Judi Love says ‘being able to continue is an achievement’ after beloved dad’s death

The last couple of years have seen comedian and Loose Women star Judi Love gain an even higher profile thanks to appearances on Celebrity MasterChef and Strictly Come Dancing. And when we chat about her return to the famous kitchen, she admits it’s all been a whirlwind.

“I feel I’m just sort of holding it together,” she says. “If I did sit down and think about everything, I’d have to take a week off just to cry tears of joy.

“However, I’ve a date tonight so I’d better not,” she adds with a laugh. “I mean, you’ve got to get them in first, before you let them see the ugly cry-face, haven’t you?”

Before heading off, the 41-year-old talks cooking, Covid and becoming the new Cilla…

How was it returning to MasterChef for the Christmas special?

I was so excited, but it’s hard work. Everyone was a bit like, “Why are we putting ourselves through this again?” But I love cooking, so it was more of a pleasure for me.

Any memorable rounds?

The invention test, because we had to use sprouts and I’m not a lover. Even trying to taste it, I was like, “Ergh.”

Has MasterChef changed your cooking?

It’s unbelievable how much I’ve learned and how my love of cooking has grown. Also, I can go to Michelin-star restaurants and I’m not challenged or scared.

How would you describe your own cooking at home?

“I’m a single mum and we need to feed these kids!” Other than that, my main thing is lots of flavour.

Your kids are older now – your son is 11 and your daughter is 16. Are they cooking yet?

My daughter is an amazing cook. Her palate is brilliant. I think it’s something she would like to go on to do. I don’t want to discourage her, but it’s not an easy job.

You’ve done so much in the past couple of years. Has it been hard to take in?

I’m so grateful. It’s nice that young girls like I was myself can see themselves and feel inspired or represented. Because we’ve been in the middle of the Covid worries, I’m not sure it’s hit me yet.

You had Covid during Strictly and had to miss a week of the competition. How gutted were you?

I couldn’t believe it. But I was not letting this thing, which has changed our lives so much, stop me going back. And while I got voted off, I did get back. Strictly is one of the hardest things physically I’ve ever done. I do miss it for the weight loss!

Are you and Graziano still in touch?

Oh yes, all the time. We’re having lunch next week. And I’m on the invite list for the wedding!

Have you kept the dancing up?

I’ve been doing dance and aerobics at home. It’s the best exercise for me because I enjoy it.

It’s been quite a year for you. What are your highlights?

There’s so much: Strictly , my sold-out show, being an OK! cover star, my first child turning 16. Also, when I was struggling as a single mum, me and my friend used to watch The Graham Norton Show together on the phone and have a laugh. I thought then how much I’d love to be on it, but there was this bit of self-doubt. So to actually be on the show was a real moment.

You’ve suffered loss in 2021, too. How are you doing?

I lost my dad this year and that was very difficult. I’m still getting through that and, you know, just being able to continue on
after that is an achievement.

What would your dream show be?

I’d love to do a new version of Blind Date . I think Cilla Black is a legend. Also a chat show and, of course, a cooking show.
That would be lovely.

Celebrity MasterChef Christmas Cook-Off airs on Tuesday 21 December at 8pm on BBC1. To get the latest showbiz and celebrity news straight to your inbox, sign up to OK!'s daily newsletter.

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