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Carol's counter attack

Strictly 2
You'd think that after all the furore over her hasty exit from Strictly Come Dancing, Carol Vorderman would never want to step on a dance floor again. But no, the Countdown queen's New Year's resolution is to learn to jive properly. She's hoping that her Strictly Come Dancing partner Paul Killick will teach her."I love it when you go to weddings and older people get up and they can still jive. It's a dance you can do together, rather than shuffling from foot to foot. But not competitive jiving," she adds.

This urge to dance has been prompted by her involvement in the show, she admits.

"I loved the dancing. I know I'm crap at it. I demonstrated I was crap at it and the entire nation agreed - but it's not going to stop me getting on the dance floor."

Cynics accused her of sour grapes when she was the only contestant who failed to turn up at the final gala event and that she was upset when she was booted out by the public on the second show.

She insists her failure to attend the final was due to a pre-arranged family commitment.

And she groans when questioned about her outburst at one of the show's judges, Arlene Phillips, who Carol described as a "Sharon Osbourne wannabe" but without the "looks, brains, humour or humility".

Arlene hit back, calling Carol a "petty and insecure"' woman who could not face public rejection.

Carol says now: "I think I was a little bit hard on Arlene Phillips, but I was suffering with a fractured rib at the time."

She says she has since seen Arlene and everything is fine again. Indeed, Carol has put herself through the mill of celebrity shows, including Celebrity Stars In Their Eyes (as Cher) and Celebrity Who Wants To Be A Millionaire.

"I'm up for ritual humiliation," she laughs. "I've managed to get myself into trouble on most occasions. There are many things I'm not capable of - one is acting, one is dancing and one is singing. Thank God I can count.

"I think I should leave reality shows alone now," she adds. "I've done virtually every kind of show that a presenter could possibly do. In 2005 I want to do more on health, beauty and fashion."

In the meantime, she's promoting her new book, Carol Vorderman's 30-Day Cellulite Plan, which features pictures of a lot of before and after bottoms, but not hers. Her behind may not have the orange peel effect now, but the 44-year-old TV presenter did have cellulite on her backside and legs when she was in her 20s, she points out.

In fact, a man pointed it out to her - which provided the humiliation she needed to do something about it.

"I was sitting in a bar in Leeds with some preposterous 80s mini skirt on, legs crossed and having a good laugh with my girlfriends when a bloke at the bar shouted, 'Ooh Carol, you've got lumps on your legs. Is that cellulite?'"

After years of fluctuating weight - at her heaviest she was three dress sizes larger than her current size 10 - she embarked on a detox programme, which she later made into a book, and has now followed it up with a diet and exercise regime to conquer cellulite.

Carol doesn't believe in weighing herself. She has a pair of satin "trying on" trousers with absolutely no give which are a small size 10 and which she puts on every now and again to see how she's doing. At the moment, they are much too tight for comfort, she admits.

"We are of an age when how you look is important, not just to the outside world, but to yourself - particularly as women now in their 40s and 50s don't feel they should just cover up and hide behind the kitchen sink. They want to live life to the full.

"I never really thought about middle age. I was too busy in my 30s and had my girl when I was 31 and couldn't lose the weight. It was during a period of time when I was working and working. I'm more selective now.

"I was constantly tired. I'd go out to work, long hours, six days a week and I'd come back and I wanted time with Katie. You just eat anything that's there and my weight ballooned.

"I'd come home, have a glass of wine and a big bag of Kettle Chips and then I'd eat later. I was two stones heavier than I am now. Then I got sacked from Tomorrow's World so I had a little bit of spare time on my hands. I managed to get to a gym and get a trainer."

After her second pregnancy with her son, Cameron, she managed to lose the weight again.

"My 30s was really about work and kids and being too busy to think about anything. But I absolutely love my 40s. You're more comfortable in your skin, somehow. You think, this is me with all my faults.

She shudders when asked if she feels sexier now than she did 10 years ago.

"I hate that phrase. I'm much more comfortable with myself and all that goes with that."

Carol says she's picking and choosing work more than ever before and is glad she is still doing Countdown with her old pal Richard Whiteley. She is also seeing more of her children, Katie, 12, and Cameron, seven, from her marriage to ex-husband management consultant Paddy King.

The children live with Carol and her partner, newspaper executive Des Kelly, in London - and Carol hasn't ruled out having another baby. "I'm not against the idea, although I can't say any more than that," she says coyly.

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