there will be plenty more where that came from. Deputy editor, Georgina Maric, finds out more.
We miss you in the mornings,’ says one of hundreds of Twitter messages to Lorraine, summing up how lots of the one million people who tune into the ITV1 Lorraine show every morning are finding it hard without the star of the show at the helm.
But there is one person who is missing the show more than most. ‘When I was taken to hospital,’ Lorraine told at home, ‘I asked the doctor the next day if I could go back to work.’ Not surprisingly, the doctor refused that request – seeing as a massive horse’s hoof had stamped on her thigh, she’d lost three pints of blood, and had to undergo surgery to stitch up the deep wound. In typically upbeat fashion, Lorraine is philosophical about it: ‘It could have been a lot worse. A few inches either way and my pelvis could have been crushed so I reckon I’ve been lucky.’ But she is under strict orders to take it easy – a big ask of a woman for whom kicking back doesn’t come naturally.
Let’s look at the evidence. There’s her charity work – Lorraine was on the horse in the first place as part of an Olympic challenge to raise money for the former Prime Minister’s wife, Sarah Brown’s children’s charity, PiggyBankKids; last year, she trekked through the Kenyan desert for Comic Relief; and she also heads up and devotes time to numerous other charities. And that’s all on top of her day job, hosting a live television show, four mornings each week.
With a drive like that, it clearly won’t be long before this feisty 52-year-old is back holding the reins – of her show, not a horse, she reassures her public – and she will be welcomed back by her loyal viewers with open arms.
Lorraine has been gracing our breakfast television screens for 22 years. But looking at photos of her starting out, it is hard to believe that she is more than two decades older now. Is this down to a strict regime of lettuce leaves and lengthy gym sessions? Not for our down-to-earth Lorraine, who is against cosmetic surgery and a firm believer in everything in moderation – with the occasional treat thrown in.
‘I lost a lot of weight last year, when I did the desert trek,’ she said. ‘But I was actually ill and lost far too much. I’ve managed to keep most of it off but not because I’m a gym bunny, I just walk everywhere. I got used to the training for the trek and I find walking brilliant because you get to know the city you are in.
‘In Dundee, where I live for half the week, I take my dog (Rocky, her border terrier) out for a walk and before I know it an hour and a half has gone by. I’m eating really well and I’ve stopped snacking. Before, I’d get to work and I’d have two or three croissants, just because they were there. I was just eating mindlessly, I really didn’t need them. It was the same with crisps, so now I’ve stopped all that and I’m now having three meals a day, starting my morning with a bowl of porridge which I jazz up with honey or fruit. And if I want to have pizza or a curry occasionally, then I absolutely do. I’ve made small changes, but I definitely feel better than I used to.’
And it’s working – she’s dropped from a size 14 a few years back to a svelte size 10. ‘I don’t have scales, I never weigh myself but I have a favourite pair of jeans from Matalan and if they fit I know I am fine.’
She has also found a new interest in fashion and clothes. ‘When I first started on television I had no interest in clothes or my hair – I just wanted to look neat. Covering serious news stories like the Lockerbie bombing and the Piper Alpha oil disaster (she was the Scotland correspondent for TV-am at the time) the last thing I wanted to be was distracting.
‘But I have become interested in fashion recently and mainly because of my daughter, Rosie. Because she is so stylish, I’ve started to take an interest. She tells me to keep away from the cardies and what is too young or too old for me. I even went to London Fashion Week with Mark Heyes (the show’s fashion presenter) and we were given front row seats which was really good fun. Some of the clothes on the catwalks are outlandish of course, but there is so much work that has gone into them. ‘Julien Macdonald’s collection was beautiful, like a work of art, and you can see how high fashion is diffused down from the catwalk to the high street, it was really interesting.’
And a big well done
Lorraine has worked hard for her prestigious position in the TV world. Starting on a local paper, she worked all the way up to presenting her own show. She is a household name and probably nudging national treasure status. The Queen certainly felt this was true, as Lorraine was named in this year’s New Year’s Honours List as an OBE for her charitable causes.
‘I was so shocked,’ Lorraine says delightedly. ‘I had absolutely no idea it was going to happen. I didn’t hear about it for a few days because we’d just moved house and the letter was sent to our old address and hadn’t been forwarded on. The first thing I knew of it was when my husband, Steve, phoned and said: “You’re not going to believe this” and then went on to explain how a very well spoken man had called to tell him that I was going to be presented with an OBE.
‘It was completely unexpected and it gives me such a great excuse to get a new outfit for the occasion! My mum and dad are so chuffed but I know I’m going to find the ceremony very nerve-wracking.’
The fact that this honour was in recognition of her commitment to charitable causes and her support of the armed forces, makes it even more special for her. ‘I have such a great job and I feel I should give something back, that’s very important to me. I’m not a paramedic so I can’t make people well again and I’m not an engineer so I can’t design a well. But putting one foot in front of another is something I can do, and it is a huge privilege because those of us in the public eye can make people more aware and help to raise money where it’s needed.’
On the box
Television has been her life and Lorraine has forged a fantastically successful career fronting live shows. Does she find it frustrating that she is utilising her fame for good causes, while others are simply pursuing fame, when they have no talent? ‘I find it baffling and quite sad. A lot of the contestants on Big Brother and The X Factor are cannon fodder and you know they are not going to last very long. Teenagers are thrust into the limelight and they are just not prepared. I did my apprenticeship and that gives you strength of character. I worry about what these kids will do next because most of them are not going to last the course.’
Queen of TV
So what’s right with what’s on our tellies at the moment? A big fan of the small screen – not just being on it, but also watching it – Lorraine thinks that the wider choice we have now is a great thing. ‘I don’t think it’s all doom and gloom for TV. Some of the series we import are amazing, I’m watching Channel 4’s Homeland and it’s just extraordinary. There is amazing choice on our screens and that’s healthy.
‘The news is still terrific in the UK. I’m a news junkie and watch ITV, Sky and CNN. Yes, there’s a lot of rubbish but there always has been. People say the ’70s was a great era for television but there were some appalling sitcoms, too. True, there was Morcambe and Wise, but we have Ant and Dec now, who are fab.’
Being a woman in the notoriously male-dominated world of television presenting hasn’t been a problem for Lorraine. ‘I’ve never experienced sexism,’ she says. ‘When I was a correspondent I would do everything, including a lot of football. I’m a big Dundee United fan. I never had any issues being a female on television but breakfast TV is unique. People want the familiarity of the same presenters and that is fantastic. They have grown up with me, seen me have my daughter and they feel like I’m a friend.’
Always on the ball
‘It is a great job and what I love best is the diversity. We go from fashion with Mark Heyes, to the biggest breaking news stories and you never know what’s going to happen next. You have to be on top of your game because things can change in an instant. Sometimes you have to toss away what you were going to run with originally and think on your feet. People might be late getting to the studio, the link to LA may not work – but it’s all wonderful.’
That is what Lorraine does so well. If and when these hitches happen, as a viewer, you can never tell – a true testament to her professionalism. May there be many more decades of Lorraine smiling from our screens because not only is she now officially a national treasure, but she’s also the best at what she does.
This article was first published in at home with Lorraine Kelly in April 2012. [Read the digital edition here]
Photograph: Brian Aris