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Interview: Jayne Middlemiss - How Jayne's calling the shots; Why life is one long holiday for presenter Jayne Middlemiss, who is enjoying being a single girl again.

Byline: Louise Gannon

For a girl from a tiny mining village in Northumberland, who was told she was too short, too fat and not pretty enough to make it, television presenter Jayne Middlemiss must be laughing her head off.

The host of The O-Zone, She's Gotta Have It and LA Pool Party has met Brad Pitt and Britney Spears, been proposed to by Lenny Kravitz and had Noel Gallagher describe her as the "coolest bird on the box".

"I've not done too bad," says Jayne, 31. "I reckon I've proved a few people wrong."

Today, sat at the bar of a West London hotel, her tanned legs look long. A size 10, she's definitely not fat. And with her fine features and shiny, chestnut hair, she is as far from a Plain Jayne as you could get.

There is a new-found confidence about Jayne, currently presenting Holiday - You Call The Shots. Ironically, it is down to her being single again. Her three-year romance with television director Elliot Fletcher recently ended. In the past she had talked about settling down with him, so does she still plan on starting a family in the future?

"Er, well, maybe eventually," she says. "But not right now. If I was anyone from Sex And The City I'd be Carrie, always looking for the perfect romance. But let's just say I'm enjoying my own company. And, quite honestly, I really am... "

Last year, she spent months out of the country making LA Pool Party, then went straight into filming Holiday On A Shoestring and Holiday - You Call The Shots. But if her job is to blame for her failed romance, she has no regrets.

"I loved doing those shows," she says. "I'm the luckiest person in the world to get to travel and be paid for it. I did some amazing trips."

For all the recent personal upheaval, Jayne is clearly happy with life. But it wasn't always this way. In her late teens and twenties, when she was a model, she was preoccupied with dieting and exercise, began bingeing on laxatives and got depressed when she shot up to a size 14.

"None of that stuff bothers me now," she shrugs. "I spent too much of my life being obsessed with stupid things and not enjoying what I'd got. I changed once I hit my thirties. I feel so much more confident and focused now."

Growing up, Jayne was a wild child, who'd rather hang out in Newcastle than study, but having to resit all her O-levels made her take stock of her life. She had won a beauty contest at Butlins as a child, and decided to try her luck as a model. She moved to London aged 18, but she was told she was too large, too short and not special enough to make it.

"It's awful to have to go through all that rejection at that age," she recalls. "I wanted to be a big, successful model. It was ridiculous - I'm only 5ft 6ins, for a start. But I took laxatives and did silly crash diets. You have to be tough to succeed in modelling and I don't think it's a good environment for any teenager."

It was when she was offered glamour work that Jayne decided to get out.

"I did do some topless stuff," she says. "And no, I don't regret it. It's just something that I did."

Having idolised Paula Yates, Jayne set her sights on becoming a presenter. And after seven years - during which she worked as a waitress, nanny and shop assistant - she finally got her big break. She met kids' TV star Toby Anstis at a party, who offered to give her tape to the producer of a forthcoming pop show. Jayne was duly auditioned for The O-Zone - but rejected. Months later, as she was about to start as a trainee researcher on GMTV, she got a call saying they wanted her after all.

"Being a nanny was perfect experience for dealing with pop stars as I'd got used to handling tantrums," she recalls. "Courtney Love was difficult, but she was still brilliant. And Lenny Kravitz was fun."

Was she tempted by his proposal?

"No way," she says. "I'd never even date a pop star. I just steer clear."

In the future, Jayne would love to do radio work or a live show such as Big Brother. But what of her private life?

"I want to find the perfect bed," she says. "It would be great if someone could make a fantastic bed for me."

Would it be one to share?

"Let's just find the bed first," she says with a grin. "Then, who knows?"

l Holiday - You Call The Shots, Monday, BBC1, 7pm.

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FORMER LOVE: With Elliot
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Sep 21, 2002
Words:795
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