When I was 50, I made a major life-changing decision. Claudia Winkleman from Strictly says it paid off.

CLAUDIA Winkleman’s TV work has been dominated by Strictly Come Dancing for the past six years – but all that’s about to change since she turned 50.

The mum of three is hosting another BBC1 contest, The Traitors — a new, big-budget show which starts tonight and is arguably her biggest solo presenting role yet. 

Claudia Winkleman’s TV work has been dominated by Strictly Come Dancing for the past six years – but all that’s about to change since she turned 50


Claudia Winkleman’s TV work has been dominated by Strictly Come Dancing for the past six years – but all that’s about to change since she turned 50Credit to BBC
Claudia with her husband, movie producer Kris Thykier, 50


Claudia, her husband Kris Thykier is a movie producer.Credit: Rex
Strictly's leading ladies, Claudia with Tess Daly


Claudia Daly and Tess Daly are two of Strictly’s most popular ladiesCredit to BBC

Und she believes the moment has just come for the right challenge.

She said: “I turned 50 and thought I’d start saying yes to things. 

“I mean, it’s 50, and we’re only here for two minutes, so I felt like I wanted to work a bit more and be less risk-averse.

“I love it, I love being 50. Everything’s falling apart physically, it is like my skin is completely made of crepe paper now, who knew? 

Strictly star breaks silence as she's sent home after FIRST dance off
Kym Marsh reveals update on Strictly return after 'scary' week and hospital dash

“I’ve always just really liked playing bridge, and a heavy tog duvet. And at 50 you can do all of that and you don’t have to make any excuses. You’re no longer the odd one out.

“But then my eldest left home for university and I was asked to do this show and I just thought, ‘I just can’t say no’.

“I got in way too deep on that show. I’m really obsessed, but also worried nobody’s going to like it. It’s like giving birth again.”

Claudia’s role fronting the 12-part psychological reality series comes as she also bagged the job of hosting Channel 4 quiz One Question.

It’s a stark contrast to 2016, when she had started to scale back her broadcasting work, including Great British Sewing Bee and review show Film, to devote more time to the kids she shares with her husband, movie producer Kris Thykier, 50.

Jake, her eldest child, is now 19 years old. Matilda, her 16-year-old daughter, has been pursuing her GCSEs. Arthur is 11 years old.

Moving forward

Since landing the high-profile gig on Strictly — which she co-hosts with Tess Daly — Claudia has been desperate not to let work seep into her home life in the same way that her mother, newspaper editor and subsequent TV star Eve Pollard, used to keep her job separate from her family time.

Claudia said: “I feel incredibly lucky for what I do, but it’s a job, right? You take pride in it and you want to do well, but when you go home it’s all about, ‘Are we ordering a pizza or am I making a lasagne?’.

“I grew up with a newspaper editor as a mum and she never mentioned it. We didn’t know how she handled it. It was a common thing for us to eat eggs and chips while watching Arsenal, but we didn’t know what it meant. 

“She would just leave the house and come back in high heels smelling of perfume — she was amazing.

“But I never saw her on telly, we weren’t allowed to when we were growing up.

“Afterwards, yes, and I was immensely proud of her. But if I even mentioned it, she wasn’t interested, she’d change the subject.”

On the rare occasions that Claudia’s fame does become apparent to her two sons and daughter, she says they’re usually “mortified”. 

But most of the time they are not entirely sure what programme their mum is on, whether it’s the BBC1 dance contest or her Saturday morning show on Radio 2.

And that’s just how Claudia likes it.

She said: “The little one likes Strictly, but the eldest two, no. They don’t watch Strictly and I’d never watch myself. At 10.30 on Saturday morning, my daughter text me quite often. ‘Have we run out of jam?’.

“I’m like, ‘I don’t need you to listen to my show, but I do need you to know that I’m live on BBC Radio 2. I can’t be in charge of jam right now, please just ask your dad’.”

Claudia’s children will have to get used to her being on our screens more — not just because she wants to take on extra work, but because she is now able to.

TV used to be the exclusive domain of middle-aged men. Television is now a part of everyday life for women under 40.

But Claudia is now part of the growing band of fifty-something females fronting TV’s biggest hits.

Along with Tess, 53, hosting Strictly has seen her join a group of leading ladies including The Masked Singer’s Davina McCall, 55, and Britain’s Got Talent’s Amanda Holden, 51.

Even though it’s something Claudia celebrates, she also feels it’s a pity it has to be highlighted at all. 

She said: “I’d hope our age is now inconsequential, do you know what I mean? Ant and Dec are not interchangeable. ‘Here you are in your late forties!’.

“Because they are amazing, and I want to continue to watch them for the next 20 years. Tess and I were so amazed by the hoo-haa about us hosting Strictly, because, at the time it was announced, the biggest show on TV was already hosted by two women — Mel and Sue presenting Bake Off.

'I love being 50. Everything’s falling apart physically, it is like my skin is completely made of crepe paper now, who knew? '


‘I love being 50. Everything’s falling apart physically, it is like my skin is completely made of crepe paper now, who knew? ‘Credit: Rex
Claudia with her mum newspaper editor and subsequent TV star Eve Pollard


Claudia, Eve Pollard’s mum and editor of the newspaper.Credit: Rex
Claudia on a trailer for new TV show The Traitors


Claudia in a trailer of The Traitors, a new television showCredit to BBC

“So we were like, ‘Guys we’re just getting on with it’.

“I hope we’re making progress all the time, as a species and also as women. The public are now happy to watch men and women in their fifties, up to their eighties and nineties, on TV — that’s got to be good news.”

Claudia and Tess took control of Strictly after Bruce Forsyth, who had been at the helm for 10 years, resigned in 2014.

 Tess’s husband, Vernon Kay, says she would like to present it for as long as her predecessor.

 But Claudia doesn’t feel the same. She shared: “I’ll do it for as long as they want me and I’m very grateful to them.” Does she plan to go? Jokingly, she stated: “Oh no, they’d still have to prize my cold, dead hands off that shiny glitterball.”

The Traitors, her latest project, is very expensive and based upon its Dutch counterpart.

It sees a group of strangers compete for £120,000 by playing a game of detection, backstabbing and trust inside a Scottish castle. They are among the secret traitors. “murder” players and it’s up others, known as The Faithful, to snare the bad guys. 

It couldn’t be further from the happy, glitzy Strictly, but Claudia says she couldn’t resist its draw.

She added: “I know this is bizarre, but it’s like when you meet someone and you fancy them, and everyone goes, ‘Look at their track record’Or they don’t wear socks at all. And you can go. ‘Guys I’m powerless here!’. The addictive part of this thing is that unlike almost any other show, there is no luck and it doesn’t matter what qualifications you have. This is all about us.

“It’s a psychological expe- riment. If you put people in a room and they don’t know who to trust, what happens?

“You have to be wily, and I love wily. I’m obsessed with it.

“I left my daughter in the middle of her GCSEs to film this, and I’m not that mum.

I’ve been forced to sleep in TENT because my mouldy house is making me sick
I’m a time-traveller and I KNOW who wins the World Cup…I have video proof

“I’m the mum that still tries to cut up her sausages. But, no, off I went.”

  • Tonight at 9:30pm, The Traitors will be on BBC1

Latest News

Related Articles


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here