It’s been 20 years since Kirstie Allsopp first graced our screens on Channel 4’s Location, Location, Location alongside her co-presenter Phil Spencer– and since then, she’s earned her place as queen of craft, property and design.
But she's revealed that her time in the TV industry hasn’t been without its difficulties. In an exclusive interview in Good Housekeeping’s July issue, she’s spoken candidly of her frustration at presenter roles largely being dominated by men.
“It’s incredibly frustrating. It’s not just on screen,” she said.
“I once said to my agent, ‘Phil gets all this voiceover work and I don’t get any; where am I going wrong?’ And she said, ‘According to advertisers, women make 95% of purchasing decisions and they don’t want to be told what to do by other women.’ Things like that make it very difficult and there’s a huge amount of it still going on.”
She might be at the top of her game, but she was honest about the fact that she believes she's been a victim of sexism herself.
“For a long time, I thought I hadn’t. I thought, ‘No, it’s completely equal with Phil and I. Then I realised that the only reason I’m paid what I’m paid is because I’m pegged to a man,” she said.
“I see sexism everywhere in this industry – it’s full of male bullies who don’t like being told what to do and they have women sitting on either side of them who are too afraid to stand up for themselves. I don’t think it will go away until women speak up for other women. It’s not easy, but it’s in our power.”
The presenter also explained how one of her biggest personal hurdles has been navigating social media. With almost half a million followers on Twitter, Kirstie has a huge army of fans – but she's no stranger to the uglier side of it too.
”When I started in TV, occasionally you’d have a terrible review. I remember walking into a restaurant to meet a group of friends and one of them said, ‘I’m so sorry about the Evening Standard piece, poor you.’ The table fell silent because I clearly hadn’t seen it. But that was as far as it went,” she said.
“Nowadays, there are stories all over Twitter and Instagram, and half of them are not true. I’ve found it hard to live with that and there are times when the abuse has been so bad that I’ve thought, ‘No, I’m out. I don’t want this.’”
Elsewhere in the interview, Kirstie shared her belief that women can’t have it all. She has successfully juggled her career with motherhood; she has sons, Oscar, 11, and Bay, 13, and stepsons, Hal, 17, and Orion, 20. But she feels there are sacrifices she's had to make.
"A famous TV personality once said to me ‘You can have a career, you can have kids and you can have a great social life, but you cannot have all three.’ She was right,” she said.
“The latter is the thing that’s suffered for me. Now the kids are getting older, that part of my life is starting to open up a bit more, and I’m grabbing hold of it. Last year, I had my first girls’ weekend away since before Oscar was born. Let’s just say that four days in the sun with three friends was exactly what I needed!”
In March, her family faced a scare when Kirstie's partner, Ben, tested positive for coronavirus. She and her family spent 14 days in self-isolation and are thankful to now be the other side of it.
“I’ve never been more thankful that we’re all healthy. It was a horrible experience; it didn’t feel real,” she said.
“Ben was tested because he felt really rotten and had all the symptoms, and our son, Bay, was diagnosed with mumps at the same time, so our GP was concerned. I don’t think that any of us expected Ben’s test to come back positive, though. I feel incredibly lucky that, while I probably had it, too, the only symptom I had was a tight chest.”
Read the full interview with Kirstie Allsopp in the July issue of Good Housekeeping, on sale from 3 June.
Kirstie: Keep Crafting And Carry On is available to watch on All4 now.
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