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doctor miriam stoppard

We settle in a little sideroom. I ask if she ever wakes up in the morning and thinks: “Nah, I can’t be arsed to be a distinguished doctor, scientist, businesswoman and best-selling author today. Sod it, I’m going to lie in and watch This Morning.” Sometimes, she says, she does have difficulty “climbing into the day”, but her first-thing exercise regime (treadmill, exercise bike, half an hour minimum) usually sorts her out nicely.

She is also, of course, the Daily Mirror’s agony aunt, and the host of several telephone helplines, including one on vaginal dryness, which I’ve yet to call, but have noted the number (0901 562 8538), just in case of future emergencies of a distressingly parched nature. Her latest book is Defying Age, in which she is pictured wearing support stockings and going up and down her Stannah stairlift while reading a Saga holiday brochure, fretting about the gas bill and trimming her corns. Oh, all right then; she’s pictured getting out of a taxi in a deliciously sumptuous faux fur and pearl-drop earrings.
Her parents were not affectionate. She once asked her mother why this was so, to which her mother replied that “it was wartime, and she thought if anything went wrong we’d be interned in Auschwitz. She wanted us to be capable of existing on our own, not too dependent.” She knew that her father was proud of her, but that wasn’t the same as knowing that he loved her. “It’s not a good enough substitute.” Still, she worked feverishly hard to encourage that pride. It was, after all, the only substitute. She did brilliantly academically, became a senior registrar in dermatology and then managing director of a major pharmaceutical company before turning to popular medicine.

I meet Dr Miriam Stoppard – a sort of Joan Collins of childcare advice and do-it-yourself health – in central London, at the offices of Miriam Stoppard Lifetime, her latest business venture selling her own range of toys, books, creams and the Baby Babbleboom layette range, available from Debenhams and selling very well, by all accounts.
Certainly, she is 66 and looks brilliant; has done a good job on the defying front, so to speak. She is wearing, today, black pants, black boots with saucy fuchsia soles, and a designer jumper with a cat face on it. Her hair-do is dark, perky, mid-life Elizabeth Taylor, and her make-up glamorously plentiful. I ask if she has had anything. ahem. done? She has had her eyes done, she says, but only because she appeared on telly one time, and the cameraman said to her: “My God, Miriam, your eyes!” And she’s had her lips done, some kind of collagen treatment, but only because “I had cold-sore scars”. I’m very pleased, by the way, to see that there is How To Satisfy Your Man 1 (0901 562 8541) as well as How to Satisfy Your Man 2 (0901 562 8541). It’s always good to get a second go at things, although I imagine if you have got 0901 562 8538, you’re probably not in the mood.
No hype, just the advice and analysis you need
Her upbringing was repressive, to say the least. Sexually, almost everything was taboo. When Miriam had her first period she thought she had cancer and was going to die. When she and Hazel passed a poster on the street of the actor Jane Russell showing a buxom cleavage for her film The Outlaw, their father put his hands over their eyes. “And I remember going to a Jewish youth club when I was 15, wearing a Yardley lipstick called Natural Rose because all the other girls were wearing it. My father put my face under the tap and scrubbed it off with the soap my mother used to clean the floor, calling me a harlot.” Can this go part way to explaining her later passion for lashings of 24-hour make-up? Also: “I was a fat child and suffered greatly as a result. I was called Dumbo at school and it did make me insecure. These things don’t go away, do they? They are very difficult to slough off. I’ve never been able to see myself as anything but fat since.” She is fair evangelical about exercise: “It controls appetite, so you don’t have any cravings.”
Miriam continued to phone her parents every Friday evening even though, for three years, they hung up at the sound of her voice. This must have been hard for her. But perhaps the need to escape the constraints and oppressions of formal religion was greater than the need to be a good, biddable daughter. Perhaps she was fed up with being controlled, desperately wanted to control. The rift was never fully healed, although some kind of reconciliation was achieved when that first marriage failed and Miriam took up with Tom. Tom was Jewish, first off, plus “my parents absolutely adored him”. I ask if she felt any conflict, turning her back on Judaism. “I think it’s still a conflict. One doesn’t shake that off. It was Yom Kippur a few weeks ago and I didn’t fast, but I did think about fasting, for my father’s sake.”

Is her adult self in some ways a rebuttal of her childhood self? Maybe. But then, I suppose, whose isn’t? Perhaps with Miriam, it’s just more so. Born Miriam Stern, she was brought up in a Jewish working-class family in Newcastle. Her father, Stanley, was a nurse, while her mother Jenny worked for the city’s school-dinners service. The family were ultra, ultra orthodox. Miriam and her younger sister Hazel walked three miles to chayder and then three miles back, every single day after regular school. They were ultra, ultra kosher, too, of course; four sets of everything, which Miriam was always mixing up, and which could then only be purified by burying in the earth. There was always a saucepan handle or two sticking out from the ground out back, she remembers. I ask if she suffered anti-Semitism at school. For sure, she says. In particular, she recalls being cornered by some kids, called a Jesus-killer, and stoned. “I can still see that corner of the brick coming at me now.”

I meet Dr Miriam Stoppard – a sort of Joan Collins of childcare advice and do-it-yourself health – in central London, at the offices of Miriam Stoppard Lifetime, her latest business venture selling her own range of toys, books, creams and the Baby Babbleboom layette range, available from Debenhams and selling very well, by all accounts.

Dr Miriam Stoppard has been at the forefront of the revolution in health information since she began her writing and broadcasting career in the early 1970s.

Dr Miriam Stoppard’s ideas and approach, developed and informed by the experience of more than 30 years of writing and broadcasting, remain totally fresh and up-to-date. In 1998 she was made a Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians in recognition of her work in promoting healthcare information, a well-deserved honour that will be endorsed by everyone who has benefited from her practical and sympathetic approach.
Since that time she has become well known to millions all over the world as a leading authority on parenting, baby and child care, women’s health, and many other topics from healthy eating to relationships and sex. In 2000 she set up Miriam Stoppard LifeTime, of which she is Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, to extend her philosophy into products and services.

Her blend of medical training (she studied medicine at the universities of London and Durham), business connections (she has been the Director of a number of companies ranging from pharmaceuticals to interior design), and direct experience of the problems of ordinary people (she answers readers’ letters in a column in The Daily Mirror, read by 10 million people every day), have made her uniquely qualified as a writer on health matters. What’s more, she is a parent herself – she has two sons of her own and four step-children – and is now also a grandparent. She knows from her own experience the stresses placed on modern families trying to do their best for their children in a world of uncertain and conflicting advice.
Dr Stoppard has published over 50 books and has a column in The Daily Mirror.
She began her writing and broadcasting career in the early 1970s and became a world-leading authority on childcare and women’s health.
Miriam Stoppard is a doctor, businesswoman and writer. In 1998 she was elected a Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians. In addition to two Honorary Doctorates of Science, she has an Honorary Doctorate of Law. She has written over eighty books on family health, women’s health, nutrition, sex and health for older people. She writes a daily page for The Mirror and in 2008 received the prestigious Stonewall Journalist of the Year award. In 2010 she received an OBE for her services to healthcare and charity.
Dr Miriam Stoppard, has been awarded an OBE for services to health care and charity in the New Year Honours list.
Health writer, broadcaster and agony aunt Dr Miriam Stoppard has become an OBE for her services to healthcare and to charity in the New year Honour list.

For more information on her books please visit our Parenting website.

Miriam Stoppard is a doctor, businesswoman and writer. In 1998 she was elected a Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians. In addition to two Honorary Doctorates of Science, she has an Honorary Doctorate of Law. She has written over eighty books on family…