Belfast Telegraph

Home Life Weekend

Steph and Dom Parker

'I might have died if I'd been left for another 20 minutes,' Gogglebox star Steph Parker on her brush with death 

Steph Parker can't really recall being "minutes from death" after developing double pneumonia. "I had started going a bit mad because I had no oxygen in my system. I didn't realise how seriously ill I was because when you are that sick, you don't know what's going on at all," says Parker (52), who found fame with her husband Dom as Gogglebox's hugely entertaining, witty and boozy armchair critics.

Archie Panjabi

Fall star Archie Panjabi on her love for Northern Ireland, sharing a kiss with Gillian Anderson and a near catastrophe on the north coast 

It's a sign of the times that an Asian telly writer is interviewing an Asian telly actor, in a context that doesn't need either of us to be Asian, nor a woman. It's particularly marked as both grew up in a time where seeing someone like us on television would cause us to race down from our rooms to stare at this hallowed representative on TV (I, for one, practically had a heart attack seeing a whole family of us on the UK's Family Fortunes).

Vicky McClure loved the challenge of working on I Am Nicola

Vicky McClure: This can be a 9-5 job... but it's the best 9-5 job I know of! 

You are in for an emotional ride watching the I Am series. The exciting Channel 4 project consists of three one-off dramas, with each one co-created by the stellar actors leading them. They each explore a different thought-provoking theme. The first one to air, I Am Nicola, starring 36-year-old Vicky McClure as the title character, is a deeply moving story of a couple who find themselves stuck in a tumultuous and dysfunctional relationship.

John F Kennedy Jnr and his wife Carolyn Bessette in 1999

JFK Junior and Carolyn Bessette Kennedy: at the eye of the storm 

Long before he met Carolyn Bessette, John Fitzgerald Kennedy Junior was the beloved scion of the closest thing America had to royalty. The prince of Camelot, John-John - as he was named by the press - had won the nation's heart as a young child, pictured tucked under his father's Oval Office desk, which he referred to as his house, peering out from the panel he called 'the secret door', as his father sat above him reviewing his papers.

Leigh-Anne Pinnock, Perrie Edwards, Jesy Nelson and Jade Thirlwall

Little Mix on overnight fame, sexism, cracking America... and bringing their mums to work 

The past six months have been quite the ride for Little Mix, the British band that has reached 50 million global sales and, in maintaining their original line-up since 2011, outlasted their girl group forebears All Saints, Spice Girls, Atomic Kitten and Sugababes. Since November last year, when they released their fifth album, the succinctly titled LM5, the one-time X Factor winners have taken on the big beasts of music and the media, and won.

Author Sheila O'Flanagan

'Write the story you want, not something that you think will be popular... otherwise it won't be authentic and people won't believe it' 

There's the planners and the pantsers and I'm definitely a pantser," laughs author Sheila O'Flanagan, somewhat sheepishly. A few minutes in her company and I'm beginning to see why the fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants approach to her writing may suit her. Warm, relaxed and engaging, O'Flanagan is softly spoken and self-deprecating with a fresh-face glow that makes her look way younger than her years.

Emily Hourican says that she often felt like an outsider while growing up

Emily Hourican: 'Our family simply didn't fit in anywhere that we went' 

I have a whole heap of stories from my childhood that I can tell to great effect. There's the one about going to birthday parties with my own sandwiches because my mother wouldn't let us eat sugar - "Emily can have a slice of birthday cake, but nothing else" went her pre-phoned-in instructions to the birthday mother. There's the one about having to try and glean vital information - what was number one on Top of the Pops? Who did what in EastEnders? - on the 20-minute school bus ride every morning because we weren't allowed to watch TV, and so had no access to these bedrocks of social networking. The one about the boy who, baffled by the array of wholesome food in front of him at my brother's 10th birthday, said hopefully, "Can you pass me one of those chocolate biscuits?" only to be told, "Those are dried figs".

Johnstown Castle in Wexford

The fairytale castle opening its doors to a world of treasures 

If you close your eyes for a moment you can picture the scene: the carriages pulling up to the castle and the guests being assisted to alight, the ladies adjusting their finery before proceeding into the graciously proportioned rear porch entrance with its period tiled floor and its windows swathed in ruby-red drapes. From there, it's straight through to the Apostles Hall, so named because of the beautiful wooden carvings of the followers of Jesus that still enhance the walls there.


From Belfast Telegraph