She’s been a fixture on our TV screens for 25 years, but suddenly everyone’s looking at Kate Garraway in a whole new light – including her own husband, she tells Chris Harvey.
Of all the surprises Kate Garraway faced in the jungle as a contestant on ITV’s I’m a Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here!, the biggest awaited her when she left the rainforest camp.
Kate’s husband of nearly 15 years, Derek Draper, was in Australia, where the reality show is filmed, along with their two children, Darcey, 13, and Billy, ten. Watching his wife cope with the deprivations of jungle life with great humour, and winning many admirers in the process, Derek ‘fell in love with me all over again’, says Kate.
‘You’re told you can’t take any jewellery into the jungle,’ she continues, ‘I didn’t want to take my wedding ring off, as I never have since we got married. But I did take my engagement ring off. When Derek came to meet me after I left the jungle, he was planning to propose to me again [with the ring, in front of the TV cameras], but he got overwhelmed and burst into tears. The kids leapt out and surprised me and Darcey said, “Oh Dad – you didn’t do it!” So he got down on one knee and proposed… and I said yes, obviously.
‘It was such a tearful, emotional moment,’ she admits. ‘Sometimes, when you’ve been married for a long time, you almost forget what brought you together in the first place. And actually with all those people in camp, much as I loved them, it reminded me exactly why I’m with Derek. There were things I’d say that perhaps other people wouldn’t get and I realised what a connection Derek and I have. When you come out of the jungle, everything is overwhelming, even the smell of food. But the one thing that didn’t feel a problem was being back with Derek and the children.’ The couple are now planning to renew their wedding vows.
While Kate may not have won this series of I’m a Celebrity… (that honour went to Eastenders actress Jacqueline Jossa), the show felt like a turning point for the 52-year-old TV presenter. She has been a fixture on our television screens for the past 25 years – on GMTV, Daybreak and now Good Morning Britain – but suddenly millions of viewers saw a different side to Kate. Throwing herself into jungle life, she was fearless, funny and flirty. She held her nerve when besieged by cockroaches or splattered in fish guts. She rocked a red bikini that had the nation’s jaws dropping. And, in one of the most enjoyable moments of this year’s show, she caught the eye of 28-year-old singer Myles Stephenson (of the X Factor boy band Rak-Su) who admitted he had a huge crush on her.
‘That was great for me personally,’ says Kate, who is on today’s photo shoot fresh from her morning slot on Smooth Radio, ‘and great for everyone to think that you can still be attractive over 50, because I think there is a feeling that you disappear a bit.’ At one point a clip showed her saying, ‘Hell yeah, I’m a MILF [mother I’d like to f***].’ Did she realise how risqué that is? ‘No!’ she laughs, although she was thinking about the Mrs Robinson character in the film The Graduate. ‘I think if I’d said to Myles, “Brilliant, let’s get it on,” he might have been a bit surprised,’ she adds, ‘but it was very nice of him to say, “I love older women.” He’s a very sweet, gentlemanly boy.’
Derek (a former political spin doctor turned psychotherapist) joked in an interview with Lorraine Kelly that he was ‘jealous’ of his young rival. ‘Derek knows why I love him and he loves me, so I don’t think he really thought I’d be running off with Myles… although I think everybody’s aware that Myles is a very handsome young man.’
So after three weeks apart, was she dying to jump into bed with her husband? ‘If you’re asking me if I still fancied him, yes I did,’ she says, a little shyly. ‘You do talk about missing your partner in the jungle but it’s emotional. I guess the physical relationship goes with that, but it’s not the overriding thing.’
We have to discuss Kate’s ‘shower moment’. When she appeared in a red bikini top, Twitter was abuzz with talk of her ‘fantastic figure’ and ‘awesome rack’. Is she offended? ‘I think it’s great,’ she says. ‘At 52, it’s brilliant [to hear that]. Even if it’s slightly embarrassing for the children.’ She hadn’t been planning to shower on camera, ‘and then after I got covered in fish guts, it was the only option. But I did wear massive, high-waisted pants… I had a really skimpy pair, but I wasn’t brave enough to change into those.’
Body confidence aside, viewers were won over by Kate’s charm and can-do attitude. Away from the bright lights of the ITV studios, we got to see her more relaxed and uninhibited – the Kate that her Good Morning Britain colleague Susanna Reid describes as having ‘the biggest heart, the throatiest laugh and the best jokes’.
‘She’s the realest person on TV,’ adds Susanna, who has been inspired by Kate’s time in the jungle to be more courageous and – with her own 50th approaching this year – embrace the next decade of life, like Kate. ‘She has shown how brave it is possible to be at a time when some might think taking risks was beyond them,’ says Susanna.
