With Strictly Come Dancing returning to our screens last Saturday, JLife looks at co-host, Claudia Winkleman. The presenter who has previously described herself as a “shrill moron with a big fringe” has been waltzing on our screens in Strictly Come Dancing since 2014, but did you know she is Jewish?
Born in London to a Jewish family, Claudia is the daughter of Eva Pollard, editor of multiple tabloid newspapers and magazines, and Barry Winkleman, a former publisher of The Times Atlas of the World. She later went to the University of Cambridge and gained a MA in Art History.
Claudia began her presenting career in 1991 with her first major presenting job on Central Weekend. She has had a long career in presenting since then which includes shows such as: Eurovision, This Morning and Hell’s Kitchen.
Although known for her liberal use of eyeliner, in 2008, Winkleman, along with other celebrities, went bare faced for Heat magazine in a protest at the excessive photo shopping of women.
Bagging the role of presenter in on Strictly Come Dancing: It Takes Two, a weekday accompaniment to the main show, in 2005, marked the start of Claudia’s Strictly career. She became co-host of the Sunday results show with Tess Daly in 2012 and full time co-host in a few years later after Sir Bruce Forsyth retired. Claudia has described working on Strictly Come Dancing as “joyous. I enter a world of fake tan and heels … and I’m lost in it”.
In 2000, she married film producer Kris Thykier and the couple now have three children together. Claudia prioritizes her children over her presenting work saying: “My main job is to look after my kids. I love them. I want to be with them because they’re going to be bored of me in a minute”. In October 2014, after her daughter was badly burned when her Halloween costume caught on fire, Winkleman has worked to have the government tighten the flame retardant standards for costumes. On the BBC’s flagship consumer show Watchdog, Claudia described the event as “life-changing” and saying “I can’t remember life before it”.
Most recently, Claudia can be seen as an occasional guest team captain and impromptu replacement ‘Carol Vorderman/Rachel Riley’ on the ever-popular 8 Out of 10 Cats Does Countdown on Channel 4.
Beginner’s Guide to Claudia Winkleman
Take it From Me (2005-2008)
The column Claudia wrote weekly for The Independent and she shared her witty musings and ideas about womanhood and relationships. Some of her columns can still be found on The Independent online.
Film… (2010- )
A long-running film review programme co-presented by Winkleman and Danny Leigh. The title of the programme changes every year with the first ever series titled Film 71. Winkleman was criticised for not having enough knowledge and passion for films, but this was dispelled by her being an engaging host with insightful opinions on the latest release.
Strictly Come Dancing (2012- ) and It Takes Two (2005-2011)
Arguably the most notable role of Winkleman’s career is Strictly Come Dancing, an immensely popular BBC One show where celebrities, paired with professional dancers, compete in ballroom dancing. It’s sister programme It Takes Two, adds extra coverage throughout the week.
The Great British Sewing Bee (2013- )
Equally popular BBC Two show, based on the model of The Great British Bake Off, where contestants compete to be called the best home sewer. Claudia has presented the show for 4 series since its creation in 2013.