13
Feb 11

Wonderland – Here come the girls!

Two and a half years ago, Louis Walsh and Westlife‘s Kian Egan held auditions in Dublin for a new girl band.  Three thousand girls and many rounds later saw Jodi Albert, Sharon Condon, Corrina Durran, Leigh Learmont and Kasey Smith emerge as Wonderland.  These girls are not only beautiful but have amazing vocal ability, creating wonderful harmonies with their melodic tones.

 


Wonderland2.jpgI had the pleasure of catching up with Wonderland last week and I can honestly say I have never met a nicer group of girls.  They’re each embracing their new-found life with gusto and their energy and joie de vivre shines through.  I asked them to take me back to the beginning and tell me about the auditioning process.  “It was a really exciting but scary time,” said Jodi, who’s married to Kian Egan from Westlife.  “About three thousand girls turned up to the auditions and in the beginning, you wonder if you really have a chance.  But over the following three months, there were about eight rounds where the numbers kept getting smaller and smaller.  It’s funny, but the five of us had just gravitated towards each other and had already become friends.  Eventually the numbers were whittled down until just the five of us were left.”

 

So the girls must have been doubly excited – not just to be picked for the band, but also to be picked with the girls who they’d become so close to.  “Oh it was amazing,” said Jodi.  Out of the small group that was left at the end of the process, the ones that hadn’t made it were contacted first.  Then the five of us were told by Louis, Kian and a guy from the record label.  We all just burst into tears.  We’re so passionate about music and we felt so excited about the journey we were about to take.”

 

Jodi has been in the public eye herself over the last number of years, with a role in Hollyoaks and being part of another girl band.  So how does being in Wonderland compare to her other experiences?  She had no hesitation in answering.  “This is by far the best thing I’ve ever done,” she said.  “It’s really my dream come true.  I’m excited to get up every day and go to work.  It doesn’t even feel like work – I’m just hanging with my best friends, doing the things I’ve always wanted to do.  Sometimes I feel a little bit too lucky!”

 

Perhaps I’ve been watching too much X Factor and similar reality shows, but I assumed the girls were immediately locked away together in a house where they could begin to make their music.  “We didn’t move in together straight away,” laughed Leigh. “In the beginning, we’d go to Kian and Jodi’s house and spend a weekend or week with them; just chilling out and getting to know each other. When we got a record deal, we began to spend more and more time together and practically lived in a hotel room in London.  It’s certainly one way to get to know each other inside out!  These days four of us live in an apartment but Jodie and Kian live in the same complex so we’re never short of a tea-bag or a bowl of sugar!  Poor Kian – I think we wreck his head a lot of the time but we’ve become like his little sisters.”

 


Kian Egan.jpg“Kian has been such a brilliant support to us,” agreed Sharon.  “He’s put so much time and effort into the band and is a fantastic mentor.  Actually all the boys from Westlife have been brilliant.  We supported them on their tour last year and they were so good to us.  They’re always there for us if we need advice or encouragement.”

 

But is it difficult for Jodi to be managed by her husband?  “Not at all,” laughed Jodi.  “Kian is fantastic.  As Sharon said, he’s always there for us and has given us so much good advice.  He obviously understands what it’s like to be in a band so his input is invaluable.  Of course we have our disagreements and get annoyed with each other, but it would be strange if we didn’t.”

 

Louis Walsh manages such bands as Boyzone, Westlife and Girls Aloud as well as being a judge on the X Factor.  How daunting is it for the girls to work with him?  “It was certainly a bit daunting in the beginning,” said Sharon.  “Louis is such a massive icon in the
Louis Walsh2.jpgmusic world; it was nerve wracking to be standing in front of him singing for our lives.  But he’s a real sweetheart.  He’s very warm and grounded and has really taken us under his wing.  We don’t see him as often as we do Kian but every minute he’s with us counts.  He gives us fabulous advice and not only about our music.  He tells us to look after each other and even gives us advice on how to look good.”

 

It’s been two and a half years since the band was formed and are only now being launched.  So why has it taken so long?  “People seem to expect a band to just happen,” said Corrina.  “I don’t think anybody realises the amount of ground work that goes on.  We’re all so passionate about music that we wanted to get it right.  We spent a lot of that time in the recording studio, working really hard on our voices.  We didn’t want any songs on the album to be just there for the sake of it or to fill a space.  We wanted every song to count and to be proud of every single thing we produced.”

 

I wanted to know how the girls rated their experience of being in a girl band so far.  “I know it sounds like a cliché,” said Kasey, “but our experience has been magical.  Every single thing right from the beginning has been fantastic.  The band has changed all of our lives.  It’s really unbelievable to be able to do what you love to do and furthermore, to do it with your best friends.  It’s been truly life changing.”

 

“Yes,” said Leigh, in agreement.  “The experience has been out of this world.  I’m really close to my family in Ireland and miss them like crazy but I’ve bonded so well with the girls that it’s like they’re part of my family now.  We all really appreciate every single thing that’s happening for us.  We don’t take anything for granted and feel really blessed – we’re just five ordinary girls following our dream.  Wonderland is a very happy place to be!”

 

The girls come across as a very tight unit and seem to really look out for each other.  But five girls together twenty-four seven must lead to friction at times.  “I know it sounds unbelievable,” said Leigh, “but we honestly get on so well together.  I love the girls to bits.  We’re all very much in touch with what’s going on and each one of us pulls our weight.  Sharon is really fantastic.  She looks after us all.  She’s a brilliant cook but not only that, she’s like a big sister, making sure we’ve eaten enough vegetables and are looking after ourselves.  I usually deal with the record company and Sharon deals with the accountant.  The others usually take charge of the fan-mail.  We all compliment each other so well.  At the end of a busy day, we’ll often give each other head massages.  Our lives are so hectic at the moment; it’s sometimes those little things that count the most.”

 

Because the girls have been working behind the scenes for so long, they must feel like they’ve been in a bubble.  But are they ready now for the hysteria of having their music in the charts and being recognised wherever they go?  “It does feel as though we’ve been in a bit of a bubble,” said Kasey.  “We weren’t really recognised much over those couple of years but now in the last few months, it’s beginning to hit home.  It’s crazy for us to hear our song being played on the radio.  It gives us such a thrill and makes it feel real.  It’s sort of like launching our little baby onto the world.  But we feel ready for anything now.  We’ve worked so hard and feel so lucky to be given this opportunity.  Bring it on!”

 


Wonderland3.jpgWonderland
is such a fantastic name for a band – it conjures up images of happiness and excitement.  Was it an easy decision to find a name?  “Oh you’re joking,” laughed Sharon.  “We were two years trying to find the perfect name.  We’d thought of names such as Daisy Chains and Wildflowers but nothing seemed right.  Eventually it was Kian who came up with the name.  He was walking down the street when the Tim Burton movie, Alice in Wonderland, had just been released, and a bus passed by with an ad for it on the side.  It just clicked with him straight away and when he put it to us and to the record company, we just all knew it was right.  Now I couldn’t imagine any other name.”

