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It's great being a gran; Janet Tansley speaks to comedian Faith Brown about the new love of her life, her grand-daughter Charlotte.

WITH her saucy sense of humour and plunging necklines, Faith Brown is hardly a vision of your average grandma.

Yet while you're not likely to see her in a rocking chair or gazing at her knitting over a pair of horn-rimmed spectacles, the Liverpool comedienne and actress is delighting in her latest role.

"Ooh yes, I'm Nana Faith now," she enthuses, almost bubbling over like an unwatched pot. "And there's no better feeling in the world.

"Charlotte is absolutely gorgeous, with the longest eye-lashes and huge eyes.

"But she's getting me into trouble," laughs Faith. "I keep turning work down because I want to spend more time with her and my agent is saying 'Faith you've got bills to pay too'. But she's more important."

It is clear when Faith, who is 62, looks into Charlotte's eyes that a special bond has been cemented, even though the tiny babe is just four months old.

But maybe that's because of her sudden arrival into the world and the fears that, at one time, she may not survive.

Charlotte was born on May 18 after Faith's daughter, Danielle, went into labour two months early Remembers Faith: "Danielle was with me when she started having contractions and we were just thinking 'it's too early'.

"We just thought there was no way she was going to give birth.

"I was consoling her and saying 'it'll be all right in a minute' but after three hours we began to wonder. And I started to worry about my baby, Danielle."

By the time Danielle arrived at hospital it was clear she was about to give birth and, just a few hours later, baby Charlotte was born weighing just under 3lbs.

"She went straight into the special care baby unit," says Faith, "and she was so tiny. She was a hand's worth! When I saw her on the life support machine I had to go away.

"We were praying to God that she was going to be all right, while keeping that from Danielle, of course. But there were fears at one point that she may not survive.

"But thank God she was strong and she is feisty and the difference now is incredible. She's an amazing 9lbs and beautiful."

Although such an early and sudden arrival meant that Nana Faith was deprived of one very special experience - being there at the birth.

"I was going to be there at the birth with Danielle's partner Neil," she frowns, in mock frustration. "But I got there just after she had been born and she was all wrinkled... I was so emotional I probably wouldn't have been any good anyway."

Charlotte was in hospital for five weeks before mum Danielle, 28, could take her home.

And Danielle is making the most of her supportive mum by spending a little more time at home with Charlotte.

"I help out when I can," says Faith, "and it's wonderful having them around.

"Danielle is such a great mum, and it is bringing so many memories flooding back. You can never remember your own birth and those early days, but spending time with Danielle and Charlotte is bringing it all rushing back to me.

"I waited 12 years for Danielle. Len and I tried for a baby but it just didn't happen, yet as soon as my career took off and the stress lessened, I got pregnant straight away.

"That's why Danielle is so precious to me, and Charlotte too. Being a grandma is like motherhood second time round."

Nevertheless, Charlotte has had a huge impact on Faith and husband, Len.

"She has changed our lives completely," admits Faith. "For so many years it has been just us, and now this little thing has arrived.

"Len loves the bones of her and sings to her which immediately earns him a huge smile.

"Mind you, I'll have to be careful I don't spoil her. I go out shopping for a top for something or other and, invariably now, I don't come back with anything for me, but I'll buy something for Charlotte. My old friend in Liverpool, Joyce Hoburn, is the same."

Spending sprees do mean, however, that it is a good job Faith is starting to think of the odd work commitment.

She has an after-dinner speaking commitment at the Dorchester Hotel in London coming up and, although she turned down a role in the Vagina Monologues ("I'm too old fashioned. I looked at the script and thought 'I can't say this!") she has accepted a 'job' very close to her heart.

Faith is headlining a show on October 5, organised by Gail Hall in aid of Zoe's Place children's hospice at Knowsley Hall, the home of Lord and Lady Derby.

"Having a grand-daughter brings it home to me so very much more, the tragic young lives of some people and the wonderful work that Zoe's Place does making the short time they have happy."

Thankfully, Faith can look ahead to a brighter future for Charlotte, but will she follow Nana Faith into the world of showbiz?

"I don't know," says Faith, who won rave reviews for her role as faded actress Norma Desmond in the 2001-02 touring production of Sunset Boulevard, "she will probably be artistic. Danielle is an interior designer and Neil is a graphic artist.

"But I have seen her with her hands outstretched and covering her face, and she does look a bit like a mini Norma to me ..."


BABY LOVE: Faith Brown with her daughter Danielle as a baby (above) - and (main picture) the duo with Danielle's own daughter Charlotte' LOVE: Charlotte, just after she was born
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Liverpool Echo (Liverpool, England)
Date:Sep 13, 2006
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