HER raunchy lockdown selfies have sent pulses racing nationwide.
But for Britain’s Got Talent judge Amanda Holden, it is behind closed doors where things are really hotting up.
The 49-year-old, who has become renowned for her sizzling bikini snaps, says a spate of “lockdown loving” is making her marriage to music producer Chris Hughes, 66, stronger than ever.
But with weeks at home with Chris and their two daughters, Lexi, 14, and Holly, eight, she has found time to finalise her debut album too ahead of the release of her first single, which is out today.
She says: “This whole thing has been great for my marriage.
“I know people are talking about it causing spikes in baby-making and divorce rates, but for us it has been brilliant.
“I’m too old for more babies but our relationship is stronger than ever. It’s all about the lockdown loving.
“You’d never know it because whenever I post photos online Chris refuses to be in them — or he takes them — but getting all this time together for once has been great.
“You should see him now, he’s got a big thick mane of hair now, it’s absolutely massive, but that’s fine by me. I love a good head of hair.”
Her own snaps, which have included several revealing swimwear selfies in her back garden, have caused a stir among admirers.
But while she is happy to spark smiles among fans, she laughingly says that she can not bear to read some of the more lustful responses.
She adds: “I try not to look at all of the comments.
“Sometimes they’re funny, but sometimes I weigh them up and I think, ‘Hmm, no’.
“But I’m happy to keep putting them out there. They are for my own amusement really.
They knew I had recorded Over The Rainbow because they had come along to one of the recording sessions, and we just had this lightbulb moment.
“I try not to take life too seriously, I’m always trying to look on the bright side of everything because I probably would have fallen down a massive black hole if I didn’t.
“That’s why I’m blessed having Chris as well because he’s such a laugh, he’s like a stand-up comedian.
“Even in the darkest of hours, we will find something to laugh about and smile about.
“But the photos I post are really me just thinking of stupid things to do, for my own amusement really.
“I even got the wedding dress out for one pic but it’ll have to go to the dry cleaners now because my daughter was walking around the garden in it. She loved it.“Chris takes some of the videos of me, Lexi and Holly, but he’s an absolute bugger because he won’t be in anything. You’d never know he was even here.”
Friday sees the release of her debut single — a charity recording of Judy Garland’s classic Over The Rainbow — in support of NHS Charities Together.
It is a cause close to her heart after a string of terrifying family health emergencies.
Amanda has been working on her first album for a year but the release has been put back because of the pandemic.
The crisis, however, and the accompanying rainbow-themed support for the NHS inspired her to get her single — which she has already played to pal and BGT co-star Simon Cowell — out on Friday.
She says: “I can’t believe nobody else has released this song right now to be honest — it seemed so obvious.
“My album was ready to be released around Mother’s Day.
“The first single was going to be around then and then all of this sort of stuff started happening and it all started to feel like the timing was just wrong.
“I mean everybody’s just put everything on hold, haven’t they?
“But I was talking to the guys from Marks and Spencer (with whom she has a fashion tie-in) last week.
“They knew I had recorded Over The Rainbow because they had come along to one of the recording sessions, and we just had this lightbulb moment.
“They are doing charity T-shirts in support of it and we just said, ‘We’ve already got it done and recorded, so let’s do it and see what happens’.
“It just feels nice to be able to do something positive and it’s keeping lots of people busy this week.
“So I’m hoping it will do well and Marks and Spencer will sell out of their T-shirts and we’ll raise lots of money for NHS Charities Together.”
But despite the album delay, Amanda is still optimistic a fuller music career will follow.
She says: “It all came off the back of a video that me and the children made singing for my tenth wedding anniversary in 2018.
“Off the back of that video Virgin gave me the most amazing record deal.
“I’m definitely putting myself out there but I feel like that’s what I should do.
“As an actor I always sung, but as a judge on Britain’s Got Talent you’re constantly watching all these young kids, adults and older people putting themselves on the line, so it’s only right that I should, too. I went round to Simon’s house when I signed off on my album and I bit the bullet.
“He said to me I could sing on BGT. But I said first I’d go round and play it to him to see what he thought.
“And I had to sit there while he listened. It was excruciating.
“He sat there with his earphones in and I just squirmed in the seat. I just sat there going, ‘Why have I put myself through this?’.
“But he was so lovely, encouraging and supportive. And he’s a huge supporter of good causes too so I knew he’d be right behind it.
“He’s very generous. The way that he’s dealt with his staff, paying them while the shows are off, he does everything right and he does it quietly.
“You only find out later if you know the right people. He doesn’t boast, he’s just brilliant.”
The NHS cause is particularly close to Amanda’s heart after a string of medical emergencies, including a devastating stillbirth, almost dying in another traumatic labour and watching her sister treated after a horror car smash.
Many of the staff who helped are now close friends and regularly visit the family at their Surrey home.
She says: “It’s weird because people say to me, ‘God, haven’t you had such bad luck’. But I never think of it like that, I think how bloody lucky I’ve been.
“When I do look back, you do think, ‘God, we’ve been through the mill’.
“We lost Theo, and then I had a horrendously traumatic birth with Holly where Chris and Lexi were told to prepare for Holly not coming home.
“Even to this day it kills me saying that, but luckily we were both OK and it’s all thanks to the incredible dedication of NHS staff.
“They saved me, they saved Holly and they saved my sister’s life three years ago when a lorry smashed into her and she suffered a brain injury.
“It is no exaggeration to say none of us would be here without those amazing people and their dedication.
“I really will never be able to do enough to repay that.
“I clapped at our local hospital last week and I will again this week with my family.
“I can’t do enough to show my gratitude.”
Amanda remains optimistic that Britain’s Got Talent’s live shows will resume later this year — with Simon still keen for her to perform a track from her record.
And despite admitting it’s “a passion project”, there is no denying she hopes it proves a hit.
“I want the album to do well,” she says. “I’m not going to pretend otherwise, and I will do everything I can to ensure that it does.
“Yes, it’s a passion project for me but actually the real passion comes from the fact Chris and I have done it together.
“He’s worked in music and it was something wonderful to work on as a couple.
“We’ve done everything together. He’s joked, ‘Come on, we’re having an A&R meeting’, and taken me into the lounge to pull holes in recordings, tweak things, change the drums.
“It’s a cliché but it’s been so lovely to do it as a couple — and I’m proud of what we’ve done together.
“If people buy it on top of that, that’s even more brilliant — I don’t want it to just disappear into the ether.”
- Over The Rainbow is released on Friday, with all proceeds being donated to NHS Charities Together.
JACK OF ALL TRADES
IN 30 years of showbiz, there are few things Amanda has not turned her hand to – from TV presenting and acting to modelling and the West End.
As she launches a bid for pop stardom, we take a look back at her extraordinarily varied CV…
1991: Appears on TV for the first time, as a contestant on ITV’s Blind Date.
1996: Lands a supporting role in film Intimate Relations, starring Julie Walters.
1998: After short stints in EastEnders and Jonathan Creek, she is cast as Mel in BBC’s Kiss Me Kate and Geraldine in The Grimleys a year later.
2004: Nominated for an Olivier Award for Best Actress in a Musical for Thoroughly Modern Millie.
2007: Becomes a judge on Britain’s Got Talent alongside Simon Cowell and Piers Morgan.
2011: Plays the lead in Shrek: The Musical on the West End.
2013: Her autobiography, No Holding Back, becomes a bestseller.
2017: Releases her own homeware range with QVC.
2019: Becomes the host of Heart FM’s breakfast show with Jamie Theakston.
2020: Unveils her debut album after landing a deal with Virgin.
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