 

In October of last year, a program appeared on our screens called Louis Walsh and Kian Egan’s next big thing.  It was a fly on the wall documentary of the girls’ journey so far.  I wondered what it was like to live with the cameras following them around all the time.  “To be honest, we were all a bit freaked out in the beginning,” said Sharon.  “We weren’t used to having cameras around and it was daunting to know that everything we were doing was being filmed.  We sort of felt we had to put on a bit of a show.  But as time went on and we got busier, we relaxed a bit more and just got used to having them around.”

 

So is there any particular girl band the girls admire?  Who does Wonderland aspire to be like?  “Oh we absolutely love the Dixie Chicks,” said Corrina.  As well as singing, they play a number of instruments.  They’re so talented.  But it’s their voices that we love the most.  They all blend so well together and that’s something we try to do with our music.”

 

The girls, who are signed to Mercury Records, are beyond excited about Wonderland‘s debut single, Not a Love Song, which is due for release soon.  “The 6th March has been confirmed as the release date,” said Kasey.  “But it’s available to pre-order right now here.  We’re so proud of this song.  We co-wrote it with Shep Solomon and Adam Argyle.  We feel so lucky to have been given the opportunity to write songs with so many fantastic writers.”

 

“Our album is due for release later in the year too,” said Leigh.  “We’re hoping it will be in May sometime but there’ll be a second single released before then.  We’ve been recording the album for the last two years so it’s very exciting to know it will soon be available.  We don’t have a definite name for it yet but at the moment we’re thinking of simply calling it Wonderland or perhaps Welcome to Wonderland.”

 

So how would the girls describe their music and what can we expect from the album?  “I suppose you could describe our music as pop,” said Corrina.  “But it’s got a real country and rock vibe going on.  I think our sound is quite mature.  There’s a nice mix on the album with some ballads and up-tempo songs too.”

 

Over the last number of weeks, I’ve noticed the girls tweeting about visiting schools.  “We’ve been doing a tour of schools around the UK,” said Corrina.  “Honestly, it’s one of the best things we’ve ever done.  We’ve had such a brilliant reaction and have been bombarded with positive comments on facebook from the students.  It’s been brilliant fun and we’re very lucky to have had a chance to do it.  We’d love to do the same in Ireland but at the moment we don’t have any definite plans.”

 

As well as the official Wonderland twitter, the girls each operate their own twitter accounts.  Despite their busy schedule, they always seem to find time to respond to tweets and chat to their fans.  “After we toured with Westlife last year,” said Leigh, “we decided to set up twitter accounts as a way to thank fans for all their support.  Our fans are brilliant and we’re really flattered to have so many.  Twitter allows us to chat directly to them and build up a relationship with them.  On Wednesdays we do a question and answer session where we all come online and try to answer as many questions as we can through tweets.  We’d be nothing without our fans so it’s only right that we talk back to them.”

 

I could have chatted to the girls all day… well… em… I think maybe I did!  But as the interview was coming to a close, I wanted to fire a few last questions at them.  I tweeted to their fans, who call themselves The Wonderland Army, asking them what questions they’d like to put to the girls.  So I stuck my quiz show hat on and fired ahead:

 

Do you have a stylist or pick your own clothes?

Jodi:  We have a stylist for music videos and for photo shoots but for the most part, we chose our own close on a day to day basis. 

 

What’s been your favourite place to perform?

Jodi: Croke Park or O2 London

Sharon: Croke Park or Glasgow

Corrina: Croke Park

Kasey: Croke Park or O2 London

Leigh: Croke Park

 

What’s your favourite song to perform?

Jodi: Not a Love Song

Sharon: Nothing Moves Me and Starlight

Corrina: Not a Love Song

Kasey: Not a Love Song and Nothing Moves Me

Leigh: Starlight and Not a Love Song

 

Who would you most like to duet with?

Jodi: Westlife, Adele and Bruno Mars

Sharon: Bruno Mars and Adele

Corrina: Adele

Kasey: Adele and Rihanna

Leigh: Taylor Swift

 

What are your hobbies?

Jodi: Dancing, horse riding

Sharon: Writing songs, going to the gym

Corrina: Walking, hot baths, cinema, hanging out with friends

Kasey: Just starting to play piano, reading, walking

Leigh: Art, reading

 

What’s your favourite comfort food?

Jodi: Chocolate

Sharon: Chinese food, chocolate

Corrina: Bacon Sandwich, Chinese food

Kasey: Pasta

Leigh: Jellies, peanut butter on toast

 

Unfortunately, the interview had come to an end and it was time to say goodbye to the girls.  Wonderland are about to take the world by storm and the girls deserve every bit of success that comes their way. 


16
Jan 11

Sharon Marshall, This Morning and the National Television Awards

Last Thursday saw me don my high heels and lippy and head off to catch an early flight to London. My destination – the London Studios where I’d arranged to interview the fabulous Sharon Marshall.  So after hours of planes, trains and automobiles, a hair disaster and a close call
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with two security guards (long story!) I was more than delighted to be warmly welcomed by the This Morning team. 

 

Sarah Hitching, the lovely PR manager, brought me up to the studio where I met Sharon and was delighted to find she’s just as bubbly and friendly in real life

as she is on telly.  I couldn’t wait to have a chat with her but as

she was just about to go live with her soapbox slot, I left her to get ready.  Following my nose, I found myself watching the very talented Silvena Rowe, as she cooked up a delicious feast of Moroccan-inspired fish tagine.  When she was finished her slot, Silvena came over to say hi and even brought me back to the kitchen for a taste.  Well it may have been one of the most delicious things I’ve ever tasted and I had to resist the urge to stick my fork in again and again! 

 

Having watched This Morning so many times from my living room sofa, it was a thrill to see it from the other side.  It gave me goose-bumps to stand so close to the lovely Holly Willoughby and the silver fox himself, Phillip Schofield.  Relaxed and comfortable in their roles, they present the show with professionalism and flair.  There were many laughs both on and off camera and I could sense the good vibes rippling through the studio.  I was only sorry my visit didn’t stretch to two days when I’d get to see the fabulous Ruth Langsford and Eamonn Holmes in action.   

 

I was very taken with the whole This Morning family and loved the positive energy I felt
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from the moment I set foot in the place.  It’s no wonder they’re nominated for a National Television Award.  They’ve been short-listed for the Topical Magazine category and I’m asking you to please, please vote for them here.  And I can promise there’ll be a big surprise in store for viewers if they win!! But more about that later!

 

After filming was finished and I’d managed to get photos of myself on the sofa… in the kitchen… in the hub… (It would be rude to go all that way and not to!) it was time to put my interview hat on.  Sharon Marshall has been the show’s resident soap expert since September 2003 although she was only meant to be on for one episode!  “I was lucky,” she said.  “I had so much good material to talk about when I came on for that episode that Fern Britton, who then presented the show with Philip, asked me to come back again.  Initially, I juggled the This Morning slot with my other job as a journalist at The News of the World but eventually left the newspaper to work full time here.”

