Sunday 23 November 2014

Kathryn Thomas: 'The body clock is ticking’

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Alison O'Riordan

Published 31/12/2012 | 12:46

The presenter spit with her boyfriend of five years, Enda Waters.

RTE's golden girl Kathryn Thomas is saying goodbye to a difficult 2012 and is looking forward with optimism.

For the versatile television presenter, New Year's Eve is a time for reflection but, more importantly, embracing the challenges the coming year will bring.

She'll be doing just that with the help of her younger sister and confidante, Linda, overseas in a warm country.

The year 2012 brought its fair share of sadness for Kathryn, as her five-year romance with Garda Enda Waters came to an end; he moved out of their shared house last July.

The Thomas household also had its own woes and took a hit when it emerged that her developer father Gwynne Thomas's long-established company in the family's home town of Carlow had experienced loan troubles, and had its borrowings taken over by NAMA.

"I do know how hard he worked, so I feel very sad for my dad. Our family worked so hard over the years," says the woman whose own stellar career has seen her front some of RTE's most popular programmes, including 'No Frontiers' and 'Winning Streak'.

This year wasn't all bad though: the presenter had a huge career boost when she beat off several competitors, including Grainne Seoige, to be chosen as the host of the biggest talent show ever staged by RTE, 'The Voice'.

What's more, 2013 will see 'Operation Transformation' return to our screens, with Kathryn taking the reins once more.

She has put her own stamp on the show following the death of her friend and colleague Gerry Ryan.

We met her as she emerges intact -- though a little bruised -- from a challenging year.

ON THE PAST YEAR

"I broke up with Enda, which was probably the worst part of 2012 for me. But you pick yourself up and try to get through it like anybody does. We are lucky that we have come out the other end and are good friends.

I won't be any more glad to see the back of 2012 than any other year. The way I look at life is that you go through tough times, but I would never wish a year away. You have to deal with what happens in your life each day.

Despite the sadness I or anyone else has felt, I always try to find positivity in it. You can't live your life wishing away life as time is precious."

ON HER CAREER

"Professionally, my plan for the New Year is to put my heart and soul into 'Operation Transformation'. I can't wait to get back into it. The leaders are so inspirational in putting themselves forward.

It's important for me to focus both on my personal and professional lives. My family, friends, health and happiness are more important than any career, but my career is something that I love. 2013 should be about balance.

I've never had a five-year plan. It works for some people, but the way I have lived my life is that opportunities present themselves, which is when you have got to grab them.

I have lived and worked without routine. 'No Frontiers' meant I could have been gone for six weeks, back for a week, gone for three weeks, then back for two months, so I have never really worked within routines. I don't plan too far down the road."

ON HER LOVE LIFE

"Being single doesn't scare me. I am pretty independent and I have had a lot of time to get used to the change in my life that happened this year.

I am at a phase in my life now where a lot of my friends are getting married and having kids, and that has been the case for the past couple of years, so to break up when I'm turning 34 in January is not ideal.

There are so many women out there who are in the same situation, but if something isn't working at a particular moment, you have to step back, reflect and spend some time on your own to figure out what you want, what you both want and what is working in the relationship.

I don't think it's right to stay in something that doesn't feel right for both of you.

Relationships are difficult enough at the best of times and I know through friends that marriage isn't easy either, so you have to be sure going into it.

There are many women who were in the same situation as me who made the decision to get married, knowing in their heart that it wasn't the right thing to do, but out of fear, I suppose.

That is understandable as well, but you have to do what is right for you at the time, and that's the decision that we both made.

I don't think you can learn -- every aspect of your relationship is going to be different from another, and different from past relationships, so have I learnt anything? I have learnt that relationships are not always easy and you have both got to be happy to make it work.

I don't have any plans to start dating. I'm not at that stage yet. You have to take each day as it comes. The only qualities I look for in a man is that he is a man! Everyone is different."

