Are Child stars guarenteed a troubled life?

Child stars are hardly a new thing. Look at Shirley Temple being one of the first. She was born in 1928, her film career beginning in 1932 at the tender age of 4.  (Some thought it was possible that she may have been younger) Her natural talents immediately shone through. Her first feature film was in 1935..after that there was no stopping her, being labelled as “America’s young sweetheart” . unfortunately after a successful early career it diminished in 1950. This is not the best example as she is one of the very few child stars  who have not turned to drugs and alcohol.

Frances Ethel Gumm, best known as Judy Garland, a slightly earlier star was not so lucky and was labelled as “one of the most tragic stars during Hollywood’s golden era. ” Her mother first saw her potential at the age of just 2 when she sang “Jingle bells” and when she was taken off the stage began kicking and screaming. She joined her 2 sisters Mary Jane Gumm and Virginia Gumm, becoming a famous trio performing in bars and theaters across America. Behind closed doors things were quite the opposite family life was not a happy one due to her mothers over enthusiastic drive for them to perform and her Fathers closeted homosexuality. In September 1935 the family got their first ‘big break’ when Gumm was signed to “Louis B. Mayer” . After he heard her sing she was quickly signed to the label, her name being changed to “Judy Garland” as it was thought that it sounded better. The first tragedy struck the family when her father died from what is though to be meningitis in 1935 and there was a large threat that Judy Garland may lose her job. Another problem was her weight fluctuation, but she was soon given amphetamines in order to give her the desired  figure. This proved to be the downward spiral that resulted in her life-long drug addiction. In 1939 she played Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz…this is when her career blossomed and she continued playing roles between.1936-1963 .By the age of 41 she had been married and divorced 4 times and finally she took a 5th husband. In 1969 she took an overdose of barbiturates which proved to be fatal, she was just 47.

Michael Jackson was one of 5 children and later became known as one of the most bizarre celebrities in the media.  Many rumors were heard about his childhood. Some said that the intense hours that he worked as a child meant that he never actually had a childhood. He had a successful solo career his fist number one being “Thriller” back in 1983. He was first accused of child molestation 1993 case settled in court, no further charges on that case made. Further cases he was charged of in 2005 but the jury ruled him to be not guilty after sexual abuse allegations. He suffered from constant media attacks and the media attention had him trapped in later life. He received media attention surrounding his marriage and the birth of his 2nd child. In an interview with Martin Bashir he showed to be immature, almost like a man trapped in a child’s body.

Macaulay Culkin showed himself to be going off the rails when he was 18 marrying a girl he’d just met. was desperate to shed child actors skin he did this by estranging his parents. He became addicted to marijuana and prescription pills as a young adult. Around the time of the ‘Home Alone’ film Culkin became close friends with pop singer Michael Jackson appearing in his “Black or White” video. During the trial against Michael Jackson, Culkin stated that he had slept in Jackson’s bed many times but that Jackson had never sexually molested him. He attended Jackson’s funeral in September 2009. On September 17th 2004 he was arrested for the possession of 17.3g of marijuana and two controlled substances. He was jailed but then released on a $4,000 bond. After being tried in court he pleaded not guilty but then reversed to be pleading guilty. He received 3 one year suspended prison terms and was forced to enroll into a probationary drug treatment receiving a $540 fine


Britney Spears started acting on American sitcoms from a very young age. He father suffered from alcohol problems which badly affected her home life. Her mum was her manager. Her first single was at the age of 16 “Baby one more time” She released her debut album and shot to fame in 1999 selling over 100 million albums worldwide and Britney became a tabloid obsession. Cracks started to show in 2004 when she was 23. However her breaking point was her marriage to Kevin Federline in 2005. Her self-esteem seemed to crumble as her relationship showed ‘holes’ Britney is known for her crazy antics : drugs, alcohol and extreme behavior. She caused a stir when she shaved off all her hair off in 2007. Photographers at the scene revealed that she was crying. When she was asked by a media source why she took such an extreme move she stated “Because of you” she was reported to have spent time in rehab. In the same year she temporarily lost custody of her children due to her drug abuse. She seems to have pieced her life back together and released new singles this year.


Looking back at Lindsay Lohan’s  career who’d have though that the innocent star who appeared in “The Parent Trap” in 1998 at the age of 12 could become so troubled. Her mum Dina worked as her manager, Lohan’s working relationship with her mother is known to be somewhat of a disaster, being criticized for the way that she works with her eldest daughter. She often spoke publicly about Lohan without her permission. Lohan has suffered from drug and alcohol problems stating that she used them to ‘mask all her troubles’ She has been admitted to rehab 3 times and was jailed after being caught with cocaine in her purse..pardon the pun but I believe it was the media that called her to ‘Crack’ She sought help for her addiction after she woke up lying on her bathroom floor having collapsed, surrounded by flowing water as the bath had overflowed. In January 2007 she had an incident with Ambien which lead to her checking herself into the Wonderland Centre clinic in LA for 30 days to try to aid her recovery. That same year she was caught drink driving and was to serve 120 days in jail. In January 2011 she stole a necklace from a film set worth $2,500. Her wild behaviour seems to worsen with age. I can’t help but feel that the media are to blame.

