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CONNIE COPS HER MAN; The Bill star Connie Hyde reveals how she found her Mr Right. By Emma Britton.

Byline: Emma Britton

In The Bill, she's a psycho who lies and manipulates to ensnare her man. So far, deranged PC Cathy Bradford has pretended to have HIV and faked a pregnancy in her bid to net DC Brandon Kane. Fortunately, Connie Hyde who plays the crazy cop has not had to resort to such desperate measures to find love.

Happily married for seven and a half years, she is clearly very much in love with husband Finlo, 35. Connie's eyes light up as she talks about their whirlwind romance.

"We got engaged after six weeks, but I'd have married him after the first one," says Connie, 33, who has also starred in City Central, Sharpe and Holby City. "I felt like I'd come home. We were really comfortable and easy together right from the beginning - and he's gorgeous."

Connie first saw Finlo, who is a pal of her sister's boyfriend, at a dinner party. But it was 12 months later before they became a couple.

"I fancied him, but I didn't get to talk to him the first time," she says. "Then a year later he was at my sister's birthday and I asked him out before he even sat down.

"We went to a Mexican restaurant for our first date. It was Valentine's Day and I was skint, but he made me pay because I'd asked him out.

"He proposed six weeks later during an eclipse of the moon when we were on the roof terrace of the flat I shared with a friend in Islington, North London. But I said he had to do it properly and get down on one knee. He didn't have a ring with him, but I later designed ones for both of us. They are silver engagement and wedding rings which fit together."

She and Finlo, who is a chartered surveyor, tied the knot a year and a half later at an inn at the Trough Of Bowland in Whitewell, Lancashire. "I used to go walking there when I was younger," says Connie. "It was a wonderful day, then we had a honeymoon in Ibiza. And for our first anniversary I hired a tiny castle for the weekend as a surprise."

At the moment, Connie and Finlo share their Victorian terrace house in East London with a one-year-old Springer spaniel called Libby. But one day Connie would like to become a mum. "I would love a big family - a couple of kids at least," she says.

Her domestic bliss is a far cry from the lonely, friendless world of her character Cathy, who has set her sights on DC Kane. This week, her weird behaviour escalates when Kane's ex-wife Tanya asks her advice.

"It's fantastic playing Cathy," says Connie. "I've never played a psycho before and I really don't know what she's going to do next.

"Cathy is ill and makes things up for attention. I worked for The Samaritans for two years before I started at The Bill, which has helped me understand her. She's not just evil, it comes from loneliness."

Connie and her older sister Marianne grew up in Haslingden, Lancashire, with their Danish mum Else, 56, and dad John, 60, who divorced when she was 19. At school, she was always more interested in sport and plays than studying, and when she was 18 she enrolled at the prestigious London Academy Of Music And Dramatic Art for three years.

"I'd always wanted to be an actress," she recalls. "Going into acting was unheard of in my school, so the careers officer told me to be realistic. But if you really want something you never give up on it."

It seems that a determination to pursue a dream against all odds gives Connie and Cathy something in common after all.

l The Bill, Wednesday, ITV1, 8pm.

CAPTION(S):

BIG DAY: Marrying Finlo; PSYCHO: Cathy (left) with Polly and Kane in The Bill
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Apr 5, 2003
Words:653
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