Ulrika Jonsson: ‘I make an excellent wife … I’ve had enough practice’

Ulrika Jonsson: ‘I make an excellent wife … I’ve had enough practice’
She spent only the first 12 years of her life in Sweden, but the country of her birth looms large for Ulrika Jonsson. She returns to it again and again, to explain why it didn’t occur to her that, past the age of 40, her career as a TV presenter might decline: “Coming from Sweden,…

She spent completely the first 12 years of her life in Sweden, nevertheless the country of her beginning looms huge for Ulrika Jonsson. She returns to it time and but again but again, to point to why it didn’t happen to her that, previous the age of 40, her occupation as a TV presenter can also decline: “Coming from Sweden, I’ve at all times grown up with pictures of older ladies round me.” Within the media and on billboards, she saw ladies with “white hair, grey hair, wrinkles, pure faces without makeup”. But the starkest contrast within the UK is the sexism, she says.

In Sweden, Jonsson (53) is well known as a proud export, portrayed with a Swedish asserting that interprets into something alongside the strains of “a girl running her win saunter”. In Britain, exercise your take: honest-time lady, untrue wife, unbelievable lover of the world’s most uninteresting soccer manager and – most scandalously – mother of 4 formative years by four men. She has been, alternatively unfairly given her a hit occupation, largely defined by her non-public life.

In many systems, looking out reduction, Jonsson looks to be no longer valid forward of her time nevertheless a victim of it – nevertheless she also offers a stark reminder that we can also no longer maintain moved on as extra special as we mediate. A protracted time earlier than the #MeToo motion referred to as for us to mediate survivors of sexual assault, Jonsson wrote brazenly about being raped as a teen and needed to endure the intense speculation – and furious criticism – that adopted. Why didn’t she wander to the police? Did that mean – some whispered – it didn’t in actuality happen? She returned to the tournament in a column for the Sun recently, pointing out that if she were young and came upon herself in a identical circumstance these days, she is “doubtful I’d wander forward to the police”. She referred to the comments by Dame Vera Baird, the victims’ commissioner for England and Wales, who mentioned in July: “We’re witnessing the decriminalisation of rape.”

I pull as a lot as her aesthetic, even supposing no longer palatial, dwelling in Oxfordshire. Interior, it is pristine – no matter the social gathering lady image, she says she became at all times a homebody. She is “crazy houseproud,” she says and also you might perchance well perchance uncover it within the flower preparations and tasteful knick-knacks. It comes, she thinks, from her childhood, growing up with her dad and turning into “a piece a housewife. Form of looking out after my dad, and he became swish ineffective at looking out after me, nevertheless no longer in an unkind methodology. I also mediate it’s reasonably honest for your psychological health to be dwelling in a reasonably ordered whisper.” Three of her four formative years were with her right by the lockdown and Jonsson, even supposing no longer her formative years, came down with coronavirus early on. “I needed to study right by lockdown that formative years get a huge number and I truly maintain to stand by. And that became tense.” She smiles, and surveys the originate-plan room, huge dwelling windows looking out out on to a little orchard and fields previous. “I get an unbelievable wife.” Then, with a laugh, “I’ve had sufficient follow.”

Her passion is for cooking, which she reveals on a typical foundation on her Instagram fable, and I think she’s looking out to determine how to present that into a brand current occupation. “I’m indubitably a feeder,” she says. She is dressed all in sad, grey apron on high, used a piece like armour. We sit down on female sofas (red, curlicued) and two of her three bulldogs snore soothingly interior attain.

The canine, adopted from the Edward Basis, which rescues and rehomes bulldogs, maintain rescued her reduction on a lot of occasions, she says – without them getting her out of the dwelling for walks, “I’d maintain came upon it very easy to retreat when my ‘episodes’ of depression maintain been in particular wicked.” She is originate about her psychological health on her (silly, and barely painfully good) Instagram fable. In a submit in June, she wrote that she had been “blindsided by a spell of the Sad Canine and sadness”. Despite the incontrovertible truth that she has had therapy and introduced antidepressants within the previous, this day she manages it largely herself. “Cooking and friendships seem like the key,” she says. “And canine.”

