Claudia Winkleman: I thought it was a joke when I was offered BBC Radio 2 show

PA

Claudia Winkleman has revealed she hung up after being offered her new BBC Radio 2 show because she thought it was a prank.

The Strictly Come Dancing presenter is taking over Graham Norton’s slot on the station next month after he left to go to Virgin Radio.

She said she feels nervous about taking over the programme.

Winkleman, 49, told the PA news agency she “thought it was a joke” when she initially got the call about taking over the programme.

“The boss of Radio 2 phoned me and asked me and I went, ‘That’s so funny’, and put the phone down,” she said.

“And then she called back, and I went, ‘Oh I see. Right, OK, I see’.”

She said it was a “huge honour” to be asked, adding: “I hope I don’t mess it up and if I do, then I will take my pen and stand up and go.”

Winkleman said her nerves are “high” ahead of starting her new job.

“I’m trying not to think about it yet. I’m just having a little bit of a post-Strictly home schooling situation. But if I start thinking about it… I start to feel a bit dizzy,” she said.

Winkleman also presents Celebrity Best Home Cook, which airs on BBC One on Tuesday.

Mary Berry, one of the judges on the programme, said she was “so surprised” about the quality of the contestants as she thought they would not take it seriously or have much skill.

Mary Berry interview
Mary Berry interview

“It was far, far better than I had thought,” she said.

Former shadow chancellor Ed Balls, ex-Welsh rugby captain Gareth Thomas, journalist Rachel Johnson, comedian Ed Byrne and writer Desiree Burch are among the contestants.

Berry added: “I think all the contestants had watched the previous programmes.”

She said she enjoyed being able to work again amid the pandemic, adding: “It was just lovely to be back together as a team.”

“I think everyone is enjoying cooking at home, because they’ve got their families around them,” Berry said.

“In lockdown, everybody’s at home and there’s that wonderful thing called ‘time’ and so people are cooking and enjoying things that they haven’t had the chance to make in the past.”

Celebrity Best Home Cook airs every Tuesday and Wednesday on BBC One from January 26, and will be available online on BBC iPlayer.

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