Why the wed­ding’s ON ICE

The Irish Mail on Sunday - TV Week - - COVER STORY -

Chris­tine Bleak­ley’s life couldn’t have been more up in the air over the past few months. She hasn’t known what city she would be liv­ing in this time next year — or even what coun­try she would be in. And she cer­tainly hasn’t been able to plan one of the most an­tic­i­pated celebrity wed­dings of re­cent times. ‘Wait, let me guess what you’re go­ing to ask,’ she cack­les as we sit down at a French café near her home in Lon­don’s Knights­bridge. ‘When am I go­ing to marry him?’

Well, yes. Af­ter all, fans of the 33-yearold Danc­ing On Ice co- pre­sen­ter and her foot­baller fi­ancé, Frank Lam­pard, have been wait­ing for the cou­ple to walk down the aisle since he asked her to marry him in Los An­ge­les 18 months ago. And when they do tie the knot, it will be a case of third time lucky for Chris­tine, who has been en­gaged twice be­fore — once to the Dublin restau­ra­teur Chris­tian Stokes (they broke up in 2005) and then to Belfast night­club owner Mark Beirne,e, from whom she split while com­pet­ing in Strictly Come Danc­ing in 2008. She met Frank in Oc­to­ber 2009 at an awards cer­e­mony and be­gan dat­ing soon af­ter. ‘We’vee cer­tainly known all along that 2013 will bee the year,’ she re­veals. ‘But any­one whoo knows any­thing about foot­ball will un­der-stand we haven’t known what was go­ing onn with Frank. A lot de­pended on what wass go­ing to hap­pen with the whole Chelseaa thing. But we’ll def­i­nitely marry at someme stage this year.’

Chris­tine is re­fer­ring to Frank’s muchch talked-about exit from Chelsea FC, wherere he’s played for more than a decade. With hi­sis con­tract up in the sum­mer, the spec­u­la­tionon about him leav­ing the club in Jan­uary’s trans-sfer win­dow has been in­tense over the pastst month. Chris­tine her­self is con­tracted to work for ITV for the rest of the year, whichch has clearly com­pli­cated the cou­ple’s plans.ns. ‘Frank’s had 101 op­tions and that’s been suchch a mas­sive is­sue. We’ve just had to fo­cus on what we’ve known at the time. If he had to go away to God knows where, then...’ she trails off. ‘Look, my ap­proach has been to take it day by day and deal with things as they come.’

For Chris­tine, liv­ing ‘across the wa­ter’, as she puts it, from her tight- knit fam­ily in Co. Down, has been hard enough. Had she ever wanted to live fur­ther afield? ‘I don’t know,’ she says. ‘I’m a home bird. Com­ing to Lon­don was a big deal for me. I’m as far away from my mum and sis­ter [ Mina, 61, and Ni­cola, 31] now as I feel com­fort­able with. We’ve had to take lots of things into con­sid­er­a­tion. We’ve just moved into our house here. Frank’s girls [ Luna, seven, and Isla, five, by his ex-part­ner Elen Ri­vas] are here so fam­ily life is very im­por­tant. It’s not just a mat­ter of pack­ing our bags.’

When the cou­ple at­tended an LA Galaxy game with David Beck­ham in July, there were re­ports his pop-star-turned-fash­ion-de­signer wife, Vic­to­ria, was help­ing Chris­tine house­hunt in the city. ‘ That was all rub­bish. I

While her foot­baller fi­ancé Frank Lam­pard’s fu­ture has been up in the air, Danc­ing On Ice’s Chris­tine Bleak­ley has had to put the mar­riage plans on hold. But, she tells Dan Woot­ton, it will def­i­nitely hap­pen this year

haven’t even met the girl!’ she sighs, clearly ex­as­per­ated. ‘We had the best time, though. I’d met David once be­fore — we had a drink to­gether on a plane when I was with Frank. It’s amaz­ing to see how much of a god he is over there. He’s changed the Amer­i­cans’ view of soc­cer. He’s a fas­ci­nat­ing char­ac­ter. All the girls who work for the club keep say­ing, “Mr Beck­ham, is there any­thing I can do for you?” It was an ex­pe­ri­ence watch­ing all that.’

She says there’s been lots of ‘lu­di­crous non­sense’ whis­pered about her wed­ding plans. ‘Last week a taxi driver claimed I was get­ting mar­ried in Cum­bria. More lies, but those things are mildly amus­ing,’ she smiles. So, has she de­cided where to tie the knot? ‘That will de­pend on lots of things. But I want it to be easy for my fam­ily, so prob­a­bly here or in Ire­land.’

Chris­tine’s also clearly un­happy about re­ports Frank is evict­ing his ex- fi­ancée Elen’s grand­mother from a house he owns in Barcelona, but she won’t be drawn on the sit­u­a­tion. ‘There are two sides to ev­ery story — that’s all I’ll say. We know what goes on in our lives. We don’t speak out. That’s the way I was brought up,’ she says firmly.

While she was in Cal­i­for­nia she met up with her for­mer One Show and Day­break co-host and close friend Adrian Chiles, who’s cur­rently in LA with his new girl­friend, Cather­ine Tate. Chris­tine has seen the un­likely cou­ple’s re­la­tion­ship blos­som. ‘ They met when she came on The One Show years ago and hit it off straight away. They were mates for a long time and then things de­vel­oped.’ Did Chris­tine see the spark? ‘I wouldn’t say “spark” — that’s not re­ally Adrian! I think he’s done re­ally, re­ally well,’ she laughs. ‘They’re very well-suited. You see that when you see them to­gether. Adrian’s ac­tu­ally a very funny man.’ Has his fa­mous grumpi­ness faded a lit­tle now that he’s in love? ‘Oh yes. I’ve picked up a change.’ Chris­tine and Adrian’s three years host­ing the BBC’s The One Show to­gether were so suc­cess­ful they were poached by ITV for what were re­ported to be seven-fig­ure deals to present its new break­fast show Day­break in 2010. There were even ru­mours they were hav­ing an af­fair af­ter they were pho­tographed meet­ing at a Lon­don flat, ru­mours that reached a crescendo when Adrian and his wife of 10 years, BBC Ra­dio 4 pre­sen­ter Jane Gar­vey, split up. When Day­break’s much-hyped launch turned out to be a dis­as­ter, with view­ing fig­ures drop­ping as low as 500,000, the knives

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