Rise and shine
Meet Laura Woods, the young mother who gets up VERY early in the morning to present TV3’s sparkling weekend breakfast shows
The ‘people who get up early in the morning’ have been making headline news of late – and there are few who sum up this description more than hardworking mother of two and TV3 presenter Laura Woods.
The blonde ray of sunshine is the face of Saturday and Sunday AM, but also a busy mother who rises at the crack of dawn each weekend – 6.15am to be precise – in order to make it in to Ballymount studios for 7am.
When we meet at TV3’s studios there is an immediate waft of an Irish fry-up from across the studio. Breakfast TV, indeed.
Laura who has just left the hair and makeup department joins her co-host Simon Delaney, who is chef extraordinaire this morning as he whips up the full Irish for the team before they go live.
Laura – who presents the weekend breakfast show with Delaney, Anna Daly, Ian Noctor and Tommy Martin – explains their weekly culinary routine.
‘Simon cooks a fry-up each weekend for us, the whole production crew and we all sit around and have a cup of tea and a chat before we go on air. We have been hinting at Ian [Noctor] to take to the kitchen on Sundays but he hasn’t taken us up on it,’ laughs Laura.
The hosts and crew are like a family at this stage, as the show will celebrate its second birthday in August, but it is the two little men in her life who are her ‘world’.
Laura is married to Mark Arigho and they have two sons, six-year-old Ben and four-yearold Alex. At the moment, it appears she has the perfect work-life balance but the bubbly host admits it can be tricky at times.
‘Ben is in senior infants now and Alex is in creche. Alex turned four a few weeks ago so I finished the show and went home to 17 fouryear-olds running around the house,’ laughs Laura. ‘The two boys are both mine and my husband Mark’s whole world.’
Laura counts her blessings for her full-time role as a TV3 presenter. And it hasn’t been all plain sailing for the bubbly presenter, who started her TV career back in 2003 at RTÉ, where she stayed for more than a decade.
‘You know, I worked on a freelance basis for four years after RTÉ and I had my own production company with Brian Ormond, which also worked very well for us. Freelance work can be great in one sense because you are your own boss and choose when you work. Having said that, the jobs have to be there to be able to choose and it was tough. I suppose I was craving a bit of consistency and security and I suppose this role offers me both, so I have to be thankful for that.’
As well as her own career, Laura is also focused on helping her half-Spanish husband Mark, an achitect, to fulfil his ambition of owning his own practice.
The hard graft of Laura rising early each week is clearly paying off as her other half has seen his dream come dream true in the past 12 months.
‘We moved into our new home about six months ago and Mark played a big role in the design of this and it was a big dream of his. Mark and his partners opened their own practice about 12 months ago and it is doing well,’ Laura explains. ‘I suppose another reason I took the full-time job in TV3 was that Mark had always wanted to open up his own practice. When you have ambition, then you want to realise it.’
When asked what kind of mother she is, Laura ponders for a moment – recalling her own wonderful upbringing as an only child. ‘I had a great childhood, and a very happy family. My parents were great, so I suppose I’m a very tactile mum – but I suppose they are two little boys and tend not to listen to me,’ smiles Laura
‘I find it fascinating to watch them growing up together because I am an only child and I didn’t have that other little person to grow up with. I didn’t miss that because I didn’t know any better but they can be best friends or mortal enemies, like all little boys. When they are in cahoots together, then watch your back because they are just real little boys.
‘The boys are very affectionate though. I love when they run in and just give me a great big hug out of the blue.
‘I don’t think I’ll ever stop learning or be at
‘The two boys are mine and my husband’s whole world’
the point where I think, “yes, I’m a great mom”. It’s a work in progress!’
And while she is glad to have helped assist her husband attain his own career goal, Laura says she herself couldn’t be happier in her current role with TV3.
Speaking about how the show has become a success since its launch in 2015, she says: ‘There was a big market there for weekend breakfast TV and, of course, Ireland AM has been the flagship breakfast show for almost 18 years, so tagging us on to that for weekends has seen us go from strength to strength.
‘On a whole it’s been a great journey for us as a team over the past two years, seeing what works and what doesn’t. It’s a formula really, as to what makes good TV.
‘We have our news hour on Sundays, which I think is a great inclusion because people waking up want to get their news just the same as people going out buying the newspaper.
‘We have our cooking and fashion, and then things like movies and books and there’s always lots of great fundraisers across the country, so it’s good to include them.’
Laura, who possesses a suitably sunny disposition for her role, has been adding sparkle to our TV for 14 years. She landed her first gig in RTÉ as a continuity announcer when she was still at Trinity College studying French and sociology. She went on to co-present The Café with close friend Aidan Power for years and then hosted her own Sunday morning show, SMS. Before leaving Montrose, Laura also presented Winning Streak and Fame And Fortune, but looking back now with fond memories of her early days, Laura says she’s never been happier than presenting on TV3.
‘It was 11 years in total that I was in RTÉ, and now I have been with TV3 for six years – two of them full-time and four as a freelancer. People often ask me about the contrast between both stations and I feel very fortunate to have been given the opportunity to work in both environments.
‘Ultimately it’s about creativity and making good TV and having good chemistry and that’s why I’m still doing it... I have to say, I’m very happy in my career now. I love working at TV3 and the weekend breakfast show is really good for me as a working mum.’
And Laura believes her status as a working mother works in her favour on the family morning shows. ‘One thing I have learned over the years is that it’s a natural help if you have an interest in the content of the show, because a lot of the viewers would be in a similar position as me as a working mum; there’s a great connection to the audience.
And while she is only appearing on-screen, Laura says that ‘on a personal level’ it’s a fulltime job. ‘We work Wednesday to Sunday, and we are out filming when we are not in studio and we edit our own packages.’
Her time in broadcasting has been a learning curve, and still is. Laura is the latest TV personality to join social media in recent months, having been persuaded by good friend and fellow presenter Lisa Cannon. ‘It took me about two weeks how to figure everything out and slowly I’m coming to grips with it. I think the landscape of TV has changed so much,’ she says. ‘I remember dismissing the early days of social media but now I see what a useful tool it can be. I quite enjoy it. It’s very helpful when you want to engage with your audience... I’m slowly coming to grips with it.’
In her TV slot she enjoys items on the show which deal with psychology, as she has a postgraduate degree in cognitive psychotherapy. And while politics is not her forte, she has improved on these segments too and has a certain Ivan Yates to thank. ‘Working with Ivan on the show was a real pleasure because he was a font of knowledge,’ she explains. ‘Obviously being an ex-minister, he had a real passion for politics so it was great to watch him in action on political segments.’
Moving on from the studio, we have lunch in House just off Leeson Street, where Laura tells me of her summer plans. ‘We are all set to take a couple of weeks off and head to Spain and as Mark is half-Spanish, we get to take our little ones to meet their cousins, so we can’t wait.’
Perhaps a well-deserved lie-in will be in store for the TV3 grafter in sunny Spain.
‘I have to say, I’m very happy in my career now. I love TV3’
Saturday and Sunday AM airs from 9am to 12pm on TV3.
Hands full: Laura Woods with her husband Mark Arigho and their sons Ben and Alex
Model mother: Laura wears a mint green top and floral skirt, Oasis; blue necklace, Stella and Dot; pink heels, from Littlewoods Cover: Blue bellsleeve dress, Littlewoods; Jewellery from Knight & Day
Team players: Laura’s colleagues Anna Daly and Ivan Yates