Louise Redknapp grimaces as she remembers the living hell that was both of her pregnancies. The thought of going through it all over again isn’t one she relishes.
“I’m terrible at being pregnant,” she says. “I’m the worst pregnant person you could ever meet. I’m sick for nine months and, for the first three, I can barely drag myself off the sofa. I vomit, I’m miserable. And I hate getting fat.”
She pauses. There’s a “but” coming.
“But… if I’m really honest, I’d love another one and, after two boys, it’d be ideal to have a little girl. I’m 38, so I know I haven’t got much time to work this one out. I’m under a bit of pressure. My mum keeps reminding me that I haven’t got long!”
Another couple of years, maybe? Not even that, says Louise.
“Realistically, I’ve probably only got another year. My friend’s got a little girl and I bought her these gorgeous shoes and coat for Christmas. I keep finding myself drawn to baby girls’ clothes in shops, like literally staring. And so maybe someone’s trying to tell me something. Maybe it’s a sign – someone’s saying to me: ‘Hurry up! Last-chance saloon, quick, quick!’”
It sounds like Operation Baby Redknapp III might well be underway… “Just watch this space,” says Louise, cryptically.
Her struggle with endometriosis has been well-documented – it took Louise four years to conceive their eldest son, Charley, now eight. But after the heartache of those fertility problems, second son Beau, four, came along surprisingly easily. Although, Louise confides that parenthood tested her marriage to ex-footballer turned pundit Jamie, 39.
“It’s hard having kids. It took me a long time to have Charley and, when he was born, it was a massive shock to the system.
“I’d been in the music industry, swanning around and, all of a sudden, I’m at home with the baby. I remember going through times thinking: ‘Wow, I wasn’t expecting to find this difficult.’ But you adapt.
“You’re always searching for something, whether it’s career, the right partner or a family. And for me, having kids has made me realise that no matter what happens, there are two little people there – or three including Jamie – and that makes everything all right.
Louise and Jamie celebrated their 14th wedding anniversary last summer – a lifetime in celebville.
“Yeah, forever!” she says. “I still fancy him as much as I did back then, which is good!
“I love him to bits and we still have fun. It’s a bit of everything – trust, humour, friendship – that makes it work. But the hardest thing to do is to prioritise and make time for each other.”
Louise is just as you’d expect. Chirpy, chatty and easy-going. But it comes as a surprise, given her wholesome image, to hear that she ended her last birthday party in November slumped on a nightclub toilet floor (oh, we’ve all been there) and on the verge of being carted off in an ambulance.
“Argh, it was so bad,” she says, visibly cringing.
“I’d had a few too many, I was in the toilet and I remember hearing the owner of the club saying: ‘We’ve got an ambulance waiting for her.’ I somehow managed to say: ‘I’ve got two children! I can’t leave in an ambulance!’
“I mean, come on. There’s getting drunk and then there’s needing an ambulance. I was lying on the loo floor, people were stepping over me and I heard someone going: ‘Get her husband, quick,’ and then I heard Jamie coming in, seeing me and going: ‘You are kidding me, right?’
“I relived it for about a week afterwards. So, a lesson learned, although slightly late in life.”
So, perhaps not so goody-two-shoes after all? Louise agrees the butter-wouldn’t-melt public perception of her isn’t strictly accurate.
“I don’t take any s**t. My husband will say that not very many people see that side of me. I get that ‘girl-next-door’, sweet, lovely Louise, and Jamie’s like: ‘Seriously? You’re from Lewisham!’
“I say what I think, but I’d never offend on purpose. I’d never get personal. I never want anyone to go home feeling bad about themselves on my account.”
Having started out in music with ’90s girl band Eternal, before enjoying a fleetingly successful solo career and then moving into TV presenting, Louise’s next project sees her branching out into the beauty world. She’s launched a cosmetic range, Wild About Beauty, in partnership with make-up artist Kim Jacob.
The inspiration for the brand came from Louise’s last cover shoot with Fabulous, three years ago, when we shot her with a live leopard.
She says: “When we were coming up with a name for the brand, that issue of Fabulous was just out and I had so much positivity from that shoot. That gave us the ‘wild’ element for what we wanted to do. It was a huge inspiration and went well with my involvement with the Born Free Foundation.
“So Fabulous has had a big part to play in the whole of our creative.”
Um, can we get a cut?
Louise, who only uses her own products (which, by the way, are genuinely brilliant – we totally recommend the Mattifying Balm, £20, and Golden Skin Glow, £21) is revelling in her new role as a businesswoman.
