Fearne Cotton on Happy Place, teenage fame and the power of Dawn French

Welcome to Metro.co.uk‘s The Big Questions, where we ask, well, the big questions (and the smaller ones too) and this week, we’re diving deep with Fearne Cotton.

As a summer time of journey approaches, Ellie Goulding and Fearne shocked 80 starry-eyed followers (geddit?) at a secret Hilton live performance in London on Wednesday, however earlier than the jig was up we chatted to the presenter and podcaster who, whereas she was shtum on the shock singer, dished on all else.

From her wildly profitable and highly effective podcast, Happy Place – the place she’s interviewed everybody from Jada Pinkett Smith to Bimini Bon Boulash – to rising via the ranks as a presenter alongside the likes of Holly Willoughby and Stephen Mulhern, Fearne, 40, has been a powerhouse within the leisure biz since for many years.

That’s to not say there haven’t been the challenges, and, very similar to her no-holds-barred podcast conversations, she was an open e book when chatting with us about what makes her tick (chilly swimming within the sea) and what provides her the ick (ice baths). 

Yes, we get that particular.

Ok, so, we’re talking earlier than the Secret Socials gig, and whereas we will’t discuss *who* is performing, what’s it in regards to the thrill of reside music and this specific occasion that’s acquired you excited?

A musician of that calibre, and with such an enormous fan base, performing to such an intimate crowd is at all times so superb. And I really like the notion of it being secret, as a result of I don’t assume we get many surprises as adults.

Ellie Goulding was the key act, in case you didn’t know (Picture: Ben Gibson)

I haven’t actually seen that a lot reside music within the final couple of years, I’m nonetheless type of buzzing off attending to see performers do their factor reside.

As an enormous music fan, I feel simply seeing somebody that gifted at what they do within the flesh is sort of inexplicable, as a result of, if you happen to’re on the high of your sport, music-wise, you’ve acquired one thing fairly particular happening. Yes, you’ll be able to hear that on the radio, or if you happen to’re streaming it, however to really see that occuring and to really feel that pressure, that vitality, is what retains me going again to seeing those who I really like play reside. Not each reside gig is sensible, however when somebody is superb, it’s actually one thing else. 

That connection between you and the opposite viewers members who share a love of that artist or band all being collectively, whether or not it’s all singing collectively, or simply dancing, or feeling elevated due to it, that, once more, is particular, and never one thing that we get to faucet into each day. 

You’ve been open previously about stepping away from jobs in an effort to take care of your self. I assume your arm didn’t should be twisted too far to become involved with this…

You’re completely proper. I’ve been very trustworthy on Instagram speaking about sure jobs that I don’t… it’s not even like I’m selecting to not do them, I wouldn’t be capable of. Because I feel as I’ve gotten older and, simply expertise life, I assume I’m not strolling round sporting a go well with of armour anymore. 

The writer feels she now not must put on ‘body armour’ (Picture: Getty Images Europe)

There are sure conditions that I simply don’t really feel I can’t put myself in. I don’t wish to stroll round with a wall up or really feel like I’ve acquired to guard myself. I do assume it’s a must to try this to an extent on this bizarre trade, this bizarre profession that I’m in. 

So in saying sure to one thing like this, I don’t want a go well with of armour. I’m associates with the particular person performing, which is an added bonus, I’m very keen on them, and my favourite factor, clearly, inside my very own little world, is interviewing folks. It’s what I get an enormous kick out of, simply having actually respectable, in-depth conversations with folks and with a reside efficiency on the finish. So for me, it ticks all of the packing containers. 

And I slept completely nicely final night time, which is an indication of no hazard right here! It’s all comfortable and protected and thrilling. I really feel very fortunate that I’m very excited by what I do. I haven’t acquired bored of it, in spite of everything these years, I nonetheless get an actual kick out of simply chatting to folks about life and what makes them tick. I discover different folks fascinating. 

Speaking about sporting this physique armour all through your profession, if you happen to had been rising via the ranks as a teen on TV in the present day, do you assume it’d be a totally totally different outlook for the dialog round psychological well being?

The degree of commentary didn’t exist once I was a child. When I began on telly at 15, there was no consciousness of what different folks considered you, or your efficiency, or no matter you had been doing. It was unknown. I’d do a job, go residence and assume, ‘Oh, my God, I’m so fortunate that I get to do this’. I used to be only a random child from a working-class suburb who ended up on the telly, I couldn’t imagine my luck. 

I felt that for years and years, and I feel doing it in the present day would really feel very totally different, as a result of everyone’s uncovered to a component of critique or commentary. You’ve acquired to be product of fairly robust stuff to take care of that nicely, and to deal with it with out having some form of self-destruction, or with out it impacting you. 

Fearne rose to fame alongside Holly Willoughby within the 90s and 00s (Picture: Mark Cuthbert/UK Press by way of Getty Images)

I’m fairly a delicate particular person, by nature, so I’m not essentially constructed for the job. Luckily, now, I’ve constructed my very own form of little world with Happy Place. I really feel safer in that, as a result of I’m working extra intuitively, and I’m speaking about issues that I actually imagine in and that I care deeply about, and my incentives are totally different. 

