Danielle Lineker talks about her new documentary about stepfamilies and how she coped with becoming a stepmum to husband Gary’s four boys
How did you get involved in this new documentary?
“I looked around for information on stepfamilies once I knew I was going to be a stepmum and there was nothing out there. So when the BBC asked me if I wanted to make it, I felt it was a really important film to make. One in 10 families is now a stepfamily, so I wanted to make it not only for myself but for other people too.”
What was your aim in the film?
“I wanted to portray stepfamilies in a positive light. Things are not always perfect and nobody chooses or wants to be in a stepfamily particularly but there are ways of making it work.”
What abut your own experience growing up in a stepfamily?
“I had a really good experience. I lived with my step-dad from the age of one, so I didn’t really know any difference. But I grew up with my biological dad’s name, which is Bux and I always saw my dad and his side of the family. Also, my stepdad’s family are Asian, so I look quite different from my brothers and sisters, but it never mattered to me.”
Did growing up in a stepfamily help when you met Gary?
“Yes. Every weekend Gary would be getting up at 7am on a Saturday and Sunday morning to go off to watch one of the boys play football or cricket. To another woman, who didn’t have kids, they might have struggled to get their head round why they couldn’t spend a weekend with their new boyfriend. To me, having Ella, I knew that they are his priority in life and everything else comes after the kids.”
Were you nervous about meeting his four boys for the first time?
“Oh no, they were great. We overlapped on a holiday and I remember sitting next to Gary’s eldest George at dinner and him being really lovely and caring. I had my now mother-in-law sat the other side of me, which was quite daunting; I had never met her either. I think she was more scary than the boys!”
What is your relationship with them like now?
“I have always tried to be more of a friend to them than a mother, they have got their mum and you only have one mum in life. I try and be approachable and find some common ground with them.”
What about your relationship with the other parents?
“We all get on really well, there is no bad feeling at all, which I found with most people I talked to for the documentary. You have to really, because the kids have parties and there are going to be birthdays and all these kinds of things. It is daft not to try and get on because we all want the same thing ultimately and that is for the kids to be happy.”
So making the documentary proved easy in the end?
“I found it really hard actually. There were so many people involved and so many people’s feelings and emotions to be considered. About half way through making it I thought” ‘I can’t carry on with this. I am talking about our private life and Gary is so private.’ He always has been but I just felt it was so important that we made it. I kept meeting kids who were part of stepfamilies and they had no one to go to for advice or help. I just thought: ‘I have got to get on with this and make this film’.”
Did Gary give you any advice on your presenting?
“I make Gary watch everything I do. He corrects me and pulls me up on things. He is quite critical, but I don’t mind. If he doesn’t tell me then someone else will in this industry, it’s so cutthroat!”
Danielle Lineker: My New Stepfamily can be seen on July 20 at 9pm on BBC3.