X FAC­TOR AND STRICTLY STAR ON WHY BODY­GUARD ROLE IS SO SPE­CIAL TO HER I WILL AL­WAYS LOVE YULE

Singer can’t wait to spend Christ­mas in Scot­land

Sunday Mail (UK) - - News - Steve Hendry

The Body­guard mu­si­cal is not just a love story on stage for Alexan­dra Burke.

It’s one which has reached out into real life. She met her part­ner, stage man­agerr Josh Ginelly, when she made her de­butt in the show in 2014.

Hav­ing an­nounced their en­gage­mentnt in Jan­uary, she will bring this year to a close by re­turn­ing to star in the show in Glas­gow for a four-week run. With Joshsh run­ning the pro­duc­tion back­stage,e, the cou­ple will cel­e­brate Christ­mas in Scot­land with their four dogs.

Alexan­dra said: “I’m ex­cited. I loveove Glas­gow. I also love Ed­in­burgh. It’s going­ing to be a lovely four weeks.

“I usu­ally take Christ­mas off no mat­tert­ter where I am in the world – Christ­mas Day, Box­ing Day and the 27th – just to be with my fam­ily. But be­cause it’s Scot­land, we’re go­ing to stay put.

“We’re driv­ing the four dogs there. In fact, the hard­est part was or­gan­is­ing them. They are like kids and Christ­mas has all re­volved around those four. It is not fair to put them in a car for six to eight hours again for Christ­mas Day and then drive them all the way back to Glas­gow.

“I’ll ob­vi­ously miss my fam­ily but we’re go­ing to make Glas­gow as spe­cial as it would be at home. It’s a bless­ing. I’m happy to spend it there. I’m ex­cited.”

Work­ing to­gether is some­thing the cou­ple are used to and, for Alexan­dra, it is all about be­ing there for each other and hav­ing fun.

She said: “It’s about sup­port­ing one an­other. He may be be­hind the scenes but his job is as tax­ing as mine.

“For me, it’s about sup­port­ing one an­other and un­der­stand­ing each other’s work. That is what mat­ters most – hav­ing an un­der­stand­ing and a com­pro­mise. No re­la­tion­ship is easy but we make it as easy as pos­si­ble be­causee we have fun. Work is fun, we love our dogs,s, be­ing at home, go­ing to the movies – youu have to have a fine bal­ance of ev­ery­thing.”

The Body­guard, which is at the Theatre Royal from Mon­day un­til De­cem­ber 29, will top off a hec­tic year for the singer.

This time last year Alexan­dra, 30, was pre­par­ing for the fi­nal weeks of Strictly Come Danc­ing. She reached the fi­nal of the show with part­ner Gorka Mar­quez, al­though Joe McFad­den took home the Glit­ter Ball.

She then em­barked on a Strictly UK tour, re­leased an al­bum, The Truth Is, and starred in West End mu­si­cals Chess and Chicago.

The Body­guard was al­most a show too far but it means too much to her. When she first took it on, it was not only the for­mer X Fac­tor win­ner’s first mu­si­cal theatre role, it was at the sec­ond time of ask­ing.

She was en­cour­aged by her late mother – Soul II Soul singer Melissa Bell, who died in 2017 – to take the op­por­tu­nity. Alexan­dra said: “It was­my­wasmy first show so it holds a lot of mean­ing to me. When I first got of­fered The Body­guard, it was be­fore it had even opened. I said no be­cause I didn’t feel like I was ready to do it.

“When I got of­fered it the sec­ond time around, that was my mum say­ing, ‘ That’s an op­por­tu­nity you can’t turn down now.’

“I first did it when I was 26 in 2014. I’m get­ting shiv­ers talk­ing about it. But now I’m 30. A few years have passed and there has been love and loss in my fam­ily and the show re­minds me of so many great me­mories. That’s prob­a­bly why I have done it again.”

She feels much the same about Strictly. Like The Body­guard, the show means a lot to her on a per­sonal level as she did it while still griev­ing the loss of her mum.

She was in the au­di­ence for the show a cou­ple of weeks ago and was de­lighted to

meetme with the back­stage team, whowh do so much to cre­ate the fa­mous Strict­lyStr “bub­ble”, al­though she had no de­siredes to be back out on the dance floor. floo

Alexan­draAl said: “I had the best time and it was nice to see peo­ple who I’d missed for so long.

“It didn’t make me feel like I wanted to get back on stage and dance. I don’t miss thatt at all. What I missed were the peo­plpeo­ple – ev­ery­one I made friend­ships with anand helped me through a hard time.

“I felt for the con­tes­tants and I def­i­nitely don’t wwant to go through that anx­ious feel­ing again wait­ing to go on.”

IfIf StrStrictly was a largely pos­i­tive ex­pe­rienex­pe­ri­ence, she did face some neg­a­tiv­ity, be­ing trolledtr on­line and forced to deny re­ports ofo diva be­hav­iour. She spoke about it at the ttime but doesn’t dwell on it now.

Alex­anAlexan­dra said: “Like my mum used to say – you are never go­ing to be ev­ery­one’s cup of teatea. You’ve got to take ev­ery­thing with a pinch ofo salt and keep mov­ing.

“There was so much love out there as well as ev­ery­thingev­eryt else. Hope­fully peo­ple don’t be­lieve alla of the things that were writ­ten. ThThe peo­ple who know me know who I am and where my heart is – that’s what mat­ters.”

The Body­guard, based on the 1992 film star­ring Whit­ney Hous­ton, sees her play the role of Rachel Mar­ron, a singer who falls in love with the man hired to pro­tect her from an un­known stalker.

It’s a crown­ing achieve­ment on a ca­reer which has been in over­drive since she won The X Fac­tor in 2008 and sold more than one mil­lion copies of her de­but No1 sin­gle, Hal­lelu­jah.

Af­ter The Body­guard, she hopes to re­turn to mu­sic but she is grate­ful for all she’s got.

She added: “So much has come in the past 10 years since be­ing in the show. I haven’t stopped work­ing and that’s a big, big deal.

“When I was younger and peo­ple asked what I wanted to do, I said I wanted to be a singer, an ac­tress and a dancer – and here I am do­ing all three. I’m very, very lucky.”

I usu­ally take Christ­mas off no mat­ter where I am to be with fam­ily. But be­cause it’s Scot­land, we’re stay­ing

CLASS ACT With part­ner Josh and, right, on Strictly with Gorka Mar­quez SMASH HIT From far left, Alexan­dra in The Body­guard mu­si­cal, the movie with Kevin Cost­ner and Whit­ney Hous­ton and, right, on The X Fac­tor with Bey­once

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