 

Although I already knew the answer, I asked her if she enjoys her job.  “Are you kidding me?” she laughed.  “I’m paid to watch telly!  How cool is that?  But seriously, I feel very lucky to be part of such a fabulous show and to work with amazing people.  We’re like a little family and we all work so hard to give the viewers what they want.  The introduction of the hub last year was a great move because we’re constantly taking viewers’ calls and keeping up to date with what they want.  I think my own soapbox slot goes down well with the public because no matter how bad things are, a little bit of soap gossip cheers us up!”

 


The Hub Presenters.jpg

                           Hub presenters, Coleen Nolan, Matt Johnson & Samanthi

 

I wanted to know about the soaps she loves so much.  Does she have a favourite?  “Honestly, I’m not trying to dodge the question,” she laughed, “but it genuinely changes from week to week.  I love them all for different reasons.  At the moment I’m glued to Emmerdale.  It’s just an amazing storyline and I’m loving it.  Eastenders is compelling and is the only soap that can make me cry.  But without a doubt, my heart lies with Coronation Street.”

 

So is there a particular interview that stands out in her mind – one that she enjoyed more than the others?  “I’ve interviewed so many lovely people,” she said.  “But there were a few very special ones during Corrie‘s 50th anniversary this year.  I think my favourite would have to be the Bill Tarmey one. Bill, who played Jack Duckworth in the soap for thirty-one years, was a joy to interview.  His heart and soul belong to Corrie and he burst into tears at the end of our chat.  It was the only time I’ve ever cried during an interview.  It was all very moving.”

 

Sharon‘s love of soaps as well as her genuine compassion shines through and it’s not surprising the stars are only too willing to be interviewed by her.  But is there anyone she’d like to interview who she hasn’t managed to nab yet?  She didn’t hesitate for a moment.  “Betty Driver who plays barmaid, Betty in Corrie - I’d really love to interview her.  Oh and also Eileen Derbyshire who plays Emily – she’s another one.  They’re both quite publicity shy but I’m not giving up hope.  I’d also love to do an interview with Pat St Clement who plays Pat Evans in Eastenders.  I did have a quick chat with her once when I was reporting from the red carpet but I’d love to get my teeth into a proper interview with her.  I think we’d have great fun.”

 


This Morning 008.JPG

   Sharon and me on the famous This Morning sofa

 

As my meeting with Sharon was set up through our tweets, I asked her what she thinks about Twitter.  “I love it,” she said.  “I can find out who’s in town, who’s misbehaving, who’s drunk and who’s pregnant – all in 140 characters!  Seriously though, it’s a great way for me to make sure I give viewers what they want in my soapbox slot.  My followers tweet me questions about the soaps – they ask me what’s going to happen with certain plots and characters so I know what clips to show.  Besides all that, it’s pretty good fun and a way to keep in touch with people.”

 

Sharon appeared on the 2006 Celebrity Fit Club, a reality TV series that followed a number of overweight celebrities in their quest to lose weight.  Was it something she enjoyed?  “I loved it,” she said.  “I’d even go so far as to say that Fit Club saved my life.  At the time, I smoked, drank and partied way too much.  The show helped me form healthy eating and lifestyle habits I’ll have for the rest of my life.  I haven’t smoked one cigarette since that show.  I’ve also become such good friends with the other contestants, especially lovely Russell Grant, and we still meet up regularly.”

 

For ten years, Sharon worked as both an undercover journalist and a showbiz reporter for the News of the World and the Sun.  I asked her about her time with the newspapers.  “I really enjoyed my time there,” she said.  “But it’s very easy to burn yourself out in such a high pressure environment.  The job is pretty much twenty-four hours.  You’re always on call when a story breaks – everyone wants to be the one to get the scoop.  On the plus side, nothing compares to the high you feel when your story appears on the front page.  It’s amazing – the best buzz ever!”

 

Her time with the tabloids is well documented in her book, Tabloid Girl, released in July of last year.  Her honest account of the darker side of tabloid journalism, complete with break-ins, kidnappings and more – was well received.  “I expected there’d be backlash from fellow journalists,” she said, “but I was pleasantly surprised.  I think a lot of them were glad somebody had written so openly about what happens in that world.  It’s now on the third reprint and it even got to number one on Amazon!  I was pretty delighted about that.”

 

On 21st September last year, Sharon married Bruce Davidson in a fairytale wedding.  She arrived in a horse-drawn carriage and looked stunning in a gorgeous dress by Gwen Russell.  “I love being married,” she said.  “It’s certainly a big change from my single life but it’s a change for the better.” 

 

So apart from the wedding, what were her other highlights of the past year?  “Definitely a highlight for me was when I took part in a Christmas Day special of Family Fortunes,” she said.  “I was on the This Morning team with Ruth Langsford, Alison Hammond, Jason Gardner and Paul Ross and we were up against an Emmerdale team.  It was the best fun ever and we were so excited when we won £30,000 for Alzheimers and Help for Heroes.”

 

Back to This Morning and the nomination for a National Television Award.  What would it mean to Sharon to win this year?  “Oh gosh, it would mean so much to all of us to win,” she said.  “We’re such a great team and we really do everything we can to give the viewers what they want.  It would be the ultimate prize to know that they picked us – it would be an acknowledgement that they love what we do.  And this will be the first year for me to be on the other side of the rope!  I’ve always been reporting on the awards in the past but this year I’ll be there as a nominee.  It’s very exciting.”

 

One of the show’s resident chefs, Gino D’Acampo is offering viewers an extra incentive to vote for This Morning.  Hold on to your hats ladies, because Gino has promised to cook
Thumbnail image for Gino D'Acampo.jpg
naked if they win!  But surely he won’t be completely naked.  Maybe the cameras will just make it look that way and he’ll really be wearing a little something to cover his… em… bits.  “Apparently, it’ll be the full monty,” laughed Sharon.  “Yep, he’s even roped in Jason Gardiner and Matt Johnson to join him.  The three boys are just going to let it all hang out and it will be up to the poor camera men to work around it!  Our bosses are already in a sweat about it.  They’ll have their work cut out making sure it all runs smoothly!”  Well let’s just hope nothing unexpected crops up!

 

Unfortunately, it was time to say goodbye.  Sharon had been such brilliant company; I felt I’d made a true friend, even in that short time.  I was sad too to leave the studios but On behalf of women everywhere, I’ve generously offered to go back to cover the story of the three naked men.  It’s the least I can do…!

 

And if you haven’t done it already, you can vote here for Gino to get naked… er… I mean for This Morning to win a National Television Award! 


10
Jan 11

It’s Jedward – Oh yes it is!


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Photographs by Glen Mc Namara Photography

 

Usually our family car journeys consist of grumbles, bickering and discontent, but not on Thursday evening.  Thursday saw us become the Von Trapp family as we merrily sang our way to Dublin’s Olympia Theatre.  The reason for this gaiety was because we were going to see the much anticipated panto.  But we weren’t going to see just any old panto – oh no we weren’t!  We were going to see Cinderella - the season’s most talked about panto, starring none other than the one and only, Jedward.

