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Lorraine Kelly’s TV career as she celebrates 40 years on air

From TV-am reporter to chat show host and a court victory over tax, Kelly's career highlights ahead of special Bafta award.

Lorraine Kelly hosts her own ITV chat show.
Lorraine Kelly is being honoured with a special Bafta in recognition of her 40 years on TV. (ITV)

Lorraine Kelly is being honoured with a special Bafta in recognition of her 40 year career on TV.

The 64-year-old Scottish presenter is known by many as the friendly face of her own ITV morning show Lorraine. And while she famously won a court case against HMRC by claiming she is just performing “the role of a friendly, chatty and fun personality”, she has also become celebrated for her cutting wit in making jibes at political figures such as Matt Hancock and teasing with on-screen innuendo with the likes of Idris Elba.

Kelly started out as a reporter on a local newspaper before landing her first TV role and becoming the household name she is today. We look back at four decades of Queen Lorraine's reign over the small screen.

TV-am reporter

Lorraine Kelly TV Presenter at the TV AM studio
Lorraine Kelly on TV-am back in the 80s. (Alamy)

Kelly started out as a reporter on local paper East Kilbride News before joining BBC Scotland as a researcher in 1983. From there she moved in front of the camera, starting her TV presenting career at TV-am's Scottish new reporter in 1984. She has said of her first job: “I’d go to the ends of the Earth to get my story. If a day went by and I wasn’t on the bulletins, that was a failure. I worked my a*** off, I really did.”

Her hard work paid off and Kelly was promoted to guest host of the main show, before becoming a main presented in 1990.

GMTV host

Lorraine Kelly with GMTV presenters Fiona Phillips and Eamonn Holmes at the launch of their own monthly GMTV magazine. (PA Images via Getty Images)
Lorraine Kelly with GMTV presenters Fiona Phillips and Eamonn Holmes at the launch of their own monthly GMTV magazine. (PA Images via Getty Images)

Lorraine Kelly was one of the launch presenters on ITV's breakfast flagship show GMTV when it launched in 1993. She quickly became host of the show, joining Eamonn Holmes as co-presenter on the sofa in March that year. Kelly went on maternity leave in 1994 and has spoken out about how she was sacked by the show after taking time off to have daughter Rosie.

The presenter said: “It really was frightening. I had this really tiny baby and I wasn't sure what was going to happen." She went on: “Luckily there was a mum and baby company who wanted to do a mum and baby slot. They wouldn’t do it unless I did it, so that was a way back, if you like, and it was so successful that they ended up giving me my own show."

This mother-and-baby slot helped Kelly save her job and she was so popular ITV hired her as the presenter of Nine O'Clock Live, which was such a hit it was moved to 8.35am and renamed Lorraine Live.

Star of the show

Lorraine Kelly hosts Lorraine on ITV (ITV)
Lorraine Kelly has hosted her own show Lorraine since 2010. (ITV)

ITV breakfast viewers loved Lorraine and she quickly climbed up the ranking to take her throne as the queen of morning TV. When GMTV rebranded in 2000 she had her own part of the show, LK Today and in 2009 the show was renamed GMTV with Lorraine.

In 2010 GMTV was axed and replaced with a new breakfast show Daybreak — and Kelly was given her very own show, Lorraine. Daybreak was a flop and short lived, before it was replaced by Good Morning Britain. But Lorraine survived and still airs today, now extended to an hour long show from 9am to 10am.

Tax bill court case

Lorraine Kelly. RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show, East Molesey, Surrey. UK  04.07.2011
Is Lorraine Kelly as friendly in real life as she is on TV? (Alamy)

Lorraine made headlines in March 2019 when she avoided paying £1.2m tax bill, arguing that her job on ITV was a "performance" as a “self-employed star”. The judge ruled that she was performing "the role of a friendly, chatty and fun personality" and said: “We did not accept that Ms Kelly simply appeared as herself; we were satisfied that Ms Kelly presents a persona of herself." This sparked speculation that Kelly may not be the friendly person viewers all know.

She told BBC News afterwards: "I know people had a good old laugh about that, and that's fine. But we all do that to a certain degree in our work. I mean, there are days that I go into work and I don't feel 100% but I'm not going to sit there and go 'poor me, poor me.'

"I've got the best job in the world, but, like every single human being on Earth, you don't feel great all the time. But you go in, and it doesn't matter what job you do, driving a bus or whatever it is, we've all got that kind of persona."

Esther McVey feud

Esther McVey and Lorraine Kelly used to share a dressing room when they worked on breakfast TV
Esther McVey and Lorraine Kelly used to share a dressing room when they worked on breakfast TV. (PA)

Kelly had an awkward encounter with former GMTV colleague turned Conservative politician Esther McVey on live TV in 2019. The usually friendly Kelly, was accused of snubbing at the Tory politician on Good Morning Britain when hosts Piers Morgan and Susanna Reid asked her if she remembered her former GMTV colleague.

McVey later claimed the reason Kelly may hold a grudge was because she had been promoted above her. But Kelly hit back: "There is no battle. I'm baffled by that though because I had my own show from 1992 and I don't actually think she joined until five years later."

TV cameos

Celebrity Gogglebox - Lorraine Kelly & Rosie Smith (Channel 4)
Lorraine Kelly has appeared on Celebrity Gogglebox with daughter Rosie Smith. (Channel 4)

The daytime TV host surprised fans of Coronation Street when she appeared as herself in the soap in 2019 in a hilarious storyline. Kelly appeared as a guest at the same holiday camp as the Platt family.

She has also appeared as a guest on one of her favourite shows Ru Paul's Drag Race UK and she and her daughter Rosie have taken part in Celebrity Gogglebox.

The Masked Singer

Lorraine Kelly was unmasked as Owl on The Masked Singer (ITV)
Lorraine Kelly was unmasked as Owl on The Masked Singer (ITV)

Kelly shocked viewers and panelists of The Masked Singer in January 2024 when she was unmasked as Owl on the celebrity singing show.

She said at the time: "I just wanted to have a bit of fun to kick off the year and to be a bit silly. I’ve never had a chance to sing in front of an audience before, and I thought if I was behind a mask it wouldn’t be as scary."

Lorraine airs on ITV1 at 9am on weekdays.

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