In person, Claudia Winkleman is exactly like she is on TV – amusing, vivacious and eager to put others at ease. But she confesses she never watches her shows, so doesn’t view Strictly or Best Home Cook.
“I’ve never watched myself and I can’t imagine how irritating I am,” confesses the 47-year-old presenter and mum of three, who’s been married since 2000 to film producer Kris Thykier.”
Claudia Winkleman continues with the joke. “I don’t even believe Best Home Cook goes out on telly. It’s just something my parents have created to make me feel good about myself, so I’m delighted Barry and Eve got you here today so that I don’t feel like my life has been wasted.”
Mum’s the word
Claudia says her kids, Jake, 16, Matilda, 13, and Arthur, eight, aren’t interested in her showbiz career either.
“The oldest one is mortified, just mortified,” says Claudia. “He’s like, ‘You’ve got to stop doing it, Mum.’ They’re not interested in my TV shows, they don’t watch.”
And Claudia insists she’s just like us. “I ride the Tube four times a day and nobody notices me – even when I start humming the Strictly theme tune!”
But Claudia’s doting parents watch her, while her mum, journalist and presenter Eve Pollard, can’t resist regularly dishing out fashion advice.
“My mum will often text me during Strictly and say, ‘Why not a red lipstick?’ laughs Claudia, referring to her trademark super-pale lippy, adding, ‘After 37 years, it’s always Tippex.”
Claudia may avoid tuning in to her own shows, but it’s likely millions of viewers will eagerly return to the second series of Best Home Cook, a MasterChef-inspired programme that focuses on home cooking.
Cooking with Claudia Winkleman
Claudia presents the show, comforts contestants who don’t get through and samples the food made by the skilled amateurs alongside esteemed judges Mary Berry and Angela Hartnett.
“Somebody made something I’d never actually had before – omelette Arnold Bennett – and it was the best thing I’ve ever eaten in my entire life,” enthuses Claudia.
“My head just shot off my shoulders! I went home and my husband asked, ‘How was your day?’ and I was like, ‘Why do you ask?’ and I had this big hamster cheek full of it that I’d forgotten!”
The mum guilt
Claudia has spoken of having to choose work projects very carefully, after feeling overwhelmed and missing out on her kids growing up.
She quit her jobs on Film… and The Great British Sewing Bee, but it’s clear why Claudia wants to work on Best Home Cook.
“Mary is amazing,” she says. “And what’s so magnificent about her is that she is Mary Berry – she’s a queen. The contestants want to please everybody, but they really want to please Mary. When she walked past a bench, you could feel everyone take a breath.
“But she puts everyone at ease, from the contestants to the camera crew.”
And Claudia and Mary got on beautifully off-screen during the filming of the show, hunkering down together to get cosy.
“Mary and I get cold, so we like a very hot room and we would put hot-water bottles up our tops and blankets on and heaters full on. Angela was boiling, asking ‘What are you doing to me?!’
“I’m not lying. The heating is full on, but we’re freezing. I’ve never knowingly been warm. I would happily wear a sweater on the beach.”
While Claudia calls her own style of cooking ‘ramshackle’, her skills clearly helped her in the romance department.
‘”When I fell in love with my husband a million years ago, I knew that he loved chilli con carne,” she says. “I was living with my mum – I probably still would be if I hadn’t got married – and I learned how to make a great chilli.”
That convinced him? “That, among other things,” she says slyly. Claudia’s husband, she says, is “good at burgers and fish and barbecuing.”
Despite more than two decades in the public eye, amid rave reviews for co-hosting the nation’s favourite dance contest, Claudia still seems a little shocked about her success and remains typically modest about her achievements.
“I don’t take anything for granted,” she finishes. “There’s nothing worse than going, ‘Yeah, it’s going well!’
“I’m grateful that I’m employed and thanks to everyone for that – I imagine it’ll stop any minute now. But while it’s still going, marvellous. Fine. Thank you very much!”