In the good-time gang

Her mother Ruth Ellis paid the ultimate price for her fast living. One of Georgie Ellis's loves was shot dead. Yet, in a Soho hotel, the daughter of the last woman to be hanged in Britain tells Emma Cook she finds the role of the moll to men dedicated to crime irresistible
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"Oooh yummy, yummy scrummy," exclaims Georgie Ellis gleefully as she flings open the mini-bar. "Drink what you want," she offers airily and then saunters off towards the bathroom to take a shower and peel herself out of a strappy black trouser suit.

Somehow this seems a highly appropriate setting for Georgie, daughter of Ruth Ellis - the last woman to be hanged in Britain. For anyone who has seen Miranda Richardson play her mother in Dance With A Stranger, there is a similar undercurrent of sleaze and glamour at play; a cramped hotel room in Soho, mini-bar packed with booze, neon lights flashing outside. Tossing some fluffy white towels on the bed, Georgia mutters something about never bothering to wear "underclothes".

As the photographer sets up, she is already suggesting poses. "Perhaps a white towel around my head?" she giggles. "Just like Marilyn Monroe." She emerges from the shower after 10 minutes, peroxide hair dripping, fuchsia lipstick and thick black eyeliner re-applied. She is wearing a tiny slip of a thing that even a Spice Girl would reject in the name of modesty. The neckline is so plunging it almost meets the hem.

Georgie, 46 - Sixties model, business woman and writer - has flown into London to promote her appearance in a BBC1 documentary, Molls, about women who fall for infamous gangsters. None offer very convincing reasons why figures like the Great Train Robbers, Mad Frankie Fraser or the Krays' henchmen are worth hanging out with. At best these "molls" seem to have, or have had, very little control over their circumstances. At worst they are caught up in abusive, volatile relationships. It is anything but glamorous.

So it is rather surprising that Georgie should adopt the view she does; which is, chiefly, that gangsters are as gentle as kittens because they channel all that macho violence into their work. That is what makes them so appealing, apparently. The ones you should watch out for, she warns, are the working types "whose social status is important to them". They are far more likely to "hit their women like crazy", she says. At this point, she hoists herself on to the bed, revealing a chocolate-bronzed cleavage and a small heart tattooed on one breast. She starts to rub moisturiser into her legs. "I just find it extraordinary that the people who are supposedly evil gangsters are actually the most gentle ones. The so-called hard men aren't hard at all - they're as soft as butter."

She is referring to her brief liaison with Charlie Wilson, one of the Great Train Robbers. Georgie met him on holiday in Marbella; she was 37 and he was 60. "Chas and I just clicked. Everywhere we went he was so protective about me. He wasn't ludicrously possessive, like cover yourself up Saudi-style, but if anything had gone wrong he would have been the first one there." In the event, things went very wrong for Charlie. Just after she left, with promises to continue the affair, he was shot dead. "He was a nice happy-go-lucky rogue with a winning smile and a great wit," she says fondly.

Clearly it would take more than a mere murder to put a good-time gal like Georgie off men like Chas. That aside, at least the gangster's world is an exciting one. "I just think it's less boring than a guy who sells insurance," she reasons. "It's also power and sex but it's not just as simple as that. It's that you think those men will really protect you. I know it sounds idealistic but you feel that they're not going to hurt you or have you hurt."

Does she never disapