Amanda Holden: I love being a mother
BGT judge and mum-of-two Amanda Holden talks to Gabrielle Fagan about life as a celeb,pal Simon Cowell and the joys of parenthood
Amanda Holden's roaring with laughter as she recalls a recent week spent with eight half-naked men dancing attendance on her in a luxury hotel in Majorca.
Hang on, is that suitable behaviour for a high-profile celebrity and happily married mother of two?
As it turns out, it's all totally above board because she was filming a commercial for a new Greek-style yoghurt, Danone Oykos, and those hunky male models were only acting as her “handmaidens”.
“I get lots of offers to be the face of this and that campaign or product, but as soon as I read the script, I loved this one,” she says.
“It doesn't take itself too seriously, and I thought it was hilarious that I got to be surrounded by semi-naked men. I mean, that's a no-brainer really, and I genuinely like the yoghurt.”
And she jokes: “I thought of all sorts of other uses for it as well while we were there, from suncream lotion to a massage cream, but that never got filmed! I'm hoping there might be a part two, though.”
Holden's not just refreshingly irreverent but also extremely glamorous. The actress and judge on ITV1's Britain's Got Talent is chatting at a hotel near her home, looking immaculate in a figure-hugging red dress despite the fact that it's only six months since she had her baby daughter, Hollie.
It's a second daughter for her and her music producer husband Chris Hughes; their other child, Lexi, is six years old.
Holden (41) miscarried twice, in May 2010 and after seven months of pregnancy in February 2011, and then nearly died giving birth to Hollie.
But rather than dwell on the traumas of the past, she prefers instead to talk about the happiness the new baby has brought them.
“Hollie is gorgeous — so healthy and contented. Like any mum I did wonder a little bit about coping with two children, but, really, she was so planned, so wanted and we were so thankful to have her that I just thought, ‘Of course you can do this', and it's been brilliant,” she says.
“While we never wanted a big age difference between the children, it does mean that Lexi is a little more independent and she loves being helpful.
“She will pick Hollie up, fetch nappies and do little things like get herself out of the bath and get ready for bed while I feed the baby.
“I joke with her that, ‘I haven't got my baby any more, you can do so much for yourself', and she says proudly, ‘See, I don't need you mama'. I go, ‘Ooh, you do need me, don't say that'. They're both such a delight.”
Holden's aware that many celebrities seem to get their pre-baby figures back miraculously quickly compared the rest of us mere mortals, and says: “I know it's irritating but, honestly, it is just luck.
“Anyway, my husband is amazing. He always says, ‘I love your bod, Mandy, you've got a great body', so that gives me confidence, and these days if I feel I have a bit of an overhang, I just pop it in a pair of Spanx and don't stress about it.”
She juggles work — most recently presenting on ITV1 show Superstar, which sought to find a Jesus for the new production of Jesus Christ Superstar — and the family with help her from her mum, Judith, and her husband.
“Hollie's in a brilliant routine, she's sleeping through the night and feeding well, so it means that if I'm not there, they just have to stick to that and she's fine,” she says.
“That's the great thing about my job, it's usually short bursts of work — three weeks for Britain's Got Talent and the live shows, and then the commercial, which was four days, and 10 days filming for Superstar — and now I've got six months off, which is amazing. It means I can be a mummy full-time for the rest of the year.”
Hampshire-born Holden trained as an actress and had roles in prime-time hit dramas Cutting It and Wild At Heart, and last year starred in the West End production of Shrek The Musical.
But it was being chosen by Simon Cowell for Britain's Got Talent in 2007 that really transformed her profile.
They were introduced 15 years ago in Los Angeles by a mutual friend, and she says: “I've had a long friendship with Simon, but we've become more friendly since I started doing the show — it will be my seventh series next year,” she says.
“I enjoy him, he's brilliant fun, and a great person to get solid answers from, as he always tells the truth.
“He's dynamic, and really, really naughty at times — a sort of good/bad boy. If you're his friend, you enjoy him and enjoy what he's all about.
“We have a friendly, flirty relationship and both of us know how far to push it. I'll start talking about my bowel habits or the baby's nappy, which will always brings things right back down to where they should be — on a platonic level.”
Clearly happy and fulfilled, she says: “This is a brilliant stage in my life with two beautiful daughters making our family complete.
“I realise how lucky I am that things have worked out. I've always believed in being led by my heart and not my head, and although it probably gets me into more trouble, I think it's a more honest way to live.”