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For many of us lockdown has been a chance to slow down and take stock. But as a presenter on Good Morning Britain, Charlotte Hawkins has had the important role of reporting on the coronavirus pandemic and keeping the nation informed every step of the way.
The 45-year-old has been holding down the fort while her co-hosts Piers Morgan and Susanna Reid are on their summer break, and she has also had the added challenge of doing her own hair, make-up and styling before going on air – something that has resulted in a fair few wardrobe malfunctions!
“One day I couldn’t do up the back of the dress and then another day I put odd shoes on and went out live on air,” laughs the Classic FM presenter.
When she’s not on our screens, the former Strictly Come Dancing star can be found at her five-bedroom home in Surrey, which she shares with her husband of 12 years Mark Herbert, who works for drinks company Pernod Ricard, and their adorable five-year-old daughter Ella Rose.
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Here, Charlotte and Mark exclusively open the doors to their home and tell OK! how lockdown has strengthened their relationship, why Charlotte is excited about her new project and how she’s been supporting her co-star Kate Garraway …
How are you feeling about Ella Rose going back to school?
Charlotte: She went back before the summer holidays as we knew it was important. She loves school. I was more worried from a social perspective, as to me it was important she was with other children.
Mark: There was a small amount of worry but the benefits outweigh that.
Charlotte: We were wondering how they’d keep five-year-olds socially distanced but they were all put into little bubbles and told what they couldn’t do. Her head teacher was taking everyone’s temperature at the door. All teachers deserve a medal.
I feel lucky I wasn’t responsible for a key part of her education!
You’ve said you tried for a few years to get pregnant with Ella Rose…
Charlotte: It was hard. It’s something you long and pray for but it’s one of those things that you don’t necessarily know is going to happen for you. I was really worried it wasn’t going to happen for us and we were going to have to face the fact that we couldn’t have children naturally. And just as we reached that stage and we had the paperwork for IVF, thinking that was going to be the only option for us, I discovered I was pregnant. It was an amazing surprise.
Mark: We both found out very early in the morning.
Charlotte: It was 3am before I was heading off to Good Morning Britain. I had an inkling and I thought I better do a test because I was going out that evening and I didn’t want to drink just in case – the test came back positive! I woke Mark up and said, “I’ve got this for you,” and I handed him the pregnancy test, and then I had to go! We couldn’t believe it.
Have you discussed having another child?
Charlotte: For us, she was such a blessing and we were so grateful because we never thought it was going to happen. We just felt lucky to have her; she’s like our little miracle. She’s very special to us. I just love the wonder of the fact we created this little being. I look at her amazed to think she’s ours. She brings us so much joy. She’s very independent and acts like a teenager already, so we’re dreading what’s going to happen over the next few years!
Mark: I don’t know where she gets it from [laughs]. I feel very outnumbered. I love the energy and the liveliness that she brings into the house. She’s a little bundle of energy that keeps us going.
Has she ever asked for a sibling?
Charlotte: No, she’s actually asking for a kitten. She may get a furry brother or sister.
How did the two of you meet?
Charlotte: We met through friends. My best friend from school thought we’d get on well so she organised a night out in Brighton but we just didn’t quite see eye to eye. The second time we met was at our friend’s wedding. I was a bridesmaid and Mark was an usher and we really hit it off. I said to my parents that day, “He’s the one.” It was love at second sight. That was in the May and by the November we’d moved in together.
Mark: We just knew. That was 18 years ago.
What’s the secret to your happiness and long-lasting marriage?
Charlotte: Mark is always there for me. He never fails to make me smile day in, day out.
Mark: We never worry if we don’t have plans, we’re happy in each other’s company. We’re quite different people but we bring out the best in each other. And we’ve survived five months of lockdown together!
You continued filming Good Morning Britain right through lockdown, Charlotte. How has it been?
It still feels really strange. It’s unsettling to have everything be so different. I’ve missed giving my colleagues a hug and a kiss, and I’ve found it hard to not even be able to be close to people. We also don’t have a stylist and we’ve had to do our own hair and make-up. One time I couldn’t do up the back of my dress and then another time I put mismatched shoes on. I put them both on to see which was going to work best and then I completely forgot I needed to make a decision and went on air! But people up and down the country have been struggling so the best thing we can do is get on with everything. You do feel a real sense of responsibility doing the job I do. It’s important we’re there to make sure people have all the facts.
