Irish television presenter and radio broadcaster Laura Whitmore and her working weekends in North London …
I usually work at the weekend so my nights out are midweek, when I like to go a gig or dinner with friends. The weekend, therefore, means early nights, preparing for interviews, editorial meetings and keeping an eye on the news. I’ve lived in North London for over ten years and love its diversity and creativity. I moved to Camden initially as it was close to MTV’s studios. There are lots of authors, screenwriters and poets living nearby who definitely inspire me and make me want to be better at the many things I do.
Saturday begins with either me or my partner Iain [Stirling, comedian, writer and presenter] getting up to let Mick, our five-year-old Maltipoo dog out. Whoever does the honours gets to make the coffee too. During lockdown we tried to liven up our breakfast routine by staging it in different places around the house. I have a little balcony off my home office, so we turned that into a breakfast café where we had avocado on toast, but every nook and cranny of our home was tried and tested. Now of course cafés are open and Gail’s, which is a ten-minute walk away, is a favourite, for croissants, great coffee and the closest thing to a chicken fillet roll I can find in London.
Laura with her dog Mick via Instagram @thewhitmore
It’s been a strange but busy year, and both of us have had writing projects. I’m finishing the final edits to my first book, due out in March. It’s called No One Can Change Your Life Except For You, inspired by the Wilson Phillips song from the first album I ever bought. It’s been a work in progress for four years. In it I write about imposter syndrome, something I experience and reflect on with the many guests I’ve interviewed. One of my core beliefs is you can’t change people’s perception of you but you can change how you react and how you treat others. I believe people have a choice if they’re not happy in a situation. I hope the book will be useful and hopeful.
During lockdown, many people turned to radio and podcasting. During that time I was also working on Series 3 of my podcast Castaway which airs next month [on all podcast platforms]. I have an incredible line-up of guests, including “The Guilty Feminist” Jessie Ware, Irene Agbontaen and Dolly Alderton. We talk about their listening habits as a springboard for other more personal discussions. I try to incorporate some yoga into my Saturday routine, or a run, as well as walking the dog on Hampstead Heath.
Hampstead Heath, London.
Lunch is usually grabbed on the go somewhere near the park. I’ve been living in comfy activewear and trainers for the last few months, but after I finish work if I have to make an effort I usually go with skinny jeans, a leather jacket, a spray of perfume and red lipstick. I’m a hoarder by nature and get very sentimental about clothes. There are certain pieces I just can’t part with, like the first outfit I wore on MTV or the T-shirt I wore to a concert when I was 16. Lockdown provided an opportunity for a wardrobe declutter. I’m lucky I can borrow so many clothes from designers for work engagements and filming. I’ve also discovered some great rental services: I’ve used Rag Revolution in Dublin and Hurr in London. My room is a mess at the moment. I have a few bags which I’m going to give to TK Maxx for its Give Up Clothes for Good campaign. It’s a great initiative and one I am proud to endorse.
Hurr, Marylebone, London.
I adore vintage shopping. I grew up in Bray, where there are lots of secondhand shops – as a teenager I volunteered in one on the Quinsborough Road. The bonus was having first dibs on buying items that came in. I also always recommend Finders Keepers vintage store in the Bray Arcade. Sadly, I haven’t been home since Christmas, not only because of Covid-19 but also because I was filming Love Island in Cape Town. Usually I stay with my mum in Bray, with my Dad, or at a hotel in the city centre if I’m working. The Marker, Grand Canal, is always lovely. Last year I stayed in The Merrion when I interviewed Noel Gallagher. I have lots of cousins and my godchild in Wexford, and I hope to see them all at Christmas, restrictions permitting.
The Marker, Dublin.
I’m a bookworm so on Saturday afternoon I read thrillers, memoirs or romantic comedies, depending on my mood. I just filmed a show about books for the BBC Two with Sara Cox called Between the Covers. I’m currently reading Ghosts by Dolly Alderton, her first novel. Others I recommend are Ella Berman’s The Come Back, an exceptional first novel, and I Can’t Believe It’s Not Better: A Woman’s Guide to Coping with Life by Monica Heisey. It’s very funny, as is Dawn O’Porter’s book So Lucky. Saturday night is usually spent on the sofa with a takeaway, watching telly before an early night. One of the best shows I’ve watched is The Morning Show on Apple TV. I can’t wait for season two!
On Sunday morning I get up early, about 6.30am, to have a coffee and prep before a car collects me at 8am to go to the BBC studios in central London. We run though the script and discuss any breaking news. Then I’m on air at 10am [BBC Radio 5 Live]. Mary Robinson was a memorable interviewee – she was my role model growing up. I also enjoyed meeting Alanis Morissette, and recently Bob Geldof. He’s so eloquent and profound. There’s a vegan restaurant called By Chloe beside the BBC and I occasionally go there as a little treat after I finish, or to one of my local pubs like The Stag in Hampstead for a roast. I stay up later on Sunday night. I don’t dread a new week. I promised that I would never have a job that ignites that Sunday night fear. I have three really big projects in the pipeline and every day excites me and challenges me. I wouldn’t have it any other way.
TK Maxx Give Up Clothes For Good supports Enable Ireland; www.tkmaxx.ie.
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