Olivia Attwood and mum Jen share their family secrets
Confidence, self-worth and designer handbags: Olivia and her mum Jennifer share a few family secrets with Charlotte Oliver
She loves being the life and soul of the party – but there’s one person who Olivia Attwood doesn’t mind being upstaged by: her effortlessly glam mum Jennifer. We’ve brought the pair in today for an extra-special shoot ahead of Mother’s Day on 14 March (they’re bubbling together, while Liv’s dad Kai is overseas). And, as Jennifer takes the floor for her solo shots, Liv is the ultimate hype girl, shouting, “Yaaas, Queen!” from the sidelines and proudly telling us her mum hasn’t had any work done. “Unlike me,” she adds. “Put a pin in me and I’ll explode.”
It’s been almost four years since Liv, 29, er, exploded onto our screens, and since then, the former Love Islander’ s “journey” (pardon the cliché) has been nothing short of iconic. After all, she’s gone from being one of the series’ most Marmite figures to a universally loved star, landing
her own ITV series Olivia Meets Her Match (currently filming its second season) in the process. She’s also managed to find one of the few footballers who isn’t a player off-pitch – Blackburn Rovers’ Bradley Dack, 27 – and the pair are due to get married in a lavish wedding this summer, fingers crossed and COVID restrictions permitting.
Sitting down with heat – Champagne in hand and hair tonged high – Olivia and Jen, who’s become a reluctant reality icon in her own right while appearing on Liv’s show, take us down memory lane. We’re talking teenage strops, bad-news boyfriends, and how Liv’s mates used to fear and fancy Mrs Attwood in equal measure…
So, what was Liv like when she was younger?
Jennifer: She was a very easy baby, but she was very overactive. I remember going to my mum’s once when Olivia was about five months old, and I was like, “This kid hasn’t slept.” My mum said, “Take
the pram, put it under the tree in the sun and leave her.” We went back there every two hours and she was still asleep. I don’t know what it was – maybe it had just been me giving her too much attention? You know how you do that with the firstborn [Liv’s got a younger sister, Georgia, 27, and a brother, Max, 21]? But she was a very easy child. Never had a temper tantrum. Olivia: I was a bit of an oddball. People don’t believe this, but I was really timid and really introverted. J: She was clingy, a bit shy. She’d cry on the first day of school. But she was just a lovely child, very kind from an early age.
Were you very naughty back then?
J: The naughtiness came later, I think. O: But at junior school, I did get in trouble for weird stuff, didn’t I? I think it was the ADHD playing up. And then I’d cry, because I didn’t know why I’d done it. J: I remember when you tied a girl… O: MUM! MUM! MUM! This is going to sound so wrong, this sounds like bullying! “She tied a girl to a tree and threw conkers at her!” That is bullying, Mum. This is a bad story to tell. J: But the girl asked you to do it! She thought it would be funny. O: I sound like a bully now, Mum. That is a bad example. But I did other dumb shit at school that people dared me to do – I was the class clown. Once, another kid said, “None of you will go and take a piss in the middle of the lawn.” So, I dropped my knickers right there. I just did dumb shit. And then, when I got into my teenage years, I was just a bit naughty, wasn’t I? I was that girl where people’s parents were like, “I don’t want you going with her.” J: I used to get phone calls saying you’d been here, or you weren’t there when you should have been. O: I was just getting into things teenagers get into, smoking behind the bloody gym hall, going to the shop and talking to older boys. Typical teenage shit. And I used to love going missing for a couple of days, didn’t I? Mum used to call me being like, “If you don’t come back in two hours, I’m calling the police.”
Jen, did you ever come home to find a house party in full swing?
J: I never allowed house parties. O: You did come home once and the house was full of people. They all ran off in different directions, and then you were out chasing them. J: As I said, I never allowed house parties. O: No, we did it of our own accord. Once, Mum and Dad tricked us – they didn’t trust us, so they went down the road for half an hour. They came back and there were about 15 boys in our kitchen. She came in and they were all legging it in different directions. Mum was a bit of a nutter back in the day – if she got hold of one, she’d probably have killed them.
Did any of your male friends fancy her?
