There’s no doubt about it – Amanda Holden is a force of nature. A 5ft 4in tornado in “killer heels”, the Heart Breakfast presenter works hard, loves fiercely and laughs loudly! All while managing to looking effortlessly glamorous, of course.
However, like many working mums, she admits that life is so busy, time can be an issue. “There just isn’t enough of it,” she sighs as we catch up for an exclusive chat. “I try to fit as much as humanly possible into every day. I love working but I also want to spend as much time with my husband and children as possible.”
Amanda, 52, and record producer Chris Hughes, 69, share two daughters: Lexi, 17, and Hollie, 11. The couple will celebrate 15 years of marriage this December, after tying the knot in a Christmas-themed wedding at the Grade II listed Babington House, Somerset, in 2008.
Judging by their cosy social media posts, they look just as loved up today as ever, so what’s their secret? “Well,” says Amanda, breaking into her infectious trademark chuckle. “The main secret behind a successful marriage is to have a bloody good sense of humour! Plus, I really fancy Chris. We’ll be eating dinner in a restaurant, he’ll go to the loo, then I’ll look up and catch a glimpse of a man and think he’s fit! Then I’ll realise, “Gosh, that’s my husband!” I still fancy him. Also, Chris challenges me and I challenge him – that’s another secret to a good marriage.”
The perfectly matched pair met in Los Angeles in 2003. It was shortly after Amanda’s divorce from her first husband of five years, comedian and Strictly Come Dancing contestant Les Dennis, but they didn’t start dating until a year later.
These days, Amanda ensures that spending time together as a couple is a priority. “Just last week Chris and I met up for lunch and a dog walk and we banned talking about work. You need to invest in each other and remember what it was like before children, before you had too much pressure on you,” she says. “We enjoy a good date night.”
For Amanda and Chris, that tends to involve something simple like an evening at home on the sofa. “We love watching telly,” she admits. “We’ll watch a whole series on Netflix or Amazon Prime together.”
Amanda’s down-to-earth nature is just one of the factors that have endeared her to audiences over the years. And she has no intention of slowing down.
She says, “I feel very fortunate. I’ve always had a strong work ethic. I’ve worked since I was 13 in various ways. I always say I’m a waitress that got lucky!”
She doesn’t take anything for granted either, although jokes, “I don’t want people to get ‘Mandy-lash’, as my husband calls it, and get bored of seeing so much of me.
“But when work opportunities are there, I’ll make the most of them because even though I’ve been lucky for 30 years, one day it might all end. I have to make the most of it while it’s here!”
Amanda’s award-winning Heart Breakfast Show with Jamie Theakston now reaches an incredible 3.9 million listeners a week and, in 2024, she’ll be filming a new series of The Italian Job with Alan Carr. “I love working with Alan,” she says. “He’s such a wonderful friend too.”
However, one of her favourite roles is still on the Britain’s Got Talent judging panel alongside her good friend Simon Cowell.
“The most generous gift he’s given me is my seat next to him on Britain’s Got Talent for all these years!” says Amanda, who joined the show when it launched in 2007. “He constantly takes credit for everything I do. Although I think he secretly wishes he’d signed me for my Top 5 album a few years ago!”
She’s referring to her 2020 album Songs From My Heart, which showed off her talent for singing – previously witnessed in musicals such as Thoroughly Modern Millie , which earned her a Laurence Olivier Theatre Award nomination.
Amanda and Simon are firm friends, and she’s genuinely delighted by the way his life has changed for the better. “His fiancée Lauren [Silverman] and son Eric have been his best gifts in life,” Amanda tells us. “It’s testament to them both to what a difference family life has had on him. I couldn’t be happier for them as a family and he now has the right balance with work, doing only the good quality stuff that he wants to do.”
The opportunity to pick and choose her work projects is a position that Amanda is privileged to find herself in. “The last few years it’s been Chris’ job to get the girls out the door for school. But I now make a lot of work decisions around my family: can I do school pick up? Can I bring my family on this work trip? Can I be home for dinner? I’ll need this day off to attend a school event. It’s very much a compromise and involves forward planning. My attitude is, don’t stress because everything will fall into place.”
It’s tempting to assume that Amanda has always been self-assured, but she admits, “There are no tips for feeling fabulous and confident – it’s something that grows with you.”
When it comes to the haters, Amanda has a refreshingly straightforward approach. She says, “I can’t control what people think of me so I don’t give it much thought. I’m true to myself, I’m no different on screen or on the radio than I am at home.
“You can’t please everyone but I encourage everyone to live in the moment, not in the past. You have to learn not to care about people’s opinions. Life is short and for living, so I try to focus on positive things.”
This positivity is something she strives to pass on to her daughters, adding, “We have those important conversations over dinner and we’ve always been a very open and honest family, so any issues have always been tackled early on.”
At times she has come under fire for her “risqué” fashion choices on TV with one particular dress triggering 235 complaints to the broadcasting watchdog Ofcom. “I like classic pieces and I like value for money but I do like a bit of side boob every now and again,” she smiles.
While fashion is a fun way to express herself, she strongly believes that the way women’s outfits are talked about needs to change.
“Women are always described as ‘parading their legs’ if they’re wearing shorts or skirts, and if they’re at the beach they’re ‘parading’ in a bikini. No, I’m simply at the beach or I’m simply walking down the street in summer. I’d like to see those headlines change,” she says. “Nobody judges a man like that!”
She shares her passion for fashion with her daughters and says they not only support her outfit choices, they raid her wardrobe too! “Lexi and Hollie see me trying on frocks all the time at home and they’re the ones saying, ‘Go for it, Mum. We love that, you look great.’ Fashion is about taking risks. I encourage everyone to have fun and be a little daring. I’d be bored playing it safe.”
Another piece of advice she follows is her family’s unofficial motto: never give up. “I don’t accept failure and I try not to let anything stop me or get me down. It’s a waste of time to have negative thoughts. I’m very much a ‘keep going’ kind of girl. I have no time for people who close the curtains and hide from the world.”
Amanda runs daily but says her top self-care tip is “water, water and more water!” She explains, “I drink at least two litres during my radio show every morning. It’s only summer holidays and Christmas that you’ll find me more relaxed with self-care, but I’ll still be wearing a lash and some lippy. And remember, a glass of wine now and again plumps the skin – drink it though, don’t rub it on your face!”
And to de-stress? “Oh I love long soaks in the bath,” she says. “Baylis & Harding has the best bath and shower products. My favourite is the signature Sweet Mandarin & Grapefruit collection, which is just perfect for relaxing – just what I need in the run-up to Christmas!”
With a wedding anniversary on the horizon and the festive countdown just beginning, this is Amanda’s favourite time of the year. “I encourage Heart Breakfast to start playing festive songs as soon as possible and I love it when we start to play them every day. And I normally have the whole house decorated by the end of October. It’s never too early for Christmas – I love it!”
Well, something tells us that living with Amanda Holden, with all the glitter, giggles and cheer, must feel like Christmas every day of the year.
Amanda’s A-List with Baylis & Harding is available now online or in selected stores. For details visit baylisandharding.com/AmandasAList
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