Lucy Kennedy: ‘English celebrities are more fragile than Irish’

The energetic TV and radio presenter  ‘lives with’ individuals like Sarah Harding and Katie Hopkins however isn’t well-known herself, she insists


Lucy Kennedy doesn’t stroll right into a room, she kind of bounces. She’s simply had her hair and make-up accomplished for The Irish Times photograph shoot and is feeling “much less Shrek-like” than traditional. Apart from us, there may be no person else within the eating room of the Royal Marine Hotel in Dún Laoghaire, Co Dublin, which has sweeping views all the way down to the harbour under.

The energetic TV and radio presenter, in a fairly costume and sensible trainers, tells me she is in the course of a house renovation close by. After a protracted search she purchased a home by the ocean that she hopes is the final one she and her husband should purchase. “I hope it’s my without end residence, like I don’t have a pension. Do you will have a pension? You in all probability do …”

Her husband, who has a steadier job than Kennedy, has a pension but additionally an annoying tendency to whistle by means of his nostril whereas sleeping. You’d know that in the event you hearken to Kennedy’s breakfast radio present on Ireland’s Classic Hits FM the place she reveals such particulars to her listeners and her longtime “radio husband” Colm Hayes.

The pair began on radio collectively in 2010, filling in on 2FM after Gerry Ryan died. “It bonded us,” she remembers of these early reveals with Hayes. “We have a really shut friendship. I believe as a result of we met underneath such unhappy and pressurised circumstances. He’s my different husband.”

She’s been along with her precise husband for 23 years. I inform her I’ve learn a number of interviews along with her prematurely of this assembly the place she’s described as nonetheless being “head over heels in love” in spite of everything this time. “I’m not. I’m not head over heels in love. I’m caught,” she deadpans. “After 23 years it’s too late to get it annulled.”

Kennedy is knowledgeable chatty girl who within the Living With Lucy tv present, strikes into the properties of celebrities for 3 days to attempt to present what they’re actually like of their pure habitat. I’m interviewing her as a result of the brand new sequence, the ninth, is about to start out on Virgin Media One.

Our encounter is much less like an interview although, and extra like spending time with a talkative and charming girl with no filter you meet on the bus-stop.

Having “lived with” quite a lot of celebrities and being a well-known individual in Ireland herself, I’m eager about her views on fame. She shortly rejects the notion that being on tv in Ireland makes her well-known.

“No, I’m not. I get instructed so many occasions I appear like Lucy Kennedy as a result of in actual life I don’t make an effort in any respect. I’m sporting make-up now and my hair is completed as a result of I’m doing this, however yesterday choosing up my daughter from faculty I used to be sporting an outdated Ireland’s Got Talent T-shirt, [she presented that show brilliantly for several seasons] my face coated in spots from sporting masks, and my daughter was going ‘mother, you’re so embarrassing’ … In actual life I simply appear like a drained mom, which I’m.”

We speak about how, when some well-known Irish celebrities are noticed strolling their canines within the park, they nonetheless appear like the polished, well-known model of themselves. “I don’t,” says 45-year-old Kennedy. “I appear like Freddie Krueger”.

She does have some observations about “really well-known” individuals, having lived with a number of of them together with the late popstar Sarah Harding. The Girls Aloud singer died of breast most cancers final month aged 39, after the most cancers unfold to different components of her physique.

Kennedy describes her as “fragile”. “We all actually preferred her,” she says. “She was very good not simply to me however to all people within the crew. An actual woman. I can’t faux that I do know her as a result of I solely lived along with her for 3 days … however my evaluation primarily based on that was that she was actually insecure, and delightful, very fairly within the flesh.”

“Then it’s simply the truth that she was so fragile. She was doing one thing for MTV once we lived collectively and getting very agitated about fairly small issues. I did type of fall into the older sister position, in that I used to be attempting to type of say ‘look, that is high-quality and don’t fear about it’, and I felt like she wanted to be minded.

