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'I don't feel I need to prove myself'

Amanda Holden's done it all... and now she's releasing her debut album

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Star power: Amanda Holden (second right) with Britain’s Got Talent TV judges David Walliams, Simon Cowell and Alesha Dixon

Star power: Amanda Holden (second right) with Britain’s Got Talent TV judges David Walliams, Simon Cowell and Alesha Dixon

Press Association Images

Star power: Amanda Holden (second right) with Britain’s Got Talent TV judges David Walliams, Simon Cowell and Alesha Dixon

In our youth-obsessed world, an artist on the cusp of turning 50 does not normally spark a bidding war for their debut album.

Not so for Amanda Holden, whose first foray into recording did just that. After 30-odd years in showbusiness, over a decade as a judge on Britain's Got Talent and a year co-hosting the Heart Breakfast radio show with Jamie Theakston, Holden was looking for more.

"I don't feel like I need to prove myself," she explains down the phone from her family home.

"But I always think it is a good idea to constantly put myself out there because I am a judge on Britain's Got Talent.

"I have always said that I couldn't possibly judge people unless I am willing to be judged myself and I stand by that."

Songs From My Heart features 13 tracks, mostly from the world of musicals. Classics abound: Over The Rainbow from The Wizard Of Oz, Don't Cry For Me Argentina from Evita, I Dreamed A Dream from Les Miserables.

The idea emerged, by chance, out of her wedding anniversary with record producer husband Chris Hughes.

The pair married in 2008, some five years after her divorce from comedian Les Dennis, and share two daughters - Lexi (14) and Hollie (8).

To celebrate the milestone, Holden decided to record a version of Tightrope from The Greatest Showman.

"It was our wedding anniversary and me and my two children, who were then 12 and six, came and recorded it in a studio with me as a bit of fun really.

"We then showed it to him as a surprise and he was very overwhelmed by it and suggested we put it on social media, which is unlike him because he is an incredibly private person compared to me," she laughs.

"And then there was like a bidding war for it, which was not what we were expecting. I was 47 or 48 at the time so you don't normally start a recording career at that age. It's fantastic."

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The cover of Songs From My Heart

The cover of Songs From My Heart

Press Association Images

The cover of Songs From My Heart

 

Every song on the album is about family, she explains.

It's fitting, then, that our call is interrupted by the barking of her dog ("Rudie!"), her doorbell ringing and other pleasingly domestic sounds.

Holden has not written any songs for the album, but she says many of her choices hold special meaning to her.

"The whole album is a celebration, but when I listen to them back-to-back it is a very emotional, very poignant album," she observes.

A Thousand Years by US singer-songwriter Christina Perri, which appeared in one of the Twilight films, reminds her of her relationship with daughter Lexi.

"The lyrics in that I relate very much to my daughter who, when she was placed into my arms when I had just had her, I felt like I knew her already and that I had been waiting around for her.

"We watched the Twilight series and when that song came on I knew that I was forever going to think of Lexi when I hear this song.

"You wait for your children to arrive, and then there they are. It's like I had already known her."

But there are also lows, as on With You from the musical Ghost.

In 2011, at seven months pregnant with her son Theo, a scan revealed his heart had stopped.

Holden underwent a caesarean at West Middlesex University Hospital, where she had trained as a midwife for an ITV documentary called Out Of My Depth in 2009. Her experience prompted her to set up Theo's Hope, a fund providing bereavement counsellors in maternity units around the UK.

"It's about grief and loss," she offers.

"It's very much about losing our son Theo and how we felt during that time.

"That was a very poignant song and very hard for me to get through without weeping."

Holden is currently standing in for Simon Cowell as head judge on the ITV show, after the music mogul broke parts of his back in an electric bike accident at his home in Malibu.

While she is enjoying holding the casting vote on the panel (with Diversity head honcho Ashley Banjo filling the empty space), Holden admits she longs for Cowell's return.

"Oh my God, I miss him so much," she opines.

"Ashley is doing the most phenomenal job and is so bright and witty and clever and just brilliant.

"(Simon) is so naughty. That's what I miss. I miss having my pigtails pulled and being poked because that's what he does. He just winds us up and I just miss him for that.

"I just badly want him to get back and be well again. But there couldn't be a better choice than Ashley sitting in that seat. It's amazing."

Amanda Holden's debut album Songs From My Heart is out now via Universal Records

Belfast Telegraph