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I'm single for the first time in 13 years and I'm loving it; TAMZIN ON MEN AND MARRIAGE.

Byline: CLARE GOLDWIN

IT'S the most dramatic soap wedding for years, dogged by lies and infidelity and capped by a murderous attack.

Beautiful barmaid Mel, played by Tamzin Outhwaite, marries handsome but dodgy Steve (Martin Kemp) in tonight's cliffhanger episode of EastEnders.

It's the second wedding for Tamzin - her marriage to loser Ian Beale lasted just a few hours. But this time the fall-out is far more spectacular as Mel becomes a suspect in the shooting of Phil Mitchell - the man she bedded on Christmas Day and who is threatening to tell Steve.

Ironically Tamzin - voted Britain's sexiest actress - was to have been married herself this year. But she called it off, blaming work commitments, and moved out from the home she shared with TV producer Marty Benson, 31.

Now she revels in being single.

Talking for the first time about her life since the end of their three-year relationship, 29-year-old Tamzin reveals: "When you spend that much time with one person, to let them go feels a bit sad.

"But I've been in long-term, two-year, three-year, four-year things since the age of 16. I haven't been single for a very long time so I'm just having a nice time.

"I'm on a real looking-after-myself trip at the moment - yoga, being healthy, spending a lot of time with my friends. I'm very untragic. I'm always in a relationship, always, and they've all been good people and they're mostly still good friends."

Tamzin admits it's easier to remain friends if you are the one doing the dumping.

But she adds: "I don't really want to hurt anyone by going on about being happy now I'm single."

Mel stunned TV audiences when she slept with Phil - her best friend Lisa's boyfriend. But one-night stands don't shock Tamzin.

"Women can do them just as well as men," she says. "Girls can separate the emotion from the sex - I'm sure there have been times when I could.

"I've not had many little flings. Maybe when I was younger.

"But I like intimacy and you don't get intimacy with one-night stands, really. I like getting to know people. I've always been a bit of a serial monogamist.

"There's always something wonderful about waking up with someone you care about as opposed to having sex with someone that you don't. I have never gone out and met someone in a club or a bar.

"All of my boyfriends have come through work or friends of friends. Looks are good but personality and vibes are big things for me. I've never had a friend's boyfriend come on to me and I've never been in the position where I've wanted to go where my best friend has been."

Essex-girl Tamzin insists she bears no similarity to Mel, even though she admits her image is also one of a flirt: "She's more hot-headed than I am, more neurotic. I'm laid-back. I'm not a 'make-up and low-cut top flirt', batting my eyelids.

"I don't make the separation that men are people I have sex with and women are people I'm friendly with. "I don't know how you define a flirt. I get on well with men but I'm probably a tomboy, though I am quite good at turning on the girlie thing sometimes.

"I've got a lot of male friends as well as girls and I do like football. Some women can't see past the sexual object with a man."

Despite the on-screen closeness with heart-throb Martin Kemp, Tamzin insists she's not attracted.

"No, there's not even any electricity. None at all. You build up a relationship and hope it comes across and if anyone tells you you've got chemistry on screen, you think: 'Great! I'm doing my job'."

Quizzed over rumours that she's bisexual, Tamzin laughs: "Really? Bisexual? No, I've never had anything with a woman. My lesbian friends will be delighted to hear that!" She also scotches whispers about rifts on set over her salary and insists the actors are one big family. "There's no one on that show I don't get on with.

"It is rubbish that there is resentment about how much I am paid.

"I hope the others know these are just rumours because my contract isn't even up yet.

"And I'm certainly nowhere near the highest-paid person, but that is not an issue. I think everyone's pretty much into teamwork."

Tamzin is good friends with Lucy Benjamin who plays Lisa, the character Mel betrays by sleeping with Phil. And she has nothing but praise for the plotline's believability.

"You would never have thought Mel was going to be sleeping with Phil on Christmas Day.

"On paper, you'd say they weren't suited but the build-up made it work. Mel was watching Phil get upset by Lisa and so they got closer.

"Before you know where you are, it's a really good friend that you're looking after and then you've had a one-night stand."

TAMZIN adds: "Even though this wedding with Steve has got as much controversy as Mel's last one, it feels more true. The characters seem more suited and it's not a big, white wedding, it's a low-key register office thing.

"I just hope people aren't getting bored with my character. I want to keep Mel ambiguous and unpredictable."

Tamzin doesn't rule out stripping for a men's magazine in future or taking her clothes off for her art: "If it was necessary, I'd get naked for a film but I'd be reluctant to do it for the sake of a sex scene.

"I don't believe in seeing a woman with no clothes on when you don't need to be seeing it. I'm not dying to show off my body

"Sometimes, I think about doing lads' mags - I don't think it's a bad thing if it's shot well. But there's something about holding on to your currency.

"I'm not going to be in EastEnders forever, as much as I'm loving it now, and I'm going to need to hold on to that. Because if I've been displayed all over the place with everything out, well..."

A full version of this interview appears in this week's edition of Heat magazine out now.

CAPTION(S):

BLONDE BOMBSHELL: Tamzin Outhwaite is enjoying some thrilling storylines as Queen Vic barmaid Mel; GETTING SPLICED: Mel and Steve; OUT NOW: Heat
COPYRIGHT 2001 MGN LTD
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2001 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Mar 1, 2001
Words:1050
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