Sex symbol? I’m the girl next door: As her first novel comes out, Carol Kirkwood on the shock of divorce, the man who’s brightened up her life – and her enduring appeal on BBC Breakfast
- Carol Kirkwood has been presenting the weather report on the BBC for 23 years
- The forecaster, 59, has penned first novel Under A Greek Moon
- Reveals how she found time to write despite her busy daily schedule
First the weather, now the news. Carol Kirkwood, everybody’s favourite forecaster on BBC Breakfast, has written her first novel.
Under A Greek Moon is a sweeping saga set on the fictional Greek isle of Ithos and amid the glamour of Tinseltown in which flame-haired Irish heroine Shauna O’Brien finds love, loses it, finds it again, has it snatched from her and ultimately retraces her teenage dream.
It won’t win the Booker Prize but Carol will be happy if the book is a beach holiday bestseller. ‘I loved the whole process,’ she says. ‘At school I used to love writing essays and my teacher encouraged me. But I never dreamt that one day I’d write a novel.’
We meet teenaged Shauna in the 80s working on a luxury yacht bound for Ithos. On board she meets Demetrios, the good-looking son of the owner, and they enjoy a romance before Shauna returns home.
Carol Kirkwood, 59, (pictured) from Inverness-shire, who has been presenting the weather on BBC for 23 years, has penned her first novel Under A Greek Moon
Later in LA, Shauna marries film director Dan Jackson and becomes a major star, but when he dies she decides to revisit Ithos to lay to rest a few ghosts… and meets up with a now-divorced Demetrios who’s never forgotten her.
But what’s the legacy of that long-ago romance? ‘I’m a big fan of the glamour of the movies,’ says Carol of her inspiration.
‘And I’ve been to the Greek islands several times. So I dreamt up a story embracing all that.’
Given her daily schedule, it’s a wonder she found time to write a novel at all. ‘During the week I go to bed around 9pm, and set the alarm for 2.45am, so I barely get five hours’ sleep a night. But I’d work on the book each afternoon when I got home.’
And who would play Shauna in the movie? ‘Sienna Miller would be good,’ she says, ‘and George Clooney would be perfect as the older Demetrios.’
Carol, 59, has been bringing us the weather on the BBC for 23 years now, and there have been some memorable moments.
‘I’ve presented from Wimbledon Centre Court with a hawk, and sky-dived with the Red Devils. But I’ve also had a dog relieving itself behind me on-air on a beach.’
Then there was the time she was filmed holding two measuring jugs containing water. ‘One was the amount of rainfall we should have had, the other the amount we’d actually had.
Carol, who was married to property developer Jimmy Kirkwood for 18 years, said they tried everything they could to have children, but it never happened. Pictured: Carol presenting with a hawk from Wimbledon in 2017
‘At one point Bill Turnbull asked, “Are you going to repeat your experiment for us?” To which I replied, “Yes, I’ll have my jugs out again in 15 minutes.” Bill couldn’t speak after that, Mishal Husain had to rescue him.’
There’s great rivalry between BBC Breakfast and ITV’s Good Morning Britain, which closed the ratings gap when Piers Morgan was at the helm. What’s Carol’s view of him? ‘I met him once and he was utterly charming,’ she laughs.
So was he right when he said GMB had beaten BBC Breakfast’s viewing figures? ‘Well yes, but only on the day he walked off set. We’ve always beaten GMB otherwise.’
Born in Inverness-shire, Carol is number six of eight children. She was married to property developer Jimmy Kirkwood for 18 years but it ended in 2008.
Coming from such a large family, did she ever want children of her own? ‘Oh, very much. I’d wanted to be a mum since I was a child. We tried everything we could, but it just never happened and no one could tell us why.’
It’s not easy breaking up with your husband, of course, especially if you have a public profile.
Carol (pictured) said she still had to be ‘sunny’ on-screen while going through a break up with her husband, but work kept her going
‘I still had to be sunny Carol on-screen. It was all so shocking to me. I’d come off-air, go to the Ladies, have a good cry and then reapply my eye make-up before stepping in front of the cameras again.
‘In a funny way though, that helped with the healing process. I put my grief into a compartment which I kept separate from my work, otherwise I’d have ended up in a puddle of tears. Work kept me going.’
About four years ago she met someone new, but because he’s signed the Official Secrets Act she can’t reveal his name or what he does for a living.
‘What I can say is he’s kind, intelligent, makes me laugh – and he’s very handsome.’ So she’s happy? ‘Ecstatically. He’s a keeper, for sure.’
Her job has made her a household name but she laughs at the suggestion she’s something of a sex symbol.
‘No, I’m the girl next door. Look at all these lines on my face.’ They all point upwards though, they’re laughter lines.
‘Well, I’ve had such a good life. But I’m not a doctor or a nurse or a first-responder. I pale into insignificance when compared to those excellent people.’
Under A Greek Moon by Carol Kirkwood (HarperCollins, £12.99) is out now. BBC Breakfast, Mon-Fri, 6am, BBC1.
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