Belfast Telegraph

Snide critics just jealous of Christine and her gilded life

By Lindy McDowell

In one respect anyway, there is a touch of the George Bests about Christine Bleakley ... I'm thinking of that much-repeated story about George reclining on the bed of his luxury hotel with the Miss World, the champers and the thousands in banknotes when the night porter (from Belfast) enters to query: "Where did it all go wrong, George?"

Christine has the multi-million pound career, the multi-millionaire footballer fiancé, she has youth, talent, looks and an enviable lifestyle. (And unlike George she certainly doesn't have the alcohol issues.)

Yet lift up any national newspaper today and the message seems to be that it has somehow all gone terribly, terribly wrong for poor Christine. News of her "axing" is reported with all the solemnity of a dispatch about a coup in North Korea. Poor Christine, we are informed, will now present Dancing on Ice ...

To keep things in perspective, as career moves go, this is still a long way from the Jobseekers' queue which is the lot of so many of her generation. Presenters do get moved about. That's television.

And on television Christine Bleakley has been a success story - even if Daybreak hasn't been.

So why all the bleakery about Miss Bleakley?

What showbiz reports call "sources" put it down in part to her alleged lack of connection with her audience. Oddly it was the complete opposite when she was with The One Show. So what has happened in the meantime?

Two words - Frank Lampard.

These trusty "sources" suggest that because she wears the footballer's £120,000 engagement ring, is seen out and about at upmarket venues and generally enjoys a gilded lifestyle, "ordinary people" cannot relate to her.

Really? Isn't the other word for "sources" who dislike someone solely on account of their good fortune and happiness just plain jealous? Both Lampard and she are self-made successes. Whatever you feel about the eye-watering sums football players are paid these days, that ring she wears was paid for by money Frank Lampard had earned through his own skill and honest graft. That he forked out so much may indeed be for show. A show of love perhaps?

Christine's even been sniped at for taking a good tan. And this week we've been informed that she's regarded (again by the sources) as "too lightweight" and "lacking in gravitas" to cover major news.

Reports suggest that she may be replaced on the Daybreak gig by Natasha Kaplinsky who has, presumably, all the gravitas a girl can get. Meanwhile, our own Eamonn Holmes is nominated for the sofa seat left vacant by Christine's co-presenter, angry Brummie, Adrian Chiles.

Chiles had nobly refused to stay in situ on Daybreak after news of his longterm friend's move had been made public. But he let rip about the way in which the news of their departure had been made public. "I'm angry, upset and acutely embarrassed. Myself and Christine were told we would be going in the New Year but we were assured we could go with our dignity intact. That's obviously not happened. Dark forces have leaked it for their own ends and I am mightily unhappy about it."

The Dark Forces line is possibly a tad OTT (it's daytime TV not international espionage). But you do get his point ...

Christine, commendably, has reacted to it all by getting back on her bike. Despite knowing that she was handing the caption writers a chance for an easy dig she dutifully turned up with a big smile this week to honour a commitment to a charity called Cycle to Work.

A newspaper which has been one of her most acidic critics concedes this was game of her.

And Christine genuinely is a stoic star. She doesn't bleat or gurn or attempt sob story.

She just smiles and she gets on with it and full credit to her for it.

Dancing on ice? That girl knows all about it.


From Belfast Telegraph