Claudia Winkleman almost ditched Strictly to help son head to university

·2-min read

Claudia Winkleman threatened to quit as a host of Strictly Come Dancing as she thought this year's launch show would clash with her son's first day at university.

The show's longtime co-host's eldest son, 18-year-old Jake, who she shares with her TV producer husband Kris Thykier, is due to fly the nest for university this autumn - and as a doting mum she wants to help him get settled in.

However, the TV star was terrified her commitment to her child would mean she was unavailable for the start of this year's edition of the BBC dancing competition, which she has presented alongside Tess Daly since 2014.

Appearing on BBC Radio 4's Women's Hour on Monday, the 49-year-old said she had a tearful phone call with the show's boss, Sarah James.

"He (Jake) goes September 13. I phoned the boss of Strictly quite dramatically and said, through tears, 'Sarah I love you. I don't want to leave Strictly and Tess and I have agreed we will leave together when they're done with us, but if the first show is September 13, I'm out and you'll have to go with somebody else.'

"And there was a beat. And she said, 'Quite dramatic. We don't start that week.' I was like, 'alright'."

Describing her plans, she added: "I have to go and put up his posters. It's not that I love him more than others love their kids, but this is something parents have to go through."

Before taking over co-hosting duties, Claudia, who is also mother to daughter Matilda, 15 and Arthur, 10, with her husband of 21 years, Kris, has worked as a presenter on Strictly or its spin-off, It Takes Two, since 2004.

Gushing over Sarah and other bosses on the shows she told Woman's Hour host Emma Barnett: "I have a brilliant boss. I've always had wonderful bosses and Strictly is predominantly run by women, and Sarah is our leader. They let us be us."

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