Hayley Joel Osment starred in a range of roles including The Sixth Sense in 1999 and A.I alongside Jude Law in 2001. Sadly as an 18-year-old he was charged with drunk driving and marijuana possession. In 2006 he crashed his car whilst returning from a concert suffering minor injuries.  Luckily no-one else was hurt. Osment was given 3 years probation, 60 hours in alcohol rehabilitation, a fine of $1,500 and 26 Alcohol Anonymous meetings which he had to attend over a 6 month period. haley_joel.jpg

The sickly sweet High School Musical star Vanessa Hugens proved to too good be true and her “squeaky clean image” was soon tarnished after inappropriate naked pictures of her appeared online which she supposedly sent to her then boyfriend co-star Zac Effron. She told the media that she was embarrassed over the situation and regretted taking the photographs in the first place…This case was  just  unlucky.

The last star was born on September 14th 1983. Throughout her troubled life Amy Winehouse seemed to be constantly battling issues including eating disorders, drug and alcohol addictions and a complicated love life. One of her first songs was titled “Rehab” her record company claimed that rehab was where she belonged..the song was her denial against the accusations. It was not long before the media realised that the did in fact have a problem. During a performance onstage she would appear to be in a drunken state, once she exited the stage to vomit. Winehouse was hospitalised due to drug and drinking binges became more frequent. A video leaked onto the internet which was supposedly her snorting cocaine causing a tabloid sensation and the police were forced to investigate the matter, charges were not brought against her.

Amy Winehouse was very open about her issues admitting that she struggled with eating disorders, self harming and depression. Her body appeared to be fragile and it was validated by her father to the media that she had been suffering with bulimia. During an interview for  “Spin magazine” she began carving the name of her then boyfriend (Blake Fielder-Civil) into her stomach with a piece of glass. Not long after the couple were married there were claims that they had been fighting after they were pictured arm in arm both of them bloodied and bruised. Winehouse defended her husband saying that the injuries were self-inflicted.

In 2008 her mother Janis was interviewed and stated “I’ve known for a long time that my daughter has problems. But seeing it on-screen rammed it home. I realise my daughter could be dead within the year. We’re watching her kill herself, slowly.”

During a performance in June in 2011 she was booed of the stage and critics labelled the performance as ‘shambolic’ as once again she seemed to be under the influence of drugs and alcohol. In 2011 she was found dead in her London flat after a suspected drug overdose. When paramedics arrived she was ‘beyond help’ and pronounced dead at the scene being yet another young star to meet a tragic end. Later evidence has shown that there were no traces of drugs in her system and the actual cause of death is still uncertain.

In conclusion I would say that the media is partly to blame for the downfall of child stars however, not all self destruct through their wreck less behavior. Many young people have issues. The difference is children who are celebrities have their lives constantly followed and portrayed in the media being judged by many people. I cannot help but feel that the general public are to blame, after all we are the ones who buy the magazines!


Katie Piper…Beautiful?

 katie_piper_ before acid

Kate..The socialite and model

Her glossy modelling portfolio was the proof that Katie Piper was beautiful. She was a typical pretty and popular young woman with blonde hair and sparkling sea blue eyes. Ever since her early teens boys would tell her ‘you should be a model’ but at only 5″3 Katie felt too tiny. In her third year at beauty college Katie moved into a flat in Basingstoke with friends. Qualifying as a beauty therapist she flourished from empowering others to feel their best about themselves. Her modelling career soon picked up and she proudly posed in beauty pagents. When she was announced second runner up in “Miss Winchester” it was an amazing feeling. She didn’t realise it at the time but she was beginning to get sucked into the world of showbiz. In mid 2006 she auditioned and was given her first job presenting on a satellite television shopping channel.

Back in 2009 the 24 year old from Essex was a budding tv presenter on shopping channles and model who had moved to London to pursue her dreams. She had an amazing social life hitting the clubs 4-5 times a week. Her friends would often tell her “Kate, your stunning” and she would think “yeah atchually I am. ” Katie stated on her television programme ‘My Beautiful face’ that  “I was quite wild, carefree, 24 years old, I thought I was invincible, lived for the moment and loved life,” she said. “If I went somewhere, people I met for the first time would say, ‘Oh, you’re really pretty.’ Her dreams were shattered in a heartbeat on the 31st March 2008 when a evil, twisted stranger threw a cup of acid at her face.Her life was built around her looks, after the attack she was forced to start again, dealing with the social scars and fought to bring her attacker to justice.


Katie curses the day that she met 33 year old Danny Lynch who was a martial arts enthusiast. She texted her mum saying I’ve met Danny I’m very happy..her mum was pleased. The initial contact was through Facebook when he spotted her stunning profile picture. They messaged and eventually swapped mobile numbers, he seemed decent, some people are very clever at concealing their real characters . They semed to have a lot in common Katie honestly stated “To be honest looking at his profile picture I really fancied him.” Early alarm bells were ringing, Danny was overprotective and would become agitated and furious if another man was to look Katie’s way or pay her too much attention.  The relationship seemed to blossom and grow very quickly. Danny was insistant that he must see Katie every day..rather odd considering that they had been dating for just two weeks.  Katie  agreed to book a hotel with Danny after the date a naive mistake that many girls would have made. Danny became angry telling Katie “You’re not all that in the flesh” the insult hurt but she chose to brush it off. After the long day Katie wanted to sleep, Danny had other ideas damanding that he wanted sex after she refused he verbally abused her and worst of all sexually violated her, at this point Katie though Danny would kill her. After 8 hours of enduring torturous abuse, Katie in a frightened panic still fearful for her life, told Danny that they could still be a couple and they left the hotel. She was not to know that the situation would become worse than she could possibly imagine.

