Why Lisa Snowdon is more than just George Clooney’s ex ...
Model and radio presenter Lisa Snowdon tells Gabrielle Fagan about fighting back to health from serious illness and that romance with the Hollywood star
Lisa Snowdon looks the picture of health with sparkling green eyes and long, glossy hair framing her face, so it seems a little premature when she starts speculating about the wording for her tombstone.
But as it turns out, the model and radio presenter isn't anticipating an early demise. Instead, she's humorously accepting that her long-past romance with George Clooney is indelibly etched into the nation's memory.
The pair became an item after meeting on the set of a Martini advert in 2000 and had a five-year on-off relationship. Yet six years on it's still rare not to see her referred to as former girlfriend of the iconic heart-throb.
“Well to be honest, I do get a little bit fed up with that constant tagline,” she says with a smile and a shrug as she chats in a cafe near the Capital Radio studios in London where she presents a breakfast show with Johnny Vaughan.
“But I've accepted the fact I think I'm going to take that label to the grave with me. It might even be on my tombstone, who knows? I can't lose any sleep |over it.
“It was a long time ago now and it's weird that people still ask me about it, but everybody does.”
It must be frustrating because being movie star arm candy is definitely not what Snowdon's about. She's bubbly, smart, has a flourishing career currently modelling for Marks & Spencer, and such is the success of her partnership with Vaughan that the show has won a clutch of prestigious awards.
Originally from Welwyn Garden City, Hertfordshire, Snowdon grew up wanting to be a dancer and attended stage school until a leading model agency spotted her dancing in a club at 19.
“My parents drummed it into me from an early age not to just get by on my looks. I'm far more flattered to be considered bright and funny than good looking,” she says.
That may partly explain an unusual youthful feistiness which enabled her to refuse to conform, early in her career, to the dictators of the fashion industry.
“I had puppy fat in my cheeks and a bust, and mine was a more healthy, sporty look. They kept saying, ‘You're not right, you need to lose weight'.
“Well, I wasn't going to be pressured into changing the way I was and damaging my health so I just refused and stuck it out.”
Her tenacity paid off and Snowdon, who was a judge and host on Britain's Next Top Model for four years from 2006, went on to feature in magazines such as Vogue and Elle.
She also garnered a legion of female fans who identified with her slender but still curvy appearance in Kellogg's Special K campaign.
“I got such lovely messages from women after that campaign I think because it showed you could have a normal, attainable body shape and be successful,” she says.
Nowadays she revels in working in radio where personality rather than appearance rules.
Snowdon took over from Denise Van Outen as Vaughan's co-presenter in 2008.
“As it's a live show there's an adrenalin rush, and it's exciting and sometimes scary. I love the pressure of reacting to whatever comes along, from news to celebrity interviews.
“There's a real chemistry with Johnny and we're great mates. He gets me, I get him and thankfully we both find each other funny!”
Snowdon's tough routine sees her on air for four hours from 6am. She believes it's essential to stick to a health-conscious regime and weekday early nights, so it was a shock when she was hospitalised with viral meningitis in November. Viral meningitis is more common and the less serious type of meningitis, as opposed to the deadly bacterial form. Sufferers usually recover after fully resting.
“It was stupid of me because I just kept working and ignoring the symptoms which were this awful headache and backache which got progressively worse.
“I take such care of my health that it never occurred to me I was seriously ill. It took me until January to fully recover,” she says.
Snowdon, who splits her time between Camden and Epping, Essex, believes her career focus as well as those antisocial hours aren't necessarily relationship-friendly. Two months ago she split from footballer Jay Bothroyd.
And at 39, she's says she's uncertain whether marriage and family will happen for her.
“To be honest, I do find it hard to meet people. Firstly, I'm really, really fussy and also I don't really go anywhere to meet people.
“Frankly, when you know your alarm clock's going off at 4.45am, it's often easier to enjoy a good book, a bath and an early night rather than get your high heels out.”
But it's the ticking of her biological clock which causes her some confusion.
“With 40 on the horizon, people sort of assume you're getting desperate about starting a family, but I'm definitely not and I'm refusing to panic about it,” she says.
“I have goddaughters, my sister Joanna's having a baby boy in October and I know I'm going to be crazy Auntie Lisa who spoils him rotten, so I have children in my life. It's just that they're not mine.”
Lisa’s life in showbiz
- As a young girl she studied at the Italia Conti Academy of Theatre Arts in London
- Afterwards she worked briefly as a dance and yoga teacher
- Spotted at the age of 19 by a model agency scout and starred in both high fashion shoots and commercials
- Got into the final three couples of Strictly Come Dancing’s sixth series, gaining a perfect score, but was eliminated by public vote