No more bridezilla… Or why a high-profile bride surprised me

I’ve never dreamed of getting married – it’s just not for me.

But I have often interviewed brides for publications, and let me tell you, they are intense.

Even after the wedding has taken place, they’re keen on evaluating and measuring the success of everything they’ve done – from the table favours to the first dance, the vows to the last.

ringIt’s always been a bit of a crazy world to me, someone who would be much happier spending all that hard-earned cash on a holiday somewhere incredible – finally seeing Petra, or visiting Red Square to see the bright colours of Saint Basil’s in person.

But when I spoke to Karen Paullada from Stella, the bride thing started to make sense.

As an actress in one of the UK’s most loved sitcoms, I expected her to be starry or perhaps have an attitude.

That was wrong for a start – she was funny, kind and very charming.

But also, she was so laid back about her wedding that she made me see it in a whole different light.

“I didn’t understand why everyone was getting so stressed over it all, I thought it was really easy,” she told me.

With the pictures showing that the final event was stylish, modern, and packed with friends and family including Stella writer and comedy queen Ruth Jones, it seems like maybe the low stress approach is the way to go.

In fact, if it’s that much of a breeze, perhaps it’ll catch on.

Read the piece here

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An actor’s life… Or how you can get what you want if you try

The world of the actor is a strange one.

Basically existing on a freelance basis, they have an agent casting around for jobs and, if they;re lucky, taking 12% for the privilege, but all too often there will be stretches without work to content with.

Credit: John Rogers/ITV
Credit: John Rogers/ITV

Amy Beth Hayes may have started out in a small Welsh market town, but the Abergavenny girl has wowed TV audiences in everything from Mr Selfridge to Lilyhammer.

Speaking to her about her day job, it was really clear that she enjoyed the work, and it’s obviously something that she’s skilled at.

She decided to appear as Kitty in the ITV drama when she heard that Cardiff-born writer Andrew Davies was penning the series and she says the story lines and characters didn’t disappoint.

What’s interesting about Amy Beth’s background is that, although acting was her dream, she went to Oxford at 18, throwing over an offer of a place at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama.

She said that once she was told that Oxford wouldn’t suit her, she was determined to make it work, and so it has.

What a terrific role model she is for young people who want to achieve their dreams – she’s shown that there’s nothing detrimental about taking the road less travelled and yet still ending up on centre stage.

Read the piece here

Family ties… Or the perils of covering emotional stories

I’m not interested in being a parent. Full disclosure. I’ve just… never felt the urge.

But speaking to Welsh filmmaker Amanda Rees, I could imagine adopting any number of kids who needed a home.

For the documentary Finding Mum and Dad which aired on Channel Four this week, Amanda spent time with Connor and Daniel, brothers who had been removed from their parents but were unable to find a permanent home.

She also dealt with seven-year-old Scott in her investigation into ‘adoption parties’, a method being employed to try to place children with a mum and dad of their own.

invite

As heartbreaking as it must be to want children and not be able to have them, one look at these kids made me feel like there was an answer for everyone – a complete family just waited to be rounded off.

Amanda says that it was difficult because she felt involved in the lives of these little people.

“It was emotionally a real roller coaster. Lots of nights spent thinking about the big picture and considering very deeply what the children’s future would be, and what we could do in any way that could help.”

But when all is said and done, isn’t the journalist’s position just to report and watch?

It calls to mind the nature documentaries where we watch the lion rip apart the blameless gazelle and momentarily gulp back a cry at the inactivity of a sentient being in the face of a trauma so great and bloody that few could stand it.

In this case, I understood completely what Amanda meant. Even as a non-breeder, I’d be hard pushed to view this as purely a job without developing some attachment.

Read the piece here

Happy talk… Or why being nice can help make everything better

It’s funny when you finally get to speak to those personalities who you’ve always been aware of.

There’s something magical about being able to tell friends and family which known names you’re speaking to this week, but when it came to Griff Rhys Jones, it was beyond ‘interesting’ and entering ‘legend’ territory.

Of course, as a known face, I’d my assumptions about him in place.

Griff
The man, the legend

Speaking to him the first day back after the new year break, I was acutely aware of his quick wit and often acerbic comments and I have to admit to being a little uneasy.

In that situation, there’s nothing better than investing time and effort in as much preparation as possible, because knowing your topic well generally means they’re pleased to invest time in your chat.

In the event, I needn’t have worried.

From the off, the Cardiff-born, Essex-raised comic, actor, presenter, author and all-round British icon was a delight.

Funny, interesting and chatty beyond any limits, it was tough to keep to the topic – his ITV programme A Great Welsh Adventure with Griff Rhys Jones – when faced with such a great wealth of material, including anecdotes and observations from his many decades in showbiz.

It occurred to me after we chatted that perhaps the way I approached it was all wrong.

After all, someone who had a snappy temper and was difficult to draw out in interviews would hardly wind up with such sizeable success over a long period of time.

Or, as my mother always says, you catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.

Read the piece here