In Extreme Wife, you meet communities who live at the fringes of society. Do you find it hard not to judge them?
Yes, we live in a world where everyone is so mean about other people's choices. But when I met the polygamists, for example, and spoke to a table of 15 women who were very bright and independent of mind, I realised they weren't idiots. After that, I was confused by the way they lived but not angered by it.
Can you see their side of the argument when they try to justify their lifestyles?
Totally! With the polygamists particularly, everyone criticises them because they are not monogamous. But I know so many destructive, awful monogamous relationships, and those are apparently acceptable. These people are much more secure than that.
Your interviewing style is quite blunt. Have you ever asked people questions that rubbed them up the wrong way and got a really bad response?
I’ve been in so many situations where I’ve felt nervous. But those are the good bits, the uncomfortable moment, that’s what these programmes are about. I tell people I am going to be really honest. In the Polygamy episode, I showed their bad bits but I also really played up their good bits. I actually wanted to walk away and like them.
When you get back from your trips, do you ever wonder ‘what was I thinking’?!
Absolutely. In the Free Love episode, I got so involved that I ended up getting naked with them all. At the time I had spent the day with them and thought it would be really fun. But when I left, I though ‘what the hell did I just do’. I still can’t really think about that moment; it creeps me out a bit.
Does anything embarrass you?
Oddly, the things that embarrass me the most are being naked and sex! Even though I'm really open about that stuff, it's embarrassing and awkward. But I've got a lot more confident. I've never been the kind of girl who would wear a bikini on the beach – I would always wear a t-shirt. So it took a huge amount for me for me to take my clothes off for television. But once you’ve done it once, you think it’s alright.
What’s your favourite part of your body?
Probably my boobs – I really like my boobs.
And your worst part?
My bum – it’s just such a disaster! It’s got no shape and nothing to it. I’d love a bum that stuck out.
Do you consider yourself a bit of a feminist?
Yeah, I do. I’m not one of those really active feminists who’s on my own, independent mission. In my relationship, I do all the cooking and I like doing the cleaning. I really take care of my man and I don’t have any issue with it. But when it comes to my career, my values are definitely very feminist. I don’t have a 9-5 job in the corporate world, maybe if I did I’d be a much more active feminist, but I’m always trying to push women forward.
You’ve examined so many different types of relationships – how has your research affected your own relationship?
I’m quite open minded. I was single for 9 years and I made a load of programmes about relationships – but nothing prepares you for living with someone and having a monogamous relationship! There are peaks and troughs all the time, it's a continuous learning curve. I love it though. I never thought I’d be the kind of person that would be in a relationship but I absolutely love it.
What does your husband (actor Chris O’Dowd) think about the programmes you make?
He hasn't seen a lot of them – I made a lot of them before we got together. But he had seen me on TV and loved the way I was so ridiculous and brave; I think he finds it quite sexy. It gives us a lot to talk about!
So are babies on the cards?
There will be babies at some point, but not for a long time.
What top tips can you share with single ladies?
Don’t be desperate. It's just really unattractive and as soon as you stop being desperate is when you will meet somebody. And if you really want to be in a relationship, anyone who shies away from internet dating is just being silly. The more people that you meet, the more chance you’ve got of meeting someone. Go on lots of dates – just don’t sleep with everybody. But always have your bikini line waxed just in case!
What are your favourite programmes on Really?
I love Tool Academy!