“She was a really trustworthy individual, a really candy individual. I believe she was searching for love. She would have liked to have gotten married and had infants. It’s so unhappy. I used to be shocked like all people was after I heard she died. I don’t know why. I suppose once we hear that someone well-known is sick you simply presume they’re going to be okay don’t you, that will probably be curable?”

If Cillian Murphy walked in right here now, I’d say ‘oh my God, it’s Cillian Murphy’ and I’d stare at him till he leaves. In the UK, they might go straight over

In basic, primarily based on her expertise, she believes English celebrities are “extra fragile”. “They are scrutinised the entire time, there’s a totally different press tradition over there and it’s ruthless.”

She remembers one other late celeb Jade Goody who she lived with on the very first sequence, telling her that the photographers would stand in her approach, and make her journey up in order that they might use that image to say she’d been consuming. For the most recent soon-to-be-aired sequence she spent 72 hours with the “very humorous” ex-soccer participant Paul Gascoigne who she says “is off the booze in the mean time”. They hung out collectively in Bournemouth, England. She says the distinction between being well-known in England versus Ireland is stark.

“Let’s say if Cillian Murphy walked in right here now, I’d say ‘oh my God, it’s Cillian Murphy’ and I’d stare at him till he leaves. In the UK, they might go straight over. There I used to be having a espresso with Gazza and other people have been straight in for the selfie, no asking ‘do you thoughts?’, simply straight in for the hugs, and I used to be considering ‘Covid-19 anyone?’ It’s like the girl from Little Mix was saying not too long ago, celebrities should not handled like human beings over there, and they don’t seem to be. There is a distinct celeb tradition over there, they’re actually handled badly.”

She is at all times eager to assist anyone who desires to get into tv however typically, when she asks younger individuals why they need to, “it’s at all times, oh as a result of I actually need to be well-known’. And that’s the drawback proper there,” she says.

“Like many individuals of my technology, I served my time. I imply I began out as Eamon Dunphy’s slave on the Weakest Link. [We’ll talk more about that singular experience later]. And I labored my approach up behind the scenes on manufacturing … It was for the pure love, it wasn’t for the cash, as a result of generally I used to be on the dole ready for the following gig.

“And I at all times say to individuals, don’t overlook it’s a job. As a lot as I adore it, I wouldn’t do it totally free. The approach I see it’s, my job simply occurs to be filmed. I believe with all of the influencers and famous-to-be-famous individuals, they overlook there may be an precise job behind the face”.

I’m interested in why she ended up pursuing a profession in TV. Interestingly, being an air hostess with CityJet in her 20s gave her a style for it. “I used to be very keen on the microphone on the airplane, liked speaking to the passengers, and was at all times being instructed ‘Lucy, the passengers don’t care about your love life, simply inform them methods to get off the airplane and whether or not they’re having hen or beef.’ I simply liked individuals. I liked speaking.”

Around this time Davina McCall was breaking by means of as a presenter in England, internet hosting a relationship present referred to as Street Mate. “She was my hero, I checked out her and thought I might try this, I’d love to do this.”

She signed up for a course in tv manufacturing with Bil Keating. “I keep in mind the group of us within the course being requested ‘fingers up who’d prefer to be in entrance of the digicam?’ I used to be going to place up my hand however I keep in mind wanting round on the individuals who had their fingers up who appeared far more assured and ‘jazz fingers’ than me, so I stored my hand down. I believed ‘no, I’m simply going to remain behind the scenes.’ And I didn’t have the arrogance to place my hand up for an additional ten years.”

She accomplished the course and began sending out CVs, scrabbling for work, paid or unpaid. Her begin got here as a runner on TV3’s Weakest Link in 2002, filmed in RTÉ and offered by Eamon Dunphy. “I believe I may need acquired like 20p and a packet of Tayto. I keep in mind rocking up and considering this was essentially the most thrilling factor on this planet.”

She liked working as Dunphy’s “slave”. “I believe he thought I used to be bonkers. I used to be solely 20, I didn’t know what I used to be doing … I keep in mind one time the producer saying to me ‘Eamon’s ft are sore. He’s going to want a foot spa’. And all I might suppose was do I’ve sufficient petrol in my automotive to drive to Argos. But I keep in mind it prefer it was yesterday, getting the foot spa and filling it in his dressing room for him to place his little tootsies in between takes.”

