SHE’S been through her fair share of personal turmoil, but Anne Robinson believes those challenges gave her a “fearlessness” to succeed.
The TV presenter found fame during the 90s as the tenacious presenter of consumer affairs show Watchdog on BBC1.
She followed that with The Weakest Link, which spawned one of the nation’s favourite catchphrases: “You are the Weakest Link! Goodbye!”
Her brutal dismissal of contestants led to her being dubbed the “Queen of Mean”.
In November, she’ll reprise her iconic role hosting The Weakest Link for a special celebrity edition for BBC1’s Children In Need.
But despite the on-screen snow queen persona, in person, Anne, 72, is warm, friendly and forthright.
“I’ve been quite lucky,” she says.
“After having a drink problem, you think nothing’s ever going to be so bad.”
Anne gave up alcohol in 1978 after she “hit rock bottom” and admits: “You have a sense of fearlessness after that.
“Also, I was always a journalist first — I was never the person with the pretty face and great legs.
“I had other tricks, like being able to write a script, so that helps give longevity.”
Relishing her return to The Weakest Link, Anne promises to be “meaner than ever”.
“Age hasn’t mellowed me at all,” she says.
“Ironically, I was originally hired for the show because they thought I’d be ‘sympathetic’.
“I quickly realised it was much more fun to be tough, rude and acerbic, rather than cheesy!”
Today, she’s speaking about another role, as an eye health ambassador for the Royal National Institute of Blind People and Specsavers — which has just released a report revealing that half the cases of sight loss in the UK could be avoided by us all having eye checks every two years.
“My father Bernard inspired my involvement,” reveals Anne.
“In his 70s, he admitted he couldn’t see anything without a magnifying glass.
“It turned out he had cataracts, which were removed after a 10-minute procedure, but for far too long he’d suffered a limited life and fear of going blind because he hadn’t had regular eye tests.”
Her zeal for the campaign is heightened because she’s a grandmother — the report recommends children have regular eye tests from the age of three.
She’s close to her only child, Emma, from her first marriage to Charlie Wilson, a former editor of The Times, and devoted to grandsons Hudson, eight, and Parker, seven.
“I’m a very good granny, far better at that than I was a mother, and regard our relationship as a wonderful second chance for me,” says Anne.
Ten years ago, after 27 years of marriage, she divorced her second husband, journalist John Penrose. She swats away questions about romance.
Glamorous and slim, the only time she feels older is when she’s conscious she wears a hearing aid.
“I’m not trying to look young, but I care about how I look — appearance is crucial in this business,” she declares.
Anne Robinson is ambassador for the Royal National Institute of Blind People and Specsavers’ Transforming Eye Health campaign. Visit specsavers.co.uk/eye-health/RNIB