TV queen Lorraine is in her prime
Her soft Scottish burr and irrepressible breakfast-time bonhomie is ever-comforting and familiar, but it is another wake-up call entirely to realise that Lorraine Kelly’s sofa-ship has now been steering us through the cornflake and coffee milieu for more than three decades.
After nigh-on 33 years of early starts and with a few programme changes along the way, Lorraine is the undisputed queen of morning TV, consistently producing a magazine programme that appeals to a broad fanbase, from school run parents and students to pensioners and a huge, loyal gay following.
Since her arrival on national TV with TV-am in 1984, she has shared the sofa with everyone from film stars and prime ministers to members of the public and even the occasional animal. Her cool, easy manner belies the pressure cooker live TV environment behind the scenes, and her likeability factor has ensured that this Gorbals-born lassie who eschewed a university place to climb the ladder in local journalism is now known simply by her first name, bagging an OBE along the way.
At 57, Lorraine, who lives in Victoria, is also full of joie de vivre. Fitter than ever and keen to inspire and encourage others, she recently released a second fitness DVD featuring her friend and fitness instructor Maxine Jones, whom she met when she started attending Maxine’s regular fitness class in Victoria a few years ago.
In her sixth decade, Lorraine is now so body confident that she happily stripped down to a bikini in public and, most recently, for a dip in the Arctic waters while she and her husband travelled in the footsteps of one of her heroes, Ernest Shackleton, for a special wedding anniversary trip.
Clearly, Lorraine is energised, happier than ever and enjoying exercising, so how does she really feel about getting older? “Well I feel as though I am in my prime at the age of 57,” she says.
“I have been wearing sleeveless dresses on air – something I never did in my 20s, 30s or 40s – and I also danced in my bikini on the South Bank of the Thames for the finale of our healthy eating and fitness campaign with Maxine last year. I have her to thank for feeling confident enough to do that.
“I think we are all trying to take better care of ourselves and women in their 40s, 50s, 60s and beyond have never looked better and are no longer ‘invisible’. Fashion, hair, skincare and make-up have also improved dramatically for more mature women.”
But she wouldn’t ever consider going under the knife? “Cosmetic surgery is not for me. I just don’t get it. I think you can always tell when someone has had work done and I’ve interviewed too many women over the years who have had plastic surgery that’s gone wrong. I’d rather rely on a good moisturiser and a classy haircut to look youthful.”
It transpires that living in Victoria during the week was fortuitous for Lorraine, after she randomly searched for a nearby exercise class.
“It is vital to do exercise that you really enjoy – otherwise you will fall by the wayside,” she says. “You will also start to resent going for that long run or spending time in the gym if you aren’t having fun.
“That’s why I love my classes with Maxine. I found her online by looking for a class close to my flat just off Victoria Street. Her Monday evening class takes place at the Abbey Centre on Great Smith Street. It only takes me five minutes to walk there. It costs seven quid and I so look forward to going and seeing all the girls of all ages, shapes and sizes. Not only have I lost weight and feel fitter and healthier, it’s also a wonderful stressbuster. The music and routines are so uplifting and joyful.
“You need to make the classes part of your routine and block off the time every week in your diary, but if you are enjoying yourself then it’s much easier to be motivated to attend. I view Maxine’s classes as a real treat and she has changed my life.”
Clearly Lorraine enjoys all the positive aspects of living in Victoria. “I am so lucky to be living in the Victoria area and in the past 10 years since I moved here the area has improved beyond all recognition. The shops, restaurants and bars are top class and there’s actually no real need to venture into the ‘city centre’ anymore. My favourites include Ibérica for tapas and All Bar One for breakfast.
“Maxine and I would love to do another open fitness class like the one we did in the summer during the Victoria Wimbledon event. Of course, everyone is welcome to her class on a Monday night at the Abbey Centre at 5.15pm. We’ve also released two top-selling DVDs, Living To The Max and Brand New You.”
Lorraine wants to share the joy now that she has found an approach to health and fitness that works for her, but she is wary of faddy dieting and agrees a common-sense approach is crucial.
“Clearly we need to have a proper strategy to tackle childhood obesity and I salute the likes of Jamie Oliver who is trying to make a difference. We need to teach proper cooking and home economics at school and wean our kids off junk food and get them ‘out playing’ again.
“My diet during the week is healthy but I’m not on a diet as they don’t work. I have porridge every morning with either berries, nuts or honey. I grab something from Itsu or Pret for lunch and as I’m up so early in the morning, I have an early dinner of fish, stir fry, chicken salad or spicy noodles. At weekends when I go home I eat what I like. My husband is a good cook and makes fantastic curries from scratch. I don’t tend to snack too much but I drink a lot of water and have a banana or nuts if I’m hungry, but if I want chocolate then I have it.”
The early starts don’t seem to have fazed her though. “I have the best job in the world. I meet so many fascinating people and every day is different. There’s nothing as exhilarating as live TV, but I never take it for granted.
“At school I wanted to be a fighter pilot with the RAF. Back in the 1970s this was impossible for women. I’m so glad times have changed. I did have a place at university to read Russian and English but I joined my local newspaper as a cub reporter instead. I have no regrets about my job. Covering Lockerbie, Dunblane and the Gulf wars was tough, but I’ve also met my heroes including Buzz Aldrin, Leonard Nimoy and Oprah Winfrey.
“I do get star-struck, especially when bands from the 80s like Culture Club, ABC or Hue and Cry come on the show. I grew up watching them on stage and dancing to their records.”
It also seems as if Lorraine took juggling motherhood and an intense work schedule in her stride. “Being a mum made me better at my job,” she says. “It makes you less selfish and self-centred when you become a parent. Rosie was and always will be my number one priority. Everything had to work around her when she was little and if that meant writing until midnight to meet a deadline then that’s what happened.
“She’s 22 now and graduated from university in the summer . She’s doing well working in Singapore. We FaceTime and Skype a lot. Guilt comes with being a working mum or dad, but as long as your kids know they are loved and you make sure the lines of communication are always open you will do OK.”
Being in the public eye for so long might be frustrating for some, but Lorraine takes it all as a positive aspect of the job. “When people meet me in the supermarket or in the bus queue they always think they know me, which is lovely. Lots of youngsters say they’ve grown up watching me and that’s a real compliment. As long as people are watching and enjoying the show then I’m very, very happy to keep going for as long as possible.”
With such a huge fanbase, it’s not unreasonable to imagine that Lorraine has received her fair share of strange or interesting gifts over the years. But she is as unflappable and pragmatic as ever: “The strangest item has to be a French maid’s outfit and a jar of chocolate body paint. I’ve never tried on the former and I ate the latter poured over ice cream.”