We’re speaking about her begin in TV, however I’m additionally eager about her begin in life. She grew up not removed from right here, the center baby in a middle-class household of three sisters, and went to highschool in Holy Faith, Killiney.

She had an awesome instructional expertise there and has put each her daughters’ names down for the varsity. Although she does have one destructive reminiscence of the nuns from major faculty: “We weren’t allowed to put on patent footwear, in case the boys might lookup our skirts. I imply, hiya?”

“I preferred the varsity. The nuns are all gone and it’s a very nice place for ladies, and apart from me, most of them turned out like women.” (Her recurring chats about bodily capabilities and genitalia, are one thing of a trademark.)

Her father is Irish and her mom, a costume designer who educated with Paul Costelloe, is English. “She made all our marriage ceremony clothes and our child’s christening outfits.” Her mother and father broke up when Kennedy was 15. “Thank God it wasn’t a kind of horrific separations,” she says. “I used to be 15, my sisters have been 17 and 11. It was accomplished virtually seamlessly in that my dad nonetheless collected us the following day to deliver us to highschool”.

She agrees that despite the fact that it felt “virtually seamless” on the time, the break-up was a seminal second in her life. “But I additionally keep in mind considering ‘do I need mother and father who’re sad collectively or not collectively?’ Fifteen is an advanced age, however I had the sense to evaluate that it was the most effective factor for them”.

Kennedy calls her dad, who’s 85, her “finest good friend”. He’s had a triple bypass and shoulder operations and “is hanging on by a thread”. She describes him as cussed and self-reliant – the Kennedy sisters rotated through the pandemic, bringing meals to his home in Dalkey or doing his washing. Her mom nonetheless lives in the identical seaside residence the place Kennedy grew up.

“For us I believe when dad moved on the market was that extra feeling of stability … my dad by no means met anybody else. My mum and pa have been married for 17 years, however my mum is along with her present associate for 30 years.”

Lucy Kennedy: “It all goes back to my love of people. I think that’s the reason I am still working.” Photograph: Nick Bradshaw
Lucy Kennedy: “It all goes again to my love of individuals. I believe that’s the rationale I’m nonetheless working.” Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

Kennedy labored behind the scenes in tv till she was round 26, on an Irish language programme (regardless of having no Irish) and on programmes comparable to A Scare At Bedtime with Podge & Rodge.

“I by no means had any curiosity in being in entrance of the digicam. I keep in mind, marking up the large beta tapes … considering ‘life is sweet’. I didn’t need to make any effort. But then I hit 26 and noticed all my buddies going round in firm vehicles, sporting fits and incomes cash. I believed to myself ‘Lucy, you’re a loser. You nonetheless don’t know if you can be making your personal Christmas presents.’ There have been days after I’d be selecting between shopping for ciggies or meals. I simply felt like I wanted a correct job.”

So she joined radio station Spin FM, as a salesman. “I wasn’t superb, I’d get so into speaking to the consumer I’d overlook to ask them about shopping for advert house.” She says her time in gross sales honed her individuals expertise even additional and he or she loved that point in her working life. But nonetheless, when a good friend from her tv days, Maia Dunphy, insisted she apply to be host of a brand new relationship present referred to as The Ex Files with Adare Productions, she went for it – bunking off work from Spin for the afternoon to do the audition.

She did a mock interview asking someone about their love life. The suggestions was that she appeared to have a real curiosity in individuals, and – which happy her enormously – “a Davina McCall vibe.” She acquired the job. “My life modified that day,” she says.

The relationship present lasted for 2 years and in 2006, after getting a name from Jim Jennings of RTÉ she auditioned for the job of host on The Podge & Rodge Show. “I had labored with them behind the scenes earlier than, and it would sound unusual however we at all times handled them like individuals. I sat down with them that first time and so they mentioned one thing like ‘your boobs have grown’ and I believed ‘I’m going to be high-quality right here’.”

