CLAUDIA Winkleman has perfectly mastered the art of self-deprecation - it’s part of her charm, along with her witty one-liners, writes Gabrielle Fagan.

Despite being one of the most recognisable faces on TV, co-hosting Strictly Come Dancing with Tess Daly, she shrieks in horror at the thought of being called a celebrity.

“Nooo, please don’t call me that! Of course I’m not, not even close. I’m just a short, orange person with a fringe,” she jokes.

“I don’t really regard myself as being in show-business. It’s entirely possible that my indulgent family have created a home video scheme, where I feel like I’ve been hired to do telly but it’s not actually real.”

Despite the humorous protestations underneath that trademark fringe - which she claims became so long during lockdown that “birds and squirrels started nesting in it” - she is clearly super-talented.

She’s carved a hugely successful career in broadcasting. As well as Strictly, she currently presents her own BBC Radio 2 radio show - Claudia On Sunday - and hosts Best Home Cook.

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But it’s her latest role, as one of five judges for the 2020 Amazon Kindle Storyteller Award, she’s enthusing about today.

“I’m a keen reader - come to think of it, pretty much all I’ve done during lockdown is read and eat cake - so when they offered me this role, I said, ‘Bring it on, the more books the better’,” she says gleefully.

“I’m really excited about being part of an initiative like this, which gives new authors the chance to share their stories and be recognised on their own merit. It celebrates people who’ve seized the opportunity to create their own work and have it read by millions.”

Winkleman, 48, is also welcoming the task as a diversion because, she declares wryly: “I’m genuinely not doing anything else, apart from really bad homeschooling.”

In reality, she’s also finished writing a humorous memoir, Quite, set to be published in October, and has teamed up with her friend, clinical psychologist Tanya Byron, on their podcast, How Did We Get Here?

Clearly though, she’s relished spending more time at home with the family this year.

Married to film producer Kris Thykier for 20 years - they have three children, Jake, 17, Matilda, 14, and Arthur, eight.

She says: “I pretend to be busier than I am but the truth is, I’m essentially lazy, like a sloth really. I feel beyond lucky to be able to say that for me, the best part [of lockdown] has been enjoying the family being together all the time.

“But this time been truly terrible for some people. I’m in awe of the sacrifices people have made being on the NHS frontline, and others keeping services going, like supermarkets.”

She is characteristically candid about her efforts to home-school her youngest son.

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“I start out every day wildly enthusiastic about trying to teach him something and promise it’s going to be awesome,” she says.

“Then after half an hour, I’m tetchy because he’s not remembered something I’ve told him. It’s renewed my admiration for teachers, who are, I think, extraordinary.”

Her parenting style, she confides, is “very strict - I’m happy to be a quite unpopular and deeply embarrassing mum. That’s my main role.I have no interest whatever in being their best friend, I don’t think that’s my job, maybe when they’re older but not now.

“We put enormous pressure on ourselves to give them organic meals, do science and craft sessions, and then gather to discuss the works of Charles Dickens. That’s just not the way it really is. We just have to muddle through as best we can.”

Reports suggest that Strictly Come Dancing and other shows will return to screens in the autumn, and Winkleman notes: “When my eldest son was young, I was working much harder, whereas now I turn up occasionally and talk about a rhumba, do a bit of radio, and that’s about it.

“I love it [my job] but I haven’t felt like, ‘Poor me, I can’t read aloud!’ I mean that’s what I do - I read aloud off an auto-cue. I’d love to say my job is more complicated than that, but it isn’t. When the time comes, if they want me, I’ll do it again, and if they don’t, I’ll understand.”