LAUREN BRANT AND BARRY HALL FIRST MET ON THE SET OF I’M A CELEBRITY… GET ME OUT OF HERE! IN 2015, BUT DIDN’T FALL IN LOVE UNTIL A CHANCE MEETING A YEAR LATER. NOW EXPECTING A BABY, THE COUPLE TELLS ALL ABOUT THEIR WHIRLWIND ROMANCE “The sparks flew strai
Barry Hall and Lauren Brant have put the past behind them and share their delight over their surprise pregnancy.
Oddly enough, Lauren Brant and Barry Hall’s relationship has been defined by airports. It was at an airport drop-off zone that the AFL great realised he was in love with Brant, the former Hi-5 member he first met on the set of I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here! in Africa two years ago.
After reconnecting in the middle of 2016 at an AFL match, Hall, 40, realised the relationship was the real thing when he started to seriously miss Brant, 27, every time he said his goodbyes after visiting her on the Gold Coast and returning to Melbourne.
“There was one point where she dropped me off and I watched her drive off,” he recalls now. “I was almost going to cancel my flight and call her to say, ‘Come back. This doesn’t feel right at all.’ That was the moment. I just had this feeling in my stomach that I shouldn’t be leaving. I almost called in sick to work – which is very unprofessional. I felt like a teenager again.”
It was a couple of months later – from an airport departure lounge – that Brant told Hall they were going to have a baby. She had planned to tell him the news in person before he played in a charity AFL match in Melbourne, but when her flight was delayed, she tearily Facetimed him from the gate. “They were happy tears,” she says. “I have wanted to be a mum for so long. It’s just never been the right time. When I found out [I was expecting] with Barry, it was like all the stars aligned.”
Fortunately, her excitement proved to be mutual.
“When Lauren told me she was pregnant, I started crying, too,” Hall says. “I was over the moon.” And as for the AFL match? “I won,” he laughs. “I was buzzing. It was like I’d had 40 Red Bulls; I was jumping around everywhere.”
With both Brant and Hall elated over their unplanned pregnancy, the duo believes that everything that has happened since they ran in to each other again was meant to be.
“The sparks flew straight away, I could feel it,” Hall says of their chance reconnection last year. “It just happened so quick and felt so right. It’s a bit bizarre.”
It was certainly a case of right time, right place. Both of their lives had changed dramatically since they left the African jungle in 2015 – for a start, they were both single.
In the year that passed since filming the reality series, Hall had already split from his wife of three years, Sophie Raadschelder, and Brant ended her engagement to personal trainer Warren Riley amid an unexpected frenzy of headlines regarding rumours linking her to former rugby league player Beau Ryan.
When asked about the media storm that ensued at the time, Brant says she prefers not to look back. “There’s nothing in life that has ever happened to me that I would feel hard done by or regret,” she says. “One of the mantras I live by is, ‘To see light, you have to see dark.’ To truly be happy, you have to have felt sadness.
“If I had to mark 2015, the one thing I remember from that year was my grandpa passing away, which puts everything in perspective. There are certain things in life that are important, and there are other things that are just life. Life happens to everyone.”
Having weathered the occasional on-field controversy of his own, Hall admits he feels protective of Brant. “Obviously, Lauren’s had a bit happen in her life. I’ve had a bit happen in mine. I was worried about what people would think [of our relationship]. But I realised it’s not about other people, it’s about us,” he says. “I’ve got a thick skin – I’m sure Lauren has got a thick skin, too, after what she’s been through – but I was more worried about her than me. I don’t care what they say about me, but because there’s Lauren and a little baby involved, I’m very protective.”
Hall needn’t have worried – since the pair confirmed late last year that they were dating, the public response has been overwhelmingly positive. “People were really happy for us,” Hall says. “It wasn’t about the past or negativity. No one questioned if it’s real. We know it’s real.”
“I was worried about what people would think. But I realised it’s not about other people”
“Barry is the first person I’ve been with who I can honestly say loves everything about me,” Brant adds. “He makes me feel so strong. I have to thank him for giving me that feeling.”
And before the cynics start rolling their eyes, Brant and Hall are quick to acknowledge just how sappy they sound when talking about one other. “This might sound fabricated, but there’s nothing Lauren does that annoys me. People are going to read this and think I’m full of sh*t,” he laughs.
Neither Hall nor Brant, who will move back to the Gold Coast ahead of their baby’s arrival in May, are nervous about being first-time parents. “I just want to see his face... We don’t know if it’s a boy yet, but I say ‘him’ because I hope it is,” says Hall, who not only wants a boy, but three more babies. Who’s going to change all of those nappies? “I’ll change the nappies,” he says. “They can spew on me, poo on me, wee on me, whatever they want to do. I’m ready. I’ve been ready for years.”
“Barry is going to be the perfect father,” Brant gushes. “We’re going to have a child with a lot of opportunity. I have three older brothers and they were pretty excited that the baby was going to inherit some amazing athletic genes from its father.”
This will be their first Valentine’s Day as a couple, and their last as just the two of them, yet Brant says she isn’t expecting a present. “There’s no wish list,” she says, “we already have it all.”
BARRY WEARS Saba shirt and pants, saba. com.au; Bonds socks (worn throughout), bonds.com.au LAUREN WEARS Lee Mathews dress and slip, leemathews. com.au; Sarah & Sebastian jewellery (worn throughout), sarahandsebastian.com
(left) BARRY WEARS Saba T-shirt and pants, saba.com.au; his own shoes LAUREN WEARS Morrison top and pants, morrisonshop. com; BOSS shoes, (03) 9474 6304
(above) BARRY WEARS Saba shirt and pants, as before LAUREN WEARS Lee Mathews dress, leemathews. com.au
HAIR, MAKE-UP & GROOMING Jacqueline Kalab