She acquired that gig, and spent three years listening and laughing as Podge & Rodge mentioned issues to celeb friends that no person – even a pair of puppets – on tv would get away with now. “Absolutely, not,” she agrees. At one level, the present had a viewership of half 1,000,000 individuals. After three years, Kennedy says she “acquired to the purpose the place I felt like Debbie McGee, I’d be leaning on the bar in Ballydung wanting on the boys interviewing individuals and I used to be considering I’d like to be asking the questions.”

When RTÉ requested what she’d love to do subsequent, she acquired along with Adare Productions and got here up with the idea of Living With Lucy. A ratings-hit of a programme was born.

The programme began life on RTÉ earlier than migrating to TV3 which is now Virgin Media One. Kennedy has “lived” with all kinds of celebrities together with, controversially, Katie Hopkins, about which she has mentioned she has no regrets regardless of the criticism and trolling she was subjected to on social media for giving airtime to the right-wing commentator.

During the pandemic, the format of the present modified to Lodging with Lucy the place members, included Amy Huberman, Paul McGrath and Adele King (Twink) who introduced her cockatoo, “lodged” with Lucy in a sprawling residence in Co Meath.

I’ve to make somebody really feel snug with me inside two minutes of us assembly. I’ve to make the celebrities belief me

The upcoming sequence contains encounters with Rory O’Neill aka Panti Bliss and settled Traveller Hughie Maughan. She moved into Maughan’s halting website in Ballymun. On a earlier sequence of Living With Lucy, Kennedy hung out with Traveller and actor John Connors. Did she really feel that was necessary, particularly with the racism that many Travellers in Ireland expertise.

“Yes completely. You can’t generalise about an entire neighborhood from one unhealthy expertise however individuals try this on a regular basis. And in my expertise it’s a beautiful tradition, and they’re actually good individuals. And I by no means for one second, between the shoot with John Connors and with Hughie Maughan, I by no means felt in any approach uncomfortable or unsafe. I felt actually welcome and comfy; they’re stunning individuals very, very personal. A really respectful tradition.”

She mentioned she had “essentially the most fascinating dialog” with Hughie Maughan’s dad. “His father was completely devastated when Hughie got here out as homosexual as a result of he knew the problems and the threats his son would get being a homosexual Traveller. They simply don’t go hand in hand. And I’d a extremely in-depth, superb emotional interview along with his dad outdoors the caravan. Just the ache in his face as he talked about how he handled his son initially. He talked concerning the remorse after which the love and the help. They’re a good looking household”.

She was struck by one thing Maughan instructed her, that he can’t name a taxi to come back the place he lives as a result of they refuse to drive into the positioning. He has to go to Ikea to order a taxi. “From my expertise I believe they get a extremely uncooked deal”.

Our time is up and we haven’t even talked concerning the documentary she made about her rescue pet Riley or her youngsters’s ebook The Friendship Fairies.

Earlier, Kennedy instructed me she has by no means skilled any sexism or ageism within the tv trade, however she has been considering not too long ago a couple of potential change of profession.

In her early 20s she thought of learning psychotherapy. “I believe you want to have skilled ache to assist different individuals with their ache,” she says in reference to her guardian’s separation. In hindsight, she says she didn’t have sufficient life expertise however the want to assist others, placing these finely honed individuals expertise to a different use by no means left her.

A number of years in the past, whereas presenting The Seven O’Clock present on TV3, she accomplished a psychotherapy basis course and says she is going to, at some stage, return and full the four-year course. It concerned her going to 24 weeks of remedy herself. “I liked it. And I like the concept of serving to individuals correctly. It all goes again to my love of individuals. I believe that’s the rationale I’m nonetheless working. And it’s why Living With Lucy fits me so nicely. I’ve to make somebody really feel snug with me inside two minutes of us assembly. I’ve to make the celebrities belief me. So that’s what I do. And I like doing it.”

Living With Lucy is on Virgin Media One


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