You sound like your voice is breaking a bit!
“My voice has gone – I’ve just finished filming. And I’m mentally and emotionally exhausted.”
Your new series, Family Matters, sees you meeting families with different issues – everything from troublesome teenagers to newly-formed step-families struggling to live in harmony and homes torn apart by affairs…
“There’s such a variety to their stories, so we felt we could really reach out and touch many, many families in Great Britain with this show. We’re helping families that are asking for – and needing – help.”
Are there any particular memorable stories?
“We’ve got a situation where we had a mother who had children with her husband. She left him because she had the courage to come out and say that she was a lesbian, and it’s about how the family can blend with this news and get on. And you have to hope that they’ll take the advice, you hope that they’ll be inspired by what they’ve learnt or heard, and that they feel some sense of relief. I know a lot of them did having this process happen, and had a lot of weight lifted off their shoulders.”
Why did these families come to you?
“These families have lost their way. I feel it will be really helpful for people watching this that they’ll be able to take home the advice that I’m giving and apply it in their own homes.”
Did you ever get emotional while filming?
“There were times when I got overwhelmed. There were times that I was giving advice and I broke down on a few occasions.”
Do you think that’s important?
“I do that with all my families. It’s important to be present, to listen and to be there. I think that’s just who I am as a person. I love my job and I’m really passionate about what I do. I have a lot of empathy. You have to do what you have to do professionally to get them there.”
Did presenting Family Matters bring up new challenges for you?
“It was definitely challenging because it’s something completely different, so I was excited about that.”
And how did it feel being in front of a studio audience?
“It’s different because normally I’d be in their homes and I’d be helping them there, whereas this is giving advice and making it happen.”
Do you think a lot of these problems are modern issues?
“Let’s look at what’s happening today. We’ve got families in this country hurting. They’ve been under an enormous amount of strain, pressure and stress from the recession and I just don’t feel like we can live in a society where that ripple effect is not felt on the family as a whole. It would be impossible not to.”
How do you think this is different to The Jeremy Kyle Show?
“Well, I think people need to watch the show. I don’t think you can compare it at all. They’re just two different shows. Mine is based on my expertise – helping families and going into their homes and seeing how they live their lives at home and mediating through those problems to resolve and come out the other end. Jeremy Kyle’s show is his show, and my show is my show. They’re not the same. We both do our own thing, and people will realise that when they see it.”