Monday, 7 February 2011

Meeting Amanda Holden

I was sorry to read that Amanda Holden, the Britain’s Got Talent judge, has lost the baby son she was expecting with husband Chris Hughes seven months into her pregnancy.
It would have been about 1995 when I found myself sat next to her at a business dinner. I formed such a high opinion of Holden by the end of the evening that I’ve followed her career with interest ever since.
I have long forgotten who our host was. The occasion was an England soccer international at Wembley where I was representing my newspaper on the press guest list. After the match we returned to a hospitality suite for a sit down meal.
According to Holden’s Wikipedia entry she had not long married comedian and actor Les Dennis at the time. He was the after-dinner entertainment. I don’t recall that Dennis sat with her – he was probably busy ‘circulating’ ahead of his routine.
Such was Holden’s radiant beauty that I immediately assumed (with more than a touch of jealousy) she was Dennis’s bimbo arm-candy. This impression was strengthened because she spoke nothing about herself preferring instead to talk about Dennis.
While the room was crowded, there was just the two of us at a large table for perhaps an hour. Out of politeness I felt obliged to question her even I though imagined her replies would be vacuous.
I was soon required to revise my initial prejudice. She was no air-head. I prised out of her that she had done some television work which she didn’t mind I hadn’t seen. This would have been a stint on Eastenders (Wikipedia again).
Perhaps she told me she was married to Dennis – perhaps she didn’t – but she said they lived in Highgate, a leafy area of North London, where my son was at school. This led to a discussion about families.
The evening sped by; Dennis’s spot went well and I guess everyone went home happy. I did.
None of this is spectacular. But I can honestly say after a working career in journalism in which the formal occasions I attended must run into the hundreds if not thousands, there is only a handful I would ever wish to repeat. My encounter with the lovely and gracious Amanda Holden is one of them. I regret her sad loss and wish her better.

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