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Thursday 20 June 2019

Supernanny to the rescue with family talk show

PARENTING: Childcare expert Jo Frost knows every trick in the book, writes Jeananne Craig

Since hitting screens a decade ago, Supernanny Jo Frost has become a household name and made 'naughty steps' popular with frazzled parents around the world.

The firm-but-fair star is also rumoured to have picked up some royal fans, with the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge reportedly watching her shows before Prince George's birth last July.

"I think that's brilliant! Good for William and Catherine, for getting the information and learning!" Frost exclaims with customary gusto.

"Regardless of their title, they are two young parents who want to do the best they can for their son. I think they're a wonderful example."

Frost is also quick to defend the royal couple's decision to holiday in the Maldives without their baby.

"It's not the end of the world, is it? It's not like Prince George is going to be messed up because his parents go away for a week. Give the royals a break; cut them some slack for God's sake!"

Frost's ascent to fame began in 2004 when, having worked in childcare for 15 years, the Londoner spotted a magazine advert from TV producers looking for their Supernanny.

APPEARANCES

The Channel 4 show proved a huge hit, spawning versions in the US and beyond, and landing Frost appearances on The Oprah Winfrey Show and Good Morning America.

In recent years, she has ditched the sharp suits and finger-wagging for a softer, but equally no-nonsense approach, on shows such as Extreme Parental Guidance and Family SOS. She's also found the time to pen seven books on parenting.

Her latest TV offering is the daytime talk show Jo Frost Family Matters, which aims to help UK families in crisis, from tearaway teens to struggling step-families. Participants agree to have their day-to-day lives filmed before meeting Frost in the studio to try and resolve their problems together.

There are tensions, tears and some tantrums, but any comparisons with ITV daytime stablemate The Jeremy Kyle Show are batted away by Frost.

"This is not The Jeremy Kyle Show; this is Jo Frost Family Matters," she says.

"This is me going in and helping families in the way that I do, which is with the utmost respect and integrity. I cradle these families when they're feeling so raw and vulnerable, and help them so that they can really feel good when they leave. They've got a game plan."

The 42-year-old adds: "It's important for us to understand where we are in this country when it comes to families and the support they need – looking at the situations that have hit families, and the stress of living in a country that's been hurting from the recession."

Frost is passionate and 'on message' when it comes to her work, using buzzwords and phrases like "validating", "owning emotions", and "honouring your own space". So it comes as a relief to learn she does let her hair down sometimes.

"Oh God, yeah!" she whoops. "I'm a bubbly person, and my friends are bubbly as well. They make me laugh, they're crazy girls."

On a trip to Barcelona with her girlfriends, she decided to remove her watch to avoid thinking about the day job.

"I was like, 'Girls, I'm not working, my watch is off!' If I look at the time, my body will say, 'OK, discipline, you need to sleep because you need to be up to work'."

Frost also confesses that she "pushed the boundaries" a bit as a teenager in South West London.

"I'd come home late a few times, because I wanted to stay out with my friends, and soon realised I was grounded for the next party and that wasn't going to work," she says, adding: "My parents did an awesome job."

FAMILY

Frost is now based in Orange County, California, with her partner Darrin, who also works in TV. She misses her family (and British chocolate), but clearly loves the life she has created there.

"Darrin's very outgoing. You know that show Everybody Loves Raymond? Everybody loves Darrin," she says. "He's so easy to get on with."

Having dedicated her career to helping other people with their children, would she like some of her own one day?

"Maybe," she says. "We're not actively going to have kids right now, but we have spoken about it. How could you be with me and not talk about that, you know?"

For now, Frost is focused on her work, and clearly loves what she does. She regularly dispenses advice to her fans on Twitter, and is often approached by parents who want to ask her for tips or give her a hug.

"There's a lot of love from people at home and around the world. It's very uplifting," she says.

"I'm loving the journey. Every situation is different for me, every venture is new and I feel very grateful."

JO FROST FAMILY MATTERS BEGINS ON ITV ON MONDAY, APRIL 28

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