SHE was The Weakest Link’s Queen of Mean – and six years since the quiz show ended, Anne Robinson has lost none of her bite.
In her punchiest interview yet, the feisty presenter takes aim at the #MeToo movement, “boring” Kate Middleton, “fame-hungry” Hollywood actresses, “big-lipped” Love Island wannabes . . . and even Mary Berry.
As she puts it: “It’s a lot of hard work being so rude to so many people. I’m a real bitch.”
Not that she hates everyone. At 73, acid-tongued Anne has found love — although she would “consider lesbianism” if things with her new man don’t work out. And in a further revelation, the broadcaster — worth an estimated £60million — says she spends around £110,000 a year on . . . CLOTHES.
Back on our TV screens with a new BBC1 documentary exploring gender inequality, Anne believes the #metoo movement, which has seen women worldwide sharing their sexual harassment stories on social media, has gone too far.
She accuses those coming out as victims in the wake of the Harvey Weinstein scandal as “jumping on the bandwagon” to boost their flagging careers.
She also hits out at A-Listers including Angelina Jolie, Gwyneth Paltrow, Uma Thurman and Cara Delevingne, who all claim the disgraced movie mogul hounded them. Anne says: “It’s too easy for actresses you’ve hardly heard of to make a fuss and get their pictures on the front pages. Uma Thurman had a terrible time with Harvey Weinstein at a hotel in Paris on her own and she was devastated.
“And guess what? Later she was in his hotel bedroom at the Savoy. Did she think she might have got it wrong the first time?
“And Gwyneth Paltrow and Cara — is it a condition called bandwagon memory lapse?
“Take Angelina. Who’s looking after those children while she’s out there saving the world?
“And if you’re going to protest, how heroic is it to turn up at the Oscars in a black dress? It would have been better had they gone in tuxedos, at least. Not one actress has risked even a painted toenail.
“So I am done with Hollywood actresses, I am done with people marching and moaning and I am done with #MeToo. It needs to be put to bed.”
In the documentary, The Trouble With Women With Anne Robinson, the TV host visits classrooms and sees gender stereotyping first hand.
In another segment inspired by last year’s BBC pay gap furore — almost two-thirds of the people earning more than £150,000 were male — she also helps a woman engineer negotiate a £14,500 pay rise.
Lancashire-born Anne, who first appeared on TV 35 years ago as a guest panellist on Question Time, is famed for her caustic wit.
She became a household name in 2000 presenting teatime quiz The Weakest Link.
Dubbed the Queen of Mean for insulting hapless contestants, she was the UK’s highest-paid female TV host.
Spiky on-air, off it she is anything but. After plying me with cheese sandwiches and wine — she has been teetotal for 40 years — she emails after our interview with a firm PS: “Don’t tell anyone I am really quite nice.” Sorry, Anne.
Last year she fronted a one-off celebrity special of The Weakest Link for Children In Need and was later offered a whole series of the show to air on Saturday nights at prime time this autumn.
“I turned it down,” she says with a sigh. “They wanted to record it in Glasgow, but Meghan Sparkle isn’t going to trek up to Glasgow to do the Weakest Link with me.”
On the subject of the royals, Anne, naturally, has an opinion.
“I watched a bit of the Royal Wedding” she begins, stretching out on the giant L-shaped sofa of her West London mansion.
“It was a good bit of showbusiness. Meghan is very clever. I share a hair colourist with Kate Middleton. I share a hair colourist who does her greys. She has had to get thin very quickly [after childbirth] because she’s quite boring to look at, whereas Meghan is stunning.”
When it comes to weddings of her own, Anne finalised her divorce from her second husband and former manager John Penrose in 2007. After 27 years of marriage, she stumped up £20million but kept her Kensington home, two houses in the US and a cottage in the Cotswolds.
For ten years she was single apart from the occasional date. But for the past six months she has been in a secret long-distance relationship with a Cambridge academic who she refuses to name. They have enjoyed dinner dates and a holiday together.
“It’s going well,” Anne says with a grin. “We don’t live together, though, because he doesn’t even live in this country.”
Anne has a lesbian fanbase. And loves it. “I suppose it’s because I’m outspoken,” she muses, as Hattie, one of her two working cocker Spaniels, clambers over her head. “I haven’t dated a girl but I can see the logic of it. The older I get, it seems really quite an attractive proposition, because you don’t have to put up with any crap, do you?”
In response to Fern Britton, who claimed she would rather have a cup of tea than sex, Anne barks: “Well, Fern needs to get a life doesn’t she?”
Anne’s first marriage, to Charles Wilson produced her only child, daughter Emma. The 47-year-old TV host and her husband, ad director Liam Kan, have given Anne two grandchildren — boys Hudson, nine, and Parker, eight.
She says: “I want to grow old disgracefully, have lots of sex, be rich, for my grandsons to love me, to have lots of staff and for my dogs to be happy.”
Her pooches Ellie, 15, and Hattie, one — are among her greatest loves. Hattie parades around in an orange Hermes collar which Anne is “too embarrassed” to admit how much it cost. A quick Google suggests £280.
But Anne isn’t too embarrassed to discuss splashing out on her own wardrobe. “I probably spend about £110,000 a year on clothes,” she states. “My favourite designers are Comme des Garçons, Marni, Givenchy, Jimmy Choo and Manolo Blahnik. The worse your ankles, the bigger the piano legs, the more shoes you have to have.
“I spend a lot of money and I have five members of household staff, but I earn it all. I’ve worked hard.”
Anne describes herself as “the oldest woman on television who doesn’t judge cakes”.
And while Mary Berry may be one of Britain’s most in-demand faces on TV, she got there with little help from ex-tabloid journalist Anne. She explains: “I turned Mary down as the cookery writer for a paper.” Another big telly name who gets an unfavourable verdict is X Factor judge Sharon Osbourne. She says: “Her weight yo-yos, doesn’t it? One minute she’s fat, the next she’s thin.”
On the subject of her own changing appearance, Anne has been open about once having a facelift and regular Botox injections.
She denies rumours of a second facelift, putting her smooth complexion down to her dermatologist.
Anne adds: “As well as Botox, I’ve had some filler, Fraxel on my neck [a laser to minimise sun damage], and I run and go to the gym.
“When I was filming the documentary I interviewed the Brands Hatch grid girls — God, their lips were enormous.
“And all these girls on Love Island look ridiculous, with lips five times the normal size.
“I’d never get mine done.”
- The Trouble With Women With Anne Robinson is on BBC1, Thursday at 9pm