Was Katie Hopkins evil? Did she insult me? Make me cry? Now's Lauren Franklin reveals all

She’s been labelled ‘Britain’s most hated woman’ and Katie Hopkins has created a public persona by riling the country with views that are controversial and often downright offensive.

Among her many jaw-dropping opinions, the former Apprentice contestant has a vendetta against fat people, has suggested ebola is a good form of population control and famously argued with Peaches Geldof on This Morning over attachment parenting.

But I’m curious about her and, I’ll be honest, despite disagreeing with a large amount of what she says, I don’t dislike Katie Hopkins. If anything I’m intrigued.

So Now decided to arrange a photo shoot with her and have Katie give us the rundown on her celebrity saints and sinners of 2014.

I must admit, I’m a little nervous about meeting her, I’m not exactly the shy and retiring type, but show me a hint of confrontation and I’ll fiddle with my hair, laugh nervously and make a quick excuse to leave.

Is Katie going to sense this weakness in me? Will she be mean? And if so what will she pick on? Oh God, the insecurities are going wild.

If there’s one thing my job has taught me though it’s never to judge anyone until you’ve met them. I have been bitterly shocked and disappointed by how rude, dull and dismissive certain celebs whose public persona is flawless can be; and totally charmed and pleasantly surprised by people I either had little interest in, or thought would be difficult.

When Katie arrives on set spot on time, I hardly recognise her. I’m half expecting her to come stomping in, voice booming and cursing anyone who makes eye contact with her. Hurling insults at anyone ginger or overweight…

Instead she’s surprisingly petite – delicate even (she’ll hate me for saying that) – and there’s something endearing and quite girly (she’ll hate that too) about the way she bounces up to everyone, introduces herself as if we’re not all here for her, and makes a very genuine effort to learn everyone’s names.

I’ve been on enough photoshoots to know this is a rare event.

Before Katie had her make-up done, we all sat down to lunch. She was relaxed, chatty and hilarious as we discussed who we loved and loathed on I’m A Celeb. She wasn’t the total rent-a-gob loudmouth that many expect her to be, instead engaging everyone in conversation and asking plenty of questions.

Dear God – am I starting to like THE Katie Hopkins?

After lunch she gets ready for the shoot and continues to win over our stylist and hair and make-up artist. By the time I go over to start my interview with her, our make-up girl is mouthing to me: ‘LOVE HER!’

During the interview, we discuss an array of celebs and she gives me her honest thoughts on all of them. Some she loves – she has utmost respect for Kate Middleton for being ‘married to a baldie’ and a perfect princess, she admires Rihanna for not giving a toss, and surprisingly she ‘loves’ Charlotte Crobsy from Geordie Shore.

Others who don’t get off lightly include Katie Price (‘She can be Haggard Barbie for Christmas’) Angelina Jolie (‘Seeing someone who’s had a mastectomy smoke is quite strange’) and Russell Brand (‘He’s as welcome as thrush and equally f**king irritating’).

I try to keep a straight face. I fail.

The photoshoot goes incredibly smoothly. I may be surprised that Katie isn’t the dragon lady I expected her to be, but she’s every inch the efficient businesswoman I knew she was.

There is no faffing about, she doesn’t have time to be checking the photographer’s screen constantly to see how she looks, she stands there, does what she’s told and then onto the next thing. In fact we’re all wrapped early, because Katie simply doesn’t have time or patience not to get things right immediately.

She’s like a mass of contradictions, a no-nonsense efficient robot with a razor-sharp tongue and addiction to controversy, while at the same time hilarious, friendly and disarmingly easy to get along with.

As she leaves the studio everyone is in a state of shock. We all like her.

‘Is that even allowed?’ someone asks.

We don’t know. We would quite like her to come back and hang out some more though…

Find out what Katie Hopkins thinks of Cheryl, the Beckhams and Gemma Collins, in this week’s Now magazine dated 22 December 2014 – download the digital edition now!