Saturday, June 25, 2016

Holly Willoughby /This much I know / ‘I’m definitely the person you see’

Holly Willoughby.
Photograph by Dean Chalkley for the Observer

Holly Willoughby: ‘I’m definitely the person you see’

This much I know

The TV presenter, 35, on being shy at school, motherhood and her ‘sexist’ Celebrity Juice nickname

You can’t do that many hours of live telly 
and be somebody different’
Holly Willoughby
Megan Conner
Saturday 25 June 2016 14.00 BST

I was an imaginative kid. My sister needed entertaining, whereas I was the one under the table playing with a bit of fluff on the carpet. I was the sort of child who would spend time rolling up balls of all different kinds of fluff and that would be my little family.
My friends were amazed that I became a TV presenter. I was not a big talker at school – I never liked people seeing my braces, so I walked around with my sleeves pulled over my hands and my hands over my mouth in case anybody saw me smiling. In a group of people I knew you couldn’t shut me up, but it took quite a long time until I was comfortable enough to speak openly.
I’ve been really crap at my job. In the beginning I was terrible, although I enjoyed doing it, which was kind of more upsetting. I spoke in a posh telephone voice, and I was so unnatural: I fixated on remembering lines rather than just speaking. It took me two years working away from the camera in a TV studio until I went back to presenting.

Being a mum can be utterly overwhelming. When I had my first son, Harry [seven], I felt like everybody had kept a massive secret from me. I kept saying, “Why has nobody told me this?” But even with Belle and Chester [her other children, five and one], there has been so much stuff I’ve got wrong; things that have bitten me on the bum. Every child is completely different.
I can’t stand the assumption that I’m blonde and a bit stupid. In my younger days it was always such an easy option, an easy target, it used to drive me potty. Being known as Holly Willoughbooby now is just a bit of silliness – it’s for a comedy show [Celebrity Juice]. I don’t know that I’d give people an option to be sexist – it does not sit well with me.
I’d do childbirth again tomorrow. I loved all my labours. With Chester, I remember picking him out of the birthing pool, putting him on me and it was the most euphoric feeling. Each time I’ve done it it’s like I’ve realised why I was put on this planet.

TV presenters tend to be who they are on screen. Leigh Francis is very different to Keith Lemon because that’s a character. But Phil [Schofield], Ant and Dec, Fearne [Cotton], Dermot [O’Leary], Davina – you can’t do that many hours of live telly and be somebody different. I’m definitely the person you see.
It took me a long time to realise I was in love with my husband [TV producer Dan Baldwin]. We knew each other for eight years and laughed together a lot – we had a very intense friendship. But there was one specific night – we were cheersing our glasses, and it just hit me over the head. I was falling in love with him. It’s weird, because he says the same – he remembers that moment.
Your happy-ever-after is just appreciating a good thing. I’m a huge Disney fan – I called my daughter Belle, for God’s sake. But for me life is all about enjoying what you have. That’s not putting up with or having low expectations. It’s just being happy, and not constantly seeking.


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