 

From the moment the curtain rose, we were treated to a riot of colour – most of which was worn by the fabulous and hilariously funny ugly sisters, Alan Kavanagh and David Doyle.  The script, by the very talented Fiona Looney (@fionalooney) was written as much for adults as for children, with topical jokes and references throughout.  Although it was clear who the audience was waiting for because throughout the opening minutes of the show, we were teased with the first few beats of Under Pressure which caused the crowd to squeal and clap in anticipation.

 


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When the boys eventually arrived, they owned the stage.  When I got over my initial disappointment of them not being cast as the ugly sisters, I realised they were perfectly cast as the Fairy Godmother’s helpers.  They embraced their roles with gusto – bounding around the stage, waving their magic wands and generally buzzing with the Jedward energy we’ve all grown to love.  Much to the delight of the crowd, we were treated to a number of their hit songs during the show, including All the Small Things and Ghost Busters.

 

Being annual panto goers, I’d have to say that this was by far the best one we’ve ever seen.  It had a real contemporary feel to it while still remaining true to what panto is all about.  On top of that, we adults felt we were treating our kids to a Jedward concert, without it actually costing us a small fortune.

 

Although unprepared, I knew I’d have to seize the opportunity and try to grab a few minutes with the twins.  So thanks to Stuart O’Connor of Spotlight Productions and the lovely PR people, I was brought backstage after the show.  Bizarrely, I was introduced to the boys while they balanced on top of a giant Cinderella shoe.  “Hiya,” they shouted in unison, waving frantically as they pulled all sorts of faces for the very patient photographer.  “This is so much fun – you should try it!”   Em… no!  Oh God, I could see they were still buzzing from the show and they put me in mind of my seven year old after he’s had a belly full of sweets.

 


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When they were safely back on the ground, I knew my time was limited with them so I began by confirming which was John and which was Edward.  “You got it right!” said John.  “Hardly anyone knows us apart.  That’s amazing.”  I smiled smugly as I slipped the piece of paper into my pocket that told me John always stands to Edward’s right!

 

Now that I’d impressed them with my powers of perception, I got on to asking them about the panto.  “We love it,” enthused Edward.  “It’s so cool to be part of such a brilliant cast.  I mean, Linda Martin (who plays the Fairy Godmother) – she’s a legend.”

 

“And it’s great that we have a chance to speak too rather than just singing,” adds John.  “The script is so funny – we love being able to make the audience laugh.”

 

I wanted to know what it meant to them to be performing in their home city every night and do they get nervous.  “It’s the best feeling in the world,” said John.  “And we don’t really get nervous at all.  Our fans are so amazing and they just spur us on.  It’s great to be performing in Dublin but it’s not just a Dublin crowd – our fans are coming from all over to see us.”

 

“And to be in the Olympia is amazing,” says Edward.  We often came here as children to watch shows and now people are coming to see us.  It’s crazy.  All 34 shows have been sold out since, like, forever.  And did you know that tickets are already selling for next year’s panto?  It’s called Jedward and the Beanstalk.  It’s going to be so cool because we’ve just enjoyed this so much and now we know we’re going to be doing it again next year and it’s just like… wow!”

 

I felt as though I was trying to catch a runaway train.  Before John took over where Edward left off, I asked them about Twitter.  Considering Jedward (@planetjedward) have over 145,000 followers and so little time, I wondered if somebody else operated it for them.  “Are you serious?” they asked, at the same time, in the same tone!  “Of course we operate our own Twitter,” said John.  “We love it.  It’s such a close contact with fans.  Our fans are the best and they send us so many messages and good vibes.  It’s cool that we can talk directly back to them.”

 

The unstoppable force of Jedmania has seen the twins regularly appear on tv since their X Factor days.  Their ITV2 documentary Jedward Let Loose and advertisements for products such as Rowntrees Randoms and Nintendo DS game Beast Quest IX has ensured they’ve remained firmly in the public eye.  I asked them if they enjoy doing stuff like that or if they’d prefer to stick to performing to their adoring fans.  “We actually enjoy everything,” said Edward, enthusiastically.  “We’ve just done another tv ad for Travelsupermarket.com and we had the best fun doing it.  We filmed it in South Africa – it was such a cool experience.”

 


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So with the panto finishing this weekend, what can we expect to see from Jedward over the coming months.  “Oh my God, we’ve so much planned,” said John.  We have a new album coming out in March so we’re really excited about that.  We have such a cool name for it too.”  As I wrote the album name down, Edward suggested I don’t say what it is because it’s just a name they’ve dreamed up – not an official name!  Eeeek!

 

“We’re also going to be touring Ireland in April and the UK in May,” said Edward.  Our concerts are going to be bigger and better than ever with twenty-six songs every night.”  Gulp! Twenty-six Jedward songs?  That’s a whole heap of bouncing for one night!  Don’t they ever burn themselves out?  “Never,” said John, firmly.  “We’re known for our energy so that’s what we like to give.  Jedward wouldn’t be Jedward without full-on, electric energy.”

 

And speaking of energy, I wondered how Edward’s leg was holding up after last year’s horrible injury.  “It’s good,” he said, pointing to the offending knee.  “I have regular physio so that seems to help a lot.  In fact, I just had a session today so I’m feeling pretty well at the moment.”

 

At this stage, I could see the boys were needed elsewhere and I was going to have to let them go.  But not before I had a feel of the famous hair!  “Go ahead, push it right down,” said John, obligingly.  “It’ll just bounce right back up again.”  And it did!

 

And so our interview had come to an end.  It was pretty bizarre but strangely enjoyable.  John and Edward Grimes are two lovely lads; totally appreciative for all the good things that are happening in their lives and determined to give back as much as they can to their fans.  Their energy and zest for life is infectious and I have to say, I came away with a smile on my face and a spring in my step.

 

As I’d managed to whip John away from his brother for a moment to meet my four children, I was crowned Mammy Magnificent in the car on the way home.  There was much excitement and many comments such as “You’re such a cool Mammy” and “We’re so lucky to have a Mammy like you”.  So I basked in my well deserved glory until my nine year old asked: “So next week, can you interview Justin Bieber?”  Em…!


23
Dec 10

Keith Barry – Mentalist, Magician, Hypnotist

Having interviewed the gorgeous Gino D’Acampo a few weeks ago, I thought I’d never again find anybody with as much charm, likeability and zest for life.  Well I was wrong!  The snow fairies must have been smiling on me last Monday evening as the North Pole weather held off just long enough for me to go and meet world famous illusionist and hypnotist, Keith Barry (@keithpbarry).