The day Danny destroyed Katie’s beautiful face

Living in fear Katie did not leave her London flat for two days and didn’t  call the police as she thought that they wouldn’t believe her, Danny was to good a liar. He continued to ring and stalk her insisting that she left the house to read her Facebook messages. She  gave in to his manipulative demands as Katie thought they may stop if she obeyed him and left her London flat. He rang her whilst she was outside asking “What are you wearing?” Katie answered thinking nothing of this as it was a usual stalkerish question of his. Meanwhile a 19 year old Stephen Sylvester in a hoody was pacing up and down the street praying on her like a predator, waiting for her to emerge. As Katie came closer she noticed him but belived him to be a beggar as he was clutching a paper cup and routed around in her bag to find her purse. In a matter of seconds he threw liquid in her face, Katie let out a blood curdling scream as the acid ate across her face like a contagious disease.  She knew in an instant Danny… it was something to to with him. As quick as a flash her looks were changed forever. She ran into a local shop where the members of staff rang an ambulance, she was taken rapidly to hospital. Her injuries were horrific so much so that her whole facial skin was removed and she was put into an induced coma spending an initial 7 weeks in hospital with her head mummified in bandages. She was frightened and confused, unable to talk and Psychologically damaged. Her family were devastated and found it distressing when she wrote messages such as ” am I dead?” and worst of all ” Kill me” in a note book as she was unable to talk. After that time she still hadn’t seen her face. Katie was encouraged by hospital staff and Psychiatrists to look at her face in small sections however she looked at her whole face an not surprisingly could not come to terms with the fact that it was atchually her. The damage was severe but worst of all two predators were on the loose potentially looking for their next online victim.  The man who threw the acid was found to be Stephen Sylvester…Danny had initiated the acid attack. I have often thought that although he was sentanced, he will never know or feel Katie’s true pain and suffering. Eventually Danny was arrested pleading not guilty however he was found to be so, the jury could not come to a verdict on the rape charge. Katie felt embarrased, ashamed that the hospital staff had been looking at her “In this state” for a couple of months.

An angel in disguise

Katie’s life seemed to be in the hands of a medical genius Dr Mohammed Jawad a specialist and plastic surgeon in London. He lead the burns reconstruction surgery and performed a series of ground breaking operations where artificial skin substitutes were used. Out of these skin grafts were formed to rebuild the foundations of Katie’s face. One can only imagine the pain she went through as she woke up from yet another anesthetic which wouldn’t have benefited her now frail body. In the first year alone Katie endured 30 operations on her face and neck each time waking fearful and in excruciating pain once the anesthetic had worn off. A mould of her face was taken to construct a plastic pressure mask to smooth her scars keeping her new skin as moisturized as possible. Her parents had to moisturize her skin daily for her Katie stated at the time “No 24 year old wants their parents massaging their chest…its embarrassing!”

When at home from hospital she lived in fear..that the attacker would return. She became paranoid about locking windows and doors and refused to answer if the door bell rang nearly having a panic attack when a woman wearing a headscarf came to the door as Katie thought it was a hoody. Her lonely days at home were spent with just her mum and dog Barclay for company. Meanwhile she began the long struggle to bring her attackers to justice waiting for the court to come up with a verdict and issue sentences. Katie feared the worst…What would happen if they didn’t plead guilty? Would they be freed and be able to prey on another victim. Her blood ran cold. Katie’s mum Diane was her rock, her younger sister Suzy had to become the older sister.  There were lots of little things that she wouldn’t do anymore. She refused to make hot drinks for anyone and would not drink them herself. Katie stopped people from lighting candles and she soon had more medical supplies than shoes and handbags!! Her family had to get used to her return. Her younger sister Suzy stated “Its like having a baby in the house”

Katie’s fight for Justice

Katie had been anonomous since the attack but had finally given up her anonymity for ” My Beautiful Face” During the television documentary for the BBC Katie and her family waited 3 weeks for the trial, Katie unsurprisingly refused to be in the same court room as her attackers but waited nervously for news. Her Dad watched on her behalf, regularly informing her what was going on…she felt sick.

Katie went to Switzerland to complete a course of intense treatment including Hydrotherapy to benefit her skin keeping in regular contact with her parents for news about the court case. As the results from the trial came through Katie sobbed with happiness and relief  “It feels like I’ve been in a nightmare for so long have just woken up, I know I don’t look happy but I’m so happy”

Athough she had to no longer be afraid this did not stop her from suffering from nightmares, the faces of her attackers would often come to haunt her, sometimes she would see her old face which she longed for, it was gone forever.

Katie now

Katie has grown even stronger, it has been two years since the attack. Katie decided that she wanted to help others like herself. A courageous decision and set up “The Katie Piper Foundation” which ultimatley aims to :

• Provide funding for the extended rehabilitation and scar management of burns survivors to access residential intensive block treatments.

• Support the need for consistent clinical care for burns survivors.

• Offer one-to-one and group hair, make-up and self- image related workshops.

• Provide hand held massagers and small financial grants to assist in medical tattooing and other beneficial treatments.

• Develop a support network for burns survivors.

