It’s been ten years since Kate Lawler won Big Brother, and since then her life has taken many an unexpected turn. We catch up with the 32-year-old Kerrang DJ to talk about her life, loves and living in Birmingham
Kate Lawler exploded into the public consciousness back in 2002 when she won the third series of Big Brother. But while her rival Jade Goody soaked up the tabloid attention, Lawler used her platform to open different doors. She’s worked as a model, TV presenter and, most successfully, as a club DJ playing house music at venues across the UK and beyond. Today, Lawler lives and works in Birmingham, presenting the drive time slot on rock station Kerrang Radio. The show, which is on during the week between 3-7pm, pulls in over one million listeners nationwide and has a huge following in the city.
The woman who spent three months with cameras monitoring her everymove is now happiest in the marginallymore anonymous confines of a radio studio. In fact, many of her listeners don’t realise who it is that’s playing the records. “I tend to say “it’s Kate” rather than “Kate Lawler”. I hate my surname, it is so serious sounding. Also, when I say it I sometimes trip overmy words. People sometimes come up to me in the street and say ‘what are you in doing in Birmingham?’ and I’mlike: ‘I have worked here for over four years’.”
JOINING THE ASYLUM
Lawler joined Kerrang in October 2007, when she was invited by shock jock Tim Shaw to join him as co-presenter on his Ayslum show. “Tim Shaw’s show was really crazy. He’d have all sorts of outrageous guests along with strippers and Page Three girls. I think he holds the world record for the most amount of times a radio broadcaster has been sacked.” Before long, Shaw was indeed given the push by Kerrang, but Lawler remained.
However, the station’s passionate rock audience didn’t immediately warm to being entertained by a dance DJ. “What some of the Kerrang listeners couldn’t accept was that I could like bands like Nirvana, as well as having a passion for dance music. I think once the listeners got to know me, that’s when I really came into my own. Now the Kerrang listeners have accepted me, and when I ask them to interact with me they always do – we have a lot of fun together.”
Of course, moving to Kerrang also meant the girl from Kent had to move up to Brum to live and work. “I have really grown fond of Birmingham, although I was a little bit reluctant at first,” she admits. “A lot of people were saying ‘why on earth are you moving to Birmingham?’ It has this preconception about it.” Now Lawler has settled into life in Brum, enjoying its good food – Rodizio Rico is a favourite – and its many green spaces for walking her dogs. There is also a level of tranquillity in the city which she says she wouldn’t enjoy in London. “There are no paparazzi in Birmingham, so it’s quite a peaceful life in that way. If there were photographers waiting outside my house the whole time, I wouldn’t be comfortable being snapped leaving to walk the dogs. Most days my hair is all over the place, and I don’t bother wearing any make up.”
Lawler has certainly enjoyed the benefits of celebrity life, both in work and in play. She loves to see bands play live and often gets them to come in for a chat before a Birmingham show -Meatloaf, Slash and Liam Gallagher are among her list of music interviewees. Actors such as Nicholas Cage and John Cusack are on the movie list and she once popped into Colin Farrell’s hotel room, although itwas just to talk about his film. But while work is high on her list, her days of partying all night long are numbered. “I have quit club DJing at the weekends – I’ve grown out of it now.When I turned 30 I stopped enjoying being in nightclubs and it started to affect me during the week.My voice was so deep and husky I sounded like my Dad.”
Lawler is settling down and recently moved into a new house in Selly Oak with her long-term squeeze Adam. However, so far, she is not planning on walking down the aisle. “He also wants me to have a baby but I keep reminding him our two doggies are our babies.Maybe I’ll change, but right now I want to focus on my career.”
The immediate future appears to be on radio rather than on TV.However, as we speak, Sky has beenmaking inquiries and her contract with Kerrang is nearing renewal. Lawler says she will go where the work is, but is happy in her current role. She has no regrets at all about Big Brother, or indeed any other reality TV show. She has faced public votes before and would do so again if need be. “TV stuff is always on the horizon but I amsomuchmore comfortable on radio,” she says. “Presenting terrifies me a bit. I like appearing on shows, and if I was offered Strictly I’d do it in a heartbeat.”