 


 
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born Keith has a career that’s grown from strength to strength over the last number of years.  His television show, Close Encounters with Keith Barry,  has been played in 28 countries worldwide.  He’s also done an MTV show called Brainwashed and a CBS show called Keith Barry: Extraordinary.  He’s performed for a wide range of celebrities including Colin Farrell, Samuel L Jackson, Justin Timberlake, Beyonce, Harrison Ford and many more.  Not only does he perform the most amazing sleight of hand tricks and mind control effects, but Keith has also wowed us with some spectacular stunts, such as catching a bullet between his teeth and driving blindfolded through public streets.

 

Despite his celebrity status, Keith is very down to earth and easy to talk to and twenty minutes into our chat I realised I was actually supposed to be interviewing him.  So I got the questions going by asking him about Twitter.  Unlike other celebrities I’ve interviewed, Keith hasn’t yet embraced the Twitterverse with gusto.  “I honestly just haven’t had the time to check it out properly yet,” he told me.  “At the moment, I’m working 24/7 and barely have a chance to catch my breath.  I set up an account earlier this year but haven’t tweeted much.  The thing is, I could get somebody else to tweet for me but what would be the point in that?  When I have a little more time on my hands, I’ll definitely get into it more.”

 

So what’s he up to at the moment that’s keeping him so busy?  “I’m going to be doing a
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final run of my live show, ‘The Asylum‘ around Ireland in January so I’m getting ready for that,” he said.  “I’m also writing a television show called Deception with Keith Barry for The Discovery Channel.  I did a one hour special which aired in the US in July and following on from its success, they’ve asked me to do a twelve part series which I’ll begin filming in February.”

 

Last year was an amazing year for Keith, seeing him receive The Merlin Award, the Oscars of the magic world, for Mentalist of the Year.  I asked him if he knew he was in the running for the award and how he felt when he received it.  “I hadn’t a clue,” he said.  “It’s not like the Oscars where there are nominations and you know you’re in with a chance.  I was doing a live show in The Olympia Theatre in Dublin when my manager, Eamonn Maguire, interrupted the show to announce I’d won the award.  It was presented to me on stage by the president of The International Magician’s Society.  I received a five minute standing ovation and was very overwhelmed by the whole experience.  Previous recipients include David Copperfield, Pen & Teller and Paul Daniels, all people I admire greatly so it felt amazing to join such prestigious company.”  Last year also saw Keith sell out a five week run at Planet Hollywood Resort and Casino in Las Vegas, where he received another award for ‘Best Magician in Las Vegas 2009′.

 

Keith has appeared in over thirty international television shows, shown in over 110 countries around the world.  I asked him what show has been his favourite to guest on.  “I’d have to say The Ellen Show,” he said, without hesitation.  “Although I’ve enjoyed them all, I love Ellen.  She really enjoys magic and has asked me numerous times to guest on the show.  I think I’ve been there five or six times now.”

 

I’ve been to a number of Keith’s live shows so I was wondering which trick he enjoys doing the most.  “I think I probably enjoy the spike trick best,” he said, “because the reaction I get from people is fantastic.  They usually break out into a sweat in anticipation of what’s going to happen next.”  Now at this point, I broke out into a sweat because Keith began to rummage around in his pockets.  If he has the spikes with him, I thought, I’m out of here!  You can watch him perform the spike trick on Samuel L Jackson here, and see why I wouldn’t be too keen to offer up my hands!  But thankfully, there wasn’t a spike in sight as Keith proceeded to wow me with some amazing card and mind tricks.  He got me to think of a time of day, write it down and put it away.  He didn’t see what I wrote nor did he touch the piece of paper after I wrote it.  The time was 18.20.  He gave me his watch and told me to turn the dial around without looking at it.  At the same time I had to look into his eyes and picture the time.  He told me to stop turning the dial whenever I wanted to, which I did and when I turned the watch over, mind-bogglingly, it showed 6.20!  Not only that but Keith had written on my notepad 6.20pm!  Amazing stuff!

 


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Keith has performed stunts and tricks with many celebrities and I wondered which of them stood out in his mind.  “I really enjoyed the stunt I did with Nicole Scherzinger,” he said.  “I took her out in my car and drove her around the hills in Hollywood while I was blindfolded.  Her reaction was brilliant – she screamed the whole way through.”  I also wanted to know about two of his most dangerous stunts – the hangman stunt and the bullet catch.  Does he feel nervous before doing something like that or does the danger not bother him?  “God, of course I feel terrified before each stunt,” he said.  “The one where I caught a bullet between my teeth is called the black trick of magic.  At least twelve people have died performing that trick and I was advised not to do it.  But of course the rebel in me didn’t listen!  The hangman stunt was probably my favourite though.  The tension in the audience was palpable, adding to my own fear that maybe something could go wrong.”

 

We saw a different side to Keith this year when he hosted the Irish version of ‘Deal or no Deal‘ on TV3.  “I really enjoyed doing that,” he said.  “It’s good to do something different and there’s always a good atmosphere in the studio.  I love trying to work out in my head what’s in the boxes and it’s brilliant when somebody actually wins big.”

 

Keith, who’s happily married to Mairead with a beautiful two year old daughter, Breanna, credits his wife with keeping his feet firmly on the ground.  “We’ve been together for around seventeen years,” he said.  “She’s been with me from the start of my journey and has supported me through it all.  She’s long since given up on trying to stop me from doing the dangerous stuff because she knows it will only make me want to do it more.  We’re very happy and there’s nothing I love more than having time to spend with the family.”

 

So being a workaholic, is there any time for relaxation?  Does he have any hobbies?  “Fishing,” he said, enthusiastically.  “There’s nothing better to relax and rest the mind.  There’s great fishing here in Ireland and when I have the opportunity, I love to go out and catch my own dinner!”

 

And with Christmas just around the corner, will he take time off or work all the way through?  “I’ll definitely take Christmas eve and Christmas Day off,” he said.  “But my live show starts on 30th December so I’ll be straight back into it.”  And is there anything in particular he’d like to find under the Christmas tree this year?  “Honestly, there’s nothing I want or need,” he said.  “There’s only one thing I’d wish for at the moment and that’s a little more time off.”

 

Keith had been politely ignoring his phone that had been hopping with calls and messages during our interview so sadly it was time to say our goodbyes.  You can book tickets for his Irish tour of The Asylum here and check out all his various tricks and stunts here.


29
Nov 10

Gino D’Acampo – Fantastico!


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Friday evening saw me shaking in my Italian, diamond studded shoes as I headed into Dublin’s new Convention Centre.  The reason for the nerves was my impending interview with gorgeous, talented celebrity chef, Gino D’Acampo (@Ginofantastico),  who was there for Taste of Christmas, the season’s finest food, drink and shopping event. 

 

As I was lead into the room where the interview would take place, I spotted Gino at a desk in the corner, tapping away on a computer.  As my legs turned to jelly, I realised that to try and escape would be futile!

 

“Buongiorno Bellissima,” he said, jumping up to greet me.  After he planted a kiss on both my cheeks, we sat down on a cream leather sofa and I began to relax.  I watched him make himself comfortable and noted how sexy he looked in his grey jumper and Dolce & Gabbana jeans.  His beautiful blue eyes sparkled as he smiled encouragingly at me.  “Do you have some questions you’d like to ask?” he said, in his gorgeous Italian accent.

