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“Dundee United winning the Scottish Cup was one of those days you want to put in a box and wrap in a bow”

There’s no denying Lorraine Kelly wears her heart on her sleeve, sometimes of the tangerine-hued cardigan variety.

And there’s no hiding the raw emotion as she tries to mentally picture how her father, John, when he was 17, took a stand against relatives who wanted a different future for his unborn child.

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Lorraine’s mother Anne was also 17 and her family suggested Anne be moved to Cheltenham to stay with an aunt, where newborn Lorraine would be put up for adoption. “My wee dad from the Gorbals, with his pointy shoes that were so cheap they turned up at the end and the be-bop hair, he stood there in his shiny suit and said, ‘No, this shall not happen,’” says Lorraine, 50, who spent the first 13 years of her life in single-end tenements, first in Gorbals then Bridgeton in Glasgow’s East End.

“That was amazing. He was my hero. It’s funny when you think about it; how would life have been? It would have been very easy for him to walk away, but he didn’t. We Kellys don’t walk away from things.”

There’s much that Kelly, the Dundee-based presenter known for having breakfast TV’s most unrelentingly sunny disposition, attributes to her parents. From her father, it’s a love of sci-fi -- Captain Spock was her first crush -- and a similar Calvinist work ethic. John, a TV service engineer, toiled to move the family of four, including her brother Graham who is six years younger, out of tenements and into a new life in East Kilbride.

From her mother, it’s a love of books and Dusty Springfield -- one of Kelly’s earliest memories is dancing with her mum, who taught her to read and write before school -- and also the genetics that the Lorraine Kelly Appreciation Society so fervently admire.

“My mum was so beautiful; she’s still beautiful. She just looked so fabulous in her mini skirt and big hair and false eyelashes,” says Kelly, whose parents celebrated their golden wedding anniversary in the same year as their daughter’s recent birthday milestone. Kelly only made the discovery about her possible adoption while researching her 2008 autobiography, Lorraine: Between You And Me.

Her St Andrew’s Day birthday -- marked with a family dinner aboard the RRS Discovery in Dundee and the gift of a painting of 16-year-old daughter Rosie by local artist Nael Hanna -- was the autocue for a flashback through the LK annals, for better and often worse.

“Every hairdo, every crime against fashion is there for all the world to see, and, oh my God, there have been more than a fair few,” she laughs. “I got caught the other day; somebody took a picture of me outside my house, which was a little bit horrible, and I had on, well, they said they were pyjamas, but can I just call them leisure trousers?” Checked loungepants from Jack Wills, apparently.

Meanwhile, paparazzi snaps of her in a purple bikini holidaying in Bali last year are dismissed with a giggle as fodder for the “bottom of the budgie cage”.

The recent shake-up at GMTV has attracted its fair share of column inches, too, with Adrian Chiles and Christine Bleakley making the switch from BBC’s evening One Show to ITV’s breakfast slots in reputed £6m and £4m deals respectively.

Kelly has been touted as a potential replacement at the Beeb for Belfast-born Bleakley, yet the announcement that, under the new GMTV regime change starting in September, Kelly will have to work four or five days in London rather than only two (she currently records two of her four weekly shows) also made headlines.

Why? Because Kelly would be “forced” to live in a “crash pad” in the capital instead of enjoying her weekly commute between London City and Dundee airports.

The speculation elicits little more than a philosophical shrug from Kelly, who’s just happy that her new show will be recorded in a larger studio, currently home to ITV’s Loose Women. “It’s a wee bit like being a footballer, I think,” she says. “You know it’s precarious and you know that it’s not going to last for ever. I’m not complacent and I don’t take it for granted, but that’s the nature of it.”

In a 26-year on-screen career, a few punches have been rolled along the way, including the debacle over a bust-up with her show’s editor Benedetta Pinelli, who quit in 2006 after accidentally sending Kelly a text message describing the presenter as a “nightmare”. On a personal level, she suffered a miscarriage in 2000.

Then there was her accent. “Nobody spoke like me,” says Kelly, who turned down a place at university studying English and Russian to become a trainee reporter aged 17 at the East Kilbride News. Having taken a pay cut to join the BBC as a researcher in 1983 -- working as a waitress to pay her mortgage, albeit still earning more than her first job at Chelsea Girl, which paid 25p an hour -- she was informed that, without elocution lessons, she would go no further in television.

She’s not bitter. In fact, she’s eternally thankful. “Not at the time obviously, I was absolutely distraught. I was crushed. I was a wee baby researcher at the BBC and I got called into the office and thought I might get a chance to do some reports,” she says, imitating the frown and headshake of her boss. “You’ll never make it in television -- your accent is offensive.”

It was the catalyst for calling Bruce Gyngell at TV-am. “I asked about my accent. He was Australian and said he wanted a Scottish person to do a Scottish job. He said, ‘What’s the problem?’”

She cut her teeth in the role as Scottish reporter from 1984 until 1989. She also met her husband, Steve Smith, a freelance cameraman, who she wed in 1992. It was her coverage from Lockerbie, at the site of the wreckage of Pan Am flight 103 in December 1988, that raised her profile for television executives to try her out in the TV-am studio.

The week-long trial paved the way for presenting TV-am’s Summer Sunday, then the anchor for Good Morning Britain, going on to help launch GMTV in 1993.

The Cumbrian massacre earlier this month brought back the trauma of covering the Dunblane tragedy in 1996. She went on to front a series of her own magazine-style programmes, Nine O’Clock Live, Lorraine Live, LK Today and latterly GMTV With Lorraine Kelly.

About one million viewers tune in daily for chat about recipes, fashion, celebrity guests and topical issues. Greta Scacchi (who mocked her accent), Harrison Ford (monosyllabic) and Freddie Starr (who labelled her “uglier than Quasimodo”) were less impressed than Robert Downey Jr, who famously praised her bosoms.

An invitation to lunch in Kirkcaldy followed an interview with then prime minister Gordon Brown in his first chat-show appearance with wife Sarah. “It will be really interesting to see what they do next,” says Kelly. “Whatever it is, they are people who do want to help, with no agenda. There’s no cynicism there. They just want to serve and I firmly believe that.”

There have been LK spin-offs, too, in the shape of fitness DVDs and parenting guides. “I’m very much a mother,” she says, before crediting daughter Rosie for keeping her up-to-date with the latest in music and fashion. Rosie puts La Roux on her mum’s iPod, it’s reciprocated with Human League. “I’m not one of these people who believes that my daughter is my best friend. You know the Duchess of York saying that she goes on dating things with her daughters? I don’t like that. I think that’s just nuts,” she says. “Of course I embarrass her horribly because all mothers embarrass their daughters, but she’s great. I’m glad we’ve got such a close bond.”

The family are now selling their five-bedroom house in Perthshire, where they moved in 2005 from Berkshire. They’re living full-time in Broughty Ferry, near Dundee.

Adopted Dundonian Kelly -- who became Dundee University’s first female rector in 2004 -- had her first date with Steve on the terraces of Tannadice Park, watching her now beloved Dundee United take on Hearts in 1984. “Quite romantic, Hearts,” she adds. Kelly was heavily pregnant and was advised against attending when United lifted the Scottish Cup for the first time in 1994, so no-one, not even Carrie Bradshaw in her Manolo Blahniks, was going to stand in the way of Kelly watching their shot at Hampden glory in May this year.

The self-confessed film buff turned down the chance to fly to New York to see the second Sex And The City movie and interview its four stars because it clashed with the final.

“Obviously, there was no choice,” says Kelly, who went to Tannadice after the victory to have her photo taken with the silverware. “I’m so glad I did. It was one of those days that you want to put in a box and wrap it up with a bow and bring it out of the cupboard whenever you’re feeling a bit fed up.”

Having travelled on the 6am train from Dundee to Manchester for our interview, the day after daughter Rosie’s rain-soaked 16th birthday barbecue, Kelly is dressed in T-shirt and trainers. It’s not for another marathon -- she’s ran the London event three times and New York once, undeterred by being shown a clean pair of heels by “two bottles of beer, Darth Vader, Elvis Presley, a giraffe and a rhino”. Kelly says she took up running after someone offered her a “big fat cheque” for the charity of her choice.

Today she’s here to drum up support for Sky Ride 2010, a UK-wide initiative organised by British Cycling and Sky TV encouraging more people to get on their bikes.

Kelly is a cycling ambassador for the traffic-free ride through Glasgow streets on August 22 (www.goskyride.com). She’s hoping to bring her dad, if only to stir nostalgia of childhood cycling trips around Millport. “I always think if you’re going to keep fit it’s important to do something you like and there’s never a happy jogger, is there?” she smiles. “But there are happy people on bikes, because you can stop for an ice-cream.”

As the most famous unofficial ambassador for the City of Discovery -- she was rector of the University of Dundee and is a patron of the McManus Galleries -- her dream is to trek across Antarctica, following in the footsteps of Sir Ernest Shackleton, and pay her respects at his graveside in South Georgia.

“That’s one of my ambitions and top of the list of places to go,” she adds.

She’ll probably do it, because this Kelly doesn’t walk away from things.

  Life and loves

Career high: Being name-checked by Malcolm Tucker (Peter Capaldi) in the utterly brilliant The Thick Of It.

 

Career low: TV-am losing its franchise in 1992, although I was kept on by GMTV.

 

Favourite food: Beef rendang and hot, spicy sambal.

 

Favourite holiday destinations: Bali and Alaska, or if I was to choose anywhere closer to home, either Orkney or Barra.

 

Favourite film: All About Eve. Bette Davis was never better as Margo Channing and the dialogue crackled.

 

Last book read: Re-reading South by Sir Ernest Shackleton, again.

 

Best personality trait: Not sure. Possibly an ability to put people at ease.

 

Worst personality trait: I talk too much.

 

Best advice received: Seize the day and don’t keep anything for best -- use it now.

 

Biggest influence: Mum and dad.

 

Perfect dinner guests: All my family, including my brother Graham who lives in Singapore, Billy Conolly, Dara O’Briain, Ben Shephard, Ross King, Meera Syal, Craig Levein, Jim McLean, Penny Smith and Mark Heyes.

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