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 Irish Mail on Sunday - TV Week - - FRONT PAGE -

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

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