Before, it was, ‘how can I be the biggest TV presenter out there?’ as a result of in any other case, what’s the purpose of doing it? And that’s clearly not my aim. My aim is, ‘how can we open up this conversation further? How can we get more people involved? How can we make more people feel less alone and more together in all of this?’ It feels safer, but additionally form of limitless within the sense that we will simply maintain doing that, we will at all times have a brand new aim to speak about new topics or to succeed in extra folks. 

As a teen in the present day being on the telly or beginning out or being huge on social media, oh my God, I don’t assume I’d have handled that very nicely. I feel I’d have gone ‘Nope, don’t wish to do that, not for me’. So I really feel so fortunate that I acquired to start out my profession in an period [where] you simply did your job and also you went residence. And that was it.

You rose via the ranks alongside the likes of Stephen Mulhern, Holly Willoughby et al. Looking again, was it useful to have somebody like Holly, who was the identical age as you, going via the very same issues, so that you didn’t have to sit down in silence if s**t was happening?

Yeah, however you recognize what, it was beautiful rising up with all of these brilliantly gifted folks; Jake Humphrey can be an ideal buddy of mine. There was an actual good gang of us. But I don’t assume any of us felt that these occasions had been significantly problematic. I don’t assume we ever wanted to sit down down and go, ‘How are you coping with it?’ as a result of we had been simply having enjoyable. 

It was a very free, beautiful time of simply having a proper chuckle and all feeling collectively grateful that we had been doing this job that we love.

Back then, the actually necessary factor for me was my schoolmates, who’re nonetheless my mates in the present day. There are six of us who grew up collectively, and I feel having such a bizarre job I wanted that actual familiarity and normalcy and that got here from my schoolmates and it’s nonetheless the identical in the present day. I don’t sit round with them going ‘Guess who I just interviewed?’ No, we’re speaking about humorous tales from once we had been consuming within the park at 14. So I feel that was actually necessary again then if something.

It’s been 4 years of Happy Place. Where do you even start to explain how profitable it’s been?

It’s grown, fortunately, very organically. And the primary sequence, I used to be actually texting those who I knew or type of knew, simply saying, ‘will you come on the podcast?’, and I keep in mind texting Dawn French, and he or she went, ‘What’s a podcast?’ And I used to be like, ‘Oh, s**t. I’m simply gonna chat to you.’ And she was like, ‘only if you come to Cornwall’. 

Dawn kicked issues off to Happy Place’s success (Picture: PA)

I’ve to thank Dawn actually for lots, as a result of she actually took an opportunity on letting me check out this… I used to be experimenting on these first few episodes, I didn’t know what I used to be doing. 

That then gave manner for different folks to go, ‘oh, wow, if Dawn went on it and was talking about divorce, and adoption, and all sorts of, you know, very complex issues, maybe it’s alright to do this’. So Dawn actually helped by way of that. 

Now we’re so fortunate that I feel folks realize it’s a trusted house, and that I’m not there to screw them over or to get one thing out of them they don’t wish to say. I’m simply sat there listening, I’ll ask a couple of questions right here and there to immediate ideas and reminiscences, nevertheless it’s actually not something to do with me. We’ve fortunately cultivated this actually beautiful, protected place the place folks can chat and infrequently you get the sense that they actually wish to get it off their chest, it’s not as a result of they should go on or as a result of they’re plugging a e book or no matter.

When Ashley Caine got here on, who I’m simply completely in awe of, it felt like he wanted to let these phrases out and to not maintain all the ache in anymore and to attach with different mother and father who had been via bereavement of that degree. 

I really feel very honoured once I get to sit down and take heed to somebody speak like that in such a uncooked and delightful open manner, as a result of it’s not usually the case.

Before [I was] interviewing folks in regards to the tune they’ve written or album they’re selling and it’s extra about entertaining people who find themselves listening. But this feels a bit totally different. This feels prefer it’s the particular person beneath that layer of what they’re doing work-wise. It’ll at all times really feel like a privilege, and that’s why I’m determined to maintain it going.  

Award-winning podcaster, we must always say (Picture: by Stuart C. Wilson/Getty Images)

What have you ever discovered about your self all through doing Happy Place?

I’ve come away with one thing each episode. 

Sometimes will probably be a straight-up epiphany of, ‘oh, that’s why I try this factor’. Or typically it’s, ‘oh, I could try that, that might help me’. But actually, I feel an all-encompassing reply can be, it’s taught me to pay attention correctly. 

So usually, earlier than the podcast, it was extra, as I mentioned, about entertaining, but additionally, ‘I’ve solely acquired 5 minutes right here, I higher make this beautiful fast and do the suitable questions and the humorous questions or no matter’. And the reply was virtually irrelevant. It was simply one thing to get via, so I can get to my subsequent bit. 

