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I've loved my Linda since I first set eyes on her 29 years ago... I've never needed another woman; By London's Burning star GLEN MURPHY.

THE flames of passion still shine brightly for London's Burning star Glen Murphy after 29 years of devotion to his childhood sweetheart.

Glen and wife Linda had their first date as love-struck 13-year-olds on Valentine's Day 1971.

Tomorrow they celebrate their silver wedding. And Glen wants the world to know that no one can hold a candle to his true love.

Cuddling Linda at their pounds 1million home, Glen says: "I fell in love with her the moment I saw her and I'm still as much in love today."

The father of four, who plays troubled fireman George Green in ITV's hit show, is proud to say he has never longed for or needed another woman.

Glen, explaining why the fires of romance have never fizzled out, says: "We have a motto - nothing in this world is worth having unless you can share it. I wouldn't want anything unless I could share it with Linda and our kids."

As viewers tune into London's Burning tonight, Glen and Linda will be at a Valentine's charity ball at London's Hilton hotel to drink a toast to their happy years together.

It's all a far cry from Glen's screen character, whose marriage is going up in smoke. In tonight's episode, George faces more pain as wife Kelly once again falls into the arms of Blackwall station boss Chris Hammond, played by Jonathan Guy Lewis.

Glen, 43, admits: "Like any couple, we've had some difficult times but if anything they've made us stronger.

"Linda is my soul mate and best friend and we love each other now as much as ever."

Linda, 44, says: "I think it was meant to be. We have the same sense of humour and are on the same wavelength. The kids think we act like teenagers.

"People often ask how we have made it last. They always sound amazed and seem to think marriage is a battle, but we have never looked at it that way. It's a partnership."

The family live in a sumptuous 17th Century manor house on the outskirts of Epping Forest in Essex.

They bought it five years ago and, thanks to Glen's TV success, have spent a fortune transforming it into a magnificent country pile with seven acres and stables for five horses.

But life today is a world away from when their romance began on the streets of Canning Town, in London's East End. Glen vividly remembers the first time he saw Linda in the summer of 1970. He was playing football as she walked home across the park.

He was instantly smitten by her pretty face, long blonde hair and, above all, her long legs in platform boots.

For the next six months, he discreetly found out all about her and on Valentine's Day, 1971, he got his younger brother to hand her a huge card on which he had signed his name backwards.

Later that day he took Linda on their first date, for a Chinese takeaway, which they munched in a local launderette. The date culminated in a stolen kiss outside Linda's home.

But the romance didn't run smoothly. They were both 15 when Linda became pregnant. They got engaged but for 18 months after daughter Glastra was born they had to live separately with their parents.

Finally, on Valentine's Day 1975, aged 17, they wed at Poplar Register Office and got their first home, a tiny rented basement flat in Bethnal Green.

A year later, on the same day their second child, Glen Junior, was christened, their marriage was blessed in church. In those days Glen was working in his dad's pub while trying to make the grade as a professional boxer.

Glen remembers: "It was very hard. When Linda told me she was pregnant it was the first time I said I loved her. I was so young I didn't know what was happening, but I wanted to be with her all the time.

"It was a massive scandal and we were looked on as freaks. I remember my brothers staring at me and my nan not speaking. Linda's parents were really upset. They thought I was a long-haired layabout and wouldn't let me in the house at first. You can imagine how they felt when Linda got pregnant.

"Soon after that, my family moved to Bethnal Green and everyone thought I would leave Linda in the lurch. That was a tough time because I couldn't get to see her and the baby."

Since then Glen and Linda have had two more children, Natalia, 13, and Emilio, ten.

In showbusiness, affairs and divorce are common, so how have the Murphys made such a success of their marriage? Glen says: "With my work you can get self-centred because people are always doing things for you but Linda soon puts me right if I bring any of that stuff home. One year I was voted sexiest male or something in a magazine and she just laughed.

"The only thing she doesn't like is taking me shopping because I always get stopped. I think that's a result!

"The one time she really got annoyed was when I was late back from a charity football match. It was so late we had slept in the car and she punched me in the face as I walked in. She's got a great right hook. I was out of order that night but we soon patched things up. The hardest times were when Linda's parents died.

"Her dad died in a boating accident when he was 44 and her mum died of cancer. Getting through such tragedies brings a couple closer. In many ways our marriage is quite old-fashioned. But it works.

"My parents have been together for 45 years and Linda's were together 24 years. Long marriages are in our blood. Lots of little things keep us happy. We hold hands when we're out and hardly a day goes by when we don't tell each other 'I love you'.

"No one could come between us and I can never see us splitting. I couldn't live without her.

"Work is great for me and we have a wonderful home but if it all went we would be OK because we'd still have each other.

"In the end, that's all that really matters."

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Publication:The People (London, England)
Date:Feb 13, 2000
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