Emma Willis opens up about life after Big Brother, planning a ‘second’ wedding with Matt Willis and feeling broody at 42December 23, 2018
EARLIER this year, Matt Willis announced that he’d burnt all his wedding photos. Describing himself as a “sweaty, chubby d**khead” on the pictures, he said he looked like “a competition winner” stood next to his new bride Emma Willis.
A drastic response, surely?
Emma Willis, 42, reveals she was filled with both sadness anger after hearing Channel 5’s announcement about Big Brother[/caption]
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“Oh, of course he hasn’t burnt them,” says Emma today, pouring cold water on the very thought. “I would never f**king let him! I love seeing those pictures. It’s a reminder of how far we’ve come.”
Three children, several career turns and a few personal battles later, Emma and Matt recently celebrated 10 years of marriage with a huge party and vow renewal at Rushton Hall, Northamptonshire. All the married female guests wore their wedding dresses, McFly played live and Stephen Mulhern carried out the service.
It was, according to Emma, “the best party I’ve ever been to”, and for Matt it provided an opportunity to put right those much-hated original wedding photos.
“I know it must be weird, looking back at periods in time like that and seeing the person you are today,” says Emma, 42.
The former Big Brother presenter wows in red as she chats about life after the show[/caption]
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Emma and her husband Matt renewed their vows after ten years of marriage[/caption]
“At the time we got married, he was very new to being clean and sober. He’s a different person 10 years later, not just physically but mentally and where he’s at.
“He just wanted to look like him, because he doesn’t think he looks like that any more.”
Is he getting better with age?
“Oh yeah! Like a fine wine. Manliness suits him!”
Emma is hoping to find work during the summer months[/caption]
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On their anniversary, Matt, 35, posted on Instagram that he wasn’t quite sure how he “actually managed to hang on to her for 10 years” and that he was aware he was “punching”. Emma rolls her eyes and laughs.
“Oh, he just likes people to say: ‘Aww, isn’t he sweet!’ Honestly, we had such a brilliant time and we made a whole weekend of it.
“There was so much less pressure and nerves than on the original day. I could just enjoy it. There were so many of the same people there and a whole bunch of new people as well.
“We saw the friendships we’d made before we met each other and the friendships we’ve made while we’ve been together, and there was a big group of really awesome people.
Emma Willis chats about the launch of The Voice as she wows in a red dress[/caption]
“We always say to each other: ‘F**king hell, how have we got three kids? It was just meant to be a bit of fun!’”
On the day we meet, Emma has just returned from the holiday of a lifetime in the Maldives with Matt and their children, Isabelle, nine, Ace, seven, and Trixie, two, as well as her parents.
Batteries recharged, she looks tanned and glowing with energy, and says she managed to switch off completely, having locked her phone away during the day and instructed her team back in the UK not to contact her unless it was absolutely urgent.
Back to reality after two weeks of bliss, she went straight into filming for The Voice, which we’ll come to shortly. But the cancellation of Big Brother leaves her with three whacking great holes (two CBBs and one BB) in her normally jam-packed schedule.
Emma was seen getting emotional during the last episode of Big Brother[/caption]
She admits with a wince that as yet she’s not got anything in the pipeline to replace them.
“Yeah, reality is kind of kicking in now. I read interviews with some people who say: ‘Oh, I’m in talks for something, but I can’t say anything,’ and I think: ‘Why don’t you just say no?!’
“So no, there’s nothing. I like to be busy, and it’s a long period of time that I don’t have anything booked in for right now – three months over the summer.
“I think it’s hard at the minute. There are a lot of shows that are well-established and don’t need anyone else. Everyone wants that new show, but where does it come from?
It was tough launching Big Brother when it had just been axed
“But I’m not going to panic, because if I do and summer comes and I still haven’t got anything, I’ll be crying! As long as I’ve got work somewhere and I can pay my bills. I’ve always been freelance since I was 17, so I’m used to it.”
She says she was blindsided by Channel 5’s axing announcement, which came just hours before she launched the last series.
“The timing was disappointing,” she says, choosing her words carefully for the sake of diplomacy. “I wanted to do a great launch where it’s enthusiastic and fun and exciting, and yet our show’s just been canned.
“So how am I meant not to feel sad, walking out and trying to host a show I love, knowing that it’s done? They could’ve done it a week before so that we all had time to take it in, or a week after so it could bed in.
“Through the series I went from being angry to really sad, and Rylan [Clark-Neal, who hosted spin-off Bit On The Side] went from sad to really angry, so we swapped emotions.
“It’s weird because when I heard, I thought: ‘It doesn’t matter → that it’s not staying here [on Channel 5], it’ll find a home somewhere else.’”
That never materialised, and looks unlikely to – at least for the foreseeable, given the set at Elstree has now been dismantled.
“I just thought there was more life in it, especially the celeb one, which was appointment to view.”
The last CBB certainly proved the show could still provoke controversy and pull in the headlines after Punch Gate, which saw Roxanne Pallett falsely accuse Ryan Thomas of hitting her.
Emma’s interview with Roxanne was gripping viewing. She judged the tone perfectly, challenging Roxanne without ever chastising her, aware that she was dealing with someone who was about to be thrown to the wolves and potentially very fragile.
“It was such a sensitive subject matter and I wanted to handle it properly,” she says.