“I wanted to do something that I’d be proud of and also show that I’ve got a brain. I’m no one’s fool. I wish I had a pound for every time someone met me and said: ‘Wow, actually you’ve got quite a lot to say’.
“You don’t stay in this industry for 20 years if you’ve got nothing to say. But what I’ve never done is make a quick statement at someone else’s expense to get a few column inches. There are always ways of staying in the public eye, like wearing a ridiculous dress on the red carpet, if that’s what’s important to you.”
Louise would love a chance to get back into the music industry, although declares that “pigs will fly” before the world witnesses an Eternal reunion. But if the right solo project came along, she’d jump at it.
“I’m getting old to go back to music now, and the last thing I’d want to do is do something and it not be right. You can’t get away with the prancing around when you’re older. But I’d love to do a really cool collaboration with somebody really current. That would be ideal for me.”
A more realistic, more immediate prospect would be further TV work, although Louise is smarting a little over reports she was unceremoniously ditched from BBC2’s Something For The Weekend line-up when it moved over to Channel 4 and became Sunday Brunch. Today, she’s keen to set the record straight.
“I found all the stories quite upsetting. Basically, my contract was up a few months prior to moving to Channel 4 and I was always going to finish then. They asked me if I was cool to stay on until they moved and I agreed out of goodwill. I was never asked to go to Channel 4, but nor was it my plan to go. We never had that conversation.
“So to read I’d been dumped wasn’t very nice, because it couldn’t have been further from the truth.
“Two years was enough. It wasn’t something I was desperate to do because, first of all, I hate cooking and secondly, Sunday mornings were tough for me with the kids.
Another TV project, the 2007 documentary The Truth About Size Zero, which saw Louise starve herself to under 7st, has had a lasting effect. By the end of the experiment, she was exhausted, depressed and desperately gaunt but, astonishingly, still looks back rather wistfully at how thin she became.
“There’s a part of me that still likes it. Size Zero was harrowing to be part of, harrowing to watch and harrowing to remember how much I loved looking like I did at the end of it.
“But it’s unobtainable unless I don’t eat. For me to get to that point, I was undernourished and not very well. Sadly, we live in a society where skinny ‘works’.”
Louise’s body insecurities can be traced back to her days at London’s Italia Conti Academy of Theatre Arts.
“Going to stage school makes you really body conscious, as you constantly see yourself in the mirror in your leotard and tights. And that’s scary when you start developing. I grew up with boobs and a bum, so I was always very aware of that.
“As a young girl, I always wanted to be tall and slim, but I’m 5ft 4in and normal size. A lot of women like flaunting big boobs, but I’m the opposite. I have my shirt done up to my neck, I’m not a cleavage type of girl. And I always want to be a couple of pounds lighter. Don’t we all?”
The fame game
Louise isn’t blind to the fact that most women would wonder what on earth she’s so worried about.
“I know people would look at me and say: ‘But there’s nothing of you!’ I’ve got friends who’ve had children and really struggled to lose the weight and it can seem insulting if somebody who’s a size 8 is moaning.
With a level head, she accepts that getting papped is part of the game.
“If you’re on a certain beach you kind of know it’s going to happen, and you’ve got to take it on the chin. You can’t turn up to an awards ceremony wanting to get pictured in your nice dress and then go to a beach, where you know paps are going to be, and say: ‘Don’t take a picture’. You can’t have it both ways.”
“I’ve accepted I’m never going to have the body I had when I was 20. Not after two kids. I just try to maintain what I’ve got.”
But surgery isn’t necessarily something she’d rule out.
“I don’t know if I want to look young any more, as long as I’m healthy and look as good as I can for my age. But I never say never to anything. I think the key is doing it subtly and at the right time, for the right reasons. Watch this space. Again.”
She giggles as it dawns on her that she’s inadvertently brought the conversation back to babies.
“Babies then surgery,” she says. “Could be the way forward. That’s my next five years mapped out, right there.”
Watch this space, indeed.
● The Wild About Beauty make-up range is available at Wildaboutbeauty.com and selected Debenhams and House Of Fraser stores.
How Lou rolls
When was the last time you cried?
I cry at everything. I cry at X Factor when they win, I cry when they get voted off.
Starting up my business.
Clothes and shoes.
Who are your dream dinner party guests?
Jimmy Carr and his partner [Karoline Copping], David Walliams and Lara Stone, and some of my old school friends.
When are you happiest?
When I’m in South Africa or somewhere like that, with my kids and Jamie, just away from everything.
What makes you angry?
Being constantly judged p****s me off.
Who would you swap lives with?
Michelle Obama. How great would that be?
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