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
Actor Burt Reynolds last year
peopleBurt Reynolds, once among the most bankable actors in Hollywood, is set to auction his memorabilia
News
Gordon and Tana Ramsay arrive at the High Court, London
newsTV chef gives evidence against his father-in-law in court case
News
people

Watch the spoof Thanksgiving segment filmed for Live!
News
The data shows that the number of “unlawfully” large infant classes has doubled in the last 12 months alone
i100Mike Stuchbery, a teacher in Great Yarmouth, said he received abuse
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
Arts and Entertainment
The starship in Star Wars: The Force Awakens
filmsThe first glimpse of JJ Abrams' new film has been released online
Arts and Entertainment
The cover of The Guest Cat – expect to see it everywhere
books
News
i100 Charity collates series of videos that show acts of kindness to animals
Arts and Entertainment
One of the installations in the Reiner Ruthenbeck exhibition at the Serpentine Gallery
artCritics defend Reiner Ruthenbeck's 'Overturned Furniture'
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

    Opilio Recruitment: UX & Design Specialist

    £40k - 45k per year + Benefits: Opilio Recruitment: A fantastic opportunity ...

    Opilio Recruitment: Publishing Application Support Analyst

    £30k - 35k per year + Benefits: Opilio Recruitment: We’re currently re...

    Opilio Recruitment: Digital Marketing Manager

    £35k - 45k per year + benefits: Opilio Recruitment: A fantastic opportunity ...

    Opilio Recruitment: Sales Manager

    £60k - 80k per year + Benefits: Opilio Recruitment: A fantastic opportunity ...

    Day In a Page

    Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: ‘We give them hope. They come to us when no one else can help’

    Christmas Appeal

    Meet the charity giving homeless veterans hope – and who they turn to when no one else can help
    Should doctors and patients learn to plan humane, happier endings rather than trying to prolong life?

    Is it always right to try to prolong life?

    Most of us would prefer to die in our own beds, with our families beside us. But, as a GP, Margaret McCartney sees too many end their days in a medicalised battle
    Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night - is that what it takes for women to get to the top?

    What does it take for women to get to the top?

    Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night and told women they had to do more if they wanted to get on
    Christmas jumper craze: Inside the UK factory behind this year's multicultural must-have

    Knitting pretty: British Christmas Jumpers

    Simmy Richman visits Jack Masters, the company behind this year's multicultural must-have
    French chefs have launched a campaign to end violence in kitchens - should British restaurants follow suit?

    French chefs campaign against bullying

    A group of top chefs signed a manifesto against violence in kitchens following the sacking of a chef at a Paris restaurant for scalding his kitchen assistant with a white-hot spoon
    Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour War and Peace on New Year's Day as Controller warns of cuts

    Just what you need on a New Year hangover...

    Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour adaptation of War and Peace on first day of 2015
    Cuba set to stage its first US musical in 50 years

    Cuba to stage first US musical in 50 years

    Claire Allfree finds out if the new production of Rent will hit the right note in Havana
    Christmas 2014: 10 best educational toys

    Learn and play: 10 best educational toys

    Of course you want them to have fun, but even better if they can learn at the same time
    Paul Scholes column: I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season

    Paul Scholes column

    I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season
    Lewis Moody column: Stuart Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

    Lewis Moody: Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

    So what must the red-rose do differently? They have to take the points on offer 
    Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

    Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

    It's in all our interests to look after servicemen and women who fall on hard times, say party leaders
    Millionaire Sol Campbell wades into wealthy backlash against Labour's mansion tax

    Sol Campbell cries foul at Labour's mansion tax

    The former England defender joins Myleene Klass, Griff Rhys Jones and Melvyn Bragg in criticising proposals
    Nicolas Sarkozy returns: The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?

    Sarkozy returns

    The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?
    Is the criticism of Ed Miliband a coded form of anti-Semitism?

    Is the criticism of Miliband anti-Semitic?

    Attacks on the Labour leader have coalesced around a sense that he is different, weird, a man apart. But is the criticism more sinister?
    Ouija boards are the must-have gift this Christmas, fuelled by a schlock horror film

    Ouija boards are the must-have festive gift

    Simon Usborne explores the appeal - and mysteries - of a century-old parlour game