Laura Whitmore lists Iain Stirling’s bad habits but jokes he’s got ‘good rhythm’
Presenter Laura Whitmore, 35, on surviving lockdown with her fella, her body hang-ups, and not wanting to mess up taking over Love Island from her tragic pal Caroline Flack
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Laura Whitmore has a mug of tea in one hand and with her other is trying to stop her super cute white Maltipoo, Mick, from licking her face.
‘Arghh!’ she giggles, all messy blonde ponytail, perfect gnashers and cute dimples. ‘It’s the dog who was the real issue in lockdown, he followed me around the house like a stalker.’
The model-pretty TV star is chatting – via Zoom – from her relaxed office room in the north London home she shares with Iain Stirling. The comedian, who does the Love Island voice-over, can vaguely be heard in the next room playing video games.
The couple have been together three years and are rumoured to be engaged, but we have been sternly warned in advance that any questions about upcoming nuptials or baby plans are strictly off limits. Apart from that, Laura is warm, friendly and open, and in her denim dungarees and white tee looks half her 35 years.
The Irish presenter took over from her friend, the late Caroline Flack (another taboo subject, fair enough) to host the winter edition of Love Island in January.
Now she’s promoting a British Army podcast series she stars in, The Locker, which is all about self-confidence. She spills the beans on her own insecurities, those famous Love Island physiques, and life with Iain…
How did you survive lockdown?
Initially, I loved it. I really needed to re-set, as I’m normally on the go and never fully in the present. So it was time to reflect on what makes me happy.
Sometimes you’re chasing things you don’t even want. I did all the clichéd things, made Espresso Martinis and sourdough bread. I was really healthy at first, then thought ’screw this!’ and drank wine.
What did you most miss?
Meals out, and all my family in Ireland. But I got my mum to use FaceTime for the first time and I can’t wait until I can safely travel and hug her.
Did being with Iain 24/7 drive you crazy?
We were pleasantly surprised, as this is the longest I’ve ever been at home. Normally I’d be at a festival, and Iain has spent every summer for the last five years in Majorca. We bicker about what we’re going to have for dinner, whether it’s takeaway night, silly little things.
He plays a lot of computer games. I don’t think he realises how loud he is. We ate breakfast and lunch together, but also had time apart, watching different box sets, and even walking the dog separately, which was a good plan.
Do you attract attention when you’re out together?
Iain’s voice is so distinctive, I tell him to shut up. Sometimes he puts on accents – he can do a good Liverpudlian one. Often people just smile or give a thumbs up, which is lovely.
Is he romantic?
Iain can be very sweet. When I was in Strictly I injured my foot and never got to do the jive, so he’s bought us lessons so we can learn it together and whip it out at someone else’s wedding. I think he’ll be alright. He’s got rhythm, you know, that’s all I need to say!
Are you recovered now?
I had to get cortisol injections and couldn’t wear heels for six months. I still have to be careful and wear straps when I go running.
Do you exercise a lot?
I have no routine. I am not a gym bunny, I find those machines intimidating. I’ve tried all the fads like Barre and Zumba but the one thing I stick with is running because it feels on my terms and it gives me a rush.
But I’ve since learnt that if you run a half marathon in the morning, and go to the BAFTAs in the evening, you get drunk quickly.
Does Love island make you feel image-obsessed?
Before I worked on the show, I pre-judged a lot of the women for how they looked, but I would love the confidence those girls have. When I walk into the villa I’m fully dressed with my hair and make up done. These girls are just in their bikinis like, ‘Yeah, whatever’.
I wish I was more like that. I don’t think we should knock them for being confident. It’s open for people of different shapes and sizes but yes, it probably attracts people who look a certain way. I feel most sorry for the guys, they’re under more pressure and are always working out while the girls are chatting by the pool.
How body confident are you?
I’ve got skinny legs but an arse and hips. I hate feeling bloated before a big show, but if you get your period that’s what happens. I spent all my younger teenage years wanting to be bigger. I was always the smallest in the class, the weakling. Until I was 16 I was 5ft 1ins, and then I shot up to 5ft 8ins and was taller than some of the guys.
You’re never happy. I’m tough on myself. If I try on a dress I can think, ‘You look frumpy, your bum is too big’. In our heads we say terrible things that no-one else would say, but this is the body I have for life and I need to be kind to it and silence my inner critic.
What would you advise others struggling with self confidence?
It’s all very well me telling people to be confident, but they look at me and say ‘She’s skinny, what does she have to worry about?’. People worry about being too pale, too hairy, too short. No matter who you are you’ll have a hang up.
The more we see different body types out there the better. We are all unique. And be cautious about cosmetic surgery. I am totally open to people doing it, that’s’ fine, but really think about whether it’ll make you feel happy, it probably won’t.
What’s the worst thing you’ve read about yourself on social media?
I’ve had everything, from being too fat or too thin to people saying I’d had my jaw shaved and my nose is too small. If I didn’t have a complex about my face before, then I do now! But I’ve built up a resistance. You can always take a break, delete or mute people.
Was it terrifying taking on Love Island, a massive show?
Especially as I was a fan of it myself, I didn’t want to screw it up. I’m someone who still struggles with confidence, and ‘imposter syndrome’. I came from a small town in Ireland and none of my family worked in TV. I won a competition to be an MTV presenter when I was working as an intern. I went from making tea to flying to LA to interview Coldplay.
I felt so out of my depth. But it was a rollercoaster and I held on. Every now and then you look around and think ‘how the hell am I here, what authority do I have?’
But now you’ve got the career, looks and relationship people would kill for…
It’s an Irish thing, I can’t take a compliment. Someone says something nice to me and I go, ‘Ah Jezus, no,’. Or I knock myself and say ‘Look at the state of me’.
I need to learn to say,`Thank you’ . But that’s not how I was brought up, you worry people will think you’re full of yourself.
What are your best and worst attributes?
I am very loyal. Friends can tell me their secrets. I’m hard working and I’m open minded. But Iain would say I’m impatient. If I send an email I expect an immediate response.
Weirdest place asked for a selfie?
At the supermarket while wearing a face mask. I don’t know how they knew it was me. I said no because of socially distancing.