A certain age

AUTHOR: Kate Garraway will be talking about her new book at York Library next week.  PICTURE PA PHOTO/ADAM LAWRENCE.AUTHOR: Kate Garraway will be talking about her new book at York Library next week.  PICTURE PA PHOTO/ADAM LAWRENCE.
AUTHOR: Kate Garraway will be talking about her new book at York Library next week. PICTURE PA PHOTO/ADAM LAWRENCE.
As she approaches 50, TV and radio presenter Kate Garraway talks to Hannah Stephenson about her new book which explores modern middle age.

Good Morning Britain presenter Kate Garraway is often compared to Bridget Jones, thanks to her calamitous moments.

The most famous of these happened last year, when her crotch – sporting nude-coloured support pants – was accidentally flashed to the nation as her co-presenter, Ben Shephard, scooped her up and pretended to dunk her in a pool of muddy water.

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“I’ve made such a fool of myself so many times on TV. When you’ve flashed your crotch in front of the nation, it’s hard to get nervous about anything ever again! It 
was my worst nightmare,” she laments.

Relaying the story with wide-eyed mock horror, laughter never far away, it’s clear Garraway has been around long enough not to take life too seriously. She can laugh at herself with the best of them.

She’s now tackling middle age – she’ll be 50 this year – with The Joy Of Big Knickers, an upbeat, positive and humorous book which looks at middle age for the modern woman and which she will be talking about at an event at York Library next week.

The book is partly anecdotal – we learn her thoughts on cosmetic surgery, embarking on a sex challenge with her husband, changing her couch potato habits and eating more healthily – but there’s plenty of research in there which addresses the problems and feelings of today’s women as they reach this phase of life.

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She admits she had her own mid-life crisis while writing the book, when she walked into the office at Smooth Radio, where she presents a daily show, on her 49th birthday and they’d decked it out for her 50th.

“It made me think, ‘But I am going to be 50 and it feels like a very big number, where you should have achieved things or be content with things’.

“I thought, ‘I’m still overstretched, overworked, feeling like I’m not being as good a mum as I should be or as good at work as I should be’. I needed to take stock.

“I needed to look at exercise, eating, and the great thing about my job is that you not only have super-glamorous famous people who seem to have got it all sorted, to take advice from, but also as a journalist, I know how to find answers from experts.”

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She’s worked on breakfast TV for nearly 20 years, interviewing everyone from heavyweight politicians to film stars including Julia Roberts and Tom Cruise.

And there have been times when Garraway has wanted to enhance her own looks, although, so far, she has resisted Botox and going under the knife.

“I pretty much wanted a facelift quite obsessively for ages. But everyone said it wouldn’t make any difference at all. My husband thought I was bonkers. He said, ‘Don’t do that!’ He thinks it’s ridiculous. He wouldn’t want me to do it. I’m not saying I’d never have a facelift long-term, never say never.”

Garraway’s been married for 11 years to her second husband, former Labour adviser Derek Draper, who she met through a mutual friend at GMTV.

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“We went for drinks in London and she invited him along, telling him there was this girl at GMTV she really wanted him to meet. 
He thought it was Andrea McLean. He’d Googled the wrong person. I think he was a bit disappointed when I turned up because Andrea’s gorgeous! We got on straight away. I thought he was, and still is, very interesting.”

Married in their late-30s, they have a daughter, Darcey, 10, and seven-year-old son, Billy. “I would have loved to have had more children. I’d have probably ended up one of those people who 
appear in the newspaper with 25 kids. But you make decisions at the time. You can’t go back and rerun. Do I wish I’d had a child with a person I dated in the sixth form? No.”

As for work, she writes warmly about her GMB pals, and although TV has a reputation for being bitchy and cut-throat behind the scenes, it’s not something Garraway has encountered.

“You never get stories about Good Morning Britain or any of our team fighting with each other. But I remember on GMTV, between myself, Penny Smith and Fiona Phillips, it was always ‘Sofa wars’, which wasn’t true.

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For now, she’s planning a huge party for her 50th birthday and is positive about the future.

“On my lovely journey, I’ve sometimes felt it could be downhill from here, but that isn’t always a bad thing. It’s better than an uphill struggle.

“Take the time to take stock and work out what your priorities are, what things are holding you back, make peace with decisions you’ve made in the past, realise the way you are is because of choices you made, and take responsibility for and control of your life,” Garraway muses.

“It’s a time of explosive change, and it’s incredibly liberating.”

The Joy of Big Knickers by Kate Garraway is published by Blink, priced £14.99.

Garraway will be appearing at York Library at 6.30pm on March 13.