When Paddy Met Sally sees Bercow leave Parliament behind as she spends two weeks living with the My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding star. We gave Sally a call to find out how she got on as Paddy's wife, if Paddy was a dab hand at cleaning windows and how she feels about the life of women in the gypsy community.
Hi Sally. What can you tell us about When Paddy Met Sally?
"It was such fun! Basically it's a mixture of Celebrity Wife Swap, kind of a fluffy experience of each other's lives and looking at genuine issues of concern like prejudice that the gypsy community faces: education - or the lack of it - women's rights and all that kind of thing. It's a mixture of fluffy fun and serious documentary. So it's really good."
What did you learn?
"Well, the biggest thing for me is that gypsy life is not at all like My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding - which is a show that I love watching, but watching it you basically think that all of the women are downtrodden drudges slaving away for their men, and that gypsies are incredibly flash gits with loads of cash. And this is not the case at all. They do have lavish weddings, but most of them are paid for from a family kitty. Actually, poverty among the traveller community is very, very common."
Tell us about what happens during the first week of your stay with Paddy.
"In the first week, Paddy basically put me to work. I was cleaning his chalet, cleaning the windows, cleaning the bathroom - basically, I was cleaning and cooking most of the day. Basically, Paddy seems to think that this is what women in the gypsy community do. Their lives are actually much more like the lives of stay-at-home mums who I know here in London. They do a bit of cooking and cleaning, but they don't do it all day long. Whereas Paddy would have me doing that, it isn't like that really!"
What was your favourite thing about being Paddy's 'wife'?
"Well, it was lovely to spend time with him! I learned to cook a brand new dish which my kids have subsequently come to love, which is spuds, cabbage and bacon. It's really nice! The best bit really was just hanging out with the women. When Paddy was off and about doing his thing - what he does for a living, who knows? - I would hang out with the women in the other caravans and just have chats."
Did they accept you OK?
"Yes, they were very wary to start with, mainly because their experience with TV camera was for My Big Fat Gypsy Weddings. They all hated that show. They said that they ended up with nine million people laughing at them every night.
"They were also wary because I'm a country person, which is what they call anyone who lives in a house. I was the first country person to ever come and live with Paddy. He's 52 and never had a country person before. So they really do keep themselves to themselves. They were very wary on that front, and then they were wary because my husband is the Speaker. They thought I'd be very la-de-da and very posh."
Did you manage to prove them wrong?
"Well, I was just me really! They realised that I'm not at all posh. I might live in a royal palace, but I'm just as at home in a caravan to be honest with you!"
Did Paddy enjoy the reversed roles in the second week?
"A bit! It was very difficult to get Paddy to do any cooking or cleaning. The men just don't do that. It's considered shameful. I did get him cleaning some windows, but he wouldn't clean the ones around the front of the chalet in case people saw him. He would only do the ones at the back. It's just hopeless. Women really are second-class citizens in the traveller community. They are home-makers. Paddy was being all macho, refusing to do this, refusing to do that. I mean, I got him to do a bit, but he didn't exactly play ball as I would have wished."
So you didn't leave behind a changed man?
"Well, his wife Roseanne said to me, 'He's never made a cup of coffee in 30 years, he's never cooked anything, he's never cleaned a window - you've made real progress!'. I hoped for more. He did do a bit of hoovering as well. It was like getting blood from a stone to get him to do anything!"
Was that disappointing for you after throwing yourself into the experience?
"To be fair to Paddy, I didn't exactly play ball with him either. I did do the cooking and cleaning, but I kicked up a lot of fuss while I was doing it. I was also working, in the sense that I'm a columnist for the Daily Star Sunday, so I had to write to my column. Paddy was like, 'What are you doing? Why are you doing this?'. So I had to say, 'Sorry Paddy, I've got to'. So I didn't play ball. It was a bit of a tussle of wills."
Do you think you have inspired the other women to perhaps stand up to their husbands a little?
"To be honest with you, they are very happy as they are. That's what I found really hard to deal with. The feminist in me was thinking, 'My goodness, these women have so much potential, so much to offer society and the workplace, but they are just home-makers'. But that is how they have been brought up and that is what they are happy doing.
It was a real culture shock. It would have been terribly patronising of me to try and change them, but at the same time, I felt really uncomfortable that these really talented and articulate women are sitting around being home-makers."
What affect did this experience have on you personally?
"It's made me realise that the traveller community is very similar to our own community. There are positives that we don't have. It's much closer-knit and family is so important - they're always running in and out of each other's chalets and caravans. There is a real sense of community. It's probably the type of community my parents grew up in 50 years ago, so that was really lovely.
"I don't think it's changed me as a person, but it has brought me closer to Paddy. I think the TV producers were hoping that we'd have a massive hissy fit and fall out with each other. We had a lot of banter, but got on pretty well."
Are you still surprised by your friendship with Paddy?
"Our backgrounds are completely different. I wouldn't have thought I'd get on with Paddy, and vice versa, but we did. We just clicked from the word go. He's very straight-talking and down-to-earth. I think he thinks I'm the same. I don't know, we just get on really well. It's bizarre!"
Do you have any regrets about having taken part in Celebrity Big Brother last year?
"I've no regrets about Celebrity Big Brother. Two reasons, one of which is Paddy - I feel, and I think he feels, that it will be a lifelong friendship. We speak regularly on the phone. He's just a great, great guy. I would go to the ends of the earth for him and his family. Secondly, I raised £100,000 for Ambitious about Autism. That was the main reason I went into the Celebrity Big Brother house. I wouldn't have done it without that donation."
Do you pay attention to what critics say?
"I let it all wash over me to be honest. You can't please everybody, particularly when I'm married to a high-profile politician! I'm going to come in for a lot of flack, because I'm not the typical politician's wife. I'm very relaxed about that. I couldn't care what the Daily Mail write about me!"
And you have your column which you mentioned. Are you enjoying that?
"I'm loving it. I love the world of media - I love writing for the Daily Star Sunday. To be honest, I love doing television. I think it's enormous fun and a great privilege to do so many different things. I'm very lucky!"
Do you think you've inspired any politicians to consider a trip into the Celebrity Big Brother house?
"I do think politicians should embrace reality television. It reaches out to a new audience. Since I've done Celebrity Big Brother, I've had loads of people tell me that they've joined the Labour party or followed me on Twitter and so on because I've inspired them - which is a bit ridiculous, because I find it hard to believe I've inspired anybody! It's about making politics more accessible. I don't think that they should stand on their high horse and get snobby about reality television."
What's coming up for you this year?
"Depending on the viewing figures for When Paddy Met Sally, I'd like to go and live in a few other communities. Documentaries in the vein of When Paddy Met Sally. Sort of like life swap but with serious issues combined."
Could we see Paddy making a trip to London to live with you?
"Sadly, Paddy can't come and live with me. He's met my husband and come down to London and met some of my friends, but he can't live with me. He could stay as a friend, but he can't do it in front of the TV cameras, because you're not allowed to film in parliament. There's no point in asking my husband to bend the rules for me - it would be unfair and he won't!"
When Paddy Met Sally begins tonight at 10pm on Channel 5.