Weather girl keeps it sunny

BBC Look East's Julie Reinger is presenting a programme that reveals some of the most iconic man-made features of the East of England. LYNNE MORTIMER talks to the weather presenter about her new show which starts tomorrow - and her newly-single status.

BBC Look East's Julie Reinger is presenting a programme that reveals some of the most iconic man-made features of the East of England. LYNNE MORTIMER talks to the weather presenter about her new show which starts tomorrow - and her newly-single status.

AS always when I first see someone in the flesh that I have previously seen only on television, I am surprised. Julie is a petite 5ft 3in - “You look taller on the telly,” I accuse her.

It's one of those illusions, apparently, like the one that is supposed to add pounds in weight. Pretty as her pictures, friendly, warm and approachable, you could be forgiven for thinking Julie's life is all sunbeams and blue skies. Not so.

Fortunately Julie also has a resilient sense of humour, a ready smile and a laugh to banish even the most threatening rain clouds hovering over the weather map. And she has needed those resources to get through a painful marriage break-up and divorce.

Without going into the detail of what went wrong, she does allow that it was difficult to have a successful relationship while she was living and working in Norwich all week and her Nottingham-based footballer ex-husband Christian Howell Edwards was playing matches on Saturdays and training on Sundays.

In 2002 Julie, who had married the previous year, was positively glowing with the happiness of being a newly-wed. But even then it had been a struggle for the couple to spend quality time together -a lot of their time was spent on the telephone to one another, and she and Christian decided to separate in 2003.

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Julie's divorce came through at the beginning of last year - not that anyone watching her television broadcasts would have noticed any difference in the bubbly weather presenter. She is a part of the regular Look East team where there is an easy banter on screen.

We love those little asides that give us a glimpse into their lives, but letting us in - even for a moment - means it can sometimes be difficult to keep us out. Although Julie accepts that she is a public figure, this sometimes made her difficult times especially hard to deal with as she felt she had to keep smiling.

She said: “My divorce went through at the beginning of 2005 but we separated before that - it's very amicable but no marriage can end without it being very painful. It was difficult for both of us. It was not an easy decision.

“It was very difficult on many occasions standing in front of the cameras pretending life is all rosy when it's anything but. You can't look as miserable as the weather. There would be days I would be crying in make-up and then, literally, ten minutes later I was on screen.

“Although you appreciate that you do have a very public job you also need your private life and that's something I found very difficult because, naturally, as soon as my wedding rings disappeared the emails and phones started. It's very difficult - what do you say to people? ' Well, actually, I'm going through a terrible time and I just want the ground to open up and swallow me…?' she laughed ruefully.

“People expect the bubbly Julie. I'm sure they don't realise but some people say things without thinking that can be quite hurtful. I would never just wander up to someone and say 'where are your wedding rings, young lady?'”

“The thing is, you understand that it's part of the job and it comes with the territory but it doesn't always make it particularly easy to deal with at the time. You can feel your eyes welling up and you're thinking 'don't cry, don't cry' and you bite your tongue.”

Facing life as a single woman, Julie has found comparisons with the literary heroine Bridget Jones inevitable - Jones is the modern, single 30-something woman whose diary follows her haphazard love life. “It's very funny, I got home on Christmas Eve and I got in the door and my dad went to me, 'Oh darling, it's lovely to see you, you're just in time for Bridget Jones,” she laughed.

Julie had her own starring role as Fairy Kindheart in Beauty and the Beast at the Little Theatre, Sheringham last year. She said: “I got to wear a pink tu tu - I was the oldest fairy on the block, I think!”

She now has a cottage in Norfolk, and reinforcing the single image, she has two kittens.

“They're called Jasper and Louis and they're absolutely adorable but double trouble.”

She added: “I'm quite a private person. And I get terribly nervous. I'm a real worrier and I'm painfully shy and people go 'no, you can't be, look at your job'.

“Going through difficult times, I have discovered I have an amazing group of family and friends I think I now appreciate them even more. They're from all walks of life and all ages. The good thing about the bad times is it that it makes you a stronger person.

“I'm very good at being on my own. I like being in my own space. There are days when I think it would be nice to share with somebody but then I phone my mum. I'm at a much better place in my life now and I'm feeling much more positive about all sorts of things,” she said with certainty.

So the outlook is sunny, with blue skies.

Julie presents the new documentary Seven Man-Made Wonders of the East (dating from before 1900) which can be seen tomorrow at 6.15pm on BBC 1 .

She said: “You've got Colne Valley, Colchester Castle and Lavenham - which is one of my favourite places in the whole region - but the other lovely thing about the programme is that all the nominations were put forward by the public and we were overwhelmed by the response; we were inundated.”

She added: “Even if you look at the programme and think, 'Oh well, I know about that place,' I guarantee you will come away after the documentary with at least seven facts that you didn't know. For instance, I hadn't a clue that Colchester Castle was once given to someone as a wedding present.

“And I'm really looking forward to revealing which one was the viewers' favourite.”

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