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I'VE LOVED BEING 40; But 41 and getting into politics will be even better, reckons Carol Vorderman.

Byline: RICK FULTON Exclusive

CAROL VORDERMAN loves being in her forties. She's at the top of her profession, has a new man, two lovely children and foresees her future in politics.

She turned 40 on Christmas Eve last year and, rather than feel that this was the end of something, she reckons it's been a springboard to better things.

Carol says: "It's great. I love being 40 - it's been a great year. I'm brimming with confidence. I think that it's very different for a woman.

"I think we now say 'this is me, I'm not going to change. I'm too long in the tooth'."

This is clearly a subject very close to Carol's heart because she gets almost evangelical about it.

And she adds: "In the past, I think society saw a woman of 40 as being past it. It used to be middle aged and that was it, or you were simply eccentric.

"But now being a woman in your 40s and having a career, as well as children, is very modern. Why should you be sitting at home looking after children?

"Fine if you choose to be a full-time mum, but you shouldn't have to be that just because society dictates that's how you should behave.

"Successful women have probably worked harder than men to get where they are - at university and in work - so why give it up because certain sections of the population say you should do."

Carol will turn 41 on Christmas Eve, but shows no sign of slowing down.

She still turns heads when she pitches up at premieres or television awards in yet another revealing dress which some 20 year olds wouldn't be able to carry off.

Her secret is the 28 Day Detox Diet, which she's been using for the past two- and-a-half years and which has allowed her to drop two dress sizes and, as a size 8-10, now fit into clothes that she wore last as a twentysomething.

CAROL seems to have been born for her 40s, where confidence, wealth and professional success have come together with good health.

And now she's thinking about the future.

She says: "I see my 40s as a springboard. I'll always want to be on television because I love the business, but I'd like to do slightly more in politics."

She quickly makes the point that she isn't interested in party politics - we won't see Carol Vorderman PM or even MP.

But she's becoming increasingly more interested in lending her voice to family and educational problems.

For the past two years, she's been involved with an undercover paedophile-busting story which featured on Tonight With Trevor McDonald. The story highlighted how easy it was for children on Internet chatrooms to become involved with sick perverts.

A Home Office task force has been set up to try to make the Internet companies more liable for safeguards.

Carol also won pounds 125,000 on a celebrity edition of Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? and the money snowballed into a pounds 1million donation to one of her favourite charities, Express Link Up, which gives computers to hospitals so long-term sick children can use them for homework or to keep in touch with friends outside.

Carol says: "I'm a realist, not a triumphalist. I know because I am a famous face that I can be a mouthpiece for charities and make a difference. I have contacts and my voice can be heard quickly."

Having scored 70 per cent of the votes in a recent poll for the most favourite person on ITV, Carol knows she is loved by millions and, rather than sitting back and basking in the glory, realises she can use her fame to change what she sees is wrong.

She says: "I am more confident about who I am. In my 20s, it was all: 'should I be seen like this? Should I be more intelligent?' I wasn't confident enough.

"But now I've been through lots of different departments in television and was even a producer, so I know I can do my job well and I will always be involved in television, but I'm looking to achieve other things as well."

Carol is the first to admit that she has a drive and determination created by her background.

Three weeks after she was born on Christmas Eve 1960, her former Dutch resistance fighter dad Anton walked out on the family.

Her mother Jean and her father ran a bike shop in Prestatyn. Jean was left with new baby Carol, son Anton, eight, and daughter Trixie, five. She worked four jobs to provide for them.

Carol, who shared a room with her mum, seems to have taken the same spirit. She was the first pupil from her Rhyl comprehensive to go to Cambridge, where she read engineering.

But the run of bad luck didn't stop there. Her mum split with her second husband and, although they lived in separate digs, they had to live out of bin bags from Carol's rusty Datsun car.

However, it was her mother who wrote a letter of application to Countdown on Carol's behalf.

With an impressive IQ of 167, Carol, beat 3000 applicants for the job and, despite higher profile jobs, has stayed with the programme for almost 20 years.

Until about five years ago, she was just a maths brain, the co-presenter of a Channel 4 quiz show which had become a cult.

But then she began to transform herself from the brainy school swot to television golden girl.

She lost two stones and, at last year's Baftas, she wore a turquoise Ungaro mini dress which stole the limelight from the younger Liz Hurley-type headline grabbers.

Carol laughs, a throaty, mischievous laugh: "I find it hysterically funny when the papers go on about what I'm wearing.

"I like dressing up - it's not my reason for living, but it doesn't mean I can't wear something nice."

Carol has been working exclusively for ITV for the past three years in programmes such as Better Homes and Stars In Their Lives and she's about to be seen in a new series, Britain's Brainiest, which starts on January 2.

Each episode aims to find the UK's brainiest teacher, taxi driver or even footballer.

Carol knows the critics claim she's never off the box, but is glad when it's pointed out that this year she doesn't seem to have been on with such blanket coverage.

She says: "You noticed. It was sort of done deliberately - more in the scheduling than me not doing things.

"I had a meeting with some of the ITV heads and made sure they didn't put on all my programmes I did this year and will be seen in next year at the same time - they are all more spaced out. I don't get annoyed when people say I'm on the box too much. I've got skin like a rhino."

In fact, nothing seems to rattle Carol's cage. Even the members of the public who see her eating pasta and ask what happened to her detox diet and ask her whether it's true that she can't leave the house for three days.

She giggles: "Of course that's not true. I'm only on the detox diet for three weeks, twice a year, although people think I'm on it all the time.

"I'm very glad of it. I gauge when I'm putting on weight - my trousers get tight - and go on the detox diet, cutting out foods like wheat and dairy products, but there's no going to the gym or counting calories."

CAROL, who split with husband Paddy last year, has two children, Katie, nine and Cameron, four. She admits she started the diets when she was 38 because she couldn't shift the weight after her pregnancies.

One area that's out of bounds is her relationship with journalist Des Kelly, but she speaks fondly of her other partnership - with Countdown host Richard Whiteley.

The pair have been a double act for longer than the Two Ronnies or Morecambe and Wise, and fans of Countdown will know they are just as funny.

Carol reveals they have thought about going on This Morning for a week.

She said: "It has been mentioned. I would never want to do it full time because we couldn't do Countdown - but I'd love to do it for a week.

"It would be so funny because we'd just argue. We've known each other for so long we're like a married couple. I would like Richard to do women's health issues - he'd be highly embarrassed and it would be hysterical to watch him cope."

Despite attempts to make Carol and the other Carol - Carol Smillie - bitter enemies they are, in fact, great friends.

While Carol S does Changing Rooms, Carol V does Better Homes. They were both called Carol because Carol V was born on Christmas Eve and Carol S was born on December 23.

The Scottish presenter will be 40 next week.

Carol said: "I can't make it up for her birthday. It's a shame, but I've got children and it's too far.

"Like me, she can't wait to be 40."

Looks like enjoying your 40s is becoming contagious.
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Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Dec 20, 2001
Words:1531
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