 

Oh God… yes… questions!  I wanted to say no – I wanted to say that if it was alright with him, I’d just sit and stare at him for the next while but I had a job to do so I thought I’d better get on with it.  There were a million things I wanted to ask him but since this is a blog about Twitter, I reckoned I should start there. 

 

With almost 100,000 followers, Gino is a very popular man.  I asked him what he loves about Twitter.  “I love that it’s such a direct contact with fans,” he said.  “I love to get feedback about things – my books, my new app - the fans will always tell me what’s good and bad about these things.  I sometimes run ideas past them too.  I might have an idea for a new recipe or something I want to include in a book and I’ll ask them their opinions.”

 

I’ve seen how Twitter almost explodes when Gino tweets something, prompting thousands of questions and comments from fans (mainly women!) anxious to make contact with him.  I asked him if he manages his own Twitter account and how it’s possible to keep up with all the tweets.  “Of course I manage my own account,” he said.  “It’s my direct contact with people so it wouldn’t make sense for anyone else to do it.  It’s difficult to answer everyone but I try to get to as many as I can – sometimes with just a hello or a few kisses.”

 

Gino makes no secret of his love of Dublin, tweeting often about it.  He sent a tweet last Friday that read:

 

And this is why I Love Dublin, cheers to you all my TweetFriends, you are the best xxxxxx  http://yfrog.com/74tqqqj 

 

So obviously the Guinness is high on his list, but what else is it about Dublin that draws him to the city?  “It’s the people,” he said.  “The people of Dublin are fantastico!  They’re warm and genuine and great fun.  In fact, they’re very like Italian people.”

 

Gino, who lives in north London with his wife, Jessica and his sons, Rocco and Luciano, inherited his love of cooking from his Grandfather.  “He was a head chef,” Gino told me, “and taught me many things – about life as well as cooking.  He told me that I should always push myself to be the best I can be.  He was a really great influence in my life.”

 

When I asked Gino about Christmas dinner at his house, he told me that they very rarely cook turkey.  “It’s all about fish,” he said.  “We usually have shellfish and a favourite for the main course would be sea bass with roasted vegetables.”

 

Having skipped lunch because of the swarm of butterflies in my stomach, my mouth was watering at the thought of his delicious cooking.  I asked him what he’d cook for me if I was a guest at his house for dinner.  He looked at me with a cheeky grin and I knew I wasn’t going to get a straight answer!  “For you, bellissima,” he said, “eggs on toast and then…!”  Ladies I’ll leave that one to your imagination!

 

When I managed to compose myself, we chatted about his new book, Gino’s Pasta.  I asked him why write a book completely about pasta?  “Everywhere I go, people ask me about pasta,” he says.  “It’s so versatile and lends itself to quick and tasty dinners, which is fantastic for people with busy lives.  I wanted to show everyone how delicious and yet simple it can be.”

 

In 2009 Gino was crowned king of the jungle in I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here!  It was no surprise he took the crown as his boyish charm and cheeky smile endeared him to the nation and his endless enthusiasm and upbeat personality won over the hearts of his fellow campers. With the current series well underway, I asked him if he was watching.  “To be honest, I’m so busy at the moment, I don’t get to see it all the time,” he said.  “I watched the first few episodes and I’ve just been catching up whenever I can.”

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But does he miss being there?  Is he pining for the rice and beans? Does he wish he could once again endure a bush tucker trial?  Does he long to tuck into widgety grubs and kangaroo testicles?  He winced at that.  “I absolutely don’t miss being there,” he said, honestly.  “It was one of the best experiences of my life.  I loved every last minute of it and made some great friends.  But it’s something you only want to do once in your life.  I don’t regret any of it but have no inclination to repeat the experience!”

 

And what about Gillian McKeith, I wanted to know.   What does he think of her and how she’s been acting in camp?  He didn’t hesitate.  “She shouldn’t be there,” he said.  “If she’s so phobic about everything and feeling sick and weak, she should really just leave.  It’s as simple as that.”

 

As the current king, he must have a favourite – somebody he’d love to hand his crown over to.  “Well I’m not actually travelling over to hand back my crown,” he said.  “I’m just so busy at the moment, I don’t have the time.  But my front-runners would be Alison Hammond and Stacey Solomon.  They’re both fantastic and would be worthy winners.” 

 

Before I went to meet Gino, I sent out a tweet to ask his fans that if they had the opportunity to ask him one question, what it would be.  Well, suffice it to say that a lot were unrepeatable!  But I took a few of the most popular ones and, as they do on all the best game-shows, we had a quick-fire round!

 

If you could be anything other than a chef, what would you be?

A dentist.

 

What’s your secret to having women fall at your feet?

Confidence – having the confidence to look a woman in the eye.

 

What was the first thing you cooked for your wife?

Chicken in Marsala wine.

 

What are the basic store cupboard items you should always have?

Extra virgin olive oil, tins of tomatoes, pasta, eggs and milk.

 

Is there anyone you’d like to meet that you haven’t met already?

Paul McCartney.

 

Are you always as happy and upbeat as you appear to be?

Yes.  Life is too short not to be.

 

Unfortunately, my time with Gino had come to an end but I wasn’t letting him go without a proper Irish hug.  I did it for all you ladies out there!  Honestly, the things I have to do for this job…!

 

Catch Gino most mornings on his regular slot on ITV’s This Morning and Sunday’s at 3pm on LBC radio with his show ‘Live from Gino’s Kitchen’.

 


16
Nov 10

Ruth and Eamonn – Twitter gems

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Following my recent interview with the poor, downtrodden but absolutely fabulous Mrs Fry, I thought it was time to bring back a bit of warm fuzziness.  We all love to read something that warms the cockles of our hearts and a love story is just the thing – especially one we can follow on Twitter.

 

Together for the last 13 years and very much in love, Eamonn Holmes (@EamonnHolmes) and Ruth Langsford (@RuthieeL) are one of my favourite celebrity couples.  They finally tied the knot in June in a romantic country wedding in Hampshire, featured exclusively in HELLO!.  Having kept tight-lipped about the wedding, Eamonn posted on his Twitter page on 27th June:

 

Hello.  Sorry if me and @RuthieeL have been a bit quiet these past few days… but have been a bit preoccupied – we got married yesterday!

 

He immediately followed up by commenting:

 

Although it was a truly stunningly beautiful day – even the sun was eclipsed by my beautiful bride, who I love even more than before.

 

Well needless to say, Twitter almost exploded with this piece of news and to have it straight from Eamonn, rather than reading something written by a third party, was a treat.

 

Ruth and Eamonn are perfect examples of celebrities using Twitter brilliantly.  They are engaging, interesting and most important of all; they reward their followers with personal tweets on a regular basis.