• Work to normalise disfigurement within society.

Trustees include “Her Angel” DR Mohammad Ali Jawad. Katie continues to help others as she made a follow up TV documentary called “My Beautiful Friends” where each week she worked alongside four young adults with facial disfigurements caused by injury or physical illness. The brave people chosen were Chantelle, Will, Amit , Kayleigh and George It began its 4 part run on the 22nd March 2011. She did an incredible job, giving them valuble advice, listening to their woes and offering moral suuport. They are now are involved with their charity. Simon Cowell offered to be her celebrity patron, she accepted with pride.

Katie is an inspiration for others, many of whom are insecure about their physical appearance. I know myself that I would like to be prettier .Every time I complain I think of Katie and her pure courage and quickly feel ashamed. Too much pressure is put on young people these days with skinny models and airbrushed celebrities in magazines. It frustrates me, one of the reasons why I only buy them once in a blue moon. I feel it is only right to finish this piece with some wise words from the heroic woman herself :

“I did have these terrible attacks. Yeah I do look totally different physically, but I want to be the woman who got through that and is now living. Not the woman that “Oh, she was attacked. It’s terrible. Don’t mention this. She can’t do that any more. She doesn’t go there. But you know, shh.” You know, like, I just want to be rid of that, I just want to be Katie.”

-Katie Piper 2009

Year 2…the worst school year of my life

I have always found this subject quite difficult to talk about but I feel ready now to share it with you all . I was 6 years of age, 13 years ago to be exact. I had loved school up to November 1997 when I was in year 2. I had attended a different school up to then and had a lovely group of friends. Things were to change for the worst when we moved house. Our old one was a bungalow by the sea, cute but far too tiny for a family of four. The new village was about 15 minutes away from where we used to live and it had a school within walking distance..ideal but it meant leaving my old one that I loved behind. It was a teeny village school with only 86 pupils..I had come from a primary school with nearer to 200. Quite a size difference. As well as that classes were combined- Reception & year 1, year 2& 3 and year 4-6.

It was quite strange being taught in this way as I was used to one, maybe two teachers per year group . I have always been quite frightened of big changes suffering from anxiety all my life.  When I was younger it was far worse and I obviously wasn’t as good as hiding it back then either. I joined the class in the new school and already felt that I stuck out like a sore thumb, the other pupils knew what was expected of them..I did not. Things were to worsen. My teacher had exceedingly high expectations of 6-8 year olds, expecting perfect handwriting . She was really petty for example in maths you had to draw a number 6 almost as if it was a small case letter b, if you didn’t, this would be pointed out and you may have had to re do that section of work. My handwriting has never being great and aged 6 it was pretty awful if I’m honest..she was not happy.

Maths has always been my weakest subject…I managed to achieve a grade C at GCSE but with an incredible amount of hard work. I remember once I genuinely didn’t understand a piece of maths work and I clearly didn’t understand when when she was explaining it to me. She labelled me as “Bone idol” and I felt embarrassed but didn’t understand what it meant at the time. There were other incidents when the class were watching a video in the school hall about the Tudors for history and once again I had been struggling with Maths which had taken me far longer than anyone else. I was left in the classroom alone, I just remember crying and crying and ending up in an absolute state. I’m pretty sure there were other occasions that I had to stay in the classroom but that might have been because I was so anxious I couldn’t physically eat my lunch. The dinner ladies were quite insistent that we ate everything!!

Things had been bad for a while, my Mum said that one morning I had said to her “going to school is like going to hell”….I don’t remember this but I must have been very down at the time. I think one of the main problems was that I was taking such a long time to settle in, however I did make a best friend who stuck by me until year 9 at high school.

At the very end of year 2/beginning of year 3 I remember the day that she wasn’t in school…everyone asked where she was. She didn’t ever return as a teacher at that school. I later learned that she had been diagnosed with M.E or Chronic Fatigue System (CFS). I can’t help but feel guilty for this as I feel that I was the final straw..the person who tipped her over the edge.

I was quite relieved to realise that in the year 6 leavers assembly that I was not the only person afraid of her. We read out our memories of primary school and the comments made about her were very negative. Although I don’t particularly like her I did feel that  some of the comments made were so disrespectful..especially one…my then best friend compared her to a witch due to the amount of black she wore!! I think many of the other teachers were horrified at this as it did not reflect well on the school. After the assembly the reception and year 1 teacher thanked me for being the only one to put something positive about her…I can’t actually remember what I said now.

I didn’t atchually realise how much I had bottled my emotions at the time. I talked about it with my mum last year and became upset……. A part of me wishes that I could speak with her 13 years later for just one last time and let go.

How to be a student- a survival guide

A brief intro…

Having only been 18 for 3 months I felt far too young to leave home and live a university life. My biggest fear was fitting in, I genuinely had convinced myself that I would really struggle to mix with the new crowd. It was September 26th 2010 my moving in day. My whole life was packed into our family car and we drove to Chester. I felt physically sick with nerves but also excitement for what the future may hold.

I found my self to be living with 3 other girls, 2 student nurses and a midwife. The first impression that they all made seemed good. I needn’t have worried as the year progressed I found myself among-st an amazing group of people who I greatly hope will be my friends for life. Of course we had our little slip ups on the way..but nothing major that couldn’t be sorted.

Anyway after just over a year as living as a student I wish to share some tips which you that I think to be helpful.

