Cat Deeley: ‘I Told Ant And Dec They Were Paying For My Kids’ Therapy’

After a return from LA life, Cat Deeley talks to Grazia about personal style, parenting and her new knitwear collection.

Winser London

by Guy Pewsey |
Updated on

Memories of warm days might disappear the moment the clouds gather and the hail – in May – begins to fall, but on the morning when Cat Deeley rings me for a chat, London is bathed in spring sunshine. It’s almost as if she brought it on herself.

‘When it’s sunny, there is a spring in my step, and a song in the voice,’ Cat says with gusto. ‘I’ll open the curtains like Snow White in my dressing gown, with butterflies and birds. But if it’s miserable I’m just "bleurgh", and then I need five cups of coffee. It’s always sunny in LA. But here you’ve got friends and family who definitely make up for it.’

This return to the UK may seem surprising to anyone who has witnessed Cat’s rise from beloved, BAFTA-winning children’s TV host to global screen star. She has become a recognisable face in the US through her Emmy-nominated work in So You Think You Can Dance, and had built a life in Los Angeles with her husband – fellow presenter Patrick Kielty – and their two sons, Milo and James. But they made the choice to come back to the UK last year, and have settled in leafy North London. She is glad of the change, but it came with speedbumps.

‘Milo was at his new school and he loved it, so Paddy and I were high-fiving each other, and then, record scratch: the pandemic happened,’ she explains. ‘Nobody could go anywhere. But the biggest thing you can do is look at the positives, where possible. For me, that was the fact that I taught Milo to read. I taught him to ride a bike. And my littlest, James, has just started school, so I've been taking him in every day for an hour. I wouldn't normally necessarily have been able to do that all the time, so I'm revelling in it a little. That's the only way you can look at it: because if you look at it any other way, it just becomes so big and scary that it's terrifying.’

Lockdown also gave Cat time to focus on other endeavours, including Knit, her new collection with Winser London. She received a note from its founder and CEO, Kim Winser, suggesting a collaboration, and jumped at the chance.

‘I've always, always loved clothes, ever since I was a little girl,’ she recalls. ‘I have a stylist if I have to have a gown - you can’t get into them in your own, you can’t have a pee on your own: the whole thing would be a disaster - but for TV shows and appearances I style myself because I really enjoy it, and because I like being comfortable in my own skin. Some days I can rock a black leather mini dress, other days I want some whimsical vintage find held together with a hope and a prayer, and then other days I go with an androgynous trouser suit from Zara. I really like mixing it up.’

So, when the opportunity to work with Winser London came up, she started brainstorming. The jumping off point? ‘A picture of Marilyn Monroe, shot by a guy named George Barris on the beach in Santa Monica, that was actually one of the last photographs that were ever taken of her,’ Cat explains. ‘She’s wearing an amazing, chunky cardigan with a bolt of colour. And so that was where it all started.’ Other, more unlikely inspirations were Jeff Bridges – aka The Dude - in The Big Lebowski, and old pictures of Robert Redford. ‘When Milo gets his hair cut, 1970s Robert Redford is my picture reference,’ Cat laughs. A very stylish look for a five-year-old.

Cat is, as she readily admits, neither a seasoned designer nor a seamstress. She makes no claim to have been at the loom for hours on end at Winser’s mill in Scotland. But she is keen to point out that she was present at every step of the process – albeit virtually. ‘Because I'm enthusiastic, my lack of technique or knowledge is kind of okay,’ she says. ‘I ask the most inane questions, but no one rolls their eyes at me: they just get very excited too. When I ask things, I don't have all the technical lingo, or the jargon, but I do know what I like, I know what I'm trying to say, and I have examples, or I find things and pictures. I have been really involved.’ The result is a charming collection of knits that would look right on any woman facing a cool spring evening or blustery autumn day. It also would be a decent choice for a tough-but-fair detective in a Scandinavian crime drama.


Indeed, Cat’s fashion credentials are undeniable: she has been a part of the fashion industry for decades, as an observer and active participant. ‘I was 14 when I won a competition at The Clothes Show Live, and then I came down to London to model, getting around the city with an A to Z, checking in with my agent on a payphone.’

It sounds very glamorous, I suggest. 'I wasn’t very good at it,’ she laughs. ‘I just did things like Mizz and More. I wasn’t doing Vogue. But also it was just a good stop gap while I figured out what I wanted to do. I never earned any money doing it: or certainly not enough to pay my rent. I was with Storm Monday to Friday, and then I’d work at a pub on Saturdays and Sundays. I lived off jacket potatoes.’ Not the most elegant start to a career, then, but it speaks to Cat’s reputation as a relatable woman in the public eye, the sort of star who the public sees as a friend. But that doesn’t mean she hasn’t had moments where she has truly lived the life of dreams, and she has had several pinch-me fashion moments.

‘When Christopher Bailey was at Burberry, he made me an ombre ballgown in the palest pink to an almost dirty raspberry couple, because I was nominated for an Emmy. I loved Christopher anyway - we went to the Met Ball a couple of times together, and he is the most charming gentleman you could ever hope to meet – and he made it just for me. There's always that moment before it turns up where you go “I hope I like it! I hope it fits!” But it arrived, the zip went up, the clouds parted and the celestial angels sung and the fashion Gods smiled upon me. I felt like a princess. It was amazing.’

Cat Deeley Burberry

As well as offering Cat some headspace for a move into design, a return to the UK has meant that her children have become slightly more aware of their parents’ star status. It has, she confesses, led to difficult conversations. ‘Since we’ve been here we will occasionally be on the radio, or on TV,’ she explains. ‘But when I did Saturday Night Takeaway and Ant and Dec punked me, they did not like that.’ The incident saw the national treasures – and Cat’s SM: Live co-hosts – convince her that she was taking part in a Jackanory-style story-telling session, dressed in a koala onesie, which went awry when the set caught on fire. The children didn't get the joke. ‘They couldn't understand why I was in the middle of this fire,' she says. 'On Sunday morning, Milo called me when he woke up and said “Mum, why were your brothers trying to set you on fire?” Well, to start off, they're not my brothers. And then you try and explain that to a child! I called the lads up and said “when my kid has to go to therapy in about ten years, you are paying for it.” They can, I suggest, probably afford it.

Cat has to run - she has to take James for his hour at school – and she says her goodbyes warmly and cheerily. Most stars will tell you that it was a pleasure to speak to you. Most are lying. But our quick chat was punctuated with laughs and jokes and shared experiences. When she hangs up, it feels like coming off a call with a friend. And suddenly, as if by magic, London feels a little less sunny. Best get a jumper out…

KNIT by CAT DEELEY for WINSER LONDON, is available exclusively on

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