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Absence makes my heart grow fonder.

Byline: Roz Laws

TERRI Dwyer has little time for celebrities who blame the break-up of their marriages on conflicting work schedules.

The actress and TV presenter spends most of her week away from her new husband - but she thinks that adds spice to the relationship rather than destroying it.

'It's very easy to blame the pressure of work,' says the Midlander. 'But I don't believe that excuse if you really want a marriage to succeed.

'Distance can be a really healthy thing. It helps to keep the sparkle in a relationship. You are not under each other's noses and when you come home you have a lot to tell each other.

'I believe absence makes the heart grow fonder, although it can make the mind wander if left alone for too long.

'Sean and I pass like ships in the night but we do make the most of the time we spend together. If we've been apart for two weeks, we'll go away for a romantic weekend.

'It's not always easy - there is a massive side of each other's lives we miss out on.

'Over the Bank Holiday I worked on Sunday and Monday and missed a friend's birthday. I almost missed the wedding of my best friend, Kerrie Taylor, who I worked with on Hollyoaks and who starred in Where The Heart Is. Everyone else got there two days before but I arrived at the 11th hour and had to leave straight afterwards.

'But Sean and I both love our jobs. We are very self-sufficient and I am lucky in that I live much of my life like a single girl. If I wake up and say 'I want to go to Italy', I will fly off with my friends and Sean has no qualms about it.'

Sean and Terri have a house in Liverpool, where Sean works and where Terri filmed Hollyoaks. She now makes Grange Hill in the same studios, playing geography teacher Miss Adams.

But most of her work, including her appearances as a panellist on the ITV1 daytime show Loose Women, takes her to London, where she stays in her flat.

Terri grew up in the village of Syston, just outside Leicester, where her father Tony was a policeman. But her happy family life was destroyed when Tony died of stomach cancer in 2003, eight years after her mum Doreen died of ovarian cancer.

She credits Sean with helping her through her grief.

'I am generally a really happy person, but I do suffer from pre-menstrual stress. For two days a month I can get really down, and it can open a can of worms about losing my parents.

'But Sean is brilliant. Last time it happened, he cooked me a lovely meal, then when we woke up the next day he said 'Come on, I'm taking you shopping!'.

'It's my favourite thing - I have 150 pairs of shoes - but he loathes it. So it was very nice of him to do something he absolutely hates.

'He doesn't do things like buy me flowers all the time, but he is romantic in his own way. When he proposed he took me back to the hotel in the Lake District where he first told me he loved me and got down on bended knee.

'Sean is the love of my life and my marriage has brought me a level of security I lost when my parents died. The biggest thing I noticed when Mum and Dad went was that there was no going home any more. I hadn't lived there for years but I always thought of it as home, and when I lost them there was no longer a safe place to go.

'It felt very lonely but Sean is home for me now.

'We have very honest conversations. Before we got married I'd never even lived with a man, so I said to Sean 'What if I don't like living with you?'. By communicating we try to avoid pot holes.'

Terri's honesty is what makes her such a good panellist on Loose Women, where she chats about topical issues and interviews guests with colleagues including Kaye Adams, Denise Welch, Coleen Nolan, Claire Sweeney, Sherrie Hewson and Jane McDonald.

It also means she can't help showing her feelings. When congratulated about her performance on Channel 4's The Games - she won the first series in 2003 and was part of the Champion Of Champions winning team in 2004 - she says: 'Thank you, but we were rubbish this year.

'We came back to compete against the 2004 and 2005 teams and we were the strongest team. But I stepped out of the circle with the hammer and we dropped the baton in the relay, so we came second.

'I am a terrible loser. I was ridiculous, I was so annoyed with myself I couldn't even speak to anyone. I was sulking back in the hotel room and Sean gave me a right talking to. He said 'You will go downstairs and you will be gracious'. I had to apologise to everyone for my behaviour!'

WHO ARE YOU?

NAME: Terri Dwyer

AGE: 31

SIGNIFICANT OTHER: Terri married radio station director Sean Marley last September.

APPEARS ON: Loose Women, ITV1, weekdays.

CAREER HIGHLIGHTS: Terri was among the original cast of Hollyoaks and spent five years on the soap as Ruth Osbourne, returning for a short stint last year. She's also appeared in Holby City and presented on Richard And Judy and The Wright Stuff.

FANCY THAT: Terri's first job at 15 was as a part-time waitress at Ragdale Hall spa in Leicestershire. She became a model but fell into acting when she gave a friend a lift to a Hollyoaks audition. Terri entered for fun and got the role, learning on the job. She says: 'Looking back at my first scenes, I think 'Oh no, how could they possibly televise this?'. For the first two years I kept expecting to be sacked.'

AND ANOTHER THING: Terri almost died in a horrendous car crash in 1991. She was not expected to survive serious internal injuries and a broken leg, arm, jaw and ribs and it took her a year to recover. Eight years later she broke the same leg falling down stairs.

CAPTION(S):

WHERE THE HEART IS: Terri with husband Sean JUST CHAMPION: Terri celebrates winning The Games LOOSE TALK: Terri with Coleen Nolan and Denise Welch
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Publication:Sunday Mercury (Birmingham, England)
Date:May 8, 2005
Words:1068
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