It's just over a month since the release of Robbie's official biography so today we are pleased to offer you a look inside Reveal!
The follow-up to the best-selling Feel, Reveal provides a characteristically raw, uncensored and honest account of the past 13 years of Robbie's life.
In the following extract from the book, Robbie tells all about taking up smoking again, his wedding day and his anxiety about Soccer Aid. Use the button below to order your copy and discover everything else that Robbie has revealed within its pages‚Ä¶
Loose Women is filmed just over the river at the South Bank Studios. Coldplay's recent hit, 'Adventure Of A Lifetime', is on the radio, a song he says that he's only just begun to appreciate at all. 'It's not a song I'd want in my armoury. And there's quite a few Coldplay songs I'd want in my armoury, like 'The Scientist‚Äù and 'Clocks‚Äù.'
He mentions that, along with the smoking, he's also recently developed a new habit.
'I'm sleep-eating,' he says. 'And quite a lot. The first couple of nights I was ...' ‚Äì he acts out being woozily confused ‚Äì '... 'Did I get up and eat last night ... ?‚Äù And then I'd have a Polaroid snapshot in my head of a grape going into peanut butter. I think it's happened, like, six nights. We locked ourselves in and I still got out. On the door in the bedroom at Compton Bassett there's four locks, so I thought I'll put four locks on because Ayda will definitely hear me unlocking four locks. She didn't. Anyway, some nights is just a snapshot of what I've done, and then a couple of nights I get up and Ayda says 'where are you going?‚Äù and I say 'sleep-eating‚Äù and off I go.'
What do you eat mostly?
'Flapjacks made of seeds. And dates. And nuts.' We near the studio.
'One night I ate brownies,' he adds.
But there were much better photos than this: in focus, and showing almost everything that happened that day, even behind closed doors, over 37 pages, for anyone who had ¬£2 to spare. Given Rob's historic struggles with the media, and the endless battles he has fought to salvage some privacy, one decision made at this time might seem surprising: they sold coverage of the wedding to Hello! magazine.
There was a kind of clear rationale behind the decision. Rob knew what would inevitably happen on this day, whether they allowed someone access or not. As far as Rob was concerned, Hello! may have been writing the cheque, but they were doing so on behalf of all of the media. 'The reasoning behind that was: we can have several helicopters over wherever we are and have it be greatly saddening and impinge on our wonderful day. Or that can happen and they can pay for it. That helped in the knowledge that they're all going to be hugely desecrating something that's supposed to be sacred. It paid for the ring, and paid for the day.'
In room 117 of the Soho Hotel, Rob is still sleeping. Ayda, who is to make her fourth appearance as a host on Loose Women today, left hours ago for production meetings, make-up and so on. In a connecting room, Michael and Craig Doyle ‚Äì Craig is one of Rob's regular revolving security roster ‚Äì wait. Eventually Rob blearily sticks his shirtless torso round the door to ask for breakfast, and to check that Michael saw his recent Shakespeare tweet. ('Bard Motherfucker', it said). And he asks Craig for a lighter.
He's smoking again. This is a surprise. He smoked until he was 38. Up to then, as various landmarks in his life approached he often talked of quitting, but never did. He only tried once, and when he did he succeeded.
Or as he puts it, 'The only time that I gave up was the time that I gave up.' And he says that he stopped simply by stopping.
He details the circumstances behind this recent slip. 'Five days into my diet,' he says. This latest diet was masterminded by Amelia Freer, who he'd gone to, impressed by the difference she'd made to Sam Smith. Also, he was concerned that all the chewing gum and Berocca he'd been having were exacerbating his eczema. So he'd decided to do it properly.
'The first day,' he says, 'went: a shot of Epsom salts, which keeps everything regular, a couple of eggs, nothing for five hours, vegetable broth, nothing for five hours, steamed vegetables, nothing until the next morning.'
He didn't like it.
'It was really fucking difficult. But my level of self-loathing was such that I seemed to be able to muddle through.'
Three days in, he was craving a cigarette, something he hadn't done at all for years. 'Never. Never. Went past people outside of buildings where people were smoking, thinking, 'They still make them?''' After five days, he cracked. He's been smoking for eight weeks now. The first five of those, in secret.
