When we catch up with the first-ever Big Brother winner, Craig Phillips, and his wife Laura, the couple admit they’re a little tired after welcoming their newborn son into the world just 16 days earlier.
“He’s a cracking little thing but he’s not sleeping too good!” says Craig, 49. Laura, 33, adds that the newborn phase is “relentless”, saying, “They’re constantly feeding and needing their nappy changed.” “And that’s just me!” laughs Craig.
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The pair, who married in 2018, welcomed Lennon Thomas into the world on 2 December at 5.41am, weighing 6lb 10.5oz. The adorable tot joins their daughter Nelly, 21 months, and their bulldog Sydney at their eight-bedroom home in Liverpool, and it’s safe to say having two under two is keeping them on their toes!
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Since winning the show that made him famous 20 years ago, Craig has gone on to host 60 Minute Makeover and has built up an impressive property portfolio, while he and Laura also film social media videos under the names Mr and Mrs DIY, and are documenting the process of creating their own dream home.
Here, the couple exclusively open up to OK! about Lennon’s “textbook perfect” birth, how they chose his name, and why their family is now complete.
Congratulations on Lennon’s birth! How is he getting on?
Craig: We’re a little bit tired at the moment – if we could get a few extra hours between each of his naps that would make a great difference. He has about 10 naps a day. It’s just very hit and miss at the moment. But he’s a cracking little thing!
Laura: The newborn stage is just relentless, isn’t it?
Craig: I do a lot of winding, nappies and skin-on-skin with him. Laura is superwoman. Each winter we do a little bit of work for our local water board, United Utilities, and Laura was back in the studio in our house doing voiceovers on Zoom for its winter campaign five days after giving birth.
Laura: I’m pretty sure I had breast milk down myself! I felt sorry for everyone on the call [laughs].
You were born in Liverpool, Craig. Is your son’s name inspired by John Lennon?
Craig: Yes, I don’t think I’ve ever said it but I am a massive fan of John Lennon. My favourite song of all time is Imagine. We picked the name months before he was born. I think we’d even picked the name before Laura was pregnant the first time. We said if we ever had a boy one day we would call him Lennon.
Laura: We wanted a name that even if we moved away from Liverpool, or he decided to move away, would always bring him back to his roots.
Craig: I was desperate for a boy. His middle name is Thomas which was my [late] dad’s middle name. It was a way of having my dad in there. Nelly’s middle name is Janet and that was Laura’s mum’s name. It’s only Laura’s dad who is still alive – the kids never got to meet their other grandparents, sadly.
How was the birth?
Laura: It was as good as a birth could go, really!
Craig: It was textbook perfect – the nurses said they’d never seen anything like it.
Laura: The first words from the midwife were, “You are designed to birth children.”
Craig: Are you ready for how long they put down Laura was in full-term labour for? Seven minutes!
Laura: Yes, for the second stage of labour. He pretty much flew out! My waters broke at 2am on 2 December. I had contractions straight away, but I didn’t tell Craig initially. Then they started coming every five minutes for about an hour, so I thought I’d better wake him. It was about 3.30am. I didn’t want to go to the hospital too early because of everything going on with Covid – if Craig wasn’t going to be allowed in. By the time we got there at 5am I was 5cm dilated. Soon I was in the birthing pool and having gas and air.
Craig: By 5.41am Lennon was out! Luckily, as it turned out, I was able to be there the whole time and hold her hand.
Laura: Having two quite positive births has made me passionate about spreading the word that not all births have to be bad. I did quite a lot of prep into how to keep fit to prepare for birth and the best position to give birth in, as I have a background in personal training. I also did hypnobirthing.
Did you find pregnancy more difficult because of the Covid restrictions?
Craig: We were really strict with our isolation while Laura was pregnant. We cut off from all our friends and family in early March just to be extra cautious, and said no one could come to our house. They still haven’t met him. I only have a small family and with all the restrictions we haven’t seen each other. Some people didn’t like it and thought we were being over the top, but with a one-year-old and Laura being pregnant I wanted to protect them.
Laura: My dad is also in Shropshire and he is being careful, too.
Craig: Laura’s grandad passed away a week after Lennon was born and we weren’t sure if people were going to be able to come to the funeral and meet Lennon then.
How is life with two under two?
Craig: Where do we start? We’re doing great, but it’s tough. The first couple of days it was a bit of a novelty for Nelly and she thought it was brilliant having this extra dolly. She was helping Laura change nappies, but that quickly wore off.
Laura: She’s not a massive fan of her brother. She’s a bit jealous.
How have you handled that jealousy?
Craig: With great difficulty. It’s tough at the moment, but she’ll get used to it. She doesn’t really have a choice because it’s not like he’s going anywhere! Laura is exclusively breastfeeding so Lennon is on the boob every hour and a half at the moment and through the night.
Laura: It’s a nightmare!
Craig: When he’s feeding, Nelly can’t get much attention so she’s clambering all over Laura and I have to try to entertain and distract her.
Laura: We’ve hit the terrible twos and she’s a bit of a handful.
Would you like to have any more children?
Craig: No. We have one of each, we’re done. I don’t want to be in my fifties and having another baby and changing nappies. Lennon has completed the family. He’s fulfilled the whole jigsaw puzzle.
You previously told us you were still in touch with some of your former Big Brother co-stars, including “Nasty Nick” Bateman, Craig. Did they congratulate you on Lennon’s birth?
Craig: No, they haven’t [to Laura], have they? I’m sure once they’ve seen these pictures they will. The person who sent us a lovely message was Leigh Francis [Keith Lemon] – about Nelly’s birth and also when we said we were having a boy. We go back a long time – I went to his wedding 18 years ago!
Have you spoken to former Big Brother host Davina McCall much?
Craig: Yes, I last spoke to her a couple of times in the summer on Zoom when we were doing bits for Big Brother’s 20th anniversary. I get a few direct messages from her on Instagram. When we first announced we were pregnant again we got a message, and when we posted the news about Lennon we got another message from her, and from Rylan [Clark-Neal]. She’s lovely. I’m sure we’ll get another one when she sees these pictures!
You posted a picture of yourself with Dame Barbara Windsor when she passed away in December. Did she offer you any advice when you met?
Craig: She did, and I often think about the things she said. One bit of advice that stuck out was when we were at the National Television Awards and we were presenting an award together. I was in a dressing room with Cliff Richard and then Barbara came in with Lulu. She said to me, “You’re a smart lad, so keep your focus on your building stuff. Television is a fantastic industry to be in when you don’t need it, but the moment you need television then all of a sudden you’ll see the dark side of it.”
She was holding my hand just before we presented the award and she said, “Craig, I’ve been in this industry nearly 50 years and I’m terrified of doing these things.” I couldn’t believe it! After that in between jobs I would jump straight on the tools and go to an auction and buy a cheap house and work every day. Now I have a big property portfolio. Imagine if I had to rely on TV and then it was suddenly all gone. If it ever does stop then it doesn’t matter because I’ve had a fantastic innings.
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