Claudia Winkleman — things you didn't know about the TV and radio star

Claudia Winkleman attends Sky's Up Next event wearing her dark hair down, a black jacket posting against a purple background
Claudia Winkleman has co-presented Strictly Come Dancing since 2014. (Image credit: Getty )

Claudia Winkleman is one of Britain’s most popular broadcasters. With her impossibly glossy hair, trademark smoky eye and quick-witted presenting style, the star brings her own brand of warmth and humour to Strictly Come Dancing each weekend.

Claudia made television history back in 2014 when she and co-host Tess Daly became the first female double act to present a primetime show. But Strictly isn’t the only jewel in Claudia’s crown — in fact she’s crammed more into her glittering 30-year career than it seems possible.

From presenting her own radio show and podcast to writing a bestselling book and being an ambassador for a famous shampoo brand, it seems there’s nothing Claudia can’t do. So what else is there to know about the woman behind the famous fringe? Let’s fill you in…

Claudia Winkleman says her mum banned all mirrors in their house

Claudia Winkleman was born in London on January 15th 1972, into a family who worked in the media. Her mum, Eve Pollard is an author, journalist and former editor of several tabloid newspapers, while her dad, Barry Winkleman worked as a publisher. 

Claudia’s parents divorced when she was three and both went on to remarry. A surprising revelation about Claudia’s childhood is that her mum, Eve banned all mirrors in the London home where they lived. 

Speaking at a press event, Claudia revealed: "I was brought up by the strongest and most brilliant woman I've ever come across — my mum. We weren't allowed any mirrors in the house, which would explain how I do my makeup... and the fact I look like I've slept in a skip! She wanted to teach us that appearance is a waste of time, it's not in the least bit important. Read books, be funny, be clever, be chatty, this is how you make an omelette... She was, and still is, my role model."

Eve Pollard and daughter Claudia Winkleman attend the Women in Film and TV Awards

Claudia is very close with her mum, Eve Pollard.  (Image credit: Getty )

She started her career on a travel show

Claudia grew up in Hampstead, London, and after being educated at the City of London School for Girls, she went to Cambridge University and achieved a Master of Arts in Art History. She originally wanted to pursue that as a career, but told Stylist: “My head almost fell off because there was a lot of sitting and waiting.” 

After deciding to try her hand at television presenting, Claudia made her screen debut on the long-running BBC travel show Holiday in 1992. She continued to present on the show throughout the mid-1990s, as well as working as a celebrity reporter on ITV’s This Morning

Claudia’s CV is rather extensive these days — as well as hosting Strictly and its BBC Two spin-off show It Takes Two in the past, she’s presented Fame Academy, Hell’s Kitchen, Eurovision: Your Decision, Britain’s Best Home Cook, The Great British Sewing Bee and most recently Channel 4 quiz show One Question and The Traitors on BBC One.  

She’s best friends with Strictly co-host Tess Daly

Strictly Come Dancing 2019 Tess and Claudia

Claudia and Tess are friends as well as colleagues. (Image credit: BBC/David Oldham)

Tess Daly and Claudia's on-screen chemistry on Strictly has won them millions of fans, and their friendship carries on after the cameras have stopped rolling. 

Claudia recently gushed about her love for Tess to The Guardian saying:  “We’re deep-down friends, joined forever. We have such a laugh and we have each other’s backs. We mainly talk about parenting and cheese, even five seconds before we go live. I love that woman.”

Tess isn’t Claudia’s only famous friend — her oldest buddy is Only Connect host and professional poker player, Victoria Coren Mitchell, who she’s known since childhood.

Sophie Winkleman

Sophie Winkleman is Claudia's half sister. (Image credit: Getty Images)

Claudia’s half-sister from her father’s second marriage is Sophie Winkleman, who is married to Lord Frederick Windsor. 

Frederick is the first cousin once removed of the late Queen Elizabeth II, a second cousin of King Charles III and 52nd in the line of succession to the British throne. The couple got hitched in 2009 in a private ceremony at Hampton Court Palace in Surrey. 

Sophie is an actress, probably best known for playing Big Suze on Channel 4’s Peep Show, and has also appeared in The Chronicles of Narnia film, Poirot, Waking the Dead and Strike.

She's a crisp addict

When it comes to dressing room snacks, Claudia knows what she likes — and that’s crisps! 

In a chat with Channel 4, Claud confessed: “I am officially addicted to crisps. I could bore you about my deep and long-standing affair with beef Hula Hoops if you want. Also, toasties. There is absolutely nothing better than a hot cheese sandwich.” 

