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Face of hearts: Model Vicki tells Emma Johnson why being Bruce's new babe on Play Your Cards Right is the real deal.

Byline: Emma Johnson

BRUCE Forsyth's gameshows have never been short on lovely ladies, the Generation Game always included gorgeous girls and there was a veritable bevy of babes during his Price Is Right days.

Now the silver-haired entertainer is back on our screens with Play Your Cards Right and he's perking up the autumn evenings for male viewers with his dolly dealers.

Birkenhead-born model Vicki-Lee Walberg is the latest addition to the Forsyth stable, and the 26-year-old is more than happy to be turning the cards on the show she loved as a youngster.

``Play Your Cards Right is such a cult show,'' she gushes.

``I grew up with it in the days when every Saturday night was full of those old-fashioned gameshows.

``I would watch it with my mum and dad, we'd get a takeaway and settle down with Brucie. So to be working alongside him now is fantastic.

``The dolly dealers are legendary so I was extremely, flattered they thought I was good-looking enough for the job.''

At over 5' 9 with blonde hair, blue eyes and a bubbly personality, it is hard to see how the show's producers could have possibly turned her down.

But Vicki-Lee, who has been modelling since she was 16, after being spotted by a scout in Covent Garden when she was 13 and who was crowned Miss UK in 1997, was convinced she had missed out on the glamorous spot.

``I was sent to an audition for the show by my modelling agency where I had to meet the producers and they told me all about the show, ``says Vicki-Lee.

``Despite hassling my agent every day I didn't hear anything for weeks though and assumed I hadn't got it.

``Then I got a call asking me to go and meet Bruce and the director. That was really nerve-wracking, I had to tell him all about myself and walk up and down in front of him - I was convinced I would fall over.

``About two weeks later they told me I had got the job and I was so excited.''

Vicki-Lee has just finished recording the first series of the new look Play Your Cards Right, where instead of caravans contestants can now win up to pounds 100,000 in cash prizes, and she clearly enjoyed every minute of working with Brucie.

``Bruce is just fantastic,'' she says. ``In real life he is exactly the same person you see on television. He is a real gentleman to everyone and a thoroughbred old school entertainer.

``He never stops entertaining and is so professional. Filming the show takes time and contestants get things wrong so there are a lot of re-takes, but he never tires or switches off, or goes off to his dressing room.

``During one recording he was up in the audience where he had a group of girls doing the Macarena!''

The new series of Play Your Cards Right started a fortnight ago but Vicki-Lee, who now lives in Surrey with her boyfriend touring car champion James Thompson, says she is still struggling to get used to seeing herself on the screen every Saturday.

``I had already seen the first episode on my own on a preview tape,'' she explains. ``But when it actually went on air I watched it with my boyfriend and I had to hide behind a cushion a few times because I was so embarrassed at seeing myself.

``I knew all my family who still live in Birkenhead were watching it too. They were really excited about it. When the show finished I got dozens of texts on my mobile from people saying they had seen me!''

For many models the move into game shows has been a springboard into other television roles and VickiLee intends to make the most of her moment.

She says: ``I would be silly not to use the show as a platform for other things. Look at people like Emma Noble and Carol Smilie. They were on gameshows and have done really well for themselves.

``I have been modelling for 10 years now so if, at the end of the day, nothing comes from this I can continue with that. But this is such a good oportunity I would be a fool not use it.

``But I enjoyed working on it so much anything else would be a bonus. It would be lovely to be asked to do another series though, we were a great team and I loved every minute.''
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Liverpool Echo (Liverpool, England)
Date:Sep 18, 2002
Words:748
Previous Article:No Tannoy for Speke.
Next Article:Stay-at-home dad; Emma Johnson meets a man who gave up his job to take care of baby.


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