 

Television presenter, Ruth, who presents This Morning every Friday on ITV with her husband, has almost 40,000 Twitter followers.  She doesn’t tweet quite as often as Eamonn, but when she does, we see her first as a mother and wife, rather than a celebrity.  She’s completely down to earth, tweeting recently that she was going to be celebrity spotting at the Pride of Britain Awards!  As a mother myself, I love to see her tweets about doing the normal, every day things that we mothers do, such as in a recent tweet:

 

Morning. Tough getting up for school run this morning . . .sports kit, reading book, fruit snack….respect to all of you with more than one!

 

She also loves a bit of banter and the night before presenting BBC Radio London breakfast show in September, she tweeted:

 

For the first time since Jack was a baby I’ll be up before @EamonnHolmes! Any tips for making sure I sleep? x

 

After being flooded with answers she then tweeted:

 

Thanks for all your tips. So, that’s a hot bath, a lettuce sandwich, cup of horlicks, lavender oil on the pillow and a good book! x

  

Ruth was kind enough to chat with me recently about what she loves so much about Twitter.  She told me:

 

“Twitter is addictive. I sit down to post a couple of messages and an hour later I’m chatting to people about whether we prefer hobnobs or chocolate digestives!”

 

I also asked her if the tweets she receives are mainly nice ones or is there a lot of negativity? 

 

“People are generally very nice,” she said, “but it’s also a great platform for a heated debate. There is a real sense of community, something which is lacking in so many of our lives, and whatever you need help with you’ll always find someone on Twitter who knows or knows a man who does!”

 

Eamonn too, with almost 80,000 followers, is a Twitter gem.  I had the great pleasure of having a lovely chat with him a few days ago and found him to be both charming and funny.  Before our chat, I may have told him that I’m… em… quite shy and was nervous about speaking to him.  I then proceeded to chew his ear off for a whole hour (not literally of course) about everything and anything.  Maybe it was his melodic Northern Irish accent that drew me in or maybe his years of interviewing just put me at ease, but make no mistake, this lovely man is as wonderful an interviewee as interviewer.

 

Eamonn has a great, natural sense of humour and we can see that in his tweets.  The other day he tweeted:

 

Sitting in park. How come dogs have a never ending supply of urine on tap at will to mark territory? They must be attached to the mains!

 

And only yesterday, during tweets about ‘I’m A Celebrity’, he joked:

 

@RuthieeL and myself lined up for jungle next week to stoke things up – am def going.  Then I’ll run and leave her there! Haha!!!

 

As fans, it’s obvious why we love to follow celebrities and see them tweet about even the mundane things, but what does a successful celebrity find so attractive about Twitter?  I asked Eamonn and he told me:

 

“I love that Twitter is a two way process and that it’s all conducted in real time. I get to chat to my followers and also get their feedback straight away.”

 

I’ve also noticed that Eamonn loves to get a good debate going on Twitter – whether it’s about a football match or something more serious (yes, there are things more serious than football!).  I asked him if any particular debate springs to mind as one that gets the most reaction, and he has no hesitation:

 

“Homework is the one subject that’s sure to get the Twitterati fired up,” he says.  “I’m very anti-homework and believe children should finish their work while in school.  I think homework just eats into family life and takes up precious time we should be spending with our children.  I often tweet about this, especially on a Sunday night when Jack is finishing his weekend homework.  The tweets I get from people who support my views, even teachers, are overwhelming.”

 

When I see Ruth and Eamonn tweeting to each other, I have a picture of them sitting side by side on the sofa, laptops on knees, tweeting away to their heart’s content.  I asked Eamonn about this and he laughed:

 

“Ours is a three story house,” he explained.  “Ruth’s office is on the ground floor and mine right up the top of the house.  With my knees and back, I can’t be doing with walking all the way down the stairs, so if I want to ask her something, it seems easier to tweet!”

 

Eamonn told me that what he loves most about Twitter is the fact that there’s no middle person.  “There’s nobody to twist our words for a more sensational story,” he said.  “Everything our followers read comes directly from us.  Ruth and I get to show the public the real us.”

 

And we love them for it!

 


25
Oct 10

Mrs Stephen Fry – a lady like no other!

Sometimes Twitter exposes a rare gem; a person we wouldn’t have met under any other circumstances.  This is certainly the case for Mrs Stephen Fry.  Mrs Fry (or Edna as she’s known to her friends) has been entertaining us for some time now with hilarious tweets about her life as down-trodden wife of Stephen Fry.

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Having five, six or even seven children (she never seems to be too sure how many), Mrs Fry always has plenty to tweet about.  She recently told us:

“I’d better make some sandwiches – the kids will be home soon.  I don’t like facing them on an empty stomach.”

On 15th October, Twitter was home to a huge event, when  Mrs Fry hosted a virtual launch for her new book, Mrs Fry’s Diary.  The hilarious book takes us through a year in the life of an unwitting celebrity wife; exposing the truth about Stephen’s secret double life.

I chatted to Mrs Fry during the week and found her to be charming, obliging and only a little bit frazzled.  Despite her busyness, trying to juggle her newfound author status with the demands of her large family, she agreed to answer a few questions for me.

 

Darling Mrs Fry, how lovely of you to take time out of your busy schedule to talk to us here at hellomagazine.com!  And may I call you Edna?

Of course you may, dear.  It makes a change from what Stephen generally calls me – the old ball and chain.  Or after a night in the Red Lion; toots!

Edna, for those who didn’t realise that the lovely Stephen Fry had a wife, can you explain how you two met?

I’d like to say it was unforgettable, dear, but sadly Stephen doesn’t remember any of it.  He hasn’t got the best memory in the world but twelve pints of Stella and half a bottle of Tia Maria probably didn’t help.  On the other hand, I thought it was the most wonderful night of my life – although the other half a bottle of Tia Maria might explain that.  

You often refer to your ‘two’ adorable children – so where do the others fit in?  I believe you have six now?  Or is it seven?

I may have been exaggerating a little when I said two, dear.  Perhaps one is adorable – or at least it is until it learns to speak.  I’m reasonably sure we have seven altogether and they don’t fit into our small end-of-terrace at all well, to be truthful.  If it wasn’t for Social Services taking a few off our hands on a rota basis, we’d probably have to convert Stephen’s shed.  And the bins.

Gosh, and even with all that going on, you still manage to look fabulous all the time.  How do you manage it?

It’s the tea, dear.  And the hats.  And, of course, Stephen regularly gives me a healthy glow!

And as well as being a pretty face, I understand you’re a bit of a goddess in the kitchen.  I know you and Stephen love a bit of spam, but where does the inspiration for all your lovely recipes come from?

You can’t spend as much time bent over the kitchen table as I do without picking up a thing or two, dear.  It’s a sort of gift.  That’s one of the reasons why I finally agreed to publication of my diary – so I can share my delicious recipes with the world.  I like to think that, before long, my Spam Rumpy Pumpy will be sitting proudly on millions of plates across the globe.