He describes the ritual he adopted in their new Los Angeles house. 'I would go downstairs and outside the back door.' Go to the bathroom where he had Listerine and hand sanitiser stashed. 'And I would go out and take my clothes off. Take my top off anyway.' For a few weeks he got away with it. Maybe six cigarettes a day. Six visits. Even with the kind of occasional blunder that maybe you make when you know you're doing something wrong: 'One morning I gargled hand sanitiser by mistake. Just got it the wrong way round.'
He knew he needed to come clean with Ayda. Just not yet. 'I was trying to get brave enough to tell her, but couldn't find that moment. Plus I was enjoying being naughty for a little bit. I felt really guilty ... but I also felt like a sixteen-year-old off to a rave.'
A few weeks ago they moved to England, and he adapted accordingly. He'd get up in the morning with jet lag, an hour and half before Ayda, and sneak out. 'The shoes I was wearing seemed to be really loud, so I had to walk really slowly to the living room at Compton Bassett, get out of the door window, and go and smoke outside. But then it would hit me so hard that I would instantly have a panic attack ‚Äì I was literally high and low at the same time. Sometimes I couldn't get back into the house for the first minute.'
Finally, he was ready to tell her. They were watching Mob Wives at the time, the reality show based around a group of American housewives with purported Mafia connections ‚Äì a show whose key storyline recently has been about the health problems of one wife, Angela Raiola. 'And just as I was about to, Big Ang died of lung cancer,' says Rob. 'And Ayda was so gutted about Big Ang dying of lung cancer ‚Äì and so was I, because I like Big Ang. So I couldn't do it then. So then I was going to wait until she went away to go to work, in Manchester on a drama, and then I was going to tell her on the phone, so she could process it before she got home. And then I didn't do that.'
Eventually the guilt got too much. He just told her.
'She was absolutely gutted. Because it was something that was in my past, that she'd worried about for a long time.' Nonetheless, it might have been worse: 'She was so upset, but she's very understanding. She gives me adequate grief ‚Äì she doesn't go a thousand per cent with the grief, she just gives me enough to let me know that I'm not out of the doghouse but the doghouse is a safe padded place.'
He's now agreed that he has until after Soccer Aid, four weeks away, to stop.
'It's going to be difficult. I think it's patches and a vape for a little while. But, look, I'm forty-two. I've got two kids. It's a really good idea to not smoke.'
After greeting Ayda and chatting in the canteen with today's guest, Rylan, he watches the show on the TV monitor in the dressing room. On-screen, today's panellists talk about their first celebrity crush. 'It wasn't Robbie?' Ayda is asked.
'No, no. Mine was Tom Cruise. This is before the couch, I'd like to say ... that's when all of me wept inside ...' And soon she is talking about her grandmother's superstition that one should never have a hat on the bed. 'Rob really laughs at me ... My grandmother: 'No hat on the bed, never' ... Now Rob does not share the same irrational suspicions I have of luck and these things. He just likes to throw the cap on the bed.' She acts out how, when this happens, she'll immediately remove the offending headwear then brush the bed manically as though she can somehow undo the memory, and the bad luck, of it being there. 'It looks insane,' she says. 'He just laughs at me.'
'She seems incredibly relaxed to me today,' says Rob, watching. 'I don't know if she is.'
It cuts to adverts.
'Have you listened to the new Radiohead album?' he asks. A Moon Shaped Pool came out the previous week. 'Is it so sublime you'd have to buy it twice?' he asks drily, and says he just doesn't get them. Though he does find Thom Yorke's voice incredible. 'He could sing 'Baa Baa Black Sheep' and you would be like, 'Wow. Is there any wool?' You would be contemplating if there was any wool, and what that means.'
He goes outside for a cigarette, and says that Teddy thinks that when Ayda goes to work she is going out singing: 'I think she thinks everybody's mum and dad goes singing.' He mentions a recent meal with Adele, and their conversation about the craft of live performance. 'So I said, 'How long are you onstage for?' She says, 'An hour forty-five.' I said, 'Babe, that's perfect ‚Äì you don't need to do longer than that. I'm always being convinced to do two hours, but an hour forty-five is perfect,' She went, 'Yeah, your show could have been twenty minutes shorter.'' He laughs merrily. 'I think that Adele sort of thinks that anything other than the absolute truth is a lie. And why would you bother saying it unless it's the absolute truth?' To be quite clear, he doesn't say this like it's anything other than admirable.
Back on the show, the loose women, having discovered that Ayda never had a hen party, throw her one, here and now. Rylan is interviewed, and mentions that he and his husband didn't sell their wedding to anyone.
Rob turns to me. 'We did,' he laughs.
