Danielle Lineker is beyond tired. Having flown back from Los Angeles the day
before our shoot, she was up at 3am trying to ward off jet lag with her
slightly bizarre guilty pleasure – cooked chicken straight from the packet.
But a few eye drops later and she’s looking annoyingly gorgeous – helped by
her teeny size-8 figure and 32DD cleavage (courtesy of a boob job after the
birth of daughter Ella, now 10). It’s not surprising that her footie legend
husband fell for her.
When Danielle, 33, a former lingerie model and air hostess, was set up on a
blind date with ex-England international and now Match Of The Day host Gary
Lineker, 51, in 2007, cynics said it would never last – and the five
children they had from previous relationships and age gap would be too
But three years later, they tied the knot in Italy, and it’s clear their
marriage is the real deal. But life as a footballer’s wife isn’t all trips
to the races (she was in Simon Cowell’s Ascot box last year) and designer
dresses, according to Danielle. In fact, best not call her a WAG at all…
What were you up to in LA then?
Gary and I have ups and downs, like everyone else
I had some meetings to do with acting. Nothing major. I always jinx things by
talking about them anyway…
Ah, we take it the acting career’s going well. We saw you strip off on
stage in Calendar Girls.
Yes, that was terrifying. I was more worried about what the other actresses
would think than the audience. They all had years of experience. I’ve always
wanted to act, but where I grew up in Cardiff, they would’ve laughed. It
just wasn’t an option.
If we were WAGs, we’d spend our days shopping, lunching and swanning about.
Why don’t you?
I don’t want to moan or say “woe is me”, but I didn’t have those opportunities
growing up, and I’m privileged that I’m in a position now where I can do the
things that I want. I’m always telling the kids they don’t know just how
lucky they are, having the education that I never had. Plus I’m ambitious.
I’m a working-class girl and that’s just what we do. We work.
Being stepmum to Gary’s four sons [George, 20, Harry, 18, Tobias, 16, and
Angus, 14] must be a bit of a handful?
It’s taken a good four years for us to bond as a family. George and I are
friends now. The middle two are at the teenage boy stage, but we get on. And
Gary is incredible with Ella [Danielle’s daughter by former Coventry City
footballer Adam Willis, 35]. He shares the school run – which causes
excitement at the gates if he turns up in his shorts on the way to the gym!
We bet. So how’s married life?
We go through phases. I read all these interviews with celebrities saying how
wonderful their marriages are and how everything is perfect, and I’m just
not sure that’s real life.
So it’s not love’s young dream?
We have ups and downs and fights like everyone else. I actually think it’s
good to clear the air. I’ll accuse him of putting the bloody football on
again, or we’ll bicker over whose turn it is to peel the spuds this Sunday
or take the bins out.
Hang on – you peel your own spuds? That’s not very WAG-like…
I’d never see myself as a WAG because Gary hasn’t played football for 15
years. And life’s not actually that different to how it was before I met
Gary anyway. I have lovely holidays, but I don’t want to be a lady of
leisure. I’ve never had a nanny. I take Ella to school, cook her dinner and
help with her homework.
Any plans to add to the family?
Ummm [long pause]. If it happens it happens, but it’s definitely not something
we’ve decided we want to do. Our house in Surrey is like a hippy commune at
the moment. I can’t imagine a baby as well.
Your maternal instincts did go into overdrive on your recent trip to
Bangladesh though, didn’t they?
Absolutely. Gary and I went there for Sport Relief. As a mother, it was
heartbreaking seeing kids scavenge for food. One girl I met was the same age
as Ella, with the same brown eyes. I’m not a big crier, but I broke down.
It’s obviously had a huge effect…
It was even more moving because my grandfather, Jalal, was from Bangladesh. He
fought for the British during WW2, before spending five years as a Japanese
prisoner of war. When he arrived in Britain in the ’50s, passport control
couldn’t read his surname – Boksh – so it was changed to Bux, which is my
What happened to him?
He died of kidney failure before I was born. It made an already emotional trip
incredibly moving. I see a strong physical resemblance between us – in my
eyes, and my top lip. I’d love to go back to Bangladesh to find out more
Is this the first time you’ve worked with Gary?
Yes, and it got a bit fractious! He kept muddling his words for a link. Then
the director suggested that I try it instead, and I did it in one take. We
made light of it, but he’s supposed to be the broadcaster, not me!
How do you two keep the romance going with so much on your plate?
We spend Friday nights together. Friday is Gary’s night off and Ella is with
her dad, so we usually go out. If Gary cooks at home, I need to be in the
kitchen, too. Once he set our stove alight.
Oh dear. Weren’t you papped in the Victoria Beckham Raincloud dress before
it even went on sale?
I bought it the very day it went into the shops. A fashion editor friend
tipped me off. I still think it’s ridiculous to spend thousands of pounds on
clothes and one of the reasons I like Victoria Beckham’s “Victoria” range is
because it’s cheaper. Some papers hated me in it though.
Gary once set our stove alight!
What’s it like dealing with negative reactions?
I’d love to say I’m tough and resilient, but I’m not. I’m sensitive and take
it so personally. Gary tells me to ignore it, but it’s all relatively new to
How do you keep in shape?
I’m lucky in that I can eat what I want. I hate the gym and I fell off the
treadmill last week while I was training for the Sport Relief Mile. My baby
pouch never went away though [grabs her non-existent stomach] and I’ve got
stretch marks. But I don’t care. I’m a mum. I don’t think I’d have surgery
on my face. The scary women in LA have put me off.
Has Ella got any surprises planned for Mother’s Day?
She’ll attempt breakfast in bed, although she’ll probably spill it up the
stairs. We might go to the pub for lunch. One thing’s for sure, I won’t be
- To see Danielle’s film about Bangladesh, tune into Sport Relief on Friday
March 23, BBC1. To sign up to the Sport Relief Mile on Sunday March 25,