ON HER INDUSTRY

"Even after all this time, I can't believe I do this as a job. I hope when I work that I engage with people. I like to think what I do on screen is honest, and that this comes across.

Youth and looks are important for women in television -- there are absolutely no bones about it.

I have been on TV for 14 years; I started in 1999 when I was doing a kids' sports show. From there I did travel, then I went into lifestyle, and now I'm doing lifestyle and entertainment.

I fought for 'The Voice' because I knew I was ready for it after three years on 'Winning Streak'. I knew I had learnt everything I could learn and that it was time for me to move on to something else, but I wouldn't have been able to do 'The Voice' if I hadn't put in my flying hours with 'Winning Streak'. I learnt so much from Marty Whelan; he is a legend and so good at what he does.

I was part of that twosome, and that really helped me go in a direction which I felt I was ready for.

I am extremely lucky -- I have a job, a roof over my head and I am very privileged and fortunate to be working on two shows that I absolutely love. At the end of the day, I am still working and I still love what I do.

The female talent we have on our screens at the moment is good, but I still think the balance is not on an even keel in terms of male and female broadcasters. Irish women are vocal and intelligent and I would love to see more Irish women on television."

ON THE RECESSION

"For me, a lot of the sadness in the past two years has been seeing family and friends having to emigrate. My cousin went to Australia, plenty of friends have moved to Canada, and a couple to the Middle East with their kids, so all that hits home.

I'm also aware, having travelled quite extensively in South America, Africa and northern Russia, that there is so much we still have to be thankful for. One of those is living in a democracy and in a place where women have the right to vote, which can be taken for granted. There are a lot more people in far worse situations.

Irish people have this energy. Even when they are down, they are still fun. It is almost as if we have embraced the fact that everybody is being normal again."

ON HER SOCIAL LIFE

"I have two dogs, Peter and Poppy, who take up so much of my time it's not even funny. I love going out walking them. When I get a day off it generally involves cleaning, doing the laundry and all the boring stuff like that.

I love Dublin to socialise and hang out in; it is an incredible city. I have great friends with whom I love going out for dinner and to the theatre.

My closest friends are the people I went to college and school with. I don't really have celebrity friends. I'd be friends with Rob Kearney, but I am definitely not in the celebrity set. I would call Ryan (Tubridy), Sile and Grainne (Seoige) friends, and Keith Duffy a good friend.

Brian Kennedy, Bressie, Kian and all the lads on 'The Voice' would all be friends, but we wouldn't be ringing each other up for pints every weekend."

ON HER LOOKS

"I work out with Siobhan in Body Byrne twice a week. I was doing Bikram yoga, which I will continue in the New Year, I love that.

I have been away a lot, in LA for a few weeks and London for a week, and when you're out of the country, it's very difficult to keep a routine going.

I walk the dogs every day for an hour, which keeps me going.

I love my curves, and I like the fact I am not skinny, but there are months of the year when I am a lot more toned, such as the summer.

I love my food so I have to watch what I eat and I need to exercise as well.

I am much more curvy than the women who would be seen on television in America or the UK, so I'm glad that Irish people watch for personality as well as body shape."

ON GETTING OLDER

"Even though I am 34 in January, I genuinely don't feel it. I think that is half the battle. I still feel as I did when I was 24. The body clock is ticking and that is something you have to deal with in your 30s. Maybe I should worry about it a little more, but I don't. I'm young at heart, maybe a bit too young at heart sometimes.

I would say I am low maintenance. I'm happy with my mates around me.

Having done 10 years of living in tents, trekking in jungles, working out of the back of a van and travelling generally with three men for 10 years, I'm probably a bit more of a tomboy.

Travel changes you. Those 10 years, from the age of 21 to 31, were when I became a woman, and I feel that all of those experiences in all those different countries and cultures shaped the person that I am.

Nothing really fazes me, and I don't want for anything. I do feel very fortunate with how my life has turned out and I'm so thankful for it."

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