I don’t want to upset you, Edna, but do you think Stephen really appreciates you?   I really feel your pain when you tweet that he hasn’t arrived home for tea but has instead gone for one of his… em… meetings with another glamorous woman.

Of course he doesn’t appreciate me, dear – he’s a man.  Besides, he’s too busy with her at number thirty-eight.  Not that I’d call her glamorous, exactly - more brazen.  With a touch of bovril.

Speaking of Twitter, you’ve become a bit of a Twitter sensation, gaining over 70,000 followers.  Why do you think you’re so popular?

I have no idea, dear.  After all, I’m just a normal, run-of-the-mill, extraordinarily beautiful and talented housewife.

And what do you love most about Twitter?

The opportunity to share my wisdom with those less fortunate, which is pretty much everyone on there as far as I can tell.  And the chance to put people to right about my Stephen – honestly, the things he writes on there.  What an imagination!

And what does your Stephen think about you being on Twitter?  Does he mind that you’re so vocal about his whereabouts and his bad habits?

Stephen’s far too busy with his kebabs and karaoke to give a thought to what I’m doing, dear.  Besides, he has enough trouble reading the cooking instructions on his Pop Tarts.

Now Edna, I’ve read your book, Mrs Fry’s Diary, and it’s absolutely hilarious but very revealing.  Why did you feel the need to publish something so private? 

I didn’t, dear.  It must have fallen out of my handbag on the bus and before I knew it, someone was offering to publish it – I can’t imagine why.  After all, it’s just your average recipe-packed, poetry-filled, high-octane, emotional rollercoaster of a diary. 

And I see your Stephen has written the foreword to the book.  So can I assume he’s… ahem… right behind you with it?

I allowed Stephen to write the foreword because I feel it’s important to encourage him - plus it stops him writing on the dining room wall!

 

Mrs Fry’s Diary is published by Hodder and Stoughton, priced £9.99; you can follow her on Twitter here.


03
Oct 10

Twitter tweethearts

We live in a world of shocking celebrity revelations, many of which we hear about first through a tweet.  Whether it’s a split or an affair, an arrest or a confession, it seems there’s always something to shock or sadden us.

So being a ‘glass half full’ sort of girl, I’m not going to tell you about any of those things – well not yet anyway! In keeping with today’s rare appearance of sun in Dublin, I’d like to talk about two of my favourite rays of sunshine on Twitter – TV presenters, the beautiful Angellica Bell (@angellicabell) and her equally gorgeous fiancé, Michael Underwood (@mikeyunderwood).

 

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                                Photo by Ray Burmiston 

 

In my opinion, Angellica and Michael epitomise all that’s good about celebrities on Twitter.  Friends for eleven years, we finally saw them step out (do people still say that?) as a couple two and a half years ago.  In fact only the other day, Angellica, who has more than 10,000 followers, delighted us with a tweet that said:

 

“Had a break from filming n @mikeyunderwood came up to northampton to see me! We have just ordered our wedding bands! *she gulps* #commitment”. 

 

And almost immediately, fans were treated to Michael’s response to that which was:

 

“And it seems that diamonds really are a girl’s best friend!”

 

Another spate of tweets that endeared the couple to us happened on a recent Saturday morning.  It seems their… em… sleep was disturbed by builders letting themselves in to the house. Angellica tweeted:

 

“Hw can builders let themselves in unannounced?! Thought they were burglars! Was polite bt firm – nt their fault. The boss will get it! Ha!”

 

And minutes later from Michael:

 

“I love @angellicabell! These builders are wishing they had taken the weekend off. You go girl.”

 

Okay, so the builders arriving is hardly ‘News at Ten’ stuff, but it’s that sort of banter that makes us smile and proves to us that even celebrities wash behind their ears.

 

I chatted to Angellica the other day and asked her what it is about Twitter that she loves.  She said she was sceptical at first, unsure about how much of her personal life to reveal but soon learned that just being herself was the best way to go.  She told me:

 

Being on Twitter and having Michael on there is funny! I know what he’s up to and we’ve even had twitter bickering matches and our followers get involved too!  At the end of the day I may work on television but I have a very normal life and do the same things as everyone. On twitter everyone is on the same level.”

 

Michael too was sceptical but soon came to realise how powerful and addictive Twitter can be.  He told me:

 

What I really like about it is that I can share those random thoughts or funny moments I have in everyday life; whether on a train or holidaying in Australia.  It allows me to keep up with what industry friends and colleagues are doing.  Angellica and I have a great time on it as well, although we occasionally end up winding each other up or bickering in front of thousands of our Twitter friends.”

 

Michael writes a movie blog and he says twitter is a great way to promote it.  With over 18,000 followers, a single tweet from him about a new post and thousands flock to have a look.

 

Angellica and Michael haven’t set a date for their wedding yet but no doubt we’ll hear it on Twitter.  I wonder will Angellica have a secret pocket made in her wedding dress for her blackberry so we can have live tweets. Let’s hope so! 

 


14
Sep 10

As easy as one… two… tweet

Hello and welcome to my new blog. I hope you’ll take this journey with me over the coming months and perhaps share your own thoughts and views.

Firstly, are you on Twitter? If not, why not? It couldn’t be simpler to join. If you log on to www.twitter.com and follow the instructions, you’ll be part of the Twitter family in seconds.

Let’s face it; we’re all interested in and intrigued by celebrities. We love to get a glimpse into the lives of the rich and famous.  We revel in hearing about who’s dating who, who’s having a baby or simply what shoes will be worn by certain stars to an award ceremony.

In the past, most celebrity announcements would be made through a press release or a publicist. These days, we often get to hear the news first on Twitter.  As Twitter is a real-time, instant messaging service consisting of only 140 characters, it doesn’t lend itself to detail. However, sometimes just a few words from a celebrity can set the gossip train in motion.

For instance, Stephen Fry (@stephenfry) once tweeted while on a plane and later arrived at his destination to a gathering of paparazzi.  Well with over a million and a half followers, the word was bound to get around!

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Stephen Fry took blogging to new heights when he ‘tweeted” from a stuck lift

Dannii Minogue (@DanniiMinogue) is also a regular tweeter and treated her fans to a picture on Twitter of her beautiful four day old son with the caption; “Hey everyone thanks for all your wishes, we are loving baby Ethan and Kris is the best dad in the world. X” As you can imagine, that story took legs and was all around the Twitterverse in a matter of minutes.

Another thing you should know about celebrities on Twitter, is that there are lots of fakes out there.  The one way of truly knowing if a celebrity is for real is if they have a blue tick beside their name and the words ‘verified account’.  However, some celebrities don’t get their accounts verified but there are other ways to check, ie. if their official website links to their Twitter account or often celebrity friends will confirm their authenticity.

Now it’s obvious why we mere mortals love to follow celebrities on Twitter, but I’ve been catching up with some celebrities to find out what Twitter does for them.  I’ll be sharing their thoughts with you in the coming weeks.

In the meantime, get tweeting and please come and follow me at @mduffywriter and of course @hellomag for all the latest celebrity news.

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