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Heather Peace: I fall head over heels in love too easily and I've had my heart broken..badly; THE REAL REAL ME Heather Peace reveals all to NINA MYSKOW.

HEATHER Peace is hot right now. And not just because for the past two years she has starred as Blackwall firefighter Sally Fields in the top ITV drama series London's Burning.

She has just starred on stage as buxom minx Moll Flanders, and her first single, The Rose, a scorching rendition of the Bette Midler hit, is released by RCA on March 27. Bradford-born Heather was signed after she was spotted singing last year at the end-of-series London's Burning party.

Heather lives in South London. We met at the Covent Garden Hotel. Bubbly, bouncy and open, she has an honest innocence that is very appealing.

WEIGHT goes on my arse and my hips. Right there. So I have to be very, very careful. I'm just very hippy, and there's nothing I can do about it. I've got child-bearing hips.

Actually we should start being proud of that, as women. Know what I mean? But it doesn't work like that. If I don't do exercise, my bum sags. Within two weeks, if I've not been running, it just flops! It's: "Oh no! Handfuls of squidgy bits."

And I'm prone to cellulite. It's a bugger, isn't it? And I think it's getting worse as I get older. I'm 24. But, in fact, I only got funny about my weight when I first did the television. When I started on London's Burning, two years ago.

For the first time in my life, I was saying: "Do I look fat?" You know. I didn't realise I was doing it, until a friend pointed it out. She said: "It must be 10 or more times a day." She said: "That's how many comments you're making on your weight now." So she limited me to saying it three times a day!

I spent that whole first year being quite paranoid. Because you hang round with all the TV actresses that are so skinny. Size eight. And I'm not a size eight or a 10. I'm a size 12 or 14, and 5ft 8in.

And also the lads in the series do it. I'm not getting at them at all, but boys are boys. Sometimes I'll put something on, and they'll say: "You look a bit hippy." I've got mad, and really blown at them, but they don't mean to be nasty, you know.

But it does kind of fester in your brain. It becomes a real issue. It's ridiculous, but it got to me. You see, I've never had to watch myself before, and it's quite hard.

There was one particular shot, with me walking away, and I just thought: "Is my arse THAT big?"

I was a little bit bigger then, and it really, really depressed me. I've lost weight, anyway, but I still always prefer the camera to stop, round about here, at boob level. I've got quite a fair pair, yeah.

I'm a 34C, just a nice size. A womanly size. I do like my boobs, I have to say. They're pretty fab. But as soon as there's a long shot, and I see my bum, I've got a real thing about it.

It was later in that first year that I just thought: "Right! Stuff this. I'm not going to get at myself any more." And actually made a pact to just live my life the way I did before. Because I was perfectly happy, thank you very much, till I got London's Burning. And the weight came off anyway. I actually don't know what I weigh, I don't think it's important. And I won't go on a diet, now. I've got an addictive personality and I became quite obsessive about what I ate. I ended up not losing anything. You think of nothing but food. It's so boring!

Watching my mum has been a great help. I've seen her struggle with her weight all her life. She's not tiny, but she looks gorgeous and my dad adores her.

BUT it really used to get her down, she'd hide wrappers from chocolate bars she'd eaten. I just don't want to go down that road.

I had no problems as a teenager, growing up in Bradford, I was such an individual at school. I did drama, and played football for a girls' team. Played the piano, didn't watch telly, didn't watch the soaps. I didn't used to stay in one night a week.

I have a very, very loving mum and dad. They always made me believe I'm beautiful. They just adore me. We're a very, very tactile family. Very touchy-feely. I still sit on my dad's knee, and I'm 24! Maybe other people would think: "Oh, that's a bit strange." See something a little bit Freudian in that, but it's so not like that.

Mum and Dad used to walk round naked, in front of us, when my older brother and I were kids. As children, it makes you very, very comfortable with it. But then we hit about 12.

And suddenly Dad wasn't allowed in the bathroom, and me and my brother are walking around fully dressed, and it was: "Mum, put some clothes on." But that sort of environment made me very comfortable with myself.

I always wanted to sing, and I loved acting. I did drama at Manchester Poly, and when I graduated, at 21, I had six months out of work.

But I got a brilliant first job. Playing Eliza Dolittle in My Fair Lady at Harrogate Theatre. I did two months in Emmerdale, and then I did an episode of The Bill.

You know when they say it's luck, acting? Well, I believe you create your own luck. I used to do mail-outs to casting directors, every time I did a job. Send postcards. I must have sent 200-odd.

A year after I'd sent her a postcard about The Bill, the casting director of London's Burning rang my agent and said: "She's perfect, she's a bit tomboyish. Get her down."

That one postcard, a year before! All those postcards when I had very little money. And a mail-out would have cost pounds 12, which is a lot out of just pounds 50 that's coming in.

London's Burning's been great. You get to play the hero, instead of being the hero's love interest, which is what most girls get to do. I'm going to do another half-series, I think. It's probably enough now. I've done two series of 16 episodes. But it's great fun. How many jobs do you get given a big stick and told: "Go and smash that car up!" You know, great big pliers, "Go and cut the roof off that car."

