Kate Garraway's The Joy Of Big Knickers tackles life for women in middle age
Kate Garraway is no stranger to mishaps – but she knows how to laugh them off. As she approaches 50, the TV and radio presenter talks to Hannah Stephenson about middle age, cosmetic surgery and getting over inadvertently flashing to millions of viewers
GOOD Morning Britain presenter Kate Garraway is often compared to Bridget Jones, thanks to her calamitous moments. The most infamous of these happened last year, when her pants were accidentally flashed to viewers as her co-presenter, Ben Shephard, scooped her up and pretended to dunk her in a pool of water.
"It was my worst nightmare," she laments. "My feeling was one of total horror. I mean, Ben picked me up without any warning. I was panicking about my phone because I thought he was going to throw me in. The floor manager looked up and said, 'We saw everything'. Then I had to go back through everything, frame by frame, to see just how much had been revealed. It was awful, but I am still speaking to Ben."
Relaying the story with mock horror, it's clear Garraway has been around long enough not to take life too seriously. She may have been horrified that her nether regions were exposed for a nanosecond on TV, but 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. It's partly anecdotal – we learn her thoughts on cosmetic surgery, changing her couch potato habits and eating more healthily – but there's plenty of research in there which addresses the problems and feelings of women as they reach this phase of life.
She admits she had her own mid-life crisis while writing the book, when she walked into the radio station 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."
She's worked on breakfast TV for nearly 20 years, interviewing everyone from heavyweight politicians to Hollywood stars. And there have been times when Garraway has wanted to enhance her own looks, although, so far, she has resisted Botox and cosmetic surgery.
"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," she says. "You need to look at all the other things first [exercise, diet etc] because they create the youthful energy that we're all after, rather than being wrinkle-free.
"I'm not saying I'd never have a facelift long-term," she continues. "Never say never."
Garraway has been married for 11 years to her second husband, former Labour adviser Derek Draper; they have a 10-year-old daughter and a seven-year-old son.
"I would have loved to have had more children," she admits. "But you make decisions at the time. You can't go back and rerun."
While researching the book, she learnt about how sex can be good for you both physically and mentally. When a friend told her she'd embarked on a two-week challenge, in which a couple make love once a day for a fortnight, Garraway decided to give it a go. Half way through, calamity struck.
"I was lying in the bath with the scented candles on," she recalls, while her husband had taken the children to the park. "[He] slipped on some wet leaves, broke four bones in his foot and spent the evening in A&E – and that was it."
In the book, she writes: "Sex isn't the be-all and end-all, as we mid-lifers know so well. Companionship, trust, support in raising a family and caring for elderly relatives can make us adore our partners much more."
She writes warmly about her GMB pals, and although TV has a reputation for being cut-throat behind the scenes, that''s not something Garraway has encountered.
For now, she's planning a 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.
:: The Joy Of Big Knickers by Kate Garraway is published today by Blink, priced £14.99