Despite how impressively she came across on screen, Kate admits that six days into the show she had a low point, brought on by the intensity of being with people all the time, but she got through it. There are mental health professionals on hand, she says, if anyone is really struggling, as well as medics. ‘They wanted me to see a doctor at one point because they were a bit worried about how rapid my weight loss was.’
She ended up losing about a stone in the jungle, although she says reports that she lost two stone preparing for the show are incorrect. Kate did take advice on how to look her best from presenter Carol Vorderman (who did I’m a Celebrity… in 2016), for viewers wondering if Kate had sneaked in supplies of make-up (many couldn’t believe she looked as good as she did without a secret stash of beauty products). ‘Carol told me: fake tan to the max, dye your eyebrows, have extensions to your lashes, so I did all of that beforehand.’ It’s impossible to sneak contraband into the jungle, she tells me, although she did have hairbands to create her now trademark ‘power bunches’.
For Kate, the experience of depending on her camp mates was transformative. She bonded with US reality TV personality Caitlyn Jenner in particular. ‘There were times when she talked about her surgery [Caitlyn completed gender reassignment surgery in 2017] when I felt, “You don’t have to tell me now,” but she said, “Oh no, it’s fine”. Obviously, I’m still a journalist, but I also felt very much like a friend to her.
‘There was a lovely moment when Caitlyn asked me, “What do you do with your make-up when you’re going out?” I was about to joke, “I just fill in the cracks,” and then I thought, no, she’s really asking, in a very sweet way, so I said, “I like a smoky eye.” And she replied, “I like that, too. It’s quite difficult, isn’t it, when you get older?”’
At one point, Caitlyn suggested that Kate might consider getting facial surgery to look more feminine, advice that Kate laughed off. In her 2017 book The Joy of Big Knickers, Kate decided against having ‘work’ done (in this case, to look more youthful) – does she still feel that way? ‘I don’t know. I do find myself doing this quite a lot…’ she says, performing a manual lift with her fingers beside her ears. ‘But I’m a bit scared of a face-lift, and I’ve kind of aged in front of everybody, so it would be a bit weird.’
Kate says it was her children who encouraged her to go in the jungle in the first place, so it was a relief when they gave her a thumbs-up for her performance. ‘Darcey wrote me a note that said, “I’m really proud of you. I know I give you a hard time but you’re actually my hero… Well, in everything apart from your dress sense,”’ Kate laughs.
She was certainly heroic enduring I’m a Celebrity’s squirm-worthy bushtucker trials where members of the public vote for contestants to face gruesome challenges. During the ‘Bad Banquet’, she had buckets of live insects dumped on her head, including a huge spider (one of her biggest fears). Luckily, the experience cured Kate of her terror, rather than making it worse. ‘I’m at peace with spiders now,’ she says, ‘although I do go into rooms and look up to see if there are buckets above my head.’
So which is worse: a bushtucker trial or working with co-presenter Piers Morgan on Good Morning Britain? ‘They both have a lot of similarities,’ she laughs. When Kate and Derek announced their original engagement, Piers emailed her to say, ‘If I had known the bar was that low, I would have had a crack myself.’ Kate and Derek saw the funny side and included the quote on their save-the-date cards. I wonder if Kate ever considered having a crack at Piers? ‘Oh my god,’ she says at the thought.
Kate may now be back in the comfort of her family home in North London, but she says her stint in the jungle has been like ‘pressing the reset button’ on her life. And it has inspired her to launch a new venture, an online ‘wellbeing club’ called Club Garraway, where she will post videos with advice on how to ‘feel better, achieve your goals and thrive not just survive’. Kate, for one, is certainly thriving: surprise star of the jungle, newly crowned sex symbol, wellness influencer-in-the-making – you get the feeling that 2020 is going to be her year.
Great for Kate
Most-used emoji? Winky face.
Karaoke song? Dancing Queen by Abba.
Favourite tipple? I drink lager. Derek drinks champagne. Waiters always put it down the wrong way and we have to swap over.
True love is? Everything.
Your house is on fire, what do you grab? After the kids and husband, my phone. I have so many photos on it. I don’t understand the Cloud, so they’d be lost.
Earliest memory? Interviewing my teddies when I was about four or five. My parents still have the tape.
Starstruck moment? The first time I interviewed Brad Pitt. I applied way too much lip gloss and my hair kept getting stuck to my lips.
Career plan B? I’m equipped to do very little else!