Claudia Winkleman says shes ready for the menopause and totally open to HRT

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Claudia Winkleman has scarcely popped up on our Zoom screen before launching into a full-scale apology.

“I’m so sorry about what I look like but there’s nothing I can do about it,” she says, grimacing into the camera. “I woke up this morning with a pig stuck in my head.”

Sorry, you what , Claudia?

“My son turned 10 yesterday and as a birthday treat he slept in our bed, and I slept on his piggy teddy,” she explains, proffering a close-up of her cheek to inspect for indentation marks.

Being a self-professed “queen of napping”, sleep has always been a topic close to Claudia’s heart but particularly today.

In an unusually vulnerable moment, the Strictly Come Dancing presenter admits she went through a real wobble as a result of sleep deprivation. “In lockdown, suddenly everyone was home. I wasn’t napping, I was jangly and not my usual self,” she explains.

After a few months struggling with this new “frenzied” persona, Claudia found solace in a surprising source – cannabis. The legal, non-intoxicating CBD version, that is. She’s now an ambassador for Cannaray, the supplement brand that’s sorted out her shut-eye issues.

“Until lockdown, I hadn’t even really heard of CBD,” she says. “Don’t ask me anything sciencey because I have no idea, but it works for me.”

When she’s not gulping down her CBD capsules with 7 Up (“Never water. I don’t believe in drinking water. ”), Claudia is spending her time presenting her weekend Radio 2 show and enjoying family time in London with husband Kris Thykier and their children, Jake, 18, Matilda, 15, and Arthur, 10.

She’s keen to make the most of every moment before it’s time to throw herself into the frenzy of Strictly Come Dancing alongside her work wife Tess Daly. “I’m either sedentary or full throttle,” she says. “I don’t really do the middle. If I’m working, I’ll race around, I’ll orange up, I’ll put on an eyeliner. I love it. But if I’m not working, I’m lying down.”

Sounds like the dream life, Claudia…

Forgive us for saying this, but you don’t strike us as someone into wellness…

I’m not! I have no interest in self-care. I have never knowingly stroked a crystal. I’ve never said, “Guys, I need a bit of me-time. I’m going to light a candle and get in the bath.”

Yet here we are, chatting about you and CBD. Why?

In lockdown I wasn’t myself. On a day like today, I can bound out of bed for the school run, all, “Oh, you want eggs with HP? No problem, babe!” and off we go on the Tube – “Good luck in double science! I love you so much!” Then it’s pick-up time, I’m all bouncing, like, “I’m going to make fish fingers! Now let’s do your homework!”

And I can do all of that because – and only because – I have napped in the day. As soon as I get home, I have a lie-down under a coat. Then in lockdown, the kids were home, I wasn’t napping any more, there was constant noise and I felt slightly… off.

How did that show itself?

I’m not saying it was bad or hard. I’m not a front-line worker. But I was just more… annoying, I think my children would say. I was needling them, “Have you done this? Have you done that?” Teenagers move at a different speed to a frenzied, orange 49-year-old woman. I couldn’t stop being shrill.

Were you also a ratty wife?

Probably. I mean, he wouldn’t admit it. He would be silly to [laughs]. No, I have no complaints, we’re very lucky, but we were on top of each other. Having been used to napping all my life and that suddenly being gone, I was a bit, “Oh, what are we going to do here?”

How did you hit on the solution?

My clever, brilliant cousin Sara sent me these Cannaray CBD capsules to try. I would take two every night and within a week I felt much more on an even keel. I’ve never slept like it. I know I look like Meat Loaf today, but I sleep brilliantly. It’s not just a nap in the day now, it’s a super-nap. CBD has become part of my regime in the same way I brush my teeth.

Do you think hormones played a part in how you were feeling?

Definitely. I’m sure that I must be perimenopausal and I will go to have a full check, just because of my age. I was checked about a year ago and my doctor said, “No, not yet.” All my friends are the same age and just talking about it is great. Suddenly we’re in a whole new era where it’s an open conversation and I love it. I watched Davina’s show on the menopause and read Mariella Frostrup’s book, both of which I thought were brilliant.

Does this openness make you feel more ready for the menopause?

Yes, I don’t feel daunted, I feel hungry for information and I am so grateful to Davina and Mariella who have talked about it and done it so beautifully.

Do you think you’ll be open to HRT when it happens?

Totally! Yes! In the way that I was open to CBD oil, I’ll go, “Right, I’ll give it a go.” I don’t purport to know anything so I’ll listen to people who are smarter than me. So when Davina says, “Don’t be anti HRT,” I just think, “Thank you very much.”

Do your kids think you’re less annoying now you’ve got your naps back?

I mean, I’m still embarrassing. For instance, I love Billie Eilish and, as my husband keeps on saying, we’re not supposed to like Billie Eilish, we’re nearly 50. But I view embarrassing my children as my most important job.

Surely they’re getting their own back, joking about Mum being on cannabis?

