Tamara: Why I’m not an heir head
Ahead of her new reality show, billionaire heiress Tamara Ecclestone invites Susan Griffin to her multimillion-pound pad to sup champagne and put the record straight about her lavish lifestyle
When most of us get a spot, we probably dab it with concealer and hope for the best, but not Tamara Ecclestone. When the 27-year-old gets a pimple, she speed-dials the country's top dermatologist and gets the blighter injected into submission.
She also requests dresses are flown out to her on holiday, flies by private jet and has a Birkin bag collection (average price £4,200) that would make Victoria Beckham see green.
It's a mere glimpse of life in Ecclestone's jaw-droppingly extravagant world, but as heiress to father Bernie's billion pound Formula 1 fortune, money isn't an issue, as viewers will see for themselves when they tune in to her new reality show, Tamara Ecclestone: Billion Dollar Girl.
“I'd been approached about doing a show for a number of years. It felt like
the right time,” says Ecclestone, sitting at a silver dining table fit for 10, in the basement of her multi-million pound London pad.
Outside, a Ferrari sits upon a turntable (so Ecclestone doesn't have to concern herself with three point turns) while inside is a decadent homage to femininity.
A sparkling black and white Marilyn Monroe print takes pride of place on the wooden stairs that descend to the dark pink dining room, where bottles of pink Laurent Perrier champagne await.
We watch the first episode of her show in the cinema room next door, a blacked-out space dominated by three expansive chaise longues that sit beneath a twinkling ceiling.
“It's really weird watching yourself, but at the end of the day, TV is entertainment,” says Ecclestone, who's wearing a black mini dress and heels, her
blow-dried locks bouncing around a fully made-up face.
“I just hope people get to know the real me and put some misconceptions to bed,” she says.
So, what of those misconceptions? “I think a lot of people think I'm stupid. Maybe a vacuous airhead,” she says in a voice that's part-private school, part-California girl, so the tone rises at the end of each sentence, like a question.
The headlines certainly don't help. It was recently reported she was having a million pound bathtub installed in her new £45m mansion that's being renovated. She'll share it with her stockbroker boyfriend Omar Khyami.
“We sourced the crystal in Italy. We didn't get 75 people to trek through the Amazon like they said, and it's not a million — it's a lot less than that,” says Ecclestone, unconvincingly.
She wants to lay another rumour to rest too — that she likes to feed steak to her five pooches.
“Duke ate chicken for the first time last night and now look at him,” says Ecclestone, pointing to a sad-looking Chihuahua curled up and shaking on her lap. But there's no doubt Duke and his pals are spoiled. Referring to them as her babies, she jokes: “I'm needy and they give me lots of love.”
In the opening episode of the show, Ecclestone's seen taking all five to the pet parlour at Harrods for a spot of pampering.
“All dogs need to be washed,” she says. “Though I guess the blue facials aren't essential,” she giggles.
It would be easy to underestimate Ecclestone, but this is a girl who achieved four As at A-level. She didn't want to go to university but her parents made her: “They said it was such a waste, as neither of them got to go,” she says.
Both Bernie and her Croatian model mother Slavica (they filed for divorce in 2008 after 25 years together) worked their way up from humble beginnings.
Ecclestone studied psychology at University College London “just to shut them up” but soon dropped out, so her dad got her a £12,000-a year job selling clothes in Armani and then
work as a publishing assistant at his magazine. A year later, “to make my parents happy”, she gave university another go. This time she studied Social Policy and Sociology but hated it just as much and promptly left.
At that point her mum and dad finally allowed her to do the TV presenting course she'd been hankering after. She's since worked on Sky Sports Italia (she's fluent in Italian) and hopes the reality show will earn her more work. She also has aspirations of becoming a businesswoman in the vein of America's Kim Kardashian.
Viewers will follow her efforts to launch a hair care range, which faces the first of many glitches when her father threatens to sue her if she uses the Formula 1 name. She's also in talks to launch a make-up line.
“I just hope it comes to fruition. I'm obviously not going to be as successful as my dad, but I would like to have a legacy of my own. I do want to step out of his shadow and have my own identity,” she explains.
Despite the lavish lifestyle, Ecclestone says her parents never threw money at her and her younger sister Petra (who recently enjoyed a £5m wedding before moving into a sprawling £91m mansion in LA) when they were younger.
“It wasn't like we were having really extravagant, crazy lifestyles and I think it's kept us grounded,” she says.
And that's why she didn't want to have a stringently edited reality TV programme.
“I didn't want to do a scripted show. I'm glad it shows all aspects of my personality and not just the good stuff,” says Ecclestone, though she visibly cringes at the mention of the argument she has with Omar in the opening episode.
“Yes, at first I wanted the row with my boyfriend removed, but then I thought ‘Why? This is real',” she says.
“Everyone argues with their boyfriend and has psychotic, insecure moments. I sure as hell do and I want people to see I'm a real person. I cry, I get upset, I overreact and I thought, ‘If I came across as too perfect, then that's not who I am'.”
And Ecclestone really does seem to want to be liked. Stroking poorly Duke, she says: “I hope people will see that regardless of where you come from in life, all girls go through the same drama and insecurities. I'm hoping people will warm to me.”
Tamara Ecclestone: Billion Dollar Girl begins on Channel 5 on Friday, November 4
So, how do the other half really live?
- She considers herself to have OCD and says it manifests itself in her immaculate walk-in wardrobe.
- She's a huge fan of The Only Way Is Essex and would like to join the girls on a night out.
- Her pampering routine consists of a manicure once a week, a blow-dry twice a week, a massage every two weeks and a facial every month.
- She never goes to the gym, but if she needs to get in shape, she tries not to drink or eat carbohydrates at night during the week.
- She'd like to have been a lawyer, but only if it didn't involve years of study.