Few celebrities maintain been chewed over as extra special as Jonsson; possibly attributable to she refused to be contained within the quite a lot of narrow bins we construct for female figures – even supposing she perceived to exercise her at-times harsh medication with largely honest humour. When she grew to grow to be effectively-ceaselessly known as a TV-am breakfast showcase “weather lady”, she became expected to be glamorous (typical sunbeds were a have to) nevertheless also the “lady subsequent door”. The tabloids loved it. Jonsson became bemused. “[They would say] ‘horny blonde TV presenter’. I plan, how attain they know I’m horny? Very top whoever I’m within the bedroom with is conscious of. But you’re 21, you’re no longer about to assert anything. But yes, they indubitably wanted you to be a obvious methodology.”

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On her subsequent job, presenting Gladiators – the 90s showcase that pitted “contenders”, against absurdly proportioned folks in Lycra – she became required to wear tight tops and leggings. “I truly maintain never felt so terrible in my life,” she says. “But you’re being paid to attain a job and at what point attain you . . .” She thinks for a second. “Wisely, I did set apart my foot down – attributable to I wasn’t wearing that the subsequent assortment.” She needed to battle to live to issue the tale the showcase, she says, when she grew to grow to be pregnant with her first child (they insisted on her being shadowed by a midwife, as if she can also spoil). “I felt as if I became quiet common, and I desired to work.” Issues like that, she says, were “variety of horny and disappointing”.

Jonsson’s look as a team captain on the cult showcase Shooting Stars quiet stays a excessive point for ladies on panel reveals; she would both roll her eyes at Vic Reeves and Bob Mortimer’s silliness or take part enthusiastically.

Jonsson never took herself significantly. She had desired to behave, nevertheless her mother encouraged her to grow to be a secretary. She grew to grow to be a PA to the TV-am boss Bruce Gyngell, earlier than she became placed on tv.

Her upward push coincided with intense tabloid interest. She left her first husband, a TV-am cameraman and the daddy of her first child, when it grew to grow to be obvious to her she became turning into attracted to one of many Gladiators, a He-Man-lookalike identified as Hunter (she had already had a old affair that had made the papers). It became an irresistible story: “I bet even as you happen to’re a girl, it’s twice as wicked even as you happen to’re no longer conforming,” she says. “I are inclined to are dwelling my life for me. On fable of I became untrue in my first marriage, that doesn’t replicate in particular effectively, whereas I’m swish certain if I’d been a man, it can most likely perchance perchance maintain been omitted. But it really became horny to them attributable to it became like, ‘Hang on, lady subsequent door, what maintain you valid achieved?’ That doesn’t match.”

For the subsequent few years, Jonsson became portrayed as skipping the rails if no longer going off them (the “closing ladette” based mostly entirely on one paper). She had had strict teen years, then been married for many of her 20s. “There hadn’t been an outlet for the total craziness and fun issues,” she says. “In order that happened in my 30s. And that became the tip of my occupation, so it became primarily the most enthralling storm.” She wasn’t naive – there maintain been photoshoots for lads’ magazines, and horny campaigns for unsexy lingerie companies. But the eye became also “swish intense. I didn’t tackle it very effectively. I came upon it very provoking and it created immense ranges of terror, valid physical shaking, coronary heart racing.” She might perchance well perchance be adopted by photographers, and later came upon out her mobile phone had been hacked.

Over the subsequent few years it got worse. Her excessive-profile relationship with the footballer Stan Collymore came to a brutal end when he attacked her in a bar in Paris in 1998. Then she met a German resort manager on vacation, nevertheless he left her the day she took their runt one daughter dwelling from clinical institution, following coronary heart surgical treatment (all chronicled by the tabloids). She had but another daughter with her subsequent husband, Lance Gerrard-Wright, the subject of a actuality showcase, Mr Engaging, by which he became the “prize” (Jonsson, net net hosting, bagged him as but another). And her 2002 autobiography detailed her horny affair with the then-England soccer manager and fellow Swede, Sven-Göran Eriksson, as effectively as dates with Prince Edward. Her third marriage, to an American advertising executive, broke up closing one year; he lives interior attain and they co-mother or father their 12-one year-veteran son.

Three marriages over three a protracted time isn’t that wicked, she factors out, nevertheless her turbulent like life has customarily been linked to her turbulent childhood. Her mother left when Jonsson became eight, appealing to the UK (Jonsson would join her four years later). Her father, a utilizing teacher, whom Jonsson adored, became fun and charismatic nevertheless no longer precisely responsible – she might perchance well perchance be largely left on my own to investigate cross-take a look at after herself, and he carelessly uncovered her to his intercourse life in a methodology we would maintain in mind abusive this day (he had a lot of young girlfriends, customarily on the identical time, and made runt strive and cloak their actions).