[Laughs] No, no, they haven’t. How naive am I? I’m like, “I don’t think they know what that is – they’re in their rooms reading Dickens.” The advert with me on a horse is making them laugh though.

Can we ask if you’ve ever dabbled with the illegal side of cannabis?

Oh, I love that question! No! No, I haven’t but ask me again in 10 years when I’m living on a horse and I’m in a slightly different frame of mind. No, I’m the most boring person in the world. I would probably call you up and ask your advice whether I should take Calpol or not. It was not my university experience at all. In my halls, there was quite a lot of beer but there wasn’t cannabis, not in my gang of friends.

Speaking of university, your son Jake is about to fly the nest…

It’s huge. I almost can’t talk about it but he needs to go, right? I can’t selfishly just keep him here but I’m suffocating him, let’s be honest. I just follow him around.

Do you want to have one last family holiday together this summer?

I don’t know whether we will yet, but yes, there is a feeling that we should. All I really want to do is take my kids somewhere where there’s no Wi-Fi so they can’t leave my clutches. If we could just play cards and board games then that would be excellent.

Has lockdown made you think about swapping London for life in the country?

No !!! Stop those words. Lockdown has only made me love London more. I love my neighbours. We’ve lived here for nearly
16 years and we’ll never move.

Will you be having loads of friends over?

Do you know what I really missed in lockdown? Bridge. I play rather obsessively. If you said to me, “Claudia, you have to give up everything, but would you like to just play in bridge tournaments up and down the UK with your husband,” I’d say, “A solid yes.”

I mean, I wouldn’t. I love my job, but I missed sitting opposite our friends and just playing bridge, so I’ll do a lot of that. And make some quite bad curries. That’s the dream.

Have you caught up with Tess yet?

We are having lunch on Friday. I can’t wait. We text all the time because we get so excited finding out who’s going to be
taking part in Strictly , but I can’t tell you any more than that.

What’s a Tess and Claudia get-together like? Lots of wine?

No, but it is quite a lot of chips. There will definitely be some sort of cheese and then non-stop chat for hours. I would love to
tell you it’s, “You know what, I think I’m going to wear more black sequins,” but it’s never that. It’s just chat about our kids.

Do you go out somewhere fancy?

I literally think we’re going to a Pret and then we’ll bring it back to mine. We’ll go anywhere. We’re not fancy. We’ve bought
fish and chips countless times together alone in Blackpool. We go to the drive-thru McDonald’s together which is opposite Elstree Studios and nobody bats an eyelid.

How do you feel about being able to stand next to each other on TV again?

Thrilled! Because I hold on to her. She’s my girl. She’s my anchor. So it would be thrilling, but I don’t think pinning your
heart on anything is a good idea. If 2020 taught us anything, it is that. Just the fact it happened last year was a miracle. Everybody on the show worked so hard to keep us on air and if they can do that again, that would be brilliant.

Rylan Clark-Neal floated the idea of a special where presenters took part. We’d love to see you and Tess dance together…

Nobody is seeing me dance. It would be disgusting. Tess is very good though. That’s why I think I couldn’t do it to her.
But you know what, I only work because I’m obedient – I’ll literally do whatever they say.

You’ve taken over from Graham Norton on Saturday mornings on Radio 2 – how are you enjoying that?

I get nervous on a Friday but I get so excited to do it. It’s terrifying, but only because I’m following Graham. I never missed his show.
I get nervous, but it’s also very important to have some perspective. I’m not stacking shelves and feeding people. I’m not a nurse.
I realise what I do is completely unimportant. I just don’t want to let people down.

What are the Radio 2 gang like to work with?

They’re adorable. Please don’t feel nauseous, but they are a family. I love them all. Me and Dermot [O’Leary] have a proper laugh on a Saturday morning, even though we’re so far away from each other with masks on. He is very lovely and I’m so obsessed with his baby. I’m just like, “Show me more photos!”

You’ve got your 50th coming up in January…

I can’t wait. Who knows what we’ll be allowed to do then but I know I want it to be with friends and family, and there would be the following items – roast potatoes, macaroni cheese, great music and lots of laughing.

How are you feeling about the milestone?

I can’t wait. I play bridge and my favourite topic of conversation is duvet togs. I have been waiting to be 50 for 50 years. If I’m lucky enough to be alive, I can’t wait for my sixties and seventies either. It’s not that I wish time away but I didn’t love my twenties. My thirties were amazing because it was just about a baby on my boob and my forties have been brilliant – but yeah, 50! Bring it on.

You’ve been in the business for 25 years now…

It is bonkers! How lucky am I? If it all ended tomorrow, I would just be incredibly grateful for what I’ve had. I’ve already far exceeded what I should have done. If you ask me, “What’s next?” I’m like, “Are you joking?” There is no “next”. It’s been extraordinary already.

Claudia Winkleman is an ambassador for Cannaray, visit the website here.

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