Now my bit is irrelevant, and it’s the listening that’s most necessary, so I’m actually getting a way of the particular person, if I don’t know them, but additionally how far we will get into this. That’s solely from listening. Going ‘right, well, maybe I could ask another question on this that feels even more personal or even more exposing…’ not exposing in a form of salacious manner, however much more revealing, I assume. 

You’ve spoken about totally different perceptions of you – do you assume there’s a false impression about you now? And extra importantly, do you care anymore?

It’s not one thing that performs on my thoughts, no. It’s virtually an unanswerable query as a result of there’ll be those who take heed to the podcast that can have a reasonably good understanding of a little bit of who I’m. There are different bits of me at residence that nobody will ever see, or they don’t actually need to see. But they’ll have a reasonably good understanding of my units of values, or my pursuits, my ethical compass, and many others. 

There could be those who have by no means listened to the podcast, haven’t learn any of my books, that used to look at me on Celebrity Juice or youngsters TV, that can have a really totally different concept of me. And that’s the one, it’s not even irritating, however the one stumbling block, I assume, is that whenever you do a job like I do, you do get type of caught in somebody’s reminiscence of how they’ve perceived you; how they’ve seen you. 

All people are altering on a regular basis. If anybody studying this seems again at after they had been 18, I’d hope that you just’d cringe. I actually do. But that’s a part of rising up, that you just go, ‘Oh, bloody hell’. I used to be like that, these had been my opinions, and you alter – however weirdly, in my profession, folks assume you’re this mounted factor, that you just’ve acquired to be the way you had been previously, or how they’ve perceived you. 

Sometimes I would come throughout in my podcast now as, I don’t know, extra considerate or quieter or much less entertaining. I don’t know. I’ve at all times been like that, there simply wasn’t room for me to point out that aspect of myself beforehand in my profession, so I don’t thoughts as a lot there are some folks which may have most popular me doing Celebrity Juice or Radio 1, that’s completely high quality. There’s nothing unsuitable with that. 

All I’m actually excited by now could be the folks which are engaged with the work I’m doing with delivering good high quality stuff each week and one thing that’s going to make them really feel higher on a Monday when the podcast goes reside. 

I’m a lot much less bothered about that in the present day. And you’ll be able to’t actually be bothered, as a result of even how I’m now in the present day, in 10 years I’ll be totally different another time. So that notion shall be unsuitable or barely off centre. So it’s at all times altering, and it actually doesn’t matter.

And lastly, after listening to you discuss this with Joe Wicks, how are your chilly showers going?

[Laughs] I’ve actually upped my sport lately, I’ve been going to the ocean. I really like the ocean, my son is obsessive about the seaside, so we go actually any alternative we get, we’re in that automotive, we’re going to the seaside. Rex will go rock pooling for hours. It’s simply absolute bliss.  

And then one in all my mates has acquired an ice bathtub, like a form of ice pit, of their backyard that I went within the different day. That was not enjoyable. With the ocean, at the least, it’s shifting and also you form of transfer with that undulation, it’s fairly a beautiful feeling. When you’re simply sat in ice, you’re like, ‘this is f**king awful’.

But it was good to provide it a go. I’ve been bang into that stuff for some time now – there’s positively one thing in it.

Fearne Cotton’s weekend:

On Saturday, the place will we discover you?

This Saturday, traditional, I’ve acquired two child’s events, in several components of city. My husband’s [Jesse Wood] away gigging that night time, so I’m already making an attempt to work out logistically how I’m going to select up one and the opposite. It’s simply… I can’t even go there. But that shall be my Saturday, guys. It’s going to be Cotton’s Cabs, driving the children about. They’ll come residence, completely stuffed with sugar, hyperactive and I then have the unenviable job of winding them down for mattress. So consider me on Saturday, guys, consider me.

Do you sleep in or are you up and at them?

I want! [Daughter] Honey likes to lie-in. But Rex is up on the break of day. And I’m simply within the swing of it now. So I wake naturally at six, half six, except I’m exhausted. Then I would say to my husband, can I sleep in my stepson’s bed room, as a result of he’s at uni, after which I’ll sleep upstairs and try to have a correct lie the place the children don’t wake me up. But even that’s, like, seven. I’m a correct morning particular person. I’m fairly alright within the morning, however I’m not a nighttime particular person in any respect today. I really like being in mattress by half 9. 

How have your weekends advanced?

I’ve been a mum now, together with being stepmum, for 11 years. Me and Jesse typically go ‘What did we used to do?’ He had youngsters earlier than, so Arthur and Lola had been about or typically they had been at their mum’s and we had a free weekend. What the hell did we do? What are we doing? We actually can’t keep in mind. I’ve acquired completely no clue. 

I’m certain I most likely simply would have been a bit hungover and simply slouched about, however yeah, weekends today, nicely, for the final 11 years have been with the older youngsters at a whole lot of sport matches again within the day, and now that’s simply creeping in with my youngsters. It’s primarily events, play dates or simply making an attempt to get them off Nintendo and getting them outdoors, or to the seaside.

Hilton is internet hosting a sequence of unique occasions throughout a number of of its iconic properties as a part of ‘Secret Socials with Hilton’, all through 2022 and past.

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