Wednesday 14 November 2018

'I don't have my ovaries doing the bongos yet'

'God only knows what I'm going to say to you." Elaine Crowley is feeling a little woozy, but in a good way. The charismatic Midday front woman has just had a colonic, and like Princess Diana and Jennifer Aniston before her, she's convinced of its benefits, which sound like they fall somewhere between a Berocca and a Valium. "They work for me", she tells me. "If I get stressed or anything my digestive system goes to havoc. You've a secondary nervous system in your digestive system. If I'm working too hard everything down there goes a bit dolally. I always come back looking and feeling about ten years younger."

As producer and presenter of TV3's Midday, she has four topics a days five days a week to get through, something that would be unmanageable were she not a great talker. Unlike RTE stars, she doesn't get a break either - the programme runs the whole year and its appeal hinges very much on her gift of the gab and force of personality.

Crowley's great skill as a panel moderator is getting her guests to open up - something she says tends to be easier when they're "ordinary women" rather than celebrities - but perhaps this is made easier by the fact that she herself is so open. Over the years she's been disarmingly frank on topics like her mental health, her romantic prospects and her weight. On the last subject, she tells me, "Everyone is obsessed about me being a size 14, but it's really not a big deal. When I was a kid, the Kate Moss skinny look was very much in. At least now there are people like Kim Kardashian and Jennifer Lopez.

"Of course they are unattainably beautiful in other ways, but at least they're not too thin. Men don't give a damn, any criticism on that score that I've ever gotten has come from women. We're our own worst enemies in some ways. I'm three years away from 40 and I feel sexier now than I have in my entire life."

Happily single, the 37-year-old tells me that she's ambivalent about thoughts of settling down. "Some people have it in their heads that they dream of their white wedding. I've never been particularly broody. Don't get me wrong, if I had a child it would be fine but it's never been something that's particularly preoccupied me. I'm not ruling out anything, really. Realistically, people are having babies in their late 40s. I don't have my ovaries doing the bongos just yet."

Crowley grew up in a place called Newtwopothouse ("I swear to God there is a place with that name that actually exists"), just outside Mallow. Her parents were both teachers, and as a child she wanted to become first an opera singer, then an actress, and she immersed herself in drama lessons. "Then my Dad said there isn't a snowball's chance in hell that I'm paying for you to do that in college, so I did communications in DCU instead."

From there she did a stint with local radio in Cork before starting at TV3.

She says you "need to be half mad to be involved in any way in the media", and on a more serious note she's been open about suffering from depression in the past. "I had some friends that weren't able to cope with it at all and they're gone. They took off because they weren't comfortable with the stigma. I haven't seen or heard from them since."

She's been mentioned as the first in line if a woman ever does host one of the big nightly flagship talk shows but tells me that "although I'd be honoured, I'm not holding my breath. We have a great gender balance in TV3, but there is still sexism in television, there is still a glass ceiling."

'Midday' airs weekdays 11.30am-12.30pm on TV3


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