Lorraine Kelly reigns as queen of daytime TV – and this year is extra special.
She’s celebrating 35 years on her eponymous ITV morning show, and viewing figures are the highest they’ve been in a decade.
Off screen, however, life hasn’t always been easy. Kelly, who’s just turned 60, suffered a miscarriage and four years ago, unaware she was going through the menopause, felt she was “losing control”, beset by constant anxiety.
“Things may look glossy in my world, and I know some people see me as this golden girl because I’m on telly and smile a lot, but it makes me laugh because I’ve had struggles just like everyone else,” the presenter admits in her new book, Shine, in which she shares what she’s learned from her life experiences.
She confides in the book that for a long time, she hid her problems because “the whole point of my television programme is that it’s positive and inspirational… I was absolutely determined no one would know what was going on behind the scenes”.
Here, Kelly – who now lives in Buckinghamshire with her husband, cameraman Steve Smith – talks about getting through tough times, appreciating the little things, and why she loves a good workout…
What was your experience of the menopause?
“The menopause crept up on me, to be honest. It probably started when I was around 54 and it got gradually worse and worse, until one day it was unbearable. I just wasn’t coping or enjoying life and was constantly knackered, but I simply couldn’t understand why.
“I found it hard sometimes to get out of bed. I never let it affect my work, but when I was there I had to paint on a smile, just like we all do when we’re having a tough time.”
What changed things for you?
“The turning point came on a weekend away with Steve in Spain, which should have been amazing but, like everything else at that time, I just couldn’t enjoy it. He told me, ‘You’re just not yourself, you must find out what’s wrong.’
“The next day I talked to TV’s Dr Hilary Jones about all my symptoms and he said immediately, ‘It’s the menopause’ and the hormonal imbalance had triggered anxiety.
“It was such a relief to know what was wrong and I’ve been on HRT for four years, which has really helped. I’m so glad the menopause has been dragged into the light so women don’t have to suffer in silence.”
How do you feel about ageing?
“Age really doesn’t matter, so I don’t mind at all. I’m proud to be 60. I was never a particularly confident person but I’ve got a lot more comfortable in my skin over the past two years. It’s about feeling fulfilled and having an acceptance that I am who I am, and I’m far less self-critical.
“It’s realising nobody’s perfect and nobody has the perfect body – remarkably even supermodels feel like that! Nowadays we have great role models with people like Meryl Streep, Helen Mirren and Joan Collins showing us we can look glamorous, sexy and sassy at any age.”
Would you ever take part in a reality show?
“The only one I’d love to go on is SAS: Who Dares Wins. I think I’d be gritty enough to cope, and I love physical and mental challenges and being pushed. I definitely don’t want to go in the jungle, and I can’t cook or dance.
“Anyway, I’ve got a real challenge coming up soon. My team on Lorraine has bought me an incredible birthday present – the opportunity to train as an astronaut, dealing with zero gravity. I can’t wait.”
How important is your husband, Steve, to your happiness?
“He’s at the heart of it. I’ve just been very, very lucky to find somebody that gets me, puts up with me. And he makes me laugh, he’s a good man, he does more than his share. We are a proper partnership which is totally equal – except he takes the bins out!
“I couldn’t do what I do without him. He was such a great hands-on dad to Rosie when I was away working for those 13 years, commuting from our home in Scotland to London to do the show [before they moved]. He’s always teasing me and keeps me on my toes.”
What’s the worst event you’ve gone through?
“My miscarriage in 2001. It was very hard. We’d very much wanted another baby, Rosie was five, but it wasn’t to be.
“I wanted to go back to work to get routine back, but I definitely went back far too soon. I was told that miscarriage is very common, which was supposed to make me feel better, but actually it horrified me that so many people go through it.
“I’d have loved more children but it just didn’t happen. It’s not something which eats away at me because I feel very lucky we have one healthy, happy 25-year-old daughter. She’s a generous, lovely girl and definitely the greatest achievement of my life.”
How do you look after your wellbeing?
“I think it’s about recognising you can’t sustain a level of joy where you feel like you’re dancing on a rainbow all the time. But you can have contentment, which is about appreciating those little day-to-day things. For me, it can be weeding the garden, a morning coffee, a quick phone call to Steve.
“I hold a little bank of memories to reflect on. If I’m feeling low, I’ll take myself back to the time Rosie and I drove along singing No Scrubs by TLC in the car at the top of our voices. That instantly perks me up.
“Also, I think it’s important not to strive for perfection all the time, because it doesn’t exist. Cut yourself a bit of slack, be a bit kinder to everyone and yourself.”
How do you stay active?
“I walk my dog and regularly go to Zumba – I absolutely love it. It makes me feel terrific and is a brilliant way of getting a natural high. You feel so much better about yourself after a good workout.
“I’ve got to the stage where I’ve accepted myself, scars and all, and know I’ll always have a floating few pounds that I can lose or gain, but that’s OK. It’s about being content and happy in yourself at the end of the day, and then you can’t help shining.”
Shine: Discover A Brighter You by Lorraine Kelly is published by Century, priced £20. Available now.