In pursuit of perfect harmony

Courting celebs aren't settling for anything less than compatibility on all fronts. HERO BROWN reports on the demise of the star-crossed lover

The announcement this week that Britain's favourite ladette Zoe Ball is to marry self-effacing pop star Norman 'Fatboy Slim' Cook has elicited an extraordinary reaction from the public. While it's true the British love nothing more than a celebrity wedding (apart from a messy divorce), this romance - in contrast to the pedestrian affection of Prince Edward and Sophie Rhys-Jones - seems to have warmed even the most cynical hearts. Everyone is sure the down-to-earth couple are made for each other.

Zoe and Norman's obvious compatibility - crossover jobs, middle-class backgrounds, wealth and celebrity - has left the traditional granny blather about "opposites attract" out in the cold. The thrill value of whirlwind romances, such as Drew Barrymore's six-week marriage to a Welsh barman ("the worst mistake of my life") and Pamela Anderson's quickie beach ceremony with Tommy Lee weeks after he introduced himself by licking her face, are out of step at a time when even our most iconic pop stars are choosing reliable, clean-living partners (Louise's Jamie Rednapp, Posh's David Beckham, Kate Winslet's Jim Threapleton) and showing their confidence by racing down the aisles.

Jade Jagger summed up the new mood of modern romance perhaps more poignantly than she realised when she revealed why her new boyfriend Dan Macmillan (great-grandson of Tory premier Harold) is "the one". "Finally I've got someone who isn't in awe of me and my background," she said. While it's rather discomforting that she has found happiness the Jane Austen way - copping off with someone equally loaded - in many ways it makes sense. Jagger tried for years to make her relationship with the struggling artist Piers Jackson work, but her cultural commonality with Macmillan - she is a model and jewellery maker, he an ex-model and photographer - means they connect in a way Jagger's attempts at playing earth mother with Jackson never could.

Similarly, Princess Caroline of Monaco, after years of doomed relationships with wideboys and womanisers, has found peace with someone who can truly empathise with her - another royal, Prince Ernst of Hanover. And Nicolas Cage (of the Coppola dynasty), after years of playing the field, has met his match with Patricia Arquette (of the acting family).

"For celebs, the pressures of being a cardboard cut-out of other people's fantasies, envies and fears is difficult to understand from the outside," says Professor Petruska Clarkson, who has carried out studies on the psychology of fame, "so it's natural that celebrities seek each other out."

Of course, were fame enough to guarantee happiness, Hollywood wouldn't be the delightful den of iniquity it is. The reality is, that celebrity or otherwise, the relationship battlefield remains strewn with the blood of an army of dead romances. "It makes you wonder why Western culture scoffs at the arranged marriages of the East," says Professor Clarkson. "Look at the mess we're in."

Samantha Cohen, 28, for one, initially welcomed the differences between her background and her boyfriend's. She had met Richard, 30, at university. "We were totally different," she says, "which we both thought was great. I was from a working-class family in Liverpool, had gone to the local comp and did a part-time job to help me pay my college fees. He was from an incredibly wealthy, landowning family. We were so unlike each other it was incredibly exciting.

"After university, I got a job with a law firm in London. Richard had no need to work and wasn't very supportive about me putting in long hours. I realised that he had a completely different outlook on life. He was there for the laugh, but to me it was important to earn money and make my way. We lurched on for another couple of years, but with him using my place as a dosshouse I'd had enough. He didn't respect my motivations and background, and we split last year."

According to Sarah Litvinoff, author of The Relate Guide to Better Relationships, Samantha's story is typical of the way relationships can crack when the balance of power shifts. No wonder Lottery winners are always so miserable - they've realised too late that the brand new faux-Tudor mansion and fleet of sports cars don't go down well with mates who still drive Ford Fiestas. "The way the dynamic is altered in a relationship is an extreme experience - it's like being in a war or coping with the death of a spouse," says Litvinoff. "Your very foundations are shaken."

This is how it feels to be confronted with sudden fame - and the relationship fall-out is notorious. Celebs ditching their partners on making it big has long been an industry joke. Ralph Fiennes famously divorced the then- unknown Alex Kingston after 12 years together after being nominated for an Oscar for Schindler's List and embarking on an affair with Franscesca Annis. Kingston blamed their sudden inequality for the split. More recently, Ralph's brother Joseph, whose ex-girlfriend Sara - also an actor - supported him for years while he struggled with a codpiece at the RSC, has now been shunted in favour of the more successful Catherine McCormack. Paul Hogan's wife of 22 years got similar treatment when he left her for his Crocodile Dundee co-star Linda Kozlowski, but The X-Files' Gillian Anderson needed no such excuse, apparently spelling it out for the Sun last year. "I've outgrown my husband," she said bluntly. "He bores me."

While it's comforting to think celebs are more prone to such insouciance than the rest of us, the reality is different. A housewife might study for a degree and start to review her life, Educating Rita-like, with newly critical eyes. Or a bluecollar worker, married at 22, might find years later, as an executive, that he has nothing in common with his wife.

The way to protect the dynamic of their relationship, according to Litvinoff, is to retain a currency to barter with. Sophie Rhys-Jones, for example, while not a member of the aristocracy, has spent long enough hanging out with the Queen Mum to be under no illusions about Royal life. To Edward, this is a highly prized commodity, as is his wife's career and independence. Similarly Wayne, Melinda Messenger's much-teased house-husband, has held his relationship together because, as Messenger's career has expanded, he provides a link to her past, which she still wants.