And you may not think the clothes are very glamorous, but I think it's quite sexy, a girl in fire gear. Same as the boys in fire gear. I get to kick-box in it. I get to see places blow up. And then I also get to snog the boys!

I AM with someone at the moment, but it's not an actor, although he's in the business. It's been about six months.

And it's nice. We're buying a place together in Brighton. It's fantastic, it's on the seafront.

I'm renting a council flat at the moment, and a miserable day is really miserable. But a miserable day in Brighton just means that the sea is a little bit rougher.

I'm a relationship girl, definitely. But I'm a terrible Gemini. I fall head over heels in love, within, like, two weeks. And just think: "Uuuh! This is it! This is it." And then I'm quite fickle.

That's Gemini. I'm a Rabbit in Chinese astrology, can't remember what that is. Maybe it means I shag like one! I hold my hands up, Guv'nor.

Despite that, I have had my heart broken. Badly. I'm too open. I broke up with someone the first year of London's Burning, it was partly the strain.

An actor. It's always difficult when one's working and one's not. That was a really hard year for me.

What are the three things that keep you sane? Love, your home, and your job. Aren't they? And the whole thing went. I moved home - to London - got a new job, and my love life went up the spout. It made me harden up a bit, but maybe I needed to. I trust people too easily.

And this business is so false. I don't go to showbizzy dos. But the couple that I have, I felt so kind of intimidated. You know when your heart just feels heavy? People can be such tossers.

But on the other hand, a big part of the problem comes from me. I think everyone who talks posh and earns loads of money is a twat. And it's so wrong. I've been shouted down by my Other Half, who happens to come from quite a middle-class background.

Like: "You are so far up your own arse, more than I am, in that you play this working-class hero. Get over yourself! There's tossers in every kind of walk of life."

He's very special. I think I'm the happiest I've ever been. I'm certainly the most calm. My mum came to see me on-stage in Moll Flanders and she just looked at me and said: "Your eyes are sparkling again." I said: "Yeah! I've got a job, I've got a home coming through, and I'm in love."

And those are the three things. I've never had all three at once, so I'm touching wood - there - on that. And then there's the single! I find that all quite hysterical. I've always sung in jazz clubs, but this is an adventure.

Who knows? I'm not saying: "I don't care." But it would be a bonus. It wouldn't devastate me if it didn't get anywhere. But it's a nice record.

Just to have my voice on top of this beautiful 20-piece orchestra is fantastic. And I've got it on CD with my name on the cover. You can give it to your kids, can't you? "That's Mummy on the tape!"

Somebody's smiling on me. I feel desperately lucky at the moment. Touch wood again, if I carry on like this I'll be fine. I am ambitious, but at the moment, I'm earning good money for a 24-year-old, I'm in love, and I'm doing work that I really enjoy. If you can enjoy your work, you've made it. You've done it.

So many people do jobs that they hate, for the sake of a pay packet. If I get paid for this, it's a doddle, then. Isn't it?

An absolute doddle.

I'm crackers for cheese..MY BIGGEST DOWNFALL

CHEESE, I adore it. If the moon was made of cheese, I'd be on it. Cheese and pickle, cheese and Marmite sandwiches. Blue is my favourite. The funny thing is, you know when pregnant women get cravings? My mum's was Danish Blue. I used to eat it when I was just two, a strange taste for a baby.

MY FAVOURITE DRINK

VODKA and slimline tonic. And I love a pint of lager, it's a real Northern thing. But I cut that out for the weight. It was hard to do. I've been through phases when I've drunk a lot. My mum's been worried at times. I'm not an alcoholic, but I guess most days I will have a drink. I don't get really arseholed, though.

MY EXERCISE REGIME

I'M lucky, I've always been sporty. I cycle to the studio, I swim, I run along Tower Bridge and back round London Bridge. Singing takes care of my stomach muscles. And I do press-ups. Otherwise I wouldn't look as if I was capable of lifting the equipment in the series. Real firefighters are so fit, I couldn't let them down.

MY WORST HABIT

SMOKING. I started when I was 19, when I went to college. Ludicrous! It was like two fingers up at my ex-boyfriend. He didn't like me drinking pints and smoking. So I did it. I smoke about 15 to 20 a day. My Other Half smokes, which makes it difficult. I've got to stop! Help.

MY FAVOURITE MEAL

WHEN I was out of work, I was too proud to go home. I pretended everything was fine. Four of us existed on a big bag of oven chips for four days, until I got a gig singing. I wouldn't sign on. The day the money came through, we bought eggs, bacon, beans, sausage. The Full Monty. I remember saying: "This will be the best breakfast I ever taste in my life." It was. It still is.

MY HIDDEN ASSETS

I'M not a girly girl. I've always worn baggy clothes that hide my boobs. A friend took me shopping and said: "We're going to sort you out before you start your pop career.

You don't show your figure off." We bought some tight tops and she said: "Look at your tits, they're fantastic!" So I've made a promise I'll start showing them off.

Put the top into Top Of The Pops.
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Author:Myskow, Nina
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Mar 17, 2000
Words:2172
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