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‘MYKIDSLOVE PADDY’S CARAVAN’ Sally Bercow on her unlikely friendship with Big Fat Gypsy Weddings star Paddy Doherty – and how trailer park trips will now be an annual event

in it, what we’d be doing… You sort of draw a map and then he deals with it well.


hey became the unlikeliest of friends on last year’s Celebrity Big Brother, but now Sally Bercow, 42, wife of House of Commons Speaker John, and Paddy Doherty, 53, are filming the follow-up to When Paddy Met Sally, in which Sally did a ‘wife swap’ with his long-suffering wife Roseanne. Here, Sally talks about their new show, taking her three children to stay with Paddy and why she doesn’t care what she looks like in a bikini.

What makes you and Paddy click? We’re both straight talking and outspoken. Paddy doesn’t beat around the bush and nor do I. Although we disagree on many things, we respect each other. And he’s great fun – we share a good a sense of humour.

Words Karen Cross Photos, Camera Press, Capital Pictures, Rex Features

Do you think your husband would like to have a traditional wife like Roseanne? John would love to have a wife who does the all cooking and cleaning – don’t give him ideas, please! He’d find it a great novelty, but I think that would soon wear off and he’d

It’s a world away from Sally’s home in the Palace of Westminster

Paddy with Sally’s kids Freddie, six, Jemima, four, and Oliver, eight

much rather have an independent, modern woman. Well, that’s what I tell myself! Do you think you’ll ever convince Paddy to help around the house? Paddy will never change. If he were to be seen cleaning, it would be considered shameful in his culture. It’s ridiculous, but that’s how it is.

Hungary, Malaysia and Spain. We live with gypsies in caves in Granada and, in Borneo, we visit gypsies who live on huts over the sea.

‘Men cleaning is seen as shameful in Paddy’s culture’

Tell us about your new show? It’s called Paddy & Sally’s Excellent Adventure and we’re staying with travellers in Ireland,

Do you and Paddy stay in touch off camera? Yes, we’re genuine friends. Paddy can’t read or write, but he gets Roseanne or his sons to send me texts and we see each other every six weeks or so. Apart from raising money for charity, meeting Paddy was the best thing about doing Celebrity Big Brother.

SALLY’S Holiday confessions

5ft 11in Sally towered over her husband John at the royal wedding last year

10 Woman’s Own Summer Special

l I’ve never been on an 18-30 holiday. I’m sure it would be fun, but I missed that boat. l I have to take coffee on holiday because I’m totally addicted to it. l I always buy books at the airport. Alan Hollinghurst’s The Stranger’s Child [£8.99, Picador] is great. l I love experiencing local culture – not in museums, but restaurants, the people and the sights.

l When I was younger I’d get terrible sunburn as I always used factor 10. It’s SPF 50 these days. l Getting papped on the beach in Barbados was awful. I was coming out of the sea and spotted a long-lens photographer behind a sand dune. It totally spooked me. l My favourite place in the UK is London. There are many beautiful places in our country, but my heart belongs to the capital.

And your kids have been to stay with him? Yes, we went to his caravan site in Wales at half term. They adored it. They moved from a Royal Palace into a little trailer and it was a complete novelty. The kids can run free there – it’s like Britain in the 1950s. My kids aren’t used to going outside and playing unsupervised and they loved that freedom. Could it become an annual trip? I hope so. Paddy was incredibly sweet. He took the kids out on his horse and cart, took them swimming and really got involved. He thought I was winding him up when I said I’d bring the kids, but they had a wonderful time. Oliver is autistic. Does that cause problems when you go away? Oliver is a stickler for routine, so you can’t do anything spontaneously. I had to go into great detail about where the trailer was, what side the door was on, how many beds were My favourite destination is Budapest. It’s a beautiful city and you can spend all day chilling in the municipal spas. l My holidays are a bit last minute. I spend all my time preparing the kids, then get to the airport and think, ‘I didn’t pack a bikini!’ l I’ve been known to Tweet from my sunbed. But last time I used Twitter on the beach, I got sand in my phone. l My ideal travel buddy would be Paddy. He might be a gypsy, but his holidays are probably more glamorous than mine. l I’d like to take the kids on safari – they love animals.

And you’re a patron of Ambitious about Autism… When Oliver was first diagnosed, I didn’t know where to turn and chat rooms like Talk About Autism were really helpful. Then three years ago the charity asked me to be a parent patron, which was a great honour. People think children with autism are naughty. If my son goes somewhere new, he might start screaming, but he’s not being rude, it’s because he’s autistic. There’s a lack of awareness because it’s a hidden disability. What’s been your most memorable holiday? Our honeymoon was idyllic. We went to Palm Islands in the Grenadines and had a blissful week just lying on the beach. What’s your idea of holiday hell? I couldn’t see myself camping. My kids would love it, but you’re not going to get me lying on a groundsheet in a soggy field! Do diet before getting into your bikini? No. There are more important things in life than worrying about your last 6lb. I’m 42, I’ve had three kids and I’m happy as I am. Looking stunning in a bikini doesn’t matter to me. I go on holiday to have fun! l To find out more about Ambitious about Autism, visit or join the online forum at Paddy & Sally’s Excellent Adventure is on Channel 5 in September

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Woman’s Own Summer Special 11

Sally Bercow interview in Woman's Own Summer Special - September 2012  

Sally Bercow, Ambitious about Autism’s Parent Patron, is interviewed for Woman’s Own Summer Special magazine about having a son with autism...