J: I think they were terrified of me. O: No, they did fancy you. I remember we had parents’ evening – I think you were even more glam back then – we were all waiting in the hall for our parents, and Mum comes in wearing black trousers, a black Balmain blazer, with a big blonde blow-dry, and all the boys were like, “Oh. My. God. Your mum is so fit!” Now, I feel like it’s a compliment, but when I was younger, it made me so f**king angry. I was just like, “Why couldn’t you have looked ugly?”
Were there ever any blazing teenage rows?
O: Er, yes. J: I didn’t like some of her boyfriends. O: F**king hell, I gave you enough to choose from. J: I didn’t think any of them were good enough. I thought she was punching beneath her. O: When I was younger, I was just drawn to the wrong type. Just, you know, any boy who was in trouble. If he was getting arrested, I was like, “I’m yours.” You just want to rebel, don’t you?
Have you become more alike as Liv’s gotten older?
O: Yeah, in terms of confidence. Growing up, if anyone didn’t like us, or the teacher had a problem with us, she’d tell us, “They’re
‘I’m thrilled that Brad’s stag do is cancelled’ Liv
jealous.” I didn’t believe it, but as you get older, it starts to rub off on you. I definitely got that attitude from Mum – not to take shit from anyone. If you had a problem with someone, she’d be like, “Tell them!”
When Love Island came along, were you worried about your mum watching?
O: Not really. As much as my parents have despaired at times, they do know everything about me – it’s not like they thought I was an angel and then that illusion was shattered. I was really not sure about going on Love Island, but Mum was the one who was like, “Just do it! What have you got to lose? You were meant to be on TV.” I really didn’t see it in myself. J: I was on the phone until 3am trying to tell her to get on the flight. But then, I definitely thought you were getting bad press while you were in there. It was awful, we were getting a lot of hate on Instagram. But it turned around in the end.
That’s for sure. Liv, you’ve had such a transition in the way the public feel about you…
O: I think a lot of people come out of Love Island and yell, “That wasn’t me, it was edited, it was a set up!” And they turn on the show. But when I came out, I knew there was no point in saying that. Because it was me – but it was just one side of me. So, I just decided to play the long game and give people a chance to see another side.
You’re not afraid to speak your mind – Jen, does that ever worry you?
O: She’s more outspoken than me. Fact.
J: I think she’s actually been pretty reserved! When she does speak up on important issues, like calling out influencers who are “working” in Dubai, I’m really proud. O: When we were growing up, yes, we had a privileged upbringing, but Mum was a social worker and she’s always kept us grounded. If we’d been complaining about trivial things, she’d remind us how lucky we were. I think having someone give you that reality check makes a difference to what kind of adult you turn out to be.
Moving on to your future son-in-law – Jen, we hear you’re a big fan of Brad?
J: Yes. I was quite cautious at first, but he’s very laid back, very calm – exactly what she needs. I had a feeling that it was the real thing between them from the start. O: Brad’s just got such a kind heart. He’s very warm and approachable, which surprises people. Being a footballer, I think people expect him to be arrogant, but he doesn’t have that at all. That’s why I love that viewers have got to know him better on the show. He’s just being himself, he isn’t performing at all.
You’re hoping you can finally get married this summer. Have you made any progress with the hen and stag do plans?
O: Nope, they’re non-existent right now. I’m absolutely thrilled that the stag do Brad had planned has been cancelled. But then again, I’m also disappointed that my hen’s been cancelled, so it’s a double-edged sword, really.
Jen, when the hen does happen, will you be joining?
J: Oh, I think not. O: You say that, but if you weren’t invited, you’d be upset. J: I’d get stressed by about 11pm, saying, “Are you going to bed now?” I’ll come along for the early bit, but I think I’d reach the point where I wouldn’t want to watch any more. O: You wouldn’t want to be there when that big fake penis comes towards your face, smacking you round the jaw. J: No, I wouldn’t want to be there for that.
As we’re celebrating Mother’s Day, Olivia, what would you say is the most important lesson you’ve learned from your mum?
J: How not to be a bitch? O: How not to be a bitch? Ha! I just think confidence. Don’t take no for an answer, follow your own path and have a sense of your own self-worth. J: I’ve always brought my girls up to know that there’s nothing they can’t do. People say that it’s still a man’s world, but I don’t believe it is. I believe that any woman can be anything she wants to be. O: But the biggest lesson has to be invest in good designer handbags.