Useful things to take to university

It is wise to use your imagination a bit with this one…what do your family use at home? It is best to think about what to pack going from room to room. It was a bit of a nightmare in our house when it came to kitchen equipment as we accumulated 6 lots of EVERYTHING which took up a ridiculous amount of space. I swear by the end of last year the majoity of the kitchen stuff that I had brought was in bags under my bed! This cannot be helped as often you will not meet your new housemates until the day you move in.

You will feel far more comfortable once your bedroom is sorted. Often the rooms in first year accommodation are very plain with white or cream walls- a blank canvas. Luckily I had taken my wonderful Les Mis posters (which are rare and I am very proud of !)  to put on my wall. It is wise to bring posters and photographs possibly ones from home to liven your room up a bit.

Storage space may be an issue when you move in. I remember most of my tins ending up in a crate on the kitchen floor last year as there was not enough cupboard space. I swear our house was designed for 4 people NOT 6. So yeah I reccomend a crate/ box for your kitchen floor! If you struggle for space in your room then storage boxes under your bed are very useful as well as ‘door tidies’ which hang on your bedroom door and have lots of pockets to put smaller items in.

It depends what kind of cook you are but a slow cooker may be helpful if you like dishes such as Spag bol etc. They cost about £30 but can really be worth the money. I found a George Foreman grill to be good. However last year I became too paranoid that I might set off the fire alarms when  using it that it did become a bit neglected!

How to survive a night out (We failed a bit !!)

Before I moved to Chester I had very little experience of clubbing! I needn’t have feared I would soon learn! It soon became a tradition to have a ‘Pre Lash’ we would meet as a group in one of the houses in the courtyard where we lived pre- drinking. The drinking games are the best such as “Never have I ever” which includes going around the circle of people and confessing for example “Never have I ever had a one night stand !! ” If someone had then they would have to take a gulp of their drink..I love confession games. It is best not to get completly wasted before you leave the house as I found out for my 19th birthday celebration. I drank my alcohol WAY TOO FAST. My friends had devised a “shot challenge” for me which I happily took on..bad idea…I didn’t even made it out the house that night  ended up absolutely off my face, spending most of it throwing up in the toilet- Classy!  MORAL ONE : Drink SLOWLY!!!!

Another rule of mine is if you accept a drink from a stranger make sure that you go to the bar with them to make sure that they cannot tamper with your drink. I remember last year it was one of my friends 20th birthday and of course we had a night out. I could see that one of my friends *Kate* was flirting with a youngish guy at the bar who was buying her drinks. We thought nothing of the situation until later I remember seeing her sat on the floor, extremely upset. I just thought that *Kate* was very drunk and had become emotional. She was taken back to the house where her condition had begun to worsen, she was shaking uncontrollably as if fitting , being violently sick and distressed..she is always a very happy drunk. We called an ambulance which took her to hospital rapidly and our conclusions were correct..she had been spiked. I didn’t sleep that night, sitting in the kitchen nervously waiting for news. *Kate* had a lucky escape as in A&E they had managed to get the alcohol out of her system quickly. Although she felt rough the next day the spiking incident had done no further damage to her system. MORAL TWO : If you do except drinks off someone watch their every move (like a hawk!)

Oh my goodness I will never forget the time when we came back from a night out. We were walking through town back to our house and spotted road signs oh and traffic cones. Somehow we decided that it would be a good idea to “Borrow” them- they ended up in our kitchen…Yesss I know its classed as a criminal offence but who hasn’t done this at some part of their student life. I just remember a friend of mine and another friends brother sitting on the floor with a traffic cone singing “I love the cone and the cone loves meeeee”- oh dear and then they nearly fell asleep next to it. Ahh never a dull moment ! If you decide to “Borrow” any road signs make sure you replace them ASAP by the next day and dodge any security cameras to avoid getting arrested!

A few other No-no’s

1) Never pretend to be someone your not…making a good first impression is important..but don’t make a fake one

2) Try not to go out drinking every single night…At first we pushed the boat out, soon after limited ourselves to once a week ! You’ll save money!

3) Don’t skip lectures…whats the point of spending £3,000 a year??!!


Well I think that draws my survival guide to an end…Hope it helps 😀

The Crush

**Names have been changed in this article**

I am quite a shy person and have a really bad habit of not admitting my true feelings for guys. I normally just have a crush..not telling them my true feelings and carry on as normal. I used to work in a local 3* hotel as a waitress, I was never great at my job but was always willing to put in 100% effort fitting in well among the staff all of mixed ages. There was a large staff turnover there and by the time I left literally  two members of the original staff were there from when I first started. Something was really wrong in the managerial department.

It was mid February 2010 and the hotel had recruited a new member of staff. He quickly introduced himself to me and we shook hands. The first thing I noticed about **Lewis** was that he was very attractive being slim and about 5″8 in height. He had lovely grayish blue eyes as well as looking “well groomed”. I’m not really into the rugged/ shaven head look on men!…I prefer the clean cut look ! In the past I have found it difficult talking to guys as at school many of the boys could be cruel and definetly damaged my self confidence with their harsh comments. **Lewis** was different and so easy to chat to…  I’m not going to go as far as saying that there was a spark between us. He was almost 4 years older had a girlfriend at the time. He didn’t feel the same way about me but there was something. We always had really interesting conversations which made the tedious skivvy jobs such as polishing cutlery bearable not only this but he had a wicked sense of humor, never failing to make me laugh.

