Northern Ireland

Christine spills the beans on Daybreak, Frank and coming home

Christine Bleakley
Image caption Christine Bleakley opens up to John Bennett on Radio Ulster

Christine Bleakley is one of the UK's most talked about celebrities.

Rumours about her relationships, her secret pregnancies or lavish wedding plans are constantly splashed across the pages of newspapers and glossy magazines.

But these days it's her career and not her love life that is hitting the headlines.

It is almost three months since Christine left the BBC to front ITV's new breakfast programme Daybreak along with her ex-One Show co-host Adrian Chiles.

As one half of TV's golden couple, the public expected a lot from our Christine.

But Daybreak has failed to set ratings alight and the media has laid the blame firmly at the dressing room doors of its two biggest stars.

Despite endless column inches of bad press Christine is trying to take it all in her stride.

"It's early days and I think that was the problem," she told Radio Ulster.

"Everyone expected this huge overnight hit, and even Adrian who is naturally quite pessimistic and negative about life itself and certainly work, he was even excited and positive about it.

"To be fair, I think I might have been the only one that wasn't, which isn't my natural way.

"But I was fully aware of it being a tough job and a tough gig. We've maybe taken the GMTV company away from people and replaced it within a weekend. So I certainly wasn't expecting this huge overnight success by any means.

"It was a long-term plan, and it certainly is in my head. The corner that was slightly turned in the past two weeks has given us all a little bit of a lift thankfully."

Image caption Christine and Adrian's chemistry on the One Show made them household names

Christine is determined to make the show a success and still enjoys working with Chiles "more than anything else".

"He was the major reason for going in the first place," she said.

'Hurtful'

From her humble beginnings as a runner with BBC Northern Ireland, there's no denying Christine has come a long way. Success has brought fame and fortune and a mega-rich boyfriend in the form of Chelsea footballer Frank Lampard.

But it also means the 31-year-old has to put up with the sometimes unflattering glare of the media spotlight.

Speaking on Radio Ulster's With Bennett, Christine said: "You can read certainly some hurtful things. I've got now that I try my best not to and that is difficult when you have to read papers everyday for your job. You're scared you might see yourself.

"These past couple of months haven't been necessarily the easiest period, but having said that, and I've done it recently where I've clocked things, I just flick on because what's the point?"

When she is not avoiding tabloid tales Christine likes to spend her time enjoying "normal" things with Frank and her family back home in Newtownards.

She said: "He's been back a few times to Northern Ireland with me but he's incredibly normal, very down to earth, very humble. If he was none of those things I wouldn't be with him.

Image caption Despite being one of the UK's highest paid footballers Christine says Frank is "normal" and "very humble"

"We've a very normal lovely home life and we're very content, it's got to be said. No matter how crazy your day is, it's lovely to have that feeling like you look forward to going home.

"We went to the Pride of Britain Awards actually this week. I don't do the red carpet things, I feel incredibly awkward on them. I know I'm gawky when I'm walking up those red carpets. I'm just hopeless at it.

"But when we get together and we have our free time we just do the ordinary things. We're going for a Chinese tonight and I'm very happy to do that."

Although she is the girlfriend of a footballer, Christine grimaces at the mere mention of the term WAG. She is adamant that she is an independent woman who is carving out her own career.

She added: "When a woman is linked with the word ambitious it equals, am I allowed to say bitch, but that's what it basically means when you read it in a paper.

"I certainly don't think of myself like that at all. I'm ambitious in the sense that I want to be able to buy my own stuff and look after myself and be independent and certainly look after my family.

"But if that's a bad thing then I'm not so sure but I wouldn't call myself ambitious in any other way other than just wanting to survive."

'Home'

With a multi-million pound TV deal, a Premier League star on her arm, and celeb friends like Piers Morgan and Simon Cowell, it is hard to believe Christine is just like the rest of us.

However, she insists she is. "I'm still the Christine you knew years ago when I was working at BBC Northern Ireland. And I kind of can't quite sometimes see why the interest is there if that is the case.

"I mean, I was followed here today by three cars and three guys on bikes. But having said that, there are other days, you know, when there is no interest at all. So, as I say, you do your best to just detach yourself from that.

"That's why I go home so much, to be fair. I just switch off the minute I get back into Belfast."

With Bennett is broadcast on BBC Radio Ulster on Sunday, 21 November at 1.30pm.