How Ivan Little nearly fell (literally) for Kelly Brook
After recovering from the shock of our reporter hurtling towards her, the model revealed her favourite Belfast nightspots and why she doesn't mind the paparazzi.
Only for my little-known balletic nimbleness of foot I could have lived out the fantasy of millions of hot-blooded males as I almost ended up on top of the beautiful actress and model Kelly Brook as she relaxed on a cream-coloured leather sofa in a VIP room in Belfast.
My excuse — and I’m sticking to it your honour — is that I couldn’t help throwing myself at the curvaceous 33-year-old sometime TV presenter who was recently voted the ‘hottest woman in the UK’ by readers of the Sun but who also admitted to me that she often wears a onesie.
However, at the weekend with eyes only for Kelly what I didn’t see was the kink in the rug in front of the sofa and I went hurtling towards her but with gentlemanly athleticism and — luckily for her — I twisted and turned out of the tailspin, somehow staying on my feet. And staying out of her lap.
Feebly, embarrassingly the wimpish words “I nearly fell for you there” came out of my mouth and Kelly laughed. Out of politeness, presumably.
But even so it was a better than anticipated ice-breaker to an interview which only went ahead after Kelly’s backroom team had elicited undertakings that a number of subjects would not feature in the questions — like her love interests and past and present relationships.
Which seemed a mite strange because the red-tops have been full of stories about a recent Twitter ‘feud’ between Kelly and Katie Price over rugby star Danny Cipriani who’s going out with the former and used to date the latter.
With the claws out, words like heifer and desperate have been bandied back and forward with thinly disguised venom and the tabloids have lapped up the catty dogfight. But from the outset of our chat, it was clear that as far as Kelly’s private life was concerned, a babbling Brook she most definitely was not.
No such restrictions were imposed on any talk about the reasons Kelly was in Belfast at the weekend.
She was here to celebrate the fifth birthday of the Victoria Square shopping centre and she knew it.
And as she gave fashion tips to hundreds of shoppers and in all her interviews, the consummate PR professional never missed an opportunity to plug the shopping centre, its restaurants and its cinema.
Kelly, who now designs swimwear, lingerie, shoes and bags for New Look, said she loved the mix of high street and high-end fashion in Victoria Square, which has had 50 million visitors since it opened.
Kelly reminded me she was one of those millions when she shot Keith Lemon: The Film which was made in Belfast and released last year to critical disdain from critics, many of whom said it was the worst movie they’d ever seen. Film buff Mark Kermode even went so far as to say it was ‘revolting’.
But Kelly dismissed the barbs and revealed that a follow-up movie has been commissioned though she doesn’t know where it will be filmed but added: “Hopefully it will be shot in Belfast. I would love to come back. We all had a great time here, going to super places like Muriel’s, the Spaniard and the Merchant Hotel, though we didn’t stay there because the budget wasn’t big enough.
“But the banter here is brilliant and the people are lovely. And they love a good drink. Just like me,” said Kelly.
The new movie will be filmed towards the end of 2013 or early next year and Kelly said the fact that there’s going to be a sequel proves that the critics’ opinions don’t always count for a lot.
“There’s a big difference between reviews and a film being a success. The Keith Lemon movie made a lot of money at the cinemas and on DVD. You are always going to get a lot of snobbery about that kind of film but fans of Keith Lemon were always going to love the movie.
“But it’s like Marmite. It’s not for everyone. We reached number five at the box office and we were up against massive Hollywood blockbusters which cost $500m compared to a tiny independent production made in Belfast.
“I think initially people were upset about the reviews but once the figures came in, it didn’t really matter.”
Working with Keith Lemon, the madcap alter ego of comedian Leigh Francis is entertaining said Kelly who has also featured in his wacky TV show Celebrity Juice and his spoof reality programme Lemon La Vida Loca which airs this week.
She said: “He’s crazy and he’s the same off-screen as he is on it. There’s no off switch with him. He’s always making fun of people and cracking jokes. And once he’s dressed as Keith, he stays in character all the time. I just love him.”
Kelly’s only previous visit to Belfast before the movie was to record a BBC interview with Dundrum-born comedian Patrick Kielty whom she described as a friend, even though he wasn’t particularly complimentary about her in interviews in the past.