I’m quite a ditzy girl. I don’t mean to be…I always have been and I can’t see it changing either. I atchually cannot help it! The issue was I found that whenever I have a crush on a guy my dizzy behaviour worsens. I remember once being called into work as the hotel was short staffed due to members of staff  phoning in sick. **Lewis** was also in work. Today had to be the day when I had the worst case of “brainlessness” in the history of my entire life. I blame him. The awful shift involved me…….

1) Taking food to the WRONG table luckily this was outside…I didn’t make to much of a scene

2) spilling cold leftover soup down my apron just as we got into the kitchen after clearing a table (luckily it wiped off !!)

3) dropping items whilst walking back to the kitchen e.g. cutlery from the plates we cleared

4)  oh and the worst one nearly knocking **Lewis** out with the swinging door in the hotel kitchen

I’m sure that by the end of the shift most of the staff wanted to murder me.  I don’t think **Lewis** was too happy about the earlier door incident with the the comment of “You dizzy f****ng blonde !! ” to which I answered “I’m not blonde! My hair’s mousey brown” he then stated “atchually thats a fair point ! ” and laughed (phew !!) at least he didn’t stay annoyed with me for long !

I did think about him way too much and was devastated when I left the hotel to go to university. I literally cried all the way home in the car as I knew that I probably wouldn’t see him again. What baffles me the most is that fairly recently we spoke on Facebook. I found out that after I left EVERYONE told him that I had feelings for him! He told me that he had no idea of this!! really??!

Looking back at this I laugh at how stupid I was to let myself get so obsessed about a guy who didn’t have the feelings about me..I deeply hope that I have learnt from this experience and NEVER make the same mistake again!!!

The Fabulous Mr Gareth Gates

I am quite ashamed to say that I have only been a fan for just under two years. Gareth Gates in my opinion is one of the most underrated celebrities out there, probably because he is so modest, quite shy and doesn’t feel the need to put his whole life in the press. As he once said in an interview on the tv docmentary ‘Whatever Happened to Gareth Gates’ back in 2006  “My private life is my private life”. I think he has gone against this slightly as he has now been using twitter for around 2 years posting fairly regular statuses about what he has been up to. He also takes time to write replies to fans which is fantastic…I have received many 🙂

He began his career in 2001/2002 on the ITV television talent contest pop idol where it ended up as a neck and neck final between him and Will Young. Will won the public vote . He was so young at the age of 17 but was quickly signed up to Simon Cowell’s record label then called “Sony BMG” .He had 4 number ones including : Spirit in the Sky a cover of the original with the Kumars in 2003 for Comic Relief , Any one of us, Unchained Melody and Suspicious minds an Elvis Presley cover. As he was so young the fast fame became too much for Gareth .It worked at the time but his fame fizzled out for the first time at the end of 2005 after 3 years in the music industry.

Gareth said himself on an interview with Jonathon Ross after he made a comeback in 2007  that he  didn’t really know what artist he wanted to be so he just let his record company mould him into the popstar with the ‘squeaky clean’ image that they wanted him to portray. A three month fling with a glamour model back in 2003 left this image somewhat tarnished. Gareth denied everything at the time but Katie Price had other ideas, running to every paper possible and maliciously spreading all the details when they had made an arrangement with eachother to keep everything private.

Gareth seems to alway be up for a challenge in 2008 he took part in the 3rd series of dancing on ice partnered with Bulgarian pro skater Maria Fillipov. He did extremly well finishing fourth, wowing the judges and audience. The only thing that let him down I think was his self esteem and confidence which held him back. I can really relate to this as I too am my own worst enemy at times!!

Why do I admire Gareth Gates so much? 

I often get critacized for being a Gareth Gates fan…Some people are just ignorant, know nothing about what he does for example all his charity work and just come out with brash statements such as ” Urgh I can’t stand him”  I ask why…they have no valid reason. I suppose one of the main reasons why I look up to him is the fact that he has lived with such a debilitating stammer ever since he could speak. His infamous audition on pop idol is remembered by all, when he couldn’t say his name for around a minute the nations heart sank yet  he began to sing and had such a beautiful voice, ‘the voice of an angel’ . Nine years have passed since that audition. After pop idol Gareth was introduced to ‘The McGuire programme’ the UK’s number one leading therapy for stammerers…It has changed his life for the better and now as a qualified instructor he continues to change the life of others. In interviews he ALWAYS promotes the programme but stresses that it is NOT a CURE. He is the youngest person ever to qualify as a speech coach and was leading classes of stammerers by the age of 20.  Since then he has taught classes regularly with two upcoming courses at the end of 2011 such an amazing achievement. Even though his speech is incredible compared to what it once was he still has ‘bad days’ where he struggles and recognises that as soon as he becomes “Complacent” with the required breathing exercises to control his diaphram from going into spasms his speech suffers. He has created a tv show for the BBC  called ” Gareth Gates’s Stammer House” which is due to be aired at the end of this year. He will be working with and supporting 6 stammerers  by teaching them the clever techniques of the McGuire programme and transforming their lives forever.

