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I'm no celeb..I'm just a short orange person with a fringe; STRICTLY'S CLAUDIA A WINKLEMAN ON HER LUCKY LIFE..

Byline: GABRIELLE FAGAN

CLAUDIA Winkleman has perfectly mastered the art of selfdeprecation - it's part of her charm, along with her witty one-liners.

Despite being one of the most recognisable faces on TV, co-hosting Strictly Come Dancing with Tess Daly, she shrieks in horror at the thought of being called a celebrity.

"Nooo, please don't call me that.Of course I'm not, not even close. I'm just a short, orange person with a fringe," she said. "I don't really regard myself as being in showbusiness. It's entirely possible that my indulgent family have created a home video scheme, where I feel like I've been hired to do telly but it's not actually real."

Despite the humorous protests, underneath that trademark fringe - which she claims became so long during lockdown that "birds and squirrels started nesting in it" - she is clearly super-talented.

Claudia has carved a hugely successful career in broadcasting. As well as Strictly, she used to present The Great British Sewing Bee and now hosts Best Home Cook as well as having a Radio 2 show -Claudia on Sunday. But it's her latest role, as one of five judges for the 2020 Amazon Kindle Storyteller Award, she's enthusing about.

The 48 year-old is also welcoming the task as a diversion because, she said: "I'm genuinely not doing anything else, apart from really bad homeschooling. No one's more relieved about this new role than my children, because it turns out teaching is not my super-power."

In reality, she's also finished writing a memoir, Quite, to be published in October, and has teamed up with friend, clinical psychologist Tanya Byron, on their podcast, How Did We Get Here? Clearly though, she's relished spending more time at home with the family this year. Married to film producer Kris Thykier for 20 years - they have three children, Jake, 17, Matilda, 14, and Arthur, eight - she said: "I pretend to be busier than I am but the truth is, I'm essentially lazy, like a sloth really.

"I feel beyond lucky to be able to say that, for me, the best part (of lockdown) has been enjoying the family being together all the time."

But she's quick to acknowledge that "this time has been truly terrible for some people. I'm in awe of the sacrifices people have made being on the NHS frontline, and others keeping services going, like supermarkets". In 2014, Matilda suffered severe burns when her Halloween costume caught fire. The incident prompted the Government to tighten the flameretardant standards of Halloween costumes.

"I've always thought nurses were the most important people in the world, and not just because of what happened to my family, and this has made us all value them so much more," added Claudia. Her parenting style is "very strict - I'm happy to be a quite unpopular and deeply embar-rassing mum.

"That's my main role. I have no interest whatever in being their best friend, I don't think that's my job - maybe when they're older but not now."

She insists on strict bedtimes, limits screen time and resolutely avoids "an unrealistic idea of perfect parenting" right now.

"We put enormous pressure on ourselves to give them organic meals, do science and craft sessions and then gather to discuss the works of Charles Dickens. That's just not the way it really is. We just have to muddle through as best we can." Reports suggest that Strictly Come Dancing and other shows will return to screens in the autumn, and Claudia said: "I love working and I'm so lucky I can dip in and out of these days.

"When my eldest son was young, I was working much harder doing daily stuff, whereas now I turn up occasionally and talk about a rhumba, do a bit of radio and that's about it."

She's philosophical about the hiatus brought on by lockdown. "I love my job but during this time, I haven't felt like, 'Poor me, I can't read aloud.' I mean, that's what I do - I read aloud off an autocue. I'd love to say my job is more complicated than that but it isn't. For me, when the time comes, if they still want me to, I'll do it again, and if they don't, I'll totally understand."

HOME AND HEART Claudia with her producer husband Kris " Claudia added: "It's not sequins at home for me. I love the clothes on Strictly but I don't get to keep them ever. One of the bonuses of the show is they completely take charge of my appearance and get me glammed up in a way I simply can't achieve. I'v now realised how much they do because on the Zoom calls over the last months, I've sometimes looked at the screen and thought, 'I didn't realise Meatloaf had moved in', and then realised it was me."

Vanity was discouraged when she was a child, she said.

"I was brought up by my mother, a staunch feminist ( former newspaper editor Eve Pollard), to think my appearance was the least interesting thing about me and not to worry about it. We didn't have mirrors at home and I've followed that and don't have them in our home now."

She cited her marriage as "very important to my happiness - I'm so lucky. Who knows how long it will last but while it does, it's brilliant. That and my children, my family and my amazing friends are what I value. They've got me through tough times."

She doesn't hesitate when asked to name her biggest achievement: "Definitely my children. They say 'please' and 'thank you' and make toast for everyone. They're good, humble and kind."

." ?Claudia Winkleman is a judge for the 2020 Amazon Kindle Storyteller Award, open for entries until August 31. All titles must be enrolled in Kindle Direct Publishing Select while in the competition

CAPTION(S):

HOME AND HEART Claudia with her producer husband Kris

CROCHET FAN N Claudia fronted The Great British Sewing Bee

FAMILIAR FACE With Chris Bavin, Mary Berry & Angela Hartnett on Best Home Cook

GLAMOUR GIRL Claudia alongside her Strictly Come Dancing co-host Tess Daly
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Author:GABRIELLE FAGAN
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Aug 15, 2020
Words:1014
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