Have you had to get up even earlier to do your own hair and make-up?
Yes, I get up at 2:45am now. I don’t want to run out of time! We have a production meeting before going on air at 6am. I aim to go to bed at 9pm. I have the bedtime of a five-year-old, it’s not much after Ella Rose’s! Mark is used to it now.
How have you been supporting your co-host Kate Garraway?
It’s been horrific for her and her family. She’s been through such a tough time and she’s continuing to go through a tough time. We don’t know what’s around the corner. Everybody at Good Morning Britain is there for her in whatever way she needs. It’s really hard – all I want to do is hug her. I wanted to show her that I was thinking of her so I sent her a rose called Growing Hope. She loves her garden and hopefully planting it will grow some hope for them. It’s been a heartbreaking situation for her. I keep everything crossed that Derek is going to be okay.
Has it been a lot quieter without Piers Morgan around?
Yes! You can actually hear yourself think for once. When I sit next to Piers and Susanna when I’m doing my news bulletin, it’s hard to get a word in edgeways and he interrupts me even when I’m meant to be doing my section of the news. But I’m looking forward to things getting back to normal – that makes it sound like I’m actually missing Piers butting in the whole time when I’m not!
Do you have disagreements?
We disagree on almost everything, but the thing with Piers is you have to pick your battles. There’s no point trying to take him on over everything, he will not give up without a fight. He doesn’t like losing.
Would you like to see him do Strictly?
Piers should do Strictly – he should put his money where his mouth is, but I don’t think he ever will. People will either vote him off first and then he’ll be humiliated or they’ll keep voting him in and he’ll be even more humiliated because he has to dance again. He says he’ll do it if the money is right, so maybe we should try crowdfunding!
What’s the toughest interview you’ve had to do?
One which was really hard for me was Chris Johnson, who is the Assistant Chief Constable of the West Midlands Police. He’s been diagnosed with motor neurone disease which my dad died of in 2015. As a journalist, you try and interview someone dispassionately but it was such a personal issue and I got upset.
You always look flawless on our screens. Do you believe in ageing gracefully?
Yes. Everybody makes their own decisions in regards to that, but I’m just going to go with it. I’m lucky to be surrounded by talented make-up artists! Susanna has a saying that, “Age is a blessing if you think about the alternative,” and I agree. If you think about people like Helen Mirren, who looks phenomenal for her age, there are so many older women flying the flag. We should embrace it.
How has lockdown been?
Charlotte: For us it’s been lovely. It’s strengthened our marriage even further. It’s brought us closer together. We’ve had a lovely time as a family.
Mark: Usually we’d be rushing around in the week and then weekends would be spent with friends and family.
Congratulations on your new partnership with Sony Classical. Tell us about that…
I’m so excited. I’ve got a classical playlist called “Charlotte Hawkins’ Mindful Moments” and it’s out now on Spotify, Apple Music and Deezer. It’s 50 of my favourite classical pieces and it’s meant to be a musical hug for everyone. I’m also doing a podcast called Last, Past and Blast. I’m thrilled to have my own podcast. I’ll be talking to guests like Myleene Klass and Alexander Armstrong about the last piece of classical music they listened to, a significant piece from their past and their blast which is their guilty pleasure. I’ve been trying to encourage Ella Rose to listen to classical music. We have a piano so I’ve been getting her to try out a few tunes.
Tell us about your home…
Charlotte: It’s our forever home. We’ve lived here for 10 years. We fell in love with this house and we particularly loved the garden.
Mark: To say we fell in love with it at first sight is stretching the truth a bit. One loved it and one was quite daunted by the amount of work that needed doing!
Charlotte: We busted the budget getting the house and we didn’t have any money to do anything with it so we had to do a lot of it ourselves. Our heart and soul has gone into this house.
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What’s your favourite part?
Charlotte: Our latest addition is our favourite, which is the summer house. It has a dining table, a bar and coffee area. Instead of going on a summer holiday this year we decided to bring the summer holiday to our home. We have breakfast, lunch and dinner out there and play Monopoly with Ella Rose.
Mark: The next project is to bring the garden closer to the house, so we’ve got permission to build a garden room. It’ll bring everything together perfectly.
Charlotte’s brand new classical music podcast Last, Past & Blast will launch on all podcast platforms in September. ‘Charlotte Hawkins – Mindful Moments’ playlist is available from 1st September on Spotify, Apple Music and Deezer.
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