“Rather than thinking of it as interviewer and interviewee, I just had to think of it as two women discussing something that had happened that was wrong, but at the same time being mindful of [what was going on in] her head.
“I think we showed eight minutes of a whole hour interview as that’s all we had time for, and I wasn’t trying to be horrible, I was just trying to understand why. And also putting it across from Ryan’s point of view, because he’s really the one who could have been totally screwed over.”
Emma was impressed with the grace and kindness Ryan extended to Roxanne when he came out, having won the show by a landslide.
“I think he was an absolute gentlemen, the fact that he said: ‘Just leave off now, she’s faced it.’ But look, if the one thing that comes out of it is that she gets help, then that’s the most important thing for her.”
Emma was also kept busy this year with her “passion project” Emma Willis: Delivering Babies, a six-episode fly-on-the-wall series where she spent 12 weeks working 12-hour shifts four days a week as a maternity care assistant at the Princess Alexandra Hospital in Harlow, Essex.
Her face instantly brightens at the very mention of the show, and it’s clearly a job that has left an indelible mark.
“Oh, I loved everything about it – how incredible women’s bodies are, how strong family units are, how amazing the NHS is and the staff who work there tirelessly and don’t get enough praise. It was just a nice old injection of real reality.
“Not TV reality, but real-life reality, and I’d do it again in a second. And it’s definitely a back-up plan if all this goes tits up!”
Did being around newborns 24/7 for the best part of three months make her feel broody?
“It did! It really made me broody at the beginning – that newborn baby smell, the little noises… But then you do a night shift and you see a woman in the middle of the night with it all hanging out, everything sore, everything tired, babies screaming…”
And the three Emma already has mean the Willis family is complete.
“Isabelle is very confident, very theatrical, very intuitive. She’s good at reading people’s emotions or feelings. Ace is just the nicest human being you could ever wish to meet – he’s really sensitive, kind and funny.
“And Trix is like a combination of them both – confident and independent but also delicate and loving. And she looks like the perfect mix of the two of them.”
The recent holiday provided some much-needed family time as well as an enforced social media detox.
“On day three, Matt dropped his phone in the sea. So he had a complete phone detox the whole time we were there. By the end he absolutely loved it, but it was a challenge at first. He was very: ‘I don’t know what to do,’ and I was like: ‘Sit on that sunlounger and don’t do anything! Play with your kids!’
“Not having your phone, you watch, listen and take in so much more. He was looking at everybody and they were all on their phones – you’re in paradise and everyone’s looking at what other people are doing everywhere else.
“So it was amazing. Awesome, actually. And so nice to just focus on the kids. It’s like we pressed reset.”
Hugely fun, witty and warm, Emma is a joy to talk to and has never changed despite the success she’s achieved over the last five years since landing the main presenter Big Brother job.
She’s looking forward to a Christmas break before her sixth series of The Voice begins in the new year. The coaching line-up of Sir Tom Jones, will.i.am, Jennifer Hudson and Olly Murs, who joined the team last series, is also returning.
“Olly had a few nerves last year. Rightly so – I did when I first started. But he really bedded in. Everybody accepted him, wrapped their arms around him and loved him. He came back again this year and it felt totally normal, as if he’d always been there.
“They do have great chemistry. We talked about that during the auditions – who’s who in our little family. Tom obviously is dad, Olly is the little brother, Jennifer is Mum and Will was like: ‘You’re the cool cousin.’”
Olly loves having the p**s taken out of him
“He’s the mad uncle! They all have different experiences within this crazy world of music, but they all have equal respect for each other. It’s so nice to see. There’s a lot of fun and p**s-taking, too. They are brilliant, such a good bunch.”
It’s a show Emma truly believes in, and she also hosts The Voice Kids, which returns for its third series next summer.
“There’s nothing to not like about it. It’s easy to watch, it’s talented people, and from a coach perspective there’s great chemistry. We are not there to take the p**s, we’re there to celebrate talent and nurture it, and hope that people can get careers doing what they love from this platform.
“It’s not nice to take the p**s out of people. Unless it’s Olly – he loves it! It’s called The Voice, so it has to be about the voice. There’s a legitimate reason why they are there.”
But first: Christmas. The Willises go big over the festive period, and Emma will be hosting a full house on Christmas Day.
“There’ll be 12 of us in total, and maybe some strays, or friends who have nothing to do. I just love being at home with everyone: my mum, my dad, my sisters, their kids, everyone all at ours. Everyone mucks in with the cooking, although it’ll mainly be my mum and Matt. We play a lot of games – we don’t really have a set routine.
“We get up, have breakfast, do presents, then we get dressed in our Christmas jumpers and just chill really. I love that there a few days where you don’t have to do anything or go anywhere or worry about anything or think.
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“You can just sit there around people who you don’t have to talk to if you don’t want to, or you can sit and talk all day. You can be totally comfortable.”
She prefers Christmas to New Year, but is planning a party to see in 2019 all the same.
“At New Year we tend to just get together with friends. When I had kids, I realised people stopped inviting you out any more. They think that you’re no longer socially able.
“So I always said that once all my other friends have kids, I was going to have New Year’s Eve parties and I’m only inviting people with children!”
She laughs and then adds in true Emma Willis style: “My friends without children can just f**k off!”
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