Baz Bamingboye, showbiz editor at the Daily Mail, who has spent years analysing relationships concurs. "The days of a Marilyn Monroe and Arthur Miller marrying are over," he says. "People are choosing from their own spheres. Sharon Stone's husband Phil Bronstein, a newspaper editor, isn't overly rich or famous, but they have similar backgrounds and philosophies. He's not intimidated by Sharon, so they're equal and have an understanding. I guess that's why it works."

News
people Biographer says cinema’s enduring sex symbol led a secret troubled life
News
newsGlobal index has ranked the quality of life for OAPs - but the UK didn't even make it into the top 10
News
people

Kirstie Allsopp has waded into the female fertility debate again

News
In 2006, Pluto was reclassified as a 'dwarf planet'
scienceBut will it be reinstated?
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
Life and Style
ebooksFrom the lifespan of a slug to the distance to the Sun: answers to 500 questions from readers
News
people
News
Researchers say a diet of fatty foods could impede smell abilities
scienceMeasuring the sense may predict a person's lifespan
Sport
footballArsenal 4 Galatasaray 1: Wenger celebrates 18th anniversary in style
News
peopleStella McCartney apologises over controversial Instagram picture
News
Gillian Anderson was paid less than her male co-star David Duchovny for three years while she was in the The X-Files until she protested and was given the same salary
people

Gillian Anderson lays into gender disparity in Hollywood

Life and Style
Laid bare: the Good2Go app ensures people have a chance to make their intentions clear about having sex
techCould Good2Go end disputes about sexual consent - without being a passion-killer?
Arts and Entertainment
Richard Burr remains the baker to beat on the Great British Bake Off
tvRichard remains the baker to beat as Chetna begins to flake
Life and Style
fashionThe Secret Angels all take home huge sums - but who earns the most?
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Amazon has added a cautionary warning to Tom and Jerry cartoons on its streaming service
tv
News
The village was originally named Llansanffraid-ym-Mechain after the Celtic female Saint Brigit, but the name was changed 150 years ago to Llansantffraid – a decision which suggests the incorrect gender of the saint
newsA Welsh town has changed its name - and a prize if you can notice how
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    DT Teacher - Resistant Materials

    £33000 - £34000 per annum: Randstad Education Group: Technology Teacher (Resis...

    Trainee Recruitment Consultant

    £20000 - £25000 per annum + Uncapped Commission, 1st yr OTE £30-£40k : SThree:...

    Middleware Support Analyst

    £45000 - £50000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client is curr...

    Senior Java Developer/Designer

    £400 - £450 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: My client are looking fo...

    Day In a Page

    Italian couples fake UK divorce scam on an ‘industrial scale’

    Welcome to Maidenhead, the divorce capital of... Italy

    A look at the the legal tourists who exploited our liberal dissolution rules
    Tom and Jerry cartoons now carry a 'racial prejudice' warning on Amazon

    Tom and Jerry cartoons now carry a 'racial prejudice' warning on Amazon

    The vintage series has often been criticised for racial stereotyping
    An app for the amorous: Could Good2Go end disputes about sexual consent - without being a passion-killer?

    An app for the amorous

    Could Good2Go end disputes about sexual consent - without being a passion-killer?
    Llansanffraid is now Llansantffraid. Welsh town changes its name, but can you spot the difference?

    Llansanffraid is now Llansantffraid

    Welsh town changes its name, but can you spot the difference?
    Charlotte Riley: At the peak of her powers

    Charlotte Riley: At the peak of her powers

    After a few early missteps with Chekhov, her acting career has taken her to Hollywood. Next up is a role in the BBC’s gangster drama ‘Peaky Blinders’
    She's having a laugh: Britain's female comedians have never had it so good

    She's having a laugh

    Britain's female comedians have never had it so good, says stand-up Natalie Haynes
    Sistine Chapel to ‘sing’ with new LED lights designed to bring Michelangelo’s masterpiece out of the shadows

    Let there be light

    Sistine Chapel to ‘sing’ with new LEDs designed to bring Michelangelo’s masterpiece out of the shadows
    Great British Bake Off, semi-final, review: Richard remains the baker to beat

    Tensions rise in Bake Off's pastry week

    Richard remains the baker to beat as Chetna begins to flake
    Paris Fashion Week, spring/summer 2015: Time travel fashion at Louis Vuitton in Paris

    A look to the future

    It's time travel fashion at Louis Vuitton in Paris
    The 10 best bedspreads

    The 10 best bedspreads

    Before you up the tog count on your duvet, add an extra layer and a room-changing piece to your bed this autumn
    Arsenal vs Galatasaray: Five things we learnt from the Emirates

    Arsenal vs Galatasaray

    Five things we learnt from the Gunners' Champions League victory at the Emirates
    Stuart Lancaster’s long-term deal makes sense – a rarity for a decision taken by the RFU

    Lancaster’s long-term deal makes sense – a rarity for a decision taken by the RFU

    This deal gives England a head-start to prepare for 2019 World Cup, says Chris Hewett
    Ebola outbreak: The children orphaned by the virus – then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection

    The children orphaned by Ebola...

    ... then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection
    Pride: Are censors pandering to homophobia?

    Are censors pandering to homophobia?

    US film censors have ruled 'Pride' unfit for under-16s, though it contains no sex or violence
    The magic of roundabouts

    Lords of the rings

    Just who are the Roundabout Appreciation Society?