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Abi... in the flesh

PUBLISHED: 16:24 05 March 2008 | UPDATED: 10:16 22 July 2010

ABI TITMUSS: currently pursuing her career as a serious actress in the controversial play Fat Christ at Islington’s King’s Head Theatre

ABI TITMUSS: currently pursuing her career as a serious actress in the controversial play Fat Christ at Islington’s King’s Head Theatre

ABI Titmuss is somebody who has put herself at the mercy of the British media – and been stung on more than one occasion.

ABI Titmuss is somebody who has put herself at the mercy of the British media - and been stung on more than one occasion.

Perhaps that is why the idea of being on stage and in complete control of her own performance comes as such an appealing prospect.

While Abi appears in Fat Christ, at the King's Head Theatre in Upper Street, Islington, she will not be subject to the whims of a reality TV editor or the poison pen of a tabloid hack.

"Its all down to you," said Abi, who owns several houses in the borough. "You've got much more autonomy than when you are being filmed and all everything people see is what the editor has chosen to show them."

Abi rocketed to fame as a glamour model, reality TV star and all round tabloid fodder. But the 32-year-old says the media storm that obliterated her life as unknown nurse - and turned her into a sex icon - only served to distract her from her aim of being an actress.

Abi rocketed to fame when she stood by partner and Blue Peter presenter John Leslie when he faced allegations about his sex life.

She then became a glamour model, reality TV star and all round tabloid fodder. But the 32-year-old says the media storm that obliterated her life as a previously unknown nurse - and turned her into a sex icon - only served to distract her from her aim of being an actress.

"I wanted to be on stage and go to drama school, and I was working towards that when everything happened with John Leslie and my life just had to stop", she said. "I was working as a part-time nurse and just surviving on three nights and spending four days at college. But when all the stuff happened with John everything came to a halt."

She continued: "It happened very suddenly but dragged on for a year or so. I was thrust into the spotlight and I didn't ask for that to happen. I stood by someone I loved, as a result I was noticed and I made the most of the opportunities I was offered like anyone would.

"It all went a bit crazy with FHM and all the glamour modelling but, in my mind, I always wanted to get back to the acting. There came a point when I thought 'this has to stop, I have to get back to what I want to do or it's never going to happen'."

Abi is acutely conscious of the fact that many actors who have battled for years to get a role may begrudge her the seeming ease with which she moved into the world of theatre.

She said: "I am aware that some people might think I stepped of the cover off FHM and thought 'I'll give acting a bash'. But that's for them to think - it's not the case. I worked hard for it and trained for years to get to this point.

"The Stage magazine had a drama teacher writing in saying it was outrageous - but really I'm just like any other actress. In a way its more of a hindrance than a help, it might even be harder for me."

Walking the boards may be a relatively new experience for Abi - but Islington is familiar territory.

She said: "Islington is great, there is so much energy here. I've lived here for a few years, so it's my home. I also went to City University and I still own houses, so its home turf for me. I like eating at Gallipoli [in Upper Street], I've had a few great nights there, and other restaurants like Sacre Coeur [Theberton Street] and Fredericks [in Camden Passage]."

It is unsurprising that Abi likes to eat out - her experience with Gordon Ramsay in Hell's Kitchen left her too traumatised to cook for herself.

"It was pretty tough", she said. "The programme is called Hell's Kitchen, so it was never going to be a walk in the park. I didn't actually turn a cooker on for two years after the show. I didn't even heat up soup.

"It just put me off so much I burnt myself and nearly severed one of my fingers with a fish knife. I made a risotto the other day that I learned in Hell's Kitchen, though it did take two years to get round to it and I had forgotten the recipe!"

Fat Christ, King's Head Theatre, Upper Street, N1, until Wednesday, March 26.


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