Growing up as the daughter of one of Britain’s most famous broadcasting duos has been a mixed blessing for Chloe Madeley.
On one hand, she got to meet The Spice Girls when she was a nine-year-old girl lurking on her parents’ TV set. On the other hand, during her teen years, she often had to contend with being followed home from school by the paparazzi.
Chloe’s mum and dad are, of course, Richard Madeley and Judy Finnigan, the husband and wife team who hosted ITV’s This Morning from 1988 to 2001.
The couple’s cosy delivery style and Richard’s regular foot-in-mouth moments earned them national treasure status. From discussing his wife’s gynaecological problems to divulging intimate details of family life, nothing was off-limits and long-suffering Judy’s reaction made for some cringeworthy live TV moments.
It couldn’t have made for particularly comfortable viewing for a young Chloe either, but she is about to get her own back.
The 33-year-old, who has made a name for herself as a fitness guru and social media influencer, has taken up her parents mantle with a revealing relationship podcast alongside her husband, ex-England rugby star James Haskell.
They started their online show, Couples Quarantine, during lockdown and, like her parents, she and James, 35, have shared intimate details about her private life on air, including their sex life.
Chloe, who also runs a popular health and fitness podcast called The Bodcast and has published four books on healthy eating, said: “My dad said, ‘I always knew you would get into broadcasting’. I was like, ‘I’m not going into broadcasting, dad, what are you talking about?’ He said, ‘Podcasting is broadcasting’ and that’s when I realised, oh gosh, so it is.
“I don’t want him to listen to it because of all the personal stuff James and I talk about. Hopefully if he did listen and it got to the sex chat he’d immediately turn it off. But I had to put up with my mum and dad through my teenage years when I was most easily embarrassed, so they can suck it up!”
For someone who grew up on set, it’s not surprising that she should end up in the public eye but Chloe admits it’s James, who competed in last year’s series of I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here!, who is steering them towards a career in television.
Chloe said: “By week five or six of lockdown James said, ‘I need to do something. Let’s do a couple of podcasts’.
“I said, ‘Really, why?’ He said anytime he had been talking to friends they’d tell him about their relationships in lockdown and how they are struggling or how they make it work. So we recorded the first episode that day and he sent it off to a production company.
“I’d worked in TV as a runner and as a researcher both on the studio floor and in production offices for five-and-a-half years and I hated it.
“I think I just assumed I should go into TV because I was my parents’ daughter and that was my world. Then after a few years it became obvious it didn’t agree with me. I didn’t enjoy the environment.
“But James wants to do podcasts, have columns and do television. That’s his next big starry-eyed dream for us and if at any time I get the opportunity to work with my husband I’ll leap at it.”
She adds: “I’m not sure we’re PC enough for daytime though. James always says offensive things and is going to get us into trouble.”
Chloe is clearly proud of her parents and insists she couldn’t have wished for a better mum and dad.
But the pressure of being the daughter of Richard & Judy became more intense as she got older, says Chloe, who has a brother Jack, 34.
At the age of 22 Chloe found herself in the spotlight when she was arrested for drink-driving after crashing her car on a night out. Thankfully, no one was injured but Chloe was given a 20-month driving ban and her court case was splashed across the newspapers.
She says: “I won the parental lottery. My mother was so loving and so supportive and nothing was ever too much. She really cared about our happiness at every stage.
“My dad was very much the hands-on parent who would drive us to and from swimming lessons and take us to the cinema when Jurassic Park was out.
“We were spoiled, but not in terms of material things. Like every other nine-year old girl I was obsessed with the Spice Girls and I actually got to meet them on more than one occasion. I cannot tell you, as a nine-year-old girl, what an event that was in my childhood.”
She continues: “It got hard when me and my brothers were teenagers though. It was scary and upsetting at times and intimidating, especially if we went to a party and got drunk, like teenagers do.
“It’s hard when you’re a teenager and thinking, ‘What if someone was filming me or took a photograph of me?’ We were kids and the idea that we would be named and shamed and our parents would be named was terrifying.
“Every now and again the paparazzi did get a photo or they did follow us home from school. This was when my parents were very much household names and on TV. It was intense. There were times when my friends had to go into school ahead of us and take all the newspapers out of the library because there was something horrible about mum and dad in there, or about me and my brother in there. But in the grand scheme of things it was a small price to pay for the life we’ve had.”
These days Chloe is very much about clean living. She eventually found her niche as a fitness expert, has written books on nutrition and has over 240,000 followers on Instagram. It also led her to James who approached her on Twitter asking her to be the face of one of his workout supplements.
They fell in love and tied the knot in December 2018 in front of a host of celebrity guests – including Chloe’s parents.
James was playing professional rugby when they got together and Chloe has nursed him through serious injuries. She admits she could barely contain her rage when, having retired from the game last year, he decided to train to become a martial arts fighter.
She said: “Initially when he said he was going to do it, I was so angry.
“You have to understand, when you’ve spent five years watching someone getting beaten up for a living and then spending his summers having operations to get ready for the next season, it’s really hard.
“I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve had to pay for cots in hospital rooms to stay overnight with him. I’ve had to nurse him back to health from operations on at least five occasions. It’s horrible because you feel helpless.”
These days, Chloe’s relationship with her mum and dad is stronger than ever and James has been welcomed into the family with open arms. Chloe has even helped guide her parents towards a healthier lifestyle which now no longer involves booze.
“My mum had a bit of a health scare two or three years ago so both mum and dad decided to jump on the health wagon,” she says. “They completely quit drinking and they eat really healthy, lean proteins and plant-based stuff, and they have long walks every day. Now they are in France, where they have a lovely house, she’ll swim every day which is good because she has two dodgy knees and she needs low-impact exercise.”
She adds: “We go to dinner together when we visit. A few years ago, Roger Moore came up to the table and said hello. My parents were like, ‘Oh hello. Roger’ and I was like, ‘It’s James Bond!’”
Couples Quarantine is available on all leading podcast platforms with new episodes every Tuesday.
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