ON THE COVER: LOR­RAINE KELLY

The ever-youth­ful queen of day­time TV on the perks of get­ting older

The Mail on Sunday - You - - In This Issue - PHO­TOGRAPHS ELIS­A­BETH HOFF

When­ever I think of Lor­raine Kelly in all her smi­ley, lik­able nor­mal­ity I am re­minded of Dolly Par­ton’s quip: ‘It costs a lot of money to look this cheap.’ Be­cause, make no mis­take, it takes an ex­tra­or­di­nary woman to stay at the top of her game by ap­pear­ing so…or­di­nary. That’s not meant to be an in­sult; it’s more that Lor­raine’s au­then­tic­ity and ap­proach­a­bil­ity qual­ify as su­per­pow­ers in an in­dus­try pop­u­lated by over­in­flated egos.

She’s a first-name-only star who has been on our screens for more than 30 years, yet is as un­starry as they come. No airs, a mul­ti­tude of graces and an un­flinch­ing in­stinct for a top­i­cal story have seen her crowned queen of day­time tele­vi­sion. At 58, the Glasgow-born pre­sen­ter is more pop­u­lar than ever. How does it feel to be a one-woman re­buke to ageism? I ask, and she bursts into a fit of gig­gles. ‘Ooh, I love it!’ she twin­kles. ‘I’ll take that, thank you. There’s a ti­tle to reckon with. All I can say is that I con­sider my­self hugely for­tu­nate to have my day­time slot

be­cause my view­ers know what they want and they are fiercely loyal.

‘They think of us as pals and don’t take kindly to pro­duc­ers tin­ker­ing about with for­mats or pre­sen­ters. Gen­er­ally in tele­vi­sion there’s a con­stant im­pe­tus to freshen things up and search for nov­elty, but day­time is driven by view­ers who want fa­mil­iar­ity. I’ve been on so long that peo­ple have grown up with me. When the rap­per Naughty Boy came on the show he stayed up the night be­fore bak­ing a pie for me.’ How sweet, how ran­dom. But that va­ri­ety is very much the joy of day­time TV. I doubt, how­ever, that Lor­raine’s fa­mil­iar­ity is the only rea­son her ca­reer shows no sign of flag­ging.

But be­fore I drill down a lit­tle deeper, let me state how flip­pin’ fab­u­lous Lor­raine looks. Glow­ing and petite, she has suc­cess­fully kept off the two stone she shed eight years ago (and showed off, bar­ing her bikini body live on air age 55). When I say that she seemed more mumsy and mid­dle-aged in her 30s than she does now, she shrieks in agree­ment.

‘Yes! You are right. I was a very late bloomer. I have my mother to thank for my skin and cheek­bones, but the rest of it is down to the fact that in my 50s I have con­fi­dence, plus I’m more styled so I ap­pear put-to­gether. I’ve lost count of the num­ber of times I’ve seen old pho­tos and had to apol­o­gise for my hideous hairdo and the fact I look like I dressed from the wash­ing bas­ket.’

It seems ironic that a woman who looks age­less should be run­ning Youth­ful You, a month-long seg­ment on Lor­raine in which she and some fa­mous faces will ex­plore the lat­est anti-age­ing tech­niques and prod­ucts, putting gad­gets and non-in­va­sive pro­ce­dures to the test live on air. ‘I re­spond to what view­ers want and there’s huge de­mand for in­for­ma­tion,’ she says. ‘We’re liv­ing longer and we want to look good as well as live more healthily. I’m fit­ter than I was 20 years ago and lov­ing it.

‘One of the few con­so­la­tions of grow­ing older is that you have far more self-con­fi­dence than when you were young. There’s some­thing lib­er­at­ing about not car­ing what the world thinks of you; these days there are so many peo­ple wait­ing to take of­fence that it could drive you crazy. I would hate to be a young woman these days with the pres­sures of so­cial me­dia and the dis­tor­tions of fil­ters and air­brush­ing. It’s so su­per­fi­cial.’

It is this hon­esty that strikes a chord with view­ers. But can she pos­si­bly be as nicey-nice as she seems when wel­com­ing Dame He­len Mir­ren or Ricky Ger­vais into the stu­dio? Yes and no. Lor­raine is open, up­front and, hav­ing grown up in the Gor­bals, is very much in touch with re­al­ity. When she looks shocked dur­ing a fash­ion slot that a high-street frock costs north of £150, she means it. Her tears, when she wells up while talk­ing about the Manch­ester bomb­ing or the Dun­blane mas­sacre, are real.

But she also has grit, in­tel­li­gence and is a grafter who doesn’t suf­fer fools gladly; Piers Mor­gan has de­scribed her as an iron fist in a fluffy glove. ‘I don’t take my­self se­ri­ously but I take what I do very se­ri­ously,’ she says. ‘When guests come into the stu­dio it’s my job to make them feel wel­come and re­laxed. But if they are a politi­cian or busi­ness fig­ure who has com­mit­ted some kind of mis­de­meanour then they need to be called to ac­count, and that’s what I do, too.’ Lor­raine was born to un­mar­ried teenage par­ents who, de­spite fam­ily pres­sure to have the baby put up for adop­tion, got mar­ried. Money was short but love and care were plen­ti­ful; six years later Lor­raine’s brother Gra­ham was born. She was an aca­demic child and con­sid­ered study­ing Rus­sian at univer­sity un­til a job came up at her lo­cal news­pa­per and her fate was sealed. She pro­gressed to tele­vi­sion where she be­came Scot­land correspondent for TV-am, har­ing across the coun­try with cam­era­man Steve Smith, whom she sub­se­quently mar­ried. It was her ex­haus­tive yet sen­si­tive cov­er­age of the Locker­bie bomb­ing in De­cem­ber 1988 that brought her to the at­ten­tion of TV-am bosses in Lon­don, who sum­moned her to do hol­i­day cover in the stu­dio the fol­low­ing year.

‘Af­ter that, an­other tem­po­rary po­si­tion cropped up and some­how I never went home again. It wasn’t at all planned; I never had any am­bi­tion to be the woman on the sofa with the big hair and the pink jacket,’ she says. ‘But I re­ally en­joyed the pace and diver­sity of a morn­ing show.’ Then came GMTV, fol­lowed by fronting var­i­ous pro­grammes, in­clud­ing her own show, orig­i­nally called LK To­day, now Lor­raine.

She has never ex­pe­ri­enced a MeToo mo­ment of harass­ment or dis­crim­i­na­tion, even when cov­er­ing foot­ball in the 80s, but says, ‘My heart goes out to women – and men – who have been ex­posed to un­ac­cept­able be­hav­iour. It’s good that that sort of thing is be­ing called out and I hope we can move for­ward to a bet­ter place.’

Steve ini­tially moved to Lon­don to be with Lor­raine, but when their daugh­ter Rosie, now

From top: tuck­ing into rap­per Naughty Boy’s home­made pie, and with daugh­ter Rosie and hus­band Steve

Right: Lor­raine with her mother in 1963. Be­low: pre­sent­ing on GMTV in 1993 with Michael Wil­son (left) and Ea­monn Holmes

Above: bar­ing all on Lor­raine aged 55

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