The two of them used to host a TV programme called Celebrity Love Island together but he said: “Let’s just say Kelly and I were not soul mates.”
And questioned about her looks Kielty replied: “She wasn’t my type at all”.
But even so Kelly hasn’t been burdened with a lack of confidence about herself. With so many strings to her bow and her beauty, she said she's happy for people to describe her as an entertainer rather than trying to pigeonhole her.
“I’m lucky. I love everything that I do,” she said “I went to stage school from the age of 11 to 16 and then when I left I did some backing dancing, modelling and cable TV stuff.” And all the rest.
She was prominent, so to speak, as a Page 3 girl and she was in huge demand to advertise everything from Renault cars to lingerie produced by a company who specialised in making bigger bras for, er, bigger women.
But Kelly who rarely hides her assets as she wears eye-catching and head-turning and paparazzi pleasing outfits to celebrity bashes and premieres said: “I really landed on my feet when I got the chance to present the Big Breakfast on television.”
It was a short-lived job but after turning to acting on stage and in films Kelly was famously to find even more fleeting fame as the Britain’s Got Talent judge who was axed by Simon Cowell and his associates after just a week on the panel.
“I still don’t know why it happened. No-one has ever told me,” said Kelly who’s made it clear she’s not exactly a bosom-buddy as one might call it with Cowell.
Kelly’s involvement with another reality show, Strictly Come Dancing, ended in even more tragic circumstances as she withdrew from the competition after her father Kenneth Parsons died from cancer.
Looking to the future, Kelly said she has signed up for another film in July. “It’s an independent British film again and the location is London,” was all she would say about it.
And as the taboo topic of her affairs of the heart was also out of bounds, it only took a search of the archives to find out that her former boyfriends have included actors Jason Statham and Billy Zane as well as retired rugby player Thom Evans before the current romance with Danny Cipriani with whom she holidayed recently in the Caribbean.
Out in Victoria Square as Kelly made her special onstage appearances, I overheard a group of women saying that she looked better in pictures than she did in real life. And on an internet forum which had uploaded photographs of her in Belfast large numbers of women laid into her too, targeting her make-up, her hair, her lipstick and even her armpits.
The temptation to direct them to Specsavers was overwhelming. And there’s rarely a word of complaint about Kelly from the males of the species.
Up close and personal, it wasn’t hard to see why so many males are drawn to Kelly’s outstanding charms. And I asked her if she always looked this good. “Yes,” she laughed. Still, she quickly added that she does have her off days on her days off.
But Kelly also said there was always someone with a long lens waiting to take her picture. She said the full-on attention could be annoying but she accepted that it came with the job, especially for a woman who in public at least doesn’t often dress the part of a shy and retiring recluse.
“When you are on big mainstream TV shows, you expect people to be interested in you. I quite enjoy it when people come up to me to say hello. And the paparazzi also go with the territory. I just embrace it and get on with it. I keep my head held high and try to keep my dignity and try to get through.
“I live in central London and that’s a bit of a pain because it is quite easy for photographers just to park up outside my house. But I try to live my life and not to let it affect me too much.”
The thought occurred to me that most of the men who have been romantically linked to Kelly have been actors and sportsmen who were also used to living in the constant glare of publicity, too.
And I wondered if that had been a factor in her choice of partners but that was another question which stayed unasked as the curtain fell on my Kelly show.
And so with a shake of her perfectly manicured hand I left Kelly to straighten out that rug at her feet in preparation for the next interviewer who might otherwise fall at her feet.
Her onesie love
Though Kelly's PR team has issued strict instructions about what subjects were off-limits, the model did make one rather startling confession -- she loves wearing a onesie!
"I'm working today so I have full hair and make-up," said Kelly. "And I love the whole process of getting dressed up for an event. But at home and on holiday there are times when I wear my pink onesie and don't put on any make-up and I also have scraggly hair."
Her pardon was automatically begged. Surely this glamour goddess, as the lads' magazines call her, wouldn't be seen dead in one of those hideous jumpsuits which could scarcely be farther removed in the fashion stakes from the stylish figure-hugging and cleavage-enhancing Reiss dress that Kelly was wearing so well at Victoria Square?
"Yes I do have a onesie" she said. But as yet it hasn't been seen in public, though the paparazzi would give their eye teeth for a one-off of the onesie.