Jonnie Irwin says he doesn't want people to "mollycoddle" him
We use your sign-up to provide content in ways you’ve consented to and to improve our understanding of you. This may include adverts from us and 3rd parties based on our understanding. You can unsubscribe at any time. More info
Late last year, her friend Jonnie Irwin revealed he had terminal lung cancer that had spread to the brain. The presenter spoke movingly about how he was determined to create special memories with his wife and three young children.
Today Holiday Homes In The Sun host Amanda speaks for the first time about her “gorgeous” friend’s battle, and reveals her respect for the way the 49-year-old is dealing with the worst possible curveball life could send.
“One of the things I love about Jonnie is how he is tackling it with such dignity,” she confides. “I love the fact he is doing all these experiences and he is going to all these places. I hope he gets to see many more.
“But it’s horrific and I can’t bear it. He is such a gorgeous human being and it’s beyond heartbreaking. Life is so unfair.
“I’ve sent a message to Jonnie. He knows how loved he is but – rightly – he needs to focus on his immediate family now. I think when you are going through anything whether it’s a bereavement, divorce, or a monumental occasion in your life, it is very important to know you are loved but also to know people are there if you need them.”
She pauses, then adds: “Cancer is such a horrible disease. It is absolutely horrendous and the outpouring of love for him has been unbelievable.”
The pair worked together many times at the A Place In The Sun Live exhibition over the years, a commercial spin-off of the hugely popular Channel 4 series Amanda was a part of from the beginning when she hosted it from 2001 until 2009. Jonnie joined the series in 2004 but, as the presenters host shows separately, their time together at the live exhibition has a special place in Amanda’s heart.
And as 2023 begins, the TV presenter understandably wants to embrace life.
“You have no idea how long you have got,” she admits in a poignant reference to Jonnie’s own health battle.
“If I could tell my 18-year-old self anything; it would be to grab life by the horns and attack it with gusto. I turned 50 last summer and I already feel more confident and better about myself. I hated my forties. Every time I kept reading, ‘Fabulous at 40’, I thought, ‘I’m not enjoying this’. Why? I didn’t know where I was, I felt quite lost, and I had lost my mojo.
“Now I am 50, I feel stronger and clearer about who I am and what I want in life. If anyone in their forties reads this today and thinks like I did, my advice is, ‘Hang on in there!’”
On the work front, Amanda is certainly “attacking everything with great gusto”. She has just finished filming a new series of Holidays In The Sun, which sees her go in search of quirky and idyllic vacation properties all over the world. And like A Place In The Sun, the series that first propelled her into our living rooms, this show undoubtedly provides sunny TV escapism amid the dark, cold winter nights.
“A Place In The Sun was great because it showed you all these amazing places you could live if you won the lottery,” explains Amanda. “But this new programme is about renting a holiday home and shows you where you can stay whether you win the lottery or not. We have done the luxury pop star type ones, but also ones that are affordable.
“One home that really stuck out for us was in Spain. At £78 per-person, per-week, it means you can have a good holiday for not an awful lot of money. I think the reason why shows like Holidays In The Sun are popular is because they provide escapism.”
I jokingly ask if she particularly gravitates towards working on programmes based in the sunshine. “I b****y hate the winter,” she replies, laughing.“I woke up this morning and it was dark. Give me something warm and sunny any day. I love it. But I also genuinely love property. I hope my passion comes across.”
Amanda is a very open and warm person who wears her heart on her sleeve.
She readily admits that, whilst she feels fortunate to be back on screen with such a fantastic series, there have been some serious lows during her career.
“There were the ‘wilderness years’ between 2017 and 2020 where I didn’t do a lot at all,” she confesses.
“I wasn’t in demand. I wasn’t being asked to do programmes and I can remember thinking, ‘Ah well. that was fun whilst it lasted’. The thing with TV is it is either feast or famine. You are either working all the time or you are not working.
“Touch wood, I have been busy over the past year, and I would like to carry on working. But what is lovely about now is there is an opportunity to do it at my age.
“Go back a couple of decades and you might as well have hung everything up as you would have been replaced in your early forties. Now I love the fact there are so many more women on TV who are in their forties, fifties and sixties.”
As for her own career, she admits she wouldn’t be able to work if it weren’t for the incredible support of her best friend, Ruby, and two close friends, Lynn and Debbie.
Together, they formed a “Mrs Doubtfire-style” What’s App group to help look after Amanda’s two daughters, Willow, 13, and Lottie, nine, who she shares with her second husband, Sean. The couple met while working together on A Place In The Sun, for which he was a cameraman. Her first five-year marriage to Mike Carter ended in 2003.
“I am so blessed to have a strong network of women in my life,” she says. “They are amazing because when we were both away working, they would step in to help.”
Filming the latest Holiday Homes In The Sun series together took them both away from her family more than she would have liked. But she is determined to inspire both daughters to be “fiercely strong women” when they grow up.
“In hindsight, I was away too much,” Amanda admits. “I missed the girls and they missed me, but I’ve always said I want to bring up two fiercely strong women and make them realise
that to have nice holidays, a lovely house and birthdays, it’s because mummy and daddy work really hard.
“What I do though when I am home is always snuggle up with them on the sofa. The laundry basket will always be overflowing!”
Before Amanda moved into TV presenting in 2001 on A Place In The Sun, the Portsmouth-born star worked as an estate agent, nurturing her love of the property business, and a model.
She took on the role of the “Scottish Widow” in the iconic adverts in 1994 on a contract that lasted a decade and, at one point, saw David Bailey famously ask her if she would glide across the screen wearing roller skates.
Will she be encouraging her own daughters to follow her footsteps?
Amanda confides her eldest has already been approached to be a teenage model.
“Funnily enough Willow was scouted a couple of weeks ago in Oxford Street, so I am bracing myself,” she says. “My youngest, Lottie, changes every week. Last week she wanted to be a tattoo artist in Brighton, the week before she was going to be the first woman on Mars! I don’t mind them doing modelling. I know what it is like, and I hope I can give them advice.
“That said, it’s a very different industry now. There was no such thing as airbrushing or filtering when I did it. But what I have always tried to do between us is make sure nothing is off limits, so they can talk to me about anything.”
She pauses, smiles, and then adds: “Being a parent, you feel love like you have never before.” Looking more youthful than her 50 years of age, Amanda puts her great figure down to knowing when to say: “No I don’t enjoy this.”
She says she tried running but hated it before eventually discovering Pilates.
“I am a firm believer in a little and often and nothing out of kilter. If I can stick to that 80 per cent of the time I’m alright!”
Christmas was a relaxed affair in the Lamb household and, now a new year beckons, she is hoping a few work ideas will get off the ground. Top of her personal bucket list is a trip to the Northern Lights and/or the Maldives. “I never make New Year resolutions,” she insists. “I’ve never done a ‘Dry’ January in my life, either.”
Smiling as she reflects on how proud she feels to still be working in TV as a 50-year-old mother of two, Amanda adds: “Who knows where the next decade is going to take me? But I know for sure I am definitely looking forward to it…”
- Holiday Homes In The Sun returns to Channel Five and My5 tomorrow at 6pm.
Source: Read Full Article