'I think when we got engaged on Christmas,' says Ayda on-screen, 'I think Rob thought 'engagement' was the final frontier. I don't think that he thought that there was 'wedding' after that. He was, like, 'You got the ring ‚Äì we're done!''
In the dressing room, Rob listens, nodding. He turns to Gina, his regular make-up artist who is here today doing Ayda's make-up. 'I genuinely did think 'I'd got the ring',' he tells Gina. 'Her mate gave her a wedding magazine two weeks after getting the ring, and I was, 'What are you doing with that?''
'It came as a surprise to him that there was a wedding to follow,' Ayda continues onscreen. 'After the engagement he was, 'I don't know why we're talking about weddings ‚Äì we got engaged.'' She explains that he was eventually prevailed upon to come around. On her birthday he agreed to set a date, but it had to happen before he went away for work. 'We did the whole thing in six weeks,' says Ayda. 'My dogs were my bridesmaids.'
Afterwards, there is a Loose Women debrief in the green room. Rob slips in but hangs at the back. Eventually the conversation turns back to marriage, and their stumbles on the way.
'Can I just say?' says Rob, 'I was never, ever getting married. Ever. When I got to twenty-seven, I made a proclamation. All the way through my twenties I'd wanted somebody to fix me. And then at twenty-seven, I went, 'Actually, I'm never getting married ‚Äì this is perfect.' Then we got engaged, and I was, 'I've done the difficult thing.''
'Yeah, you were not prepared for ...' says Ayda.
'I was not prepared for actual marriage,' he agrees.
'I was going to tell the thing about the magazine,' she says, 'but I didn't want you to look like a dick.'
Rob and Ayda were married on 7th August 2010 in the garden of his Los Angeles home.
'Great day,' he says. 'Best day of my life.'
It was supposed to be a secret ‚Äì his friends and family were told that he was throwing a big party to celebrate 20 years in the business, but he knew people had figured it out. Inevitably, rumours began to spread more widely. A couple of days before, Rob spoke to someone he knew in the media, and they did him the favour ‚Äì a favour they would try to call in soon enough ‚Äì of spreading the false story that the wedding was indeed about to happen this weekend, but that it was to take place on Catalina Island, a few miles off shore. That story ‚Äì Secret ceremony on romantic US island tomorrow ‚Äì was on the cover of the next day's Sun, and reporters set out to sea in preparation.
Even so, by the time the real ceremony was taking place, there were five helicopters hovering over his property.
'A split second after we'd got married and gone into our bedroom,' he notes, 'there was a long lens into our bedroom ‚Äì the two of us just sat on the chaise longue, taken through the window from a helicopter.'
One more tender moment, this one on the most special day of his life liberated to be shared in grainy colour with the world.
Aside from all the photos, Hello!'s coverage took the traditional form: copious lists of people, places and products, and the key romantic notes spelled out, albeit in a reasonably Rob-and-Ayda way. Wedding cake? A three-layer cake (red velvet, carrot cake, and vanilla and coconut). First dance? Harry Connick Jr's version of 'It Had To Be You'. There is also a substantially sanitised account of their early dating life, in which Rob describes how he proposed the previous Christmas, a proposal inspired by the way, early in their relationship, it seemed as though each time he split a deck of cards, the queen of hearts would come up.
'Because I'm into mysticism and signs and all that kind of stuff,' he explained, 'it filled my heart and made me stop worrying about whether I was with the right person.'
So he persuaded Ayda to go for a drive early on Christmas Day, saying he wanted to go down to Coffee Bean, their preferred coffee shop in the Valley. On their way, they pulled up at the main house, which was being renovated at the time, and Rob asked her to get out of the car. This was the exact spot where they had first met four years before, when she had arrived at the house in a friend's car on a blind date. He gave her four playing cards, the four queens, and on each he had written one word in black marker pen: Will. You. Marry. Me? He dropped to one knee; she said yes.
'I didn't want to get married at all,' says Rob. 'At all. Ever. It changed on the day, a complete transformation ‚Äì just everybody turning up with your best interests at heart and loving you was incredibly special. I can't even put into words how lovely the day was. Best day ever.'
Rob waits in another Loose Women dressing room while Ayda changes. He's been thinking about Ayda's birthday next week, and he says that he has decided what he's going to put on her birthday cake:
Congratulations ‚Äì you're the oldest person I've ever slept with.
Is it true?
'No!' he scoffs.