TV presenter Dermot O’Leary discusses commitment, crisis and why he doesn’t want everyone to like him with Stylist's therapist Lisa Merrick-Lawless.
Everyone talks about what a nice guy you are. Does that make it harder to get ahead in such a tough industry?
I don’t think so. The whole ‘nice guys finish last’ thing is nonsense. It’s been said before, but one shouldn’t confuse kindness with weakness, because they are two different things. Just because I’m affable it doesn’t mean I’m a pushover or I can’t make my point forcibly when I need to.
Do you care what people think and say about you?
I get people on Twitter who say, “I hate you, you’re really boring”, but others will say, “I hate you because you said so-and-so”. You don’t want to be vanilla; you’ve got to stand for something. I’m an entertainment presenter and people need to like or dislike me. That’s healthy and it’s what I’ve learned most in the last few years. You don’t like everyone so why expect everyone to like you?
You and your girlfriend [TV producer Dee Koppang] have been together for over eight years. Do you feel pressure to get married and settle down?
Not really, any pressure is kind of implicit. There’s no “when are you going to marry my daughter? When are we going to have grandchildren?” We want those things but we’re incredibly busy and it hasn’t happened yet.
How do you both balance your successful careers and still make time for each other?
I’m not sure we do! You just try… hard. Sometimes you get it right; sometimes it can be pretty full-on and we go through a couple of weeks without seeing each other. It is what it is, but it works.
Do you feel as if you understand women well?
I’m getting there. What amazes me is that women worry about how they look because of how other women see them. I thought it was because they wanted men to like them, but it’s not. We’re pretty stupid so we’ll probably like you whatever you look like. All you’ve got to do is wear jeans and heels and we’ll say, “You look great tonight”.
Who do you turn to in times of crisis? Do you have a good support network?
I do. It’s Dee first and then my parents, my sister and a couple of really good friends who I know will give me sound advice. Some of them are in TV, some aren’t, and I have some friends I’ve made recently who have helped me out. I feel really blessed.
What is the best advice you have been given?
James Corden said that when you get criticism it’s like being a heavyweight boxer. You know that you can take the hit, fight back and win the battle, but it’s still going to hurt when you get punched on the nose.
That’s very true. Do you believe in karma?
Yes, I do – far more than it’s healthy for a non-Buddhist to believe in karma. You should treat people how you expect to be treated yourself. I don’t know if it’s coincidence but things always seems to even out. If you treat people badly, it will always come back to haunt you.
What’s the one thing that could make your life better?
Having more time. I want that thing Hermione Granger has, where she twiddles knobs and goes back in time.
Would you say you’re happy?
Yes. What’s not to be happy about? I’ve got a great job. I love my girlfriend and my family, and I’ve got great friends. As a generation we moan a lot and I think we need to concentrate on the positives. I’m not being insensitive; I know it’s a difficult time for people, but we’ve got it pretty good compared to our grandparents.
Dermot hosts The X Factor, Saturdays at 8pm on ITV1 and presents his BBC Radio 2 show on Saturdays from 3pm to 6pm
Picture credit: Rex Features