Meeting Gareth…

I have met Gareth on a couple of  time at Les Miserables. The first time was unexpected, I felt very embarassed…the blame entirely goes to my Mum however I’ve to to thank her to as if it wasn’t for her eccentric behaviour I would not have met Gareth on that day. It was a cold February afternoon and we were due to see the matinee of the 25th anniversary tour of Les Mis  at 2.30pm. My Mum, Dad and I were in Manchester and decided to walk closer to the theatre as it was around 1.40pm. We casually walked down Oxford Road.

All of a sudden a tall willowy figure emerged from one of the side streets and walked directly in front of us at a rapid speed. My heart literally skipped a beat I knew…It was Gareth Gates !! I froze, blurted out “Ohmygod theres GARETH GATES” and hesitated…my mum however did not, she had other ideas. She took off atfer full speed after him I ran after her to try to slow her down. I didn’t want to scare the life out of him AND he was on his phone!!  We must have looked an absolute sight my little mum running at full speed and me trying to slow her down ! I’m sure that any passers by would have had a good giggle at us. I’m also aware that Gareth is fairly shy to some extent…I didn’t want to startle him! Well anyway he must have heard the clattering of heels on the pavement as he turned around I nearly had a heart attack. I swear it was the moment that his beautiful brown eyes met mine..that was it! I was completely starstruck…lost for words! I just gawped at him I think like an idiot. What really struck me is how ridiculously young he looks. Its lucky that hes such a lovely person really as otherwise with any other celebrity I would have been A) arrested   B) They would have given me a load of abuse  C) I would have been ignored and they would have walked away.  What happened next is some what of a blur…somehow I got a picture with him and an autograph. Gareth had clearly been running late..he still had his car keys in his hand!!  My dad was standing to one side at this point chuckling and finding the whole thing highly amusing…I’m surprised he didn’t disown us. I just remember at the end managing to blurt out “Thankyou so much” to which Gareth answered “you’re welcome, no problem babe” Our first meeting was over as quick as a flash as off he went down the street. He was wearing the most random cardigan that I have ever seen. It was grey made from an aaron jumper type material as I said RANDOM!

At this point I was still in a state, well a complete daze atchually. I swear I have never been that starstruck in my whole life and I don’t think I will be ever again. Our meeting was pure luck as he did not come out of the stage door at the end of that performance. I was the only fan to meet him at that matinee. So anyway my Mum and Dad had to guide me into the nearest McDonalds and sit me down where I just sat with a massive smile on my face…I must have looked extremely stupid. What a day!!

To conclude many people will judge a celebrity like him as a failure and will automatically brush him off pre- judging him before they know his talents. He is such an underrated celebrity, people should remember him as he has changed so many peoples lives for the better and remember him for his strengths NOT his weaknesses! I’m not asking you to LOVE him! just to recognize him as a person!!

Les Miserables 25th Anniversary tour review

A bit of background history of the show……

The novel Les Miserables is an epic book written by French Novelist Victor Hugo in 1862 consisting of a whopping 1,500 pages.  Fine – as long as you have an attention span of a saint and a rainy afternoon to kill  !  Otherwise many try to avoid it. The show was  born in France in 1980 playing at a 3 month long arena version at the Palais De Sports in Paris and was based on the novel. Although its story line is very deep and meaningful in terms of musical theatre plots it hardly scratches the surface of the book. In 1983 it was snatched up by Trevor Nunn, John Caird and Herbert Kretzmer who planned to turn it into an improved theatre production of the French 1980 version.

In 1985 the musical interpretation  premiered at the Barbican Centre for the first time before opening to the press on October 8th 1985.  It starred  the west end legend Colm Wilkinson as felon turned saint Jean-Valjean. It was bombared with negative reviews and labelled ‘The Glums’…not exactly a positive start. Ever since then it has been running in the West End and is the longest running musical of all time having been seen by millions of people.

The 25th Anniversary touring production….

At the end of 2009 it was announced that a 25th anniversary interpretation of the show was to be created. It seemed impossible that this masterpiece could ever be improved upon…I was so wrong. The main aim  was to take the traditional version of the show out of its ‘black box’ this they did magnificently injecting colour into the production with beautiful new costumes. Who to cast..? this was the question. It was announced in the summer of 2009 that the tour would be headed by well respected west end performers John-Owen Jones and Earl Carpenter who are a dab hand at theatre having not only starred in the West End production of Les Mis but The Phantom of  The Opera too. The next performer to head the tour was a surprise….. Gareth Gates, the then 25 year old from Bradford who came second in the 2001/2002 series of pop idol having lost out to Will Young, his infamous audition is well remembered…a young, nervous 17 year old with a debilitating stammer who could barely say his own name…but when he sang he sounded like an angel. Since then he has produced 3 albums however he decided to turn to musical theatre in 2008. He proudly took the lead role of Joseph in ‘Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat’ at the Adelphi theatre in February 2009 wowing audiences and having women scream at him as except from a loincloth he was practically naked revealing a very impressive six pack. The cast had been rehearsing for only 6 weeks before the les mis  tour opened and from the pictures posted to Facebook it looked like the rehearsals were intense.

Before the show began, I was sitting in the auditorium 10 rows back nervously waiting with anticipation to see what magic this new interpretation may behold. My heart skipped a beat as the powerful overture boomed throughout the auditorium, myself and other audience members began to cheer as the curtains opened reveling the haggard convicts rowing ‘The Orion’ their convict ship, this had never been done as the show normally begins in a prison in Toulon in 1815 which I think is rather dull. The chorus of voices were absolutely sensational and the opening song was sung with so much passion and power.

