WITH their distinctive red hair, elfin features and quick wit, in many ways mother and daughter are cut from the same cloth.
Albeit Hermès for Anne Robinson and H&M for her long-suffering daughter Emma.
While the nitric-tongued TV star spends thousands of pounds a month on clothes, her only child prefers a more . . . relaxed look.
For her part, Emma reckons her mother has a tendency to look rather, well, Sir Elton John: “I feel that sometimes yellow double-breasted shoulder padded jackets aren’t as flattering as she might think, and that Elton probably wants them back.
“Mum doesn’t always have to spend thousands and thousands to show off a very good waist.”
So, ahead of the former Weakest Link presenter’s return to prime-time terrestrial telly today, as the host of Channel 4’s Countdown, The Sun invited the pair to swap wardrobes.
Emma, 49, starts off by slipping into Anne’s designer Issey Miyake black crinkle shirt and Dior quilted skirt, while Anne, 76, tries on Emma’s stripey poncho, Gap trou-sers and J.Crew sweater.
They each stomp out, after changing, with faces like thunder. They look livid.
We then try a few more swaps — before Anne has had enough and reverts to self with her own Victoria Beckham bronze dress.
Speaking from her insanely plush Cotswolds manor, Anne explains: “Years ago, when there was hope in my heart, I used to buy outfits for Emma that all coordinated — but I never saw them together.
“She looks like a tramp.
I feel that Mum’s shoulder padded jackets aren't flattering…and Elton wants them back
Growing up, you could never buy dresses for Emma…she looks like a tramp
ANNE IS TO WOKE WHAT TRUMP IS TO DIPLOMACY
“Growing up, you could never buy dresses for her. In fact, there was very little you could tell her what to do — but it’s got steadily worse as she’s got older.”
Former alcoholic Anne has not touched a drop of booze in almost 40 years.
What she could have spent on vintage wines, she has most definitely made up for in dresses, shoes and glasses. (The latter she buys from a small French boutique, and Specsavers).
When I ask if it’s “gauche” to guess how much she spends every year on clothes, Emma chips in: “Too much.”
Anne adds: “It’s not gauche but it’s like social media, it’s information I can do nothing with.”
She concedes that fashion is by far her greatest extravagance — despite owning three homes, and having a “brilliant” full-time housekeeper, Aira, who also cooks all her meals.
Countdown bosses gave the former tabloid executive an £8,000 clothing allowance ahead of the new series. Which would probably get Anne through a show.
“I would be shopping in Primark if I relied on that budget,” she deadpans.
After landing the gig, she celeb-rated by splashing out on a Comme des Garçons jacket.
Emma, who refers to her mother as She Who Must Be Obeyed, adds: “She puts a lot of work into online — Net-a-Porter boxes just appear.
“Then she scurries them away and gets very defensive if you say, ‘Oh, what’s that?’
“As you can imagine, she’s really quite rude about it.
“If I have something arrive, she just rips it open then pretends that she didn’t see my name on the front. It’s never anything sexy — cotton shirts from H&M for the boys.” (Her two sons, Hudson, 12, and Parker, 11, to advertising guru husband, Liam.)
Emma — the result of Anne’s first marriage to ex-Times editor Charlie Wilson — continues: “I’ve always loved a charity shop and can detour quite far for a car boot sale, whereas mum would sooner die than visit either.
“She’s a big one for throwing things out. I hoard, she throws. She says hoarding is a sign of weakness.
“She regularly tells me, ‘Emma, you do cry very easily’. It’s amazing I like her, really.
“I bought my wedding dress, a gorgeous John Galliano bejewelled number, from eBay — and she threw that out.
“There are ten things I will never hear my mother say: ‘Oh, I love what you have on!’ being one of them, and a second: ‘Do they have that in my size?’
“But I’m quite a bossy mother, it turns out — after all, wild rabbits don’t breed tame ones.”
Famed for her Queen of Mean shtick on cult BBC series The Weakest Link, Anne is to woke what Donald Trump remains to international diplomacy.
At the programme’s height, Anne was commanding £4million a year and flying to and from America (first class) to film Stateside.
I bought my gorgeous John Galliano wedding dress from eBay…Mum threw that out
I can genuinely wake up each morning and think everybody loves me [as she’s not on Twitter]
THRICE-WEEKLY PILATES AND REGULAR TENNIS
And while she will not be “asking a contestant why they’re so fat” in her latest TV reincarnation, she probably will not suffer fools gladly.
Three times, she asks me why I have parked my car “slap, bang in the middle of the drive, when I have spent a considerable amount of money on a car park”.
And when I ask the twice-married broadcaster who she is now dating, she has selective hearing loss. At the fourth time of asking, she crisply tells me it’s “none of your business”, adding: “Do I ask you who you’re dating?”
Um, yes Anne, frequently.
“Yes, well, I’m not writing about it in a national newspaper.”
Contrary to her waspish reputation, the real Anne — Annie to her friends — is incredibly generous, unwaveringly loyal and brilliant fun.
Four years off 80, she remains rakish thanks to thrice-weekly Pilates sessions, regular games of tennis — she has a court — and a personal trainer.
She looks at least ten years younger than her age, in part down to the above, in part down to one, maybe two, who knows, face-lifts — of which she has spoken openly in order to ensure other women don’t feel dispirited.
Her favourite saying is “capable women have broken nails”, and Anne is very much a do-er. (Or she will get her house-keeper to do it.) And she hates cancel culture: “I do not like things being banned”, and also dislikes victim culture. You will not see Anne claiming compo any time soon.
“Take ageism in television,” she muses. “If I was going for the first team at Chelsea, I would keep really fit and train. So if you want to stay on tele-vision as a woman, you do the equivalent.
“I’m not in the Chelsea team, but I’m not going to take Chelsea to the employ-ment tribunal.”
She has also never Googled herself, she claims implausibly. “It’ll annoy me because it’ll be all wrong,” she says. “I don’t really follow anything about me.”
Anne uses a grey, £2,000 OKA bench as a bin. (Which presumably sits well with Emma, who is a “recycling warrior for Westminster Council”.) Anne is not on any social media, has never watched Love Island — “but I should probably try it” — and has never been to Sainsbury’s.
But she might, if pushed, stretch to an occasional visit to a farm shop.
After serving the photographer Dan and me a lunch of cheesy cottage pie, spin-ach and feta pie, and a giant cheeseboard, she then explains why she refuses to join Instagram or Twitter ahead of beginning the new Countdown job. “I can genuinely wake up every morning and think everybody loves me,” she grins.
“I’m at pains to understand why the rest of you don’t join me in this world.
“It’s fabulous here, a perfect world that you should all be in.
“But I am self-aware enough to know there will be Count-down viewers who are horrified that I’m there ruining their programme.
“I genuinely am really excited, though, and it’s wonderful to have purpose again.”
- Anne Robinson will be presenting Countdown every weekday at 2.10pm, starting from today, on Channel 4.
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