ENTERTAINMENT
03/01/2018 13:49 GMT

Who Is India Willoughby? 'Celebrity Big Brother' Housemate And Newsreader's 9 Facts In 90 Seconds

Controversy, coming out and 'Celebrity Big Brother'.

Channel 5

Journalist and media personality India Willoughby has landed a spot in the ‘Celebrity Big Brother’ house, entering on Tuesday (2 January) as part of this year’s all-female launch night.

But while those who regularly watch Channel 5 News or ‘Loose Women’ might recognise India, others might be slightly less clued up.

We reckon she’s definitely going to be one to watch this series though, so if you’re a ‘CBB’ fan, get to know her a little better below in our 9 Facts In 90 Seconds guide…

1. India has helped push trans representation forward in Britain

In 2017, India became the first ever trans woman to serve as a panellist on ‘Loose Women’, and refers to herself as Britain’s “first transgender newsreader”. That same year, her ‘Loose Women’ appearance was named TV Moment Of The Year at the UK Diversity In Media Awards.

Chris J Ratcliffe via Getty Images

2. She quit her TV presenting job to begin her transition at the age of 45

Having hosted the regional news on ITV in the North East for a number of years, India quit what she called her “dream job” in 2010 so she could privately begin transitioning.

During an interview with Best magazine, she recalled a moment she saw herself in a man’s suit on a TV monitor and realised she “couldn’t go on” as she was, adding: “That person wasn’t me.”

3. Five years later, she returned to the job she held so dearly

Having come out as trans and living openly as a woman, India returned to ITV Cumbria in 2015, where she remains on a freelance basis, though she’s obviously since landed a number of other presenting roles and media appearances.

She said at the time of her return: “ITV have been fantastic, it hasn’t been weird or awkward and they have just welcomed me back.

“I didn’t feel nervous at all when I walked back through the door again, they made me feel like I was home.”

4. India hasn’t always been met with unanimous praise from the trans community

As her media profile has continued to grow, a number of comments India has made have not gone down well with everyone in the LGBT+ community. In April 2017, she issued an apology for comments made in a controversial piece, titled ‘Unless You’re Transitioning, Stay Out Of The Ladies Room’.

A few months later, a column she wrote about Munroe Bergdorf’s sacking from L’Oréal was met with a frosty reception, while she previously faced accusations of misogyny after arguing that making women working in service to shave their legs and wear make-up was an acceptable practise.

Ian West - PA Images via Getty Images

5. That said, India has stood up for the community too

In 2017, India publicly urged the BBC to sack ‘Woman’s Hour’ host Jenni Murray over a column she wrote, directed at transgender women, suggesting that they shouldn’t be allowed to refer to themselves as “real” women.

Similarly, she spoke about her experiences of feeling “rejected” by the BBC, claiming she “won” a scholarship at the Beeb, but was ultimately given the “cold shoulder” when she disclosed that she was trans. A BBC spokesperson refuted this at the time.

India has also spoken about the trolling she regularly receives as a transgender person in the public eye, stating that she still feels it’s “acceptable” in contemporary society to “attack” trans people.

6. India says hardest part of her trans journey has been opening up to her son

During her first appearance as a guest on ‘Loose Women’, India admits that more than anything else, it was coming out to her teenage son Rhodes that was the most difficult part of her gender transition.

She explained: “I couldn’t articulate it, I had to write it down, so I said, ‘read this letter, I’m going to go and sit on that park bench’. He came over, and he said ‘this changes nothing, you’re still my parent’.”

India went on to say that her son had been her “rock” ever since, adding: “I am super proud of him.”

ITV/Rex/Shutterstock

7. Journalism wasn’t always the career goal

India disclosed on launch night that in her early life, she almost pursued a career in professional football, and can still do as many as 100 kick-ups (though she did point out that this is only in flat shoes).

8. ‘Celebrity Big Brother’ isn’t India’s first throw of the reality TV dice

In March 2017, India appeared on the non-celebrity series of ‘Come Dine With Me’. She did alright, but ultimately lost out to Sunderland puppeteer Philip Thompson, who charmed his guests with (what else?) a puppet show as they tucked into their dinner.

9. And if you fancy a flutter, India has already emerged as a frontrunner to win ‘CBB’

The day after the all-female ‘CBB’ launch, India was given odds of 8/1 to be crowned winner by William Hill, putting her behind only Maggie Oliver, who was on 3/1. Only time will tell whether her popularity matches the bookies’ initial optimism.

‘Celebrity Big Brother’ airs nightly on Channel 5.

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