Louise Redknapp: Jamie and I are still 'good friends'
By Gabrielle Fagan
It can be challenging to start a new life post-divorce, but Louise Redknapp is clearly determined to face the future positively.
Eight months since it was announced that her marriage to ex-Liverpool footballer and TV sports presenter Jamie Redknapp had ended after 19 years, she's opened up about her new life as a single woman.
"Some days it does hit you because there's obviously been major life changes," the 43-year-old says, choosing her words carefully, as she's understandably anxious to protect the privacy of her two sons - Charley, 14, and Beau, nine.
"Things happen, but much of my life is still the same. I still get up and take the kids to school; I take them to their football training and activities and walk the dogs. It's very important to Jamie and me that their routine stays the same."
She hints at what must have been a tumultuous period that's unfolded since the singer stepped back into the limelight by competing on Strictly Come Dancing in 2016.
Millions saw the stay-at-home mum blossom in the series. She originally found fame as part of R&B girl group Eternal in the Nineties, followed by a hugely successful solo career, selling more than five million records in the UK and 15 million worldwide, but she gave up her career when she married in 1998, to devote herself to raising a family.
Initially she was reluctant, when she entered Strictly, to wear its famously revealing outfits. However, she seemed a transformed, glowing and uber-glamorous woman when she made the finals with her partner, Kevin Clifton.
Speaking after the show ended, she enthused about having "a big injection of confidence" and confessed she'd felt "a little bit left behind" after giving her family priority for many years. Now she insists that too much focus has been given to the show's effect on her life.
"So much emphasis has been put on a TV programme. Strictly was a small chapter in my 25 years [career] and I feel like I end up talking about those three months of my life, when I've had 15 million record sales and been in a girl band. Yet this is the one thing that creates a buzz," she says, clearly exasperated.
"Strictly definitely reminded me about my passion to go out and perform on stage, but that's something I would have done anyway, eventually. I never said I lost myself; I was just being a mum at home, but I was still me. My plan was always to go back to work when the boys were old enough.
"It's not a 'new Louise' stepping out, it's just the same old one. It'd be so easy for me to go down this route of a 'new me', but it's not like that. What's gone on in my private life, it's very important for me to keep private, for the respect and love I have for my family."
She's equally dismissive of the 'Curse of Strictly' (so-called because of the list of celebrities who've broken up with their other halves following appearing on the show, including Rachel Riley, Ben Cohen, Joe Calzaghe and Jimi Mistry).
"Oh God, if I had a pound for every time I've read that," she says, rolling her eyes. By contrast, she sparkles when she talks about pursuing her revitalised career.
She appeared last year in a touring production of Cabaret, has performed at the Isle of Wight Festival and is working on a new album. "It's thrilling being back in the studio again," she enthuses, "It's really nice I can share it all with my boys. They're at an age where they can understand it and enjoy being part of it."
Although it was reported that her marriage had broken down because of 45-year-old Jamie's 'unreasonable behaviour', Redknapp insists they're still "good friends".
"Jamie's great with the children and it actually works, because when the boys are with him they're perfect days for me to work on projects. I've achieved a lot that I can be proud of. I've got two beautiful boys, I'm having the opportunity to do theatre and make an album, so I've got to look to the future positively."
One of her most recent projects is working as an ambassador for a Specsavers campaign to encourage women to buy glasses using its in-store Frame Styler technology. It allows people to 'try on' more than 30 frames using facial analysis.
"I've just had to get reading glasses myself and this makes it so easy to choose frames. It's all about confidence and fits with my fashion blog, A Style Album (astylealbum.com), which helps women to look and feel the best they can," she explains.
Redknapp concedes her own confidence can fluctuate. "You have good and bad days as a person, don't you? Some days you feel great and full of confidence and other days you don't. But on the whole, day-by-day, I just try to stay positive and confident."
Petite and perfectly groomed, her health and fitness regime she says is simple: "I do a bit of gym and boxing whenever I've got the time, lots of dog walking and running around after my boys - and I frequently get stuck being a goal keeper. I also aim to get a good night's sleep regularly. That's about it - I'm the most low maintenance woman ever."
She bats away any questions about dating saying, "I'm just enjoying getting myself settled with the boys" and that life revolves around "doing my best to keep busy".
"Children and my work are everything I've got and I'm focusing on that," she says. "I'd describe myself as down-to-earth, quite realistic, easy to get along with and a hard worker.
"I'm happiest when I see my kids happy, and we're all together and my family's happy. Second to that I really have enjoyed being back on stage and performing. I didn't realise how happy that could make me."
Reflecting on her experiences over the last couple of years she says: "The best piece of advice I've received in recent times is, 'You can't please everybody. Just be you.'
"You have to take opportunities and do the best you can."
"We can be really hard on ourselves and we want to make everything as perfect as possible, which is unrealistic," she continues. "I'm learning to be the best I can be - whether as a parent or with my job - and to just knuckle down and get on with things."
Louise Redknapp has partnered with Specsavers to launch Frame Styler. For more information visit specsavers.co.uk