The show follows felon turned saint Jean Valjean who is given a second chance by the kind bishop of Digne . Valjean repays his kindness by stealing his valuble silver candle sticks and running away. When he is arrested and brought back to the house by two police officers the kind- hearted bishop lies on Valjeans behalf stating that he gave him the silver. Once the officers have gone the bishop states that he has ‘bought Valjeans soul for god’ and he must use the precious silver to become an honest man. Valjean becomes the owner of a factory and changes the lives of others including saving one.

The  new cast …..

The role of Jean- Valjean was played by the magnificent John-Owen Jones who first played the role at the age of 26..the youngest actor ever to play the part. His voice is mind blowing with sensational Welsh tones. Jones’s vocal range is phoenominal, he somehow manages to age his voice along with his character as the show progresses. His interpretation of the bitter and twisted Valjean is second to none…how people can say that the original Colm Wilkinson is unbeatable is a statement which will always baffle me, however each to their own! His heart is softened throughout the show firstly by the guilt he feels for the first time after being forgiven and secondly after accidental mistakes.

Owen-Jones was strongly supported by Earl Carpenter who played the battle axe inspector of police Javert who lets religion rule his heart leading to his eventual downfall as he is obsessed with finding Jean-Valjean who escaped his parole and is now on the run “The Confrontation” was a mind-blowingly powerful duet between the two of them which was recieved with yet more cheers from the excited audience .

Fantine was superbly played by Portugese jazz singer Madalena Alberto her  version of ‘I dreamed a dream’ moved me and the majority of the audience to tears. Susan Boyle’s performance of the song on Britains Got Talent in 2009 didn’t even come close. Her portrayal of the unfortunate Fantine who has been crulley let down by her lover and left with a child Cosette who she cannot afford to keep was heartbreaking. I don’t think there was a dry eye in the theatre in her final scene as her desperation and dispear was made quite clear through her clever acting.

The show is often labelled as a ‘morbid’ one however some fun was injected into the production by Geordies Ashley Artus and Lynne Wilmot who were ingeniously cast as the repulsive Thenardier& Madame Thenardier . There was an obvious spark between the two of them making a perfect evil double act. I remember laughing out loud during a scene at their inn during the song “Master of the House” where Thenardier stole the shoes of a ‘blind’ customer swapping them with his own battered ones! Their crimes worsen throughout the show…one leading to a vital discovery at the penultimate scene.

Gareth Gates made the role of Marius his own, portraying his character Marius , a love struck university law student turned revolutionary as slightly nerdish yet sweet. His acting was fantastic..his 6 months training at RADA (Royal Acadamy of Dramatic Arts) certainly paid off . He somehow brought an elegance to the character. Gates’s voice has matured dramatically particularly over the last two years- he still looks ridiculously young!  His solo Empty Chairs at Empty tables. which he delivered with power and passionate emotion was heart wrenching yet  magical when the ghosts of the dead revolutionaries carried lit tea lights onto the stage and blew them out at the end of the song to symbolise their death. He sang beautifully with co stars Katie Hall who played a young, pretty Cosette with quite a shrill yet impressive voice and Rosalind James who played the rough and feisty Eponine Thenardier who gave the role a bluesy edge with her amazing R&B voice. A little Fall of Rain was heart breaking… the duet between Eponine and Marius when Eponine is dying. I don’t think there was a dry eye in the theatre as it was so dramatic and moving.

Jon Robyns who is well known for playing Marius in the West End production and Rod & Princeton in Avenue Q ,  joined the cast as the bold barricade leader Enjolras, sporting a shoulder length blonde wavy wig which he pulled off surprisingly well. Other critiques stated that his voice was too weak for the part however, I was very impressed. He certainly gave Oliver Thornton an run for his money who I saw play the role giving an ‘airy fairy’ performance  in the 2004 London production. The whole ensemble were strong vocally, the final song was phoenominal  leading to an encore and a full audience standing ovation on both times that I saw the production.

Another dramatic change to the show were the beautiful costumes designed by Adrienne Nefetou which were almost regency style and more colourful than the dull black, brown and grey tones lifting this new production out of the ‘black box’ which the show usually is. As the show was a tour it was slightly more limited in terms of props, for example there was no revolving stage or suspended bridges which the Original London production has to offer. Instead there were amazing CGI 3D holographic projections added which gave this new production a cinematic feel. The sewer scene in particular completley took my breath away when John Owen Jones emerged from the projection carrying Gareth Gates after he had been injured after the epic final battle scene!

Stage door

Another positive point was the lovely cast who were willing to sign autographs for fans as they walked out the stage door. It added to the excitement at the end of the show waiting to see who would emerge from the stage door. I was lucky enough to meet John Owen Jones, Earl Carpenter, Lynne Wilmot, Ashley Artus, Jon Robyns and my favourite cast member.. the lovely Gareth Gates. I still cannot get over how ridiculously young he looks. He is so tall and has the most beautiful brown eyes that I have ever seen. It was such a privalage to meet him as I am a massive fan. Unlike most celebrities he is always willing to spend time with his fans and have a picture taken with them. This I am very grateful for. The cast signed my poster and my mum and I left absolutely beaming after such a memorable day.

By Sophie Bowns