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These characteristics – all in glorious abundance in today’s panel of Loose Women regulars – are what makes ITV’s lunchtime chat show still hugely popular after more than a decade. Carol Mc Giffin is trying to identify the single most important characteristic common to all successful Loose Women.

In the 11 years the former TV producer (and ex-wife of Chris Evans) has been a panellist on the programme that is now a national lunchtime institution, she has seen a lot of them come and go.

Sitting outside with my back to the sun, I noticed that the shadow cast by each clear lens of my glasses was equally as dark as that cast by the frame and my head. Surely the clear lens would let the light through rather than casting a shadow?

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The show may sometimes look like a clash of egos, but Lynda insists that they wouldn’t have the freedom for open discussion if they didn’t like each other.

Press reports suggesting that they all hate each other infuriate them.

Husbands, boyfriends and children have to accept that they will, from time to time, be exposed to public humiliation Lisa, one of the newest ‘ladies’, having joined the show in 2009 shortly after she gave up her long-running role as DI Samantha Nixon in The Bill, doesn’t allow her 11-year-old daughter Beau to watch, and has come to an arrangement with her partner, sculptor Paul Jessup.

‘We had a conversation prior to my joining, in which he said, “Does it mean you’ve got to talk about my bad personal habits?

We are on air at lunchtime but it’s an adult conversation.’Carol is proud that she is the only member of the panel never to have cried on air (the closest she got was shortly after her mother died and she is, she says, ‘the hard-nosed bitch’ of the show).

But she admits that she is guilty of sharing intimate details of her life.

The meeting, according to executive producer Sharon Powers, is like an X-rated version of the show, with the women free to express themselves with expletive-littered openness.‘We have to trust each other,’ says Carol.

‘There have been a couple of occasions where people – I won’t name names, but the two people aren’t here – have revealed things on the show that they know full well were only for the back room.’ The subjects that arouse the most varied and passionate opinions are the ones that will make it through to the programme.

‘I think for me the most important thing is to be true to myself. I don’t care about appealing to everyone, or saying something safe for fear of offending someone in the audience.

It’s the women who are a bit scared of saying what they think that don’t last.

Along with Carol we have assembled Kate Thornton, 37, Lisa Maxwell, 46, and Lynda Bellingham, 61, for a joint interview that is as opinionated and occasionally shocking as you might expect from four Loose Women (or, as they prefer to refer to each other, ‘Loose Ladies’).

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