Amanda Holden is the glamorous judge on Britain’s Got Talent who helps axe contestants with stars in their eyes but not enough potential. She reveals her ‘soft’ side to NL WOMAN and explains how her daughters rule her life
Because while she may appear ultra-professional, cool and decisive as a judge on Britain’s Got Talent, slickly dashing the hopes of thousands of unsuccessful performers as well as boosting winners, she believes her own talent is for softening that blow of rejection.
“Of course it’s fine choosing those who go through but, as an actress, I understand more than the other judges what it feels like to be rejected and what that audition really means to people,” says the 44-year-old, the longest-serving judge on the ITV series, which now in its ninth year.
She shares the panel with show creator, Simon Cowell, singer Alesha Dixon and comedian and presenter, David Walliams and explains: “Even though David’s acted, he’s not auditioned, so I think I’m the one of all of us who knows the best way to let somebody down, without giving them false hope or telling them they’re rubbish. For instance, you can say they’re actually good but not as good as they should be for the show.”
The actress, seen in hugely successful TV dramas Wild At Heart and Cutting It, confesses that her considered, gentle approach is due to experiencing her own humiliations in the past.
“Believe me, I’ve had many mixed fortunes at auditions when people have said, ‘No, no, no!’ just as I’ve started performing or stopped me in the middle of a song... humiliating!”
Engagingly candid and with a sharp sense of humour, Holden’s opening up about her ‘soft’ side as well as talking about her role on BGT, which last weekend attracted a record 11.7 million viewers for the second week of auditions; describing fatherhood’s effect on Simon Cowell, and her own joy in motherhood.
“I certainly don’t feel like a veteran on the show even though I’ve been on it for nine years.
‘‘I still feel new every time I do a new series,” she says about the contest which has launched careers including those of singers, Susan Boyle and Paul Potts, dance troupe Diversity, and Ashleigh Butler with performing dog, Pudsey.
Although the show’s popularity and her own enthusiasm is unchanging, she reveals something has altered since Cowell became a father to son Eric, now 14 months old.
“Before we always had to have these covert conversations because Simon didn’t have kids and just wasn’t interested in nappies and the problems of not getting any sleep,” reveals the mother-of-two.
Her children are daughters, Lexi, nine, and Hollie, three, with record producer husband, Chris Hughes, while Alesha Dixon has a six-month-old daughter, Azura Sienna, and David Walliams’ son, Alfred, will be two in May.
Her own parenting happiness has been hard-won - her son was still born in 2011 and she nearly died giving birth to her second daughter - so perhaps not surprisingly, she declares she “shapes” life around her family.
“Motherhood means everything to me, so it’s what I base my life around. Before I take anything on, I always think, ‘How will this affect the girls?’ and won’t accept anything which takes me away from them,” says Holden, who’s also co-hosting with Phillip Schofield on This Morning, as a stand-in presenter while Holly Willoughby is on maternity leave.
“I’ve had such a lovely, positive response from the public and am loving being on the show,” she beams. “There’s lots of laughter and banter between Phillip and me - we had an instant rapport when we first got together - and I’m getting more uninhibited and relaxed as it’s gone on.”
Holden, who’s set her sights on returning to drama in September 2016 when her youngest child starts school, has just been named host of a new ITV show, Give A Pet A Home, where a team of celebrity animal lovers will work at homing animals at a Birmingham RSPCA shelter.
“I love animals and I know I’ll have to stop myself taking them all home. It’s another great job presenting which has opened up a new career path for me,” says the celebrity, who’s also backing an Alpen Brighter Mornings challenge.
“Presenting makes it much easier to combine work with being a mum as mostly the work is in London. It still means I have a busy life though, so it’s vital for me to have a good breakfast which gives me energy.
“Just like any other mum, trying to juggle work and motherhood I can find it pretty demanding and you just have to try and get a balance. I’m a great believer in balance in all things. I don’t deny the kids sweet treats occasionally - I’ve seen children at parties who gorge on cakes and icecream because they’re forbidden all that at home - and I like treats myself. You have to have fun and enjoy everything in moderation.”
Reflecting on her life, Holden, who was once married to Coronation Street star, Les Dennis, 17 years her senior, describes herself as “someone who’s always been spontaneous and acted very much on decisions made by the heart.
‘‘That’s a good, instinctive way to be, but I think when I was young, I panicked a bit too much and there were times when I leapt before I looked.
“If I could do it all again, I’d tell myself to take a deep breath, think and go at a slower pace. Luckily though, it’s all turned out well.”