LAURA Whitmore loves drama. Literally. She just announced her phase out of Love Island; now the lively presenter is drawn to the West End.
We’re discussing how you’ve been equipping freshly minted influencers for the stage on live television for three years.
“There’s definitely similar ability when you play live…” – she pauses, raises an eyebrow, says with a flourish – “drama. Drama in everything I do!”
Whitmore hits the boards fresh from crowning Ekin-Su and Davide as this year’s champions 2:22 A ghost story.
It was her husband Iain Stirling, he from “TerrrNIGHTTTT” island of love Voiceovers that first told her she was nailing the role. “I was like, ‘Waaaat! No way would I remember all those lines.
Apart from island of love, Whitmore has been a steadily growing figure on television and radio over the past decade, having presented ITV2s I’m a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here! Sister show from 2011 to 2016 and hosted her own Sunday morning radio show on BBC Radio 5 Live from 2018.
But for Whitmore, who also recently left her 5th live show, this is a time of change.
In addition to appearances in 2:22 A ghost storyshe’s doing a true crime podcast with Stirling and putting the finishing touches on a new ITV documentary series. Laura Whitmore investigates.
Oh, and her book No one can change your life but you (the title is her life motto, she says) has just been published in paperback.
“I won’t lie. I didn’t have many days off!” she jokes.
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but island of lovewhich garnered its highest viewership in three years this summer, was her most high-profile performance to date, and many were surprised when she left.
“It was a show I kind of fell into. Not in the way I ever wanted,” she says.
Whitmore took over presenting duties when Caroline Flack resigned in 2020 after being charged with assault. She continued the role after Flack took his own life in February of that year.
The show had “parameters” that Whitmore seems to have found creatively limiting.
“I just felt like there’s only so much you can do on a show like this,” she explains.
“And also the frustration, I think, when someone says, ‘Oh, you’re doing 10 minutes on a show,’ and I’m like, ‘Do you have any idea how many hours that’s going to be?'” Other projects came along, as well as she wanted up high.
“I have a feeling this year could be one of the best years ever. I don’t know if it can get any better!” She laughs.
In a statement announcing her departure, Whitmore paid tribute to Flack, writing on Instagram, “I was only planning to fill in for Caroline for one series and it ended up being three series. I hope I made you proud Caroline.”
I wonder if, given the circumstances, Flack was often on her mind as she worked on the show.
“Caroline was more than island of love,” She says.
“She loved this show so much. And I know she’s always been very supportive of me on this show.”
The rise of social media has also impacted the presentation role, she says.
I got a complaint for being so selfish, I make the whole show about myself for walking so slowly
“The more successful you are, the more you get. I only get a tiny bit of that, but you look at people like Olivia Wilde, and people like that – what she’s accomplished in the last week – it seems the more successful you become or the more you do, the more people will want to talk about you, the more they will throw negativity at you.”
those years island of love was notable for another reason: the series received 1,500 complaints for alleged misogyny. But some of the complaints are amusingly petty, Whitmore says.
“I got a complaint because I’m so selfish, I do the whole show about myself for walking so slowly. Someone actually wrote. I walk at a normal pace. You slow it down!”
Some things, she says, have to be treated with caution.
“It’s an entertainment show. So I think if you use island of love than exactly what real life is, then you’re in trouble.”
Whitmore has the kind of springy, wholesome enthusiasm that only hosts of popular live TV shows seem to possess. She speaks to me at the end of a long day of rehearsals.
“I just want to get better at what I do. If I do the same thing every day, I’ll never get better. And I just want to keep pushing and challenging myself.”
The public doesn’t know her as an actress, and she “definitely” feels the pressure that extra scrutiny brings.
“I think sometimes there can be snobbery in the theater world, (or) even as a theatergoer,” she says.
But acting has been in her life for a while. She was a student at the Leinster School of Music and Drama and took a course with Rada in London; she later appeared alongside Shane Richie in a stage adaptation of Peter James’s 2017 novel Not dead enough.
The universe just throws things at you sometimes
In 2020, she wrote and starred in the short film Sadhbhabout a struggling young mother.
Whitmore, who grew up in Co Wicklow, says she first got into drama because “I grew up shy and quiet and my mother used to worry about how quiet I was.”
She studied journalism at university and joined the theater group to meet people, later playing Antigone and – not to jinx anything – what she describes as “Lady M in the Scottish play”.
Whitmore is now in theaters – after the first preview this week, she posted on Instagram that it was “one of the best experiences of my life”! – and she really wants to keep playing.
But also… she will participate. She returns to this philosophy of the right things at the right time.
“The universe just throws things at you sometimes.”
We will also see her documentary series in which she explores sex, power and the internet before the end of the year; She will have a week off the play in October to fly to the US to complete it.
So she’s attacking us, Louis Theroux? “No one can be Louis Theroux but Louis Theroux! I don’t rap as well as him,” she jokes.
“I’ll just be Laura. Laura Whitmore.” And then she sounds serious – and content.
“It drives me and that’s what I want. If I get to do the same thing and I can’t really try or I can’t keep trying…then I have to change things.”
https://www.independent.ie/style/celebrity/celebrity-features/laura-whitmore-it-seems-the-more-successful-you-get-the-more-negativity-people-throw-your-way-41989353.html Laura Whitmore: ‘It seems the more successful you become, the more negativity people throw your way’