The women breaking down barriers
The Television Superstar
Queen of Breakfast Television and proud Scot, Lorraine Kelly has excelled in her 32-year TV career – while being mum to Rosie – after starting out in the maledominated newspaper industry in the 1980s. I don’t think anyone can have it all, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Nobody is Superwoman; we’re all just guddling along trying our best. As for having it all, I think that has become something people aspire to, but I don’t really think people can have it all, it would be really very hard. That said, I do think motherhood and career can run side-by-side. And I think I am a better mother because I had a career (but that’s not to say someone staying at home is a better or worse mother). It’s very patronising when people say ‘You’re just a stay-at-home mother’ because that’s the most important job you do. A lot of women would love to stay at home and look after their children, but they can’t because they have to have two wages coming in. Whether you are a working mum or a stay-athome mum, you are still an equally-valued, hardworking mum. I was really lucky because my husband Steve, a freelance cameraman, and I shared the childcare. We also had Helen, a lovely girl who came to the house if I was leaving at 4.30am and Steve was working away. She was an absolute gem. I was lucky enough to be able to afford that, not everybody can. Your child is your priority, of course they are, and that has always been the case for me too. I was presenting GMTV with Eamonn [Holmes] when I went off on maternity leave to have Rosie. They hired Anthea [Turner] and asked me to come back to do a mother and baby slot that October when Rosie was tiny (she was born in June). It went so well they said ‘We should just give you your own show’, and in the January of the following year they did – so I only really got my own show because of Rosie! And that was 22 years ago. I have always been quite lucky. When Rosie was little, everything else fitted in around her. So I would write my column at midnight, leave meetings early, and go home on the train, sweating, hoping I would make the school play! To women returning to work after maternity leave, I would advise: don’t beat yourself up and don’t try to be perfect. What I did was compartmentalise everything. When you are at work, you’re at work, but when you are with your kids, it’s their time. There are little pockets of enlightenment around the country where firms have introduced crèches, flexi-hours, and job sharing – we absolutely need to have more of that. If firms did give women the chance to do flexi-time, or job share, then they will get so much more out of their workforce. It makes perfect sense. I do think that we have got better, but I believe that a lot of companies could do much, much more. Nurseries are really expensive and that’s where employers and the government could do so much more. At ITV, we do a lot of
‘Pay is really important – if you are doing the same job (as a man) you absolutely should be earning the same money.’
flexi-time because half of the people who work on my show are parents. Pay is really important – if you are doing the same job [as a man], you absolutely should be earning the same money. It doesn’t matter where you work, it’s just not acceptable. It’s all coming from the top, but people’s attitudes are changing. Gradually it is happening. When I started in newspapers I knew sexism existed but I never experienced it. I went straight from school to being a cub reporter at the East Kilbride News, then the BBC as a researcher, then TV: AM as a reporter, covering the whole of Scotland. There was only me (and my crew) so I did everything, there was nobody saying ‘you can’t do the sport stories, or the political stories’, but I also made the bacon rolls for the guests in the morning! It was crazy, but it was the best experience ever. The only time [I experienced sexism] was when I was sports reporting because a lot of the ‘old school’ [football] managers thought ‘She’s a girl, she doesn’t know anything’. Because they were on the back foot, they ended up telling me everything – it was fantastic! Look at Scotland, how fantastic is it that our three main political parties are all lead by women? It’s amazing! Look at Nicola [Sturgeon], Kezia [Dugdale] and Ruth [Davidson] – three strong, powerful women at the top of their game. I don’t think we could have better role models than them, regardless of your political views (because I am apolitical). Obviously one day the job will have to end – I have been doing it for 32 years. I am so lucky, I live down here [in London] during the week and I go home to Scotland every weekend. I love coming home: it’s where my husband is, my friends are, and where I feel totally myself. Looking to the future, I would love to write a novel because I am a newspaperwoman at heart, I love writing and I have got lots of ideas. If that happens, it would be amazing. But to be honest, I am very happy doing what I am doing for the foreseeable future because it is good fun. My advice to you is: you’re doing all right, but we can always do better, certainly as far as rights for women, but look how far we have come. As long as you put your children first, and they know that they are loved, that’s the main thing.
Dress, Lorraine for JD Williams, £55