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My love life is a real Casualty; The TV drama may have brought Claire Goose fame but it hasn't helped her find romance, she confides to Thomas Quinn.

She may be something of a victim on screen but when Casualty star Claire Goose has left her nurse's uniform behind for the day, the boot is definitely on the other foot. In fact she can be a bit of a ladette.

The pretty 23 year old, whose angelic looks have graced raunchy photospreads in men's magazines, has her own way with dealing with blokes who are bothering her. As her friend and co-star Vince Pellegrino found out...

Claire says, "I was round at the flat he shares with Jonathan Kerrigan and Vince was winding me up, flirting.

"It was all an act, just fun, but I had had enough. So I followed him into the kitchen and said, 'Here, take a look if you're so desperate to'. I lifted my top up and, no, I didn't have a bra on. He turned a bright pink colour. I've never seen him so flustered. He looked as if he was about to die of embarrassment.

"Vince is a real close friend, he's like a brother to me, and it really shocked him. But the next morning it was me who was mortified - I couldn't believe I had done that."

She giggles at the memory and adds, "He'll kill me for telling you that."

Viewers are more used to seeing Claire as the demure yet troubled nurse Tina Seabroook, who was the victim of a rape and has been through a disastrous affair. Yet Claire's more raunchy off-screen image, she admits, has done little in the way of romance.

"It's done absolutely nothing for my sex life," she says. "I'm very single."

Her most important relationship so far - with an actor 17 years her senior in 1996 - lasted for six months. She has never named him and is clearly still upset at the failed romance, which ended just weeks before she landed her Holby General role.

"That was a great shock, I really didn't think I would get over it," she says. "It was my first love. But it was just one of those things. I understand it a lot more now - he's just one of those people who can't commit to a longer term than six months.

"All his relationships since me have been the same and it is a bit of a running joke between us.

"Fortunately, we were friends beforehand. It has come full circle now and we are close again. It's funny, at the time I thought I would never get over it. But a few months later I was thinking, 'How could I ever have fancied him?'

"Right now, there's no one... Well, no one serious. If you're in the public eye, dating somebody can be very pressurised. I don't like, or want, that."

Claire spends most of her free time with her best friends Vince and Jonathan - who play Derek "Sunny" Sunderland and gay nurse Sam Colloby respectively, in the hospital drama. Together with Claire and Rebecca Lacey they made a riotous foursome.

Rebecca left at the end of the last series for a starring role in the animal drama Badger. And Claire, who shared a flat with her, now lives alone in a new apartment not far from Casualty's Bristol studios. She still knocks around with the boys, though.

"The four of us used to hang around with each other so much we were known as The Family," she says. "Becks and Vince were mum and dad, while John and I were the kids. We all get on great and have a real laugh, although it was strange when Becks left." Though she is close to John and Vince, Claire laughs at the thought that they could ever be more than just good friends.

"God no, they really are like brothers to me. Very protective as well," she says. "If we are out in a bar and I'm trying to do some serious chatting up they are looking over my shoulder checking the guy out and making sure that I'm OK."

Anyway, Claire has definite ideas on the perfect man for her.

"Someone you can wake up next to without any make-up on looking terrible and just say 'Hi'," she says. "You want to feel comfortable with someone and share interests with them."

Claire grew up in rural Norfolk the youngest daughter of a country GP, David, and mum Joy. They are a close-knit family with Claire being particularly fond of her big brother Duncan, 30.

We are very close - my parents, my sister Caroline and Duncan. He was in marketing in London but wanted to travel, so he just sold his house, bought a motorbike and left saying he'd be back in a few years. He's the bravest man I know," she says.

"Caroline has been out to see him twice in the past year, but because of working on Casualty I've communicated only by e-mail. He was in Honduras when the earthquake hit and it took him months to get out. Now he is in Indonesia of all places. He is some distance from East Timor, but I know my dad is very worried about him. I'm hoping that when we get a break in filming I will be able to get out there and see him."

Claire caught the acting bug at three when she attended dance school with her sister. From there she graduated to drama club at 11. Then she won a place at the Italia Conti school in London after sitting her GCSEs.

"No one else in my family was remotely interested in showbusiness," she admits. "My parents were very supportive, but they kept telling me not to be disheartened. That made me more determined to succeed."

After graduation, she auditioned for the role of Tiffany in EastEnders, but lost out to Martine McCutcheon. She appeared in a Wash And Go shampoo ad, had a bit part in The Bill and took part in a Crimewatch UK murder reconstruction - her spookiest job so far.

Since landing the Casualty part Claire has been working flat out, 12 hours a day, six days a week. The latest series has 30 episodes, which means Claire will have even less time off than usual to either visit her brother or go looking for Mr Right.

"This year I don't know when my days off are going to be, and some weeks it is a case of when I can have them," she says.

"If I do ever meet the right person, he's certainly going to have to show a lot of patience."
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Title Annotation:Features
Author:Quinn, Thomas
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Sep 18, 1999
Words:1089
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