So what might we expect to find in her shopping trolley then? “Ribena Light, crisps and chocolate,” reveals Claudia. “I always take apples, but I’m afraid KitKats win.”

The Traitors host Claudia Winkleman introduces the series on BBC1. It's going to be very different to Strictly.

Claudia's show The Traitors is another BBC One hit.  (Image credit: BBC)

She's written her own book

Claudia isn't just a broadcaster, she’s also a very talented writer. Following in her mum Eve’s footsteps, she has enjoyed a successful journalism career. Originally starting out as a travel writer, she has written for newspapers like The Sunday Times, The Independent and Metro. Claudia has also penned articles for several glossy monthly’s, including Cosmopolitan and Tatler. 

In 2020, the presenter released her debut book called Quite (her favorite word), a hilarious collection of essays celebrating friendship, family and the little things that get us through the day.

Inviting readers into her world, Claudia shares her observations on topics such as the importance of melted cheese, how a good eyeliner can really save your life and why nurses are our most precious national treasure.

She never gets recognised in public

With her trademark fringe and love of wearing black, you’d think Claudia would be clocked by fans wherever she goes, but that’s not the case. In fact, if she is spotted then she’s often mistaken for fellow TV presenter Davina McCall. 

“I never get recognised as me,” the star told The Guardian. “I’m on the tube four times per day and I swear, I could wear a bejeweled tuxedo and hum the Strictly theme tune and nobody would even look up. I’m not complaining. I love being incognito.”

Her husband is a film producer

Kris Thykier and wife Claudia Winkleman attend the World Premiere of "No Time To Die" at the Royal Albert Hall wearing black suit and a black dress against a Union Jack background

Claudia and her husband Kris have been married for 22 years. (Image credit: Getty )

Claudia tied the knot with film producer Kris Thykier at Marylebone Town Hall in June 2000. The handsome Scandinavian producer has been in the industry for many years and is known for his work on movies such as Woman in Gold, Kick-Ass and The Debt

Claudia told OK! Magazine it was Kris’s impeccable manners that made her fall for him: “What did it for me was how he behaved in restaurants, bars and planes – indeed, simply around people. ‘Thanks so much’, ‘no rush’, ‘I’ll carry it over for you’. It was just that magic characteristic that tipped me over,” she explained. 

The loved-up couple are parents to three children: Jake, 19, who recently flew the family nest to university, Matilda, 16, and 11-year-old Arthur.

Claudia Winkleman's fact file 

Frequently asked questions about the presenter...

How old is Claudia Winkleman?

Claudia Winkleman is 50. She was born on 15th January 1972.

Is Claudia Winkleman married?

Claudia Winkleman has been married to film produce Kris Thykier since June 2000.

Does Claudia Winkleman have any children?

Claudia Winkleman has three children — sons Jake and Arthur, and daughter Matilda.

Where was Claudia Winkleman born?

Claudia Winkleman was born in London.

How tall is Claudia Winkleman?

Claudia Winkleman is five foot four.

Instagram: @claudiawinkle

Twitter: @ClaudiaWinkle

We work hard to ensure that all information is correct. Facts that change over time, such as age, will be correct, to the best of our knowledge, at the time of the last article update.

Claire Crick
Assistant Managing Editor at What To Watch

Claire is Assistant Managing Editor at What To Watch and has been a journalist for over 15 years, writing about everything from soaps and TV to beauty, entertainment, and even the Royal Family. After starting her career at a soap magazine, she ended up staying for 13 years, and over that time she’s pulled pints in the Rovers Return, sung karaoke in the Emmerdale village hall, taken a stroll around Albert Square, and visited Summer Bay Surf Club in sunny Australia. 

After learning some tricks of the trade at websites Digital Spy, Entertainment Daily, and Woman & Home, Claire landed a role at What’s On TV and writing about all things TV and film, with a particular love for Aussie soaps, Strictly Come Dancing and Bake Off

She’s interviewed everyone from June Brown — AKA Dot Cotton — to Michelle Keegan, swapped cooking tips with baking legend Mary Berry backstage at the NTAs, and danced the night away with soap stars at countless awards bashes. There’s not a lot she doesn’t know about soaps and TV and can be very handy when a soapy question comes up in a pub quiz! 

As well as all things soap-related, Claire also loves running, spa breaks, days out with her kids, and getting lost in a good book.