Did the coverage she attracted feel unfair? “From a female point of seek for, indubitably. I keep going reduction to being Swedish nevertheless Sweden feels to me one of primarily the most egalitarian international locations, and the assumption of there being assumptions made about you attributable to your intercourse . . .” It wasn’t something she had grown up with, she says. Whereas within the UK, it felt “like a huge wave and there’s no methodology you might perchance well perchance also battle that”. But she says she refused to are dwelling her life in fright of what it can most likely perchance perchance investigate cross-take a look at like. She smiles, blue eyes glittering. “Despite the incontrovertible truth that infrequently I had an furious agent going” – she puts her head in her hands – “‘Nooo.’”

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How does she feel regarding the methodology she is judged for having four formative years by four men (a “4×4 mum”)? “I mean, it is reasonably silly,” she says and laughs, “on the face of it. But we never focus on Rod Stewart [who has children with five women].” Or Boris Johnson, I point out. “He valid hasn’t counted his. All my formative years are dwelling with me. We attain to a call ladies to this point more harshly than men.”

Within the aftermath of the assault by Collymore, there became a sense in some quarters that she had introduced it on herself – that she had been ingesting and titillating. “I became previous staggered. I became indubitably inebriated – I became in a terribly delighted, inebriated space – nevertheless it had entirely nothing to attain with me. I heard from folks like, ‘You were taking your high off.’ Very obviously I didn’t, nevertheless even supposing I had . . . Here is the total ingredient about accountability, culpability or whatever, you hear it the total time in other eventualities: ‘She does wind him up.’ What?”

But the largest storm came when, in her 2002 memoir, Jonsson wrote about being raped in a resort room when she became 19. Despite the incontrovertible truth that there became sympathy, there became also the terrible sense that Jonsson’s fable became being wondered. “Other folks were like, ‘Why didn’t you wander to the police?’,” she says. “On fable of there became no such ingredient as ‘date rape’ in those days. I win like ladies are variety of born culpable. It’s at all times by some ability our fault.” Despite the incontrovertible truth that she sought clinical institution medication for her injuries, she says it never occurred to her to file it. “It happened in a resort room,” she says merely, of the times when folks believed rape became dedicated by strangers in darkish alleys.

She worries, rightly, that many quiet attain. In her latest Sun column, she referred to the file by Vera Baird that confirmed the replace of prosecutions for rape in England and Wales in 2019-20, based mostly entirely on figures launched by the Crown Prosecution Provider (CPS), became at its lowest stage since data began, and 30 per cent decrease than the old one year. Baird blames a commerce in CPS policy (denied by the CPS) that methodology that “weaker” cases are being weeded out to strengthen the low conviction rate.

“It’s like taking a backwards step,” says Jonsson. “How tense the CPS are making it for the police to set forward cases, that except there’s a in actuality honest prospect of conviction, then neglect about it. Which methodology that clearly there are incidences the set sexual assaults and rapes are taking space and folks are getting away with it attributable to it’s now no longer a crime.” She is shy on the likelihood that (predominantly) ladies are no longer getting justice attributable to targets. “It’s all about figures. You propose we were turning into more human.”

The landscape for reporting historic intercourse crimes has changed since Jonsson’s rape – would she ever file it now? “No,” she says quietly. “I don’t mediate it can most likely perchance perchance . . . ” She doesn’t produce the sentence. There are folks around her to mediate, she says.

Within the old couple of years, Jonsson stepped reduction from TV partly to exhaust more time with her formative years, nevertheless also attributable to what she became being offered. “They don’t need TV presenters now, they valid need somebody from a actuality showcase. I’m also older.” She says she “categorically” doesn’t circulate over being as effectively-ceaselessly known as she became. But she quiet is conscious of how to get into the papers – there are submit-bathe selfies as an illustration (even supposing admirably genuine photographs), and she or he’ll deserve to maintain identified when she printed closing one year that she and her old husband had with regards to had a sexless marriage, the tabloids would in discovering it irresistible. “I win like those are in actuality indispensable issues to focus on about,” she says. “Coming into this age now, menopause, I don’t want life to gradual down in that methodology.” She laughs. “I mean, I truly maintain to gradual down attributable to my hips. But a long way more ladies in their 50s are taking greater freedoms and having more independence. I rail in distinction total ingredient that we can also quiet wander quietly, grow to be invisible and valid recede.” With Jonsson, that never seemed seemingly. –The Guardian

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