Clarkson's mother puts the brakes on spending

IT'S THEIR children who are usually in the limelight but now a select band of parents are set to become TV stars in their own right.

But while their offspring may live a lifestyle many families

can only dream of, these celebrity mothers and fathers will be teaching people skills that will help viewers live a more frugal, self-sustaining existence.

The mother of Top Gear's Jeremy Clarkson is one of those who has landed a spot on the new show teaching young people skills like sewing, knitting and traditional home cooking which it is feared have been lost.

Shirley Clarkson, 75, uses know-how from her life to reintroduce basic skills into a 21st century family lifestyle.

Growing up in post-war Britain, Mrs Clarkson relied on "tips", snippets of advice, to help make the best out of a period of rationing of food and other commodities.

The programme aims to show how wasteful some families have become, and that having a "make-do and mend" attitude can save money.

All involved hope that families taking part and watching will buck the trend of UK's consumer culture, and use their new advice to create a home that is greener and cheaper to run.

The result should be families being more sensible with their finances, and having practical and inventive ideas to be greener and save money.

Mrs Clarkson, who has previously had a teaching role at a school in Doncaster, takes on a different type of mentoring, tutoring a family on skills useful around the home.

She said: "There was a single mother who had never cooked – her family lived on ready meals. So we made a casserole to show how it's cheaper to cook a meal from scratch."

Known for his brash straight talking, son Jeremy passed some showbiz advice on to his mother.

"Jeremy just said make it entertaining." said Mrs Clarkson. "He said people won't necessarily rush out to buy wool and white vinegar to copy the tips, but they should want to watch the show – and if they pick up tips, that's great."

Viewers will be wondering if Mrs Clarkson is as straightforward in her opinions and elaborate in the use of imagery as her famous son.

"I find as you get older, you don't censor what you say," she said. "I don't want to hurt people, but I'm happy to express my opinion."

Top Gear audiences would have already met Mrs Clarkson in 2005, after she road-tested the Honda Jazz, Renault Modus and Peugeot 1007 along with the mothers of her son's co-stars, Richard Hammond and James May, on the hit BBC programme.

She is also a successful businesswoman and author in her own right, and as founder of Gabrielle Designs, which was started in the family home in Burghwallis, near Doncaster, she made the first Paddington Bear as a Christmas present for Jeremy and his younger sister Joanna, adapted from the book's illustrations by Peggy Fortnum.

The prototype made her a toy-making success, shipping bears around the world. This led to an autobiography, Bearly Believable: My Part in the Paddington Bear Story, in June 2008.

In the new show, she demonstrates to a ready-meal eating family how to cook dinners that are friendlier on the pocket and more nutritious.

They also plant vegetables, saving the family even more money, and getting all the family involved with their meals, from where it's grown, to how it looks on the plate.

She says: "We were trying to get through to them how much money they could save by mending things, but were shocked to see how disposable things are now.

"We did cleaning, too, with white vinegar and warm water. It's eco-friendly and cheaper."

Other celebrity parents taking part in the new show include those of East Yorkshire property developer Sarah Beeny, chat show host Jonathan Ross, singer-turned reality show judge Charlotte Church, and Peter Jones, father of film star Vinnie Jones.

Celebrity Parents SOS starts on May 24 on Sky Real Lives at 8.30pm.