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DAME OF TWO HALVES; Footie Wives and Rocket Man actress reveals her soft side to She's TV's No1 superbitch.. but in real life Alison frets about her looks, job and lovelife and wept for her tragic dad.

Byline: By JON WISE

AS scheming superbitch Hazel Bailey in Footballers' Wives, she's crushed male egos, snorted cocaine and enjoyed steamy lesbian romps.

But in real life actress Alison Newman couldn't be more different from the brash, fearless and totally outrageous flame-haired soccer boss.

Revealing a vulnerable side that will shock her fans, Alison reveals that she once QUIT acting because she lacked confidence, frets about her LOOKS, and until recently thought she'd never fall in LOVE.

She also shed very un-Hazel-like TEARS when she read the script of her new TV drama Rocket Man.

Alison, 37, who is still coming to terms with the death of her dad, said: "I wept because I thought it was one of the best studies of grief I'd ever read."In the BBC1 series, watched by 6.3million viewers last week, Alison stars alongside Robson Green who plays a grieving widower trying to send his late wife's ashes to heaven in a home-made rocket.

And Alison used her own emotional experiences to help in her portrayal of factory worker Diane Scott.

Diane is the wife of Stevenson's best pal Barney (played by Charles Dale), a woman who is desperate to have a baby but can't conceive.

Alison said: "It's a great storyline and I think many people watching will relate to it because bereavement and infertility are everyday tragedies which affect us all.

"I was incredibly moved by the whole story and was desperate for the part. But I didn't think I'd get it because I've a history of playing these tough women in Footballers' Wives and Bad Girls."

Once filming started, Alison's anxieties kicked in when she had to strip off for a bedroom scene with co-star Charles, best known as Corrie's Dennis Stringer.

"It was nerve racking," she says. "I didn't know Charlie before we started filming and yet there I was in bed with the man at 8am, trying to look relaxed and natural. Luckily Charlie was great to work with and made it as easy as possible.

"And it was all modestly done. You don't see anything, which is just as well because stripping off and doing sex scenes isn't really me - no one would want to see it anyway."

Alison was not confident about her looks on Footballers' Wives either. She says she felt like a "heifer" next to her gorgeous co-stars Zoe Lucker and Laila Rouass.

"I remember in one series I felt terribly pressured to look a certain way and I did something about it by losing a bit of weight," says Alison.

"But the next series I thought, 'Sod it. I was never hired for my looks, I was hired as a character actress', so I decided to be natural.

"I'm all for fronting a campaign to bring back real women. We're not perfect, we are real. That's not to say I'll never have anything done but the idea of plastic surgery scares the life out of me.

"I'd rather have a fringe to cover up a wrinkly forehead than have botox. That's why Rocket Man is so fantastic, it's full of real-looking actors."

Alison, brought up in Bournemouth by her teacher parents, studied drama at Manchester Polytechnic but it left her totally disillusioned.

"I had an awful time," she says. "The college is absolutely fine but it wasn't the right place for me. I completely lost my confidence there.

"Maybe I was just too young. You're constantly being judged on the way you look, stand, or speak. I did one job in theatre and then decided I wasn't going to do it any more because it didn't make me happy. So for seven years I did waitressing and other jobs." Fortunately, Alison was persuaded by a friend to go back on stage. And she was later snapped up for Bad Girls which led to Footballers' Wives.

But Alison's success was tainted by the unexpected death of her 72-year-old dad, with whom she was very close. He died in 2002, but even now the loss can bring tears to her eyes.

Luckily, however, her heartache was eased by the fact she unexpectedly fell in love six months later, just at a time when she thought romance had passed her by.

"I've got the man!" Alison laughs as she admits that meeting graphic designer Hugh Williams, with whom she now shares her London home, is the best thing that has ever happened to her.

"He's very kind, funny and intelligent, a top bloke. Hugh is completely unimpressed by what I do. He doesn't watch much telly anyway. It works for me to have a partner who's not in the business." At 31, Hugh is six years younger than Alison and one thing he's sure about is that he wants to be a father some day.

Alison's character in Rocket Man dreams of starting a family and the actress herself confesses that motherhood has been on her mind a lot lately too - especially since filming some deeply poignant scenes.

She says: "I'm 37 now so I'll have to get a move on I suppose! Hugh can't foresee a life without children but who knows what route we'll go down?

"I've had friends who've had a perfect relationship but haven't been able to conceive and the heartache was distressing to see.

"If I couldn't have children and I was allowed to, I would adopt because there are a lot of unloved babies out there desperate for a good home."

After the outlandish storylines of Footballers' Wives, Alison is delighted to be doing a show more rooted in everyday life. But she admits: "It was hard to leave Footballers' Wives because Hazel was a character I loved.

"She was vile but also bright and she did have a heart - eventually! But I think it's always best to leave when you're enjoying a job."

She adds: "I've reached a good place in my life and I think my dad would approve.

"I know he'd love Hugh and I know he'd be happy for me and that's all I can ask."

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Picture: SCOPE FEATURES; FOOTY STAR: With co-star Zoe Lucker; ROCKET BOOSTER: Alison with star Robson Green in new TV drama
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Publication:The People (London, England)
Date:Nov 6, 2005
Words:1032
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