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Interview: A quick chat with Britain's Got Talent judge AMANDA HOLDEN

AMANDA HOLDEN 

Our favourite telly show is back! Britain’s Got Talent is livening up our weekends with Amanda Holden in her seventh year as judge. Heidi Bridges catches up with her...

To say Amanda Holden has had a tough few years is to put it mildly. The 41-year-old Britain’s Got Talent judge suffered the stillbirth of her baby son at seven months in February 2011. The year before that she had suffered a miscarriage at four months. Then she faced further trauma during the birth of her second daughter, Hollie Rose, in 2012. Serious complications during a caesarean section put Amanda in intensive care and she nearly died.

Amanda – who is currently writing her autobiography – couldn’t be happier now with her two lovely girls, her eldest daughter Lexi is six now, and her record producer husband and ‘rock’ Chris Hughes, who she married in 2008.

On the career front, Amanda recently hosted ITV1 talent show Jesus Christ Superstar and is now back on the judging panel for Britain’s Got Talent.  Sitting alongside her boss Simon Cowell, David Walliams and Alesha Dixon, Amanda says they have found the perfect line-up for the much-loved show.

So are you enjoying the new series of Britain’s Got Talent? 
I say it every year if anyone’s ever listened to me - I absolutely love the show. Every year I think the same thing: I think I’m not going to be surprised, I’m going be more cynical, I’m going to be this and this and this - and every year without fail it surprises me.

Has the current judging line-up really made the show ten times better?
For me it’s genuinely lovely to have another girl. I’ve got my team of lovely people, Team Mandy, to make me look, you know, half human - but I’ve got Alesha two doors down in her dressing room and I’m going like: ‘What do you think? Seriously, can you see my back cheese?’ - that’s what I call it when I’ve got bits hanging over my corset - and she’s like: ‘No babe, you look nice’.

The best thing about BGT is you’ve still got Simon. The thing about X Factor UK now is that it lacks Simon.
I hate saying it, I hate giving him credit for it, but he is the show. He’s just so truthful and honest and everything he says makes sense whether you like it or not - on most things in life to be absolutely honest. He’s got a very clean way of cutting through everything. So there’s no flannel, there’s no buttering somebody up to then let them down, he goes straight in for the kill. But really that’s just more honest, isn’t it?
I, however, try to say negative things in a positive way because I’m a mummy, I’m a girl, it’s totally different for me - and a performer. He has actually never stood up there and done anything in front of anyone - apart from when he dressed up as a dog, I believe, on YouTube. Even then he was hidden.

Does he say to you and Alesha ‘girls, don’t wear that’?
Well, he did actually say to Alesha last year, ‘It’s not a fancy dress contest.’ He’s so cheeky - but I don’t think she even acknowledged it, which is brilliant - she’s like ‘talk to the hand’. Sometimes with me he says: ‘You look like a naughty secretary’ which I like! Or one day he did say: ‘No, today you do look like you’ve not got make up on ... don’t kill the magic, Amanda’ so I said: ‘Well, I haven’t started yet, I’ve got my whole team in the back room!’

He loves glamorous women doesn’t he?
He does and everyone’s obsessed with him getting married and having kids but he’s never going to get married and he’s never going to have kids. It’s not what he wants to do - not everyone wants it. Instead, I’m happy that he really did turn his phone off this summer and had a chance to spend some of his hard- earned money on a gorgeous holiday. And he’s terribly generous – so everyone would have been flown there, he would have paid for everything and actually had a time to relax and reflect and he doesn’t get to do that and I think that’s done him the world of good.

He said this year that sometimes he’s too involved with work and that’s why he took that big holiday.
I think we’re probably all guilty of it. I mean, one of the best things I’ve changed this year is turning my phone off - not replying to Blackberry Messenger straight away and not replying to emails as soon as I get them. In the old days you’d go home and press your answer machine to see if someone had called you - no one could get you. So now if I’m in a car and I’m going home and I’ve got an hour then I will spend it killing off my emails but apart from that I think everyone can learn to wait - and I think that’s what Simon’s learning - it’s just people can wait.

When you’re with the girls are you conscious about turning your phone off?
Absolutely and Lexi before has gone: ‘Momma, get off your Blackberry’. I enjoy Twittering but often over a weekend you’ll just see it go silent because I’m with my girls.
Last year I probably worked for about five weeks, which is amazing, but the days are full-on when I do them. But usually I get to do both ends of the school run, bath Hollie, do everything. I’m really lucky.



I bet Chris enforces that as well, doesn’t he?
He does, it’s brilliant. He runs his own business and he can run it from anywhere in the world and that’s the beauty of it as well - you don’t have to go to an office every day anymore if you don’t want to, you can sit in a hammock and email someone. But he’s always saying: ‘Get off Twitter - they don’t need to know you’re having a bit of cake and a cup of tea.’

Is Hollie totally different to Lexi?
It’s weird - Lexi was an excellent baby as well. I got them
both into brilliant routines and I did the same with Hollie, but I’m less worried about everything with her. I think with your first born you’re like ‘are they supposed to do that, are they supposed to do this?’ So I’m more relaxed with Hollie and she’s an easy baby. She doesn’t stop smiling - it’s just constant. Lexi was a smiler, but not the minute she woke up. It’s a silly thing to say but I can see Hollie in front of the camera and Lexi as the one behind.

Didn’t you used to think Lexi would be a dancer at one point? 
In private at home she does brilliant accents and she does impressions but you cannot get her to do anything. We’re trying to even train her now, you know when you go out for a cup of coffee and if she wants an apple juice or something she has to ask the waitress without hiding behind my leg. She’s still really shy - painfully shy, ridiculously shy - so I can’t imagine she’d go on stage. She goes to dance class and things like that - but I was literally performing Annie in our back garden at her age.

Did your parents send you to stage school?
There was no way my mum and dad had the money for stage school. We belonged to the local amateur dramatics - the whole family did - and were called the Von Trapps as a joke.
My dad painted the sets, my mum ran the bar and my sister and I were in it. My dad was actually upgraded and started playing the comedy roles like Buttons in panto and was good! That’s what I did until I was 16 and then moved to Bournemouth and there was a fabulous course at the Jellicoe Theatre that’s part of the university and then I went to London. My mum said she didn’t know what to do with me but at the same time she never said I want you to go and get a proper job.

It can be a hard business to be in though?
My thing is now - and I say to any contestant on Britain’s Got Talent - you might as well follow your dream because any job is hard to get these days. It’s so tough so you might as well pursue your dreams and see what happens before you have to knuckle down and do something that you might not feel so passionately about.

And you’re doing an autobiography?
I am. I’ve been asked for so many years to do it and I think there’s a random one out there which I’ve got nothing to do with, which is very annoying. It’s a cliché and I’ve heard so many other celebrities saying: ‘Yeah, well, it’s my side of the story innit’ - but it is. So much has been written about me - loads of it true, loads of it not. But more importantly, it will be me talking, so it’s the right information and also it feels like the right time, too.
David Walliams said that the good autobiographies are the really honest ones.
It is going to be very honest because what else can you do? There’s nothing else to do is there?

Interview by kind permission of placesandfaces.co.uk

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