Interview: Andrea McLean
Interview: Andrea McLean
Andrea McLean chats to Angela Sara West about quitting TV to become a tech-savvy entrepreneur, her life in Surrey, and her new wellbeing app
With her bubbly personality and down-to-earth demeanour, Scottish TV presenter Andrea McLean has graced our screens on Loose Women, GMTV as a weathergirl and co-host alongside Ben Shephard and Eamonn Holmes, as well as filling in for Lorraine Kelly on LK Today. Reality show stints such as ITV’s Dancing On Ice, along with gruelling challenges on Celebrity SAS: Who Dares Wins, which took its toll on the TV star after she succumbed to hypothermia, have all shaped Surreyite Andrea.
Her openness about her battle with anxiety, her breakdown and her experience of a sudden menopause after a hysterectomy has won her fans – and paved the way for her new endeavour – a wellness platform, @officialthisgirlisonfire, co-created with her businessman husband Nick Feeney, to help people make the most of their lives. It now has a new Mindset App, which launched last month, and the couple will also be launching an app for men with ‘thisguyisonfire’. The app has guides on everything from anxiety and sleep to parenting and relationships, with masterclasses and coaching sessions.
“I’ve always been interested in human behaviour and why we think and do the things we do,” she tells me. “It’s why I’ve loved interviewing all kinds of people for so many years… and not just the famous ones.” “I’ve had quite a few bumps in the road personally, with toxic relationships, anxiety and overwhelm, and experienced a breakdown in 2019 that made me stop and look at what I needed to do to keep myself on track,” says Andrea. Leading up the development of the platform have been two bestselling books: ‘Confessions of a Menopausal Woman’ and ‘This Girl Is On Fire – How to live, learn and thrive in a life you love.’
So, what’s been Andrea’s biggest learning when it comes to wellbeing? “The first thing Andrea McLean chats to Angela Sara West about quitting TV to become a tech-savvy entrepreneur, her life in Surrey, and her new wellbeing app 15 is to recognise why you are feeling the way you are. There will be a reason for it, and once you understand that it will help you to do something about it. The second thing is to allow yourself to feel what you are – there’s no such thing as constant happiness and euphoria, and social media has made us feel that if we aren’t in a state of constant achievement or bliss then we are failing in some way. You aren’t failing. You’re simply living.”
She has interviewed a huge variety of people for her accompanying podcast. Andrea says, “Jo Malone was an absolute dream… she is such a lovely woman and has been really generous with her time with me. “Dame Deborah James was my first podcast guest, and we recorded it over Zoom in the depths of the pandemic. I had known her for a few years through charity work and she was bright, funny and wonderful – it made her recent passing even more poignant, as during the podcast recording we had been laughing that FOMO was keeping her alive. I’m sure she is having a lot of fun and putting smiles on the faces of everyone she is with right now.”
Andrea is a natural interviewer, which she loved doing in her roles on TV. A few of her fave interviewees? “Oh gosh, so many!” she says. “I was lucky enough to interview Oprah Winfrey when she came to the UK a few years ago. I barely slept a wink the night before and was so nervous I could barely speak. I think my face kept doing that weird thing it does when you try and look normal in front of people you really want to impress, and you don’t look like yourself at all. She was great!” Although a certain Canadian crooner tops Andrea’s bill. “Michael Bublé is my all-time favourite though… I’ve interviewed him quite a few times, and he is always lovely to everyone, not just the presenters.”
What does she miss most about being the face of daytime TV? “I miss someone doing my hair and make-up and giving me lovely clothes to wear!” Andrea divulges. “When I look at how I dress now, working from home compared to being all dolled up for being on the telly, I had to ask myself, ‘Have I become really ugly, and where has my dress sense gone?’ Then, I realised, ‘No, I’m just me’, without a team of people assembling me like a lip-glossed Formula One car…”
From SW19 to Surrey life
Andrea lives in Ashtead, having swapped her home in Wimbledon for a more spacious Surrey lifestyle. “I moved here almost 16 years ago from Wimbledon because I wanted a driveway. I lived in a terraced house and one day, after having to park three streets away from my home because of all the cars in my area, I thought, ‘Enough is enough!’” she says. “I decided on this area because the train lines took me to Waterloo, where I worked at the time, and I loved the schools and everyone was so friendly. And I still love all those things, which are still the same all these years on!” The telly favourite has transformed her property into a plush family home, where she resides with Nick, whom she married in 2017 after his romantic proposal in Paris the previous year, and Andrea’s children, Finlay and Amy, from her past marriages.
They share their happy abode with a Cavapoo. “We foster dogs from Battersea Dogs and Cats Home. That’s how we got our dog Teddy!” Andrea’s open-plan house has a neutral colour scheme throughout, enjoying huge floor-to-ceiling windows at the back. Along with family photos, the walls are emblazoned with prints featuring positive quotes. Andrea and Nick have also installed funky furnishings and retro furniture, with a fun jukebox taking pride of place at the stunning Surrey family home. Outdoors, they make the most of summer relaxing in their luxury hot tub and lounging around on stylish garden furniture in the well-manicured garden, also home to a huge barbecue with an impressive grill.
They also enjoy getting out and about. “Nick and I work from home, so we like any excuse to get out of the house. I sometimes feel like I have grown roots into my office chair, I sit in it for so long!” A top local hangout is a certain speciality coffee house. “We walk to Charlie & Ginger in Leatherhead, which is our favourite place to sit, have a brilliant cup of coffee, great avocado and toast (I know, I’m one of those people!) and watch the world go by. We call it ‘having a meeting’, but really, we are just walking the dog and drinking coffee!” She also adores attending a special annual Surrey celebration. “Ashtead Village Day is a regular fixture in our calendar. My dad is part of the Rotary Club who organises it. Until he joined when he retired, I had no idea how much work goes into it, and how it’s put together by people in their 70’s, giving up their time and energy for the good of the community. They are all incredible…”