Vicky Pattison on contemplating mid-life motherhood and ambitions beyond reality TV
Reality TV star Vicky Pattison talks to Hannah Stephenson about her new book, putting off motherhood until mid-life and why she's feeling even more loved-up after lockdown...
GEORDIE Shore star, I'm A Celebrity winner and Ex On The Beach contestant Vicky Pattison is aware that making her name on reality shows may be holding her back from more serious projects.
"For years now I've wanted to take myself to a slightly different space. I admire people who are doing investigative journalism and documentaries.
"Coming from a background like I have with reality TV, people aren't in a rush to take a chance on me to do something different. People are under the assumption that I'm unintelligent or vapid or talentless.
"But I'm hard-working, polite and respectful and I'm the first person in at work and the last to leave."
Pattison reinvented herself as a TV presenter with her own show Judge Geordie and became a panellist on ITV's Loose Women for nine months, but agrees it's still an uphill battle to lose that reality TV tag.
"I wouldn't be where I am without reality TV," says the jungle queen, who holds a drama degree from Liverpool John Moores University.
"I'm very grateful for the platform it's provided. I just want different things now. I'd love to be doing Stacey Dooley-style docs. I'd love to look at issues affecting women – contraception, periods, synthetic hormones. Those issues need more coverage."
Vicky has revealed that she will be doing a documentary this year but remains tight-lipped about new projects. She started a podcast The Secret To… during lockdown and in 2021 promoted body positivity in lingerie for a campaign with fashion brand Pour Moi.
Yet, despite wanting to branch out, she hasn't dismissed more reality TV.
"But if I keep doing more shows, that's all I'm going to be known for. I have to distance myself from it if I've got any hope of getting where I want to be."
For now, she's pursuing the self-help path with her latest book, The Secret To Happy, in which she explores heartbreak, loss, body positivity and mental health, and offers advice based on her own experiences.
She's been living with her partner, ex-Towie star Ercan Ramadan (28), for more than two years and throughout lockdown, and readily admits she would like to marry him.
"I'd love to be Ercan's wife. But what I took from lockdown is that I'd probably been going through life so fast, just wanting the next thing ticked off, like the bigger house, the next relationship, the next job
"But now I realise that success is being happy, contentment. Every day we are so excited to see each other and we've still got things to talk about and he still makes me smile. I just consider that to be a win."
At 34, she now feels the biological clock ticking.
"The last thing I want to tell women is that we should be beholden to something and compare ourselves with other people's timelines but I'm only human and I do feel the pressure, especially when I look around and see other people of similar ages to me in my industry knocking out three kids. I think, 'I need to get a move on'.
"I know in that sense I'm getting left behind. It takes a very strong person to not feel pressure. Most days I'm OK but some days I feel a bit sad."
She's decided to have her eggs frozen to allow her more time to follow her dream.
"I feel like most days I want to be a mother but other days I think, have I got space for that? I'm still feeling conflicted, which is what led me to the decision to freeze my eggs.
"I've been toying with the idea for years because I'm not getting any younger. I just don't want to make a poor judgment now that would impact our future happiness. Ercan is considerably younger than me.
"I've always thought that freezing eggs was somehow conceding defeat, that it was in some way saying, 'You are not having kids'. And for me, who does want to be a mother, that's a difficult pill to swallow. But ultimately I still have days when I'm so not ready. There's still a lot of growing up I have to do.
"I know it's the right time. Ercan is incredibly supportive."
She hasn't set herself an age limit for having children.
"I have no qualms about being a mother at 40. As long as I'm still healthy and happy and can be the best mother for my kids that I can. Didn't Rachel Weisz have a child when she was 48? She looks wicked and they seem to be doing all right."
Pattison believes lockdown has strengthened her love for Ramadan.
"I think I fell in love with him more. I spent the first year-and-a-half of our relationship being a very fast, very busy, very determined woman going from a photoshoot to a fancy event, to filming. There was always more of that glam version of me.
"Then, for a year Ercan got this small boy-looking version of me who ran around in three-day-old pyjamas with her hair on top of her head and not a scrap of make-up. He still looked at me in exactly the same way as he did when I was on a red carpet. He just loves the real me."
Vicky was on Geordie Shore from 2011 to 2014 and soon became tabloid fodder. One of her lowest points came when she ended up in court in 2014, admitting one count of assault and one count of common assault after she threw her shoe at a reveller and a bouncer in a bar brawl. She was ordered to do 180 hours of unpaid work and pay £4,750 compensation to the victims.
In the book, she talks about experiencing suicidal thoughts in the wake of the incident and of the support her sister Laura and a close friend provided at the time. Therapy and life coaching has also helped her mental health over the years, she agrees.
"I'm a different person now. I'm a lot older and a lot wiser. I've removed myself from situations like that, both professionally and personally. But I still hold a certain amount of guilt and remorse for what I did.
"I can blame as many outside influences as I like – I was lost, misguided, couldn't navigate the world I found myself in. But there's a huge part of me that feels so contrite about it all. I don't know if there will ever be a time when I fully absolve myself of that guilt."
There were other dramas as she hit her 30s: splitting from her ex-fiance John Noble in 2018 after pictures were published of him with a mystery woman on a night out in Dubai.
"I just couldn't take it any more and I was trying to deal with it all so publicly," she recalls.
Despite all the brickbats that the fame game has thrown at her, Pattison remains grateful for the platform reality TV gave her.
"Yes, this job comes with pitfalls – everything you do is essentially public knowledge and everyone's going to have opinions on you and not all of them are going to be nice – but I have a very charmed existence.
"I can take my mam on holiday now. I travel and I can pick up the bill for my friends on a night out. I wouldn't be able to do those things had I not done Geordie Shore and I'm A Celebrity."
:: The Secret To Happy by Vicky Pattison is published by Sphere.