Lisa Byrne - former OK! editor on why she loves living in Yorkshire
00:00 18 February 2016
In the first of her new series of regular columns, Lisa Byrne, former editor-in-chief of OK! Magazine relishes her return to Yorkshire.
My new life in the country seems a world apart from the many years I spent in London as editor-in-chief of OK! Magazine, one of the UK’s most successful celebrity magazines. Remember the weddings of Katie Price and Peter Andre and Cheryl Tweedy and Ashley Cole? Well I must have inadvertently cursed them all by my presence, though the public lapped up ‘the glass of Champagne’ lifestyle in their millions. But in all honesty, working at the helm of such an iconic magazine was both incredibly exciting and also frighteningly stressful, made worse in recent years by the tsunami of online media taking away sales from the weekly showbiz market.
Anyway, fate played its part after I was diagnosed with an aggressive cancer which, as it does for many people, puts stressing out over silly things like who to put on the cover into perspective. So I decided to swop a Victorian townhouse in trendy hotspot Highgate Village, where Kate Moss and George Michael were neighbours, for a rambling, spider and rodent infested farmhouse in Bilbrough, an extremely pretty village near York where life revolves around the church, village hall and the pub, The Three Hares.
In my former existence during the wintry months, I would have been packing for an annual freebie press trip to Barbados - where many UK stars escape the British winter for the luxurious Sandy Lane resort. Simon Cowell and his harem of beautiful women were regulars and he would often kindly invite the OK! team to his exclusive parties.
Post Barbados, I would be busy organising our coverage for the annual glitzy award season with the Oscars, Baftas and numerous other celeb-studded (and rather energy draining) events being thrown. This was followed by a few weeks’ much-needed detox before mixing with the stars promenading on the Croisette at Cannes - one of the highlights of the season.
But Cannes is not all Alexis Colby glamour. Firstly, it is absolutely rammed and if you (or your put-upon PA) hasn’t booked a year ahead you’re more likely to end up staying in a bedsit-style flea pit rather than a suite at the luxurious Hotel du Cap Eden Roc. Then there are the stunning array of billionaire supersize ships where decadent parties are held every evening - but here again lies the problem. You’ve pawned the family silver for a divine pair of Louboutins but are then ordered by security to take off your darling stilettos and go footless to ensure you don’t scratch the fibreglass on the white super yachts. So unless you’re a 6ft supermodel (who are ten-a-penny in Cannes) you feel like an extra in Snow White. My last time in Cannes was spent at a fundraiser for the Not On Our Watch charity on yet another super yacht. We enjoyed a few drinks with George Clooney, Matt Damon and Brad Pitt (all relatively short by the way, but then again they also had to take off their shoes). George and Matt were divine, though it was difficult to get a word out of Brad. Bless him, he must be sick of pesky journalists and missing Angelina who opted to stay at her luxury hotel suite (probably in Eden Roc).
So this year my diary will be rather different. Apart from doing the school run and trying to finish my novel which is driving me demented, I plan to adopt a few rescue animals for the paddock and also spend precious time seeing family and friends who were neglected during my OK! years. And now as I gaze out of my study (a former pigsty) at the lashing rain and shiver under a blanket while sipping a cup of Earl Grey, I can’t help but feel truly happy. This is my new life and I love it. I may not be devouring Caviar blinis and sipping Champagne with Elizabeth Hurley in the heat, but at least I can feast on a proper Yorkshire pie and Pinot in The Three Hares where my Christian Louboutin heels are made to feel very welcome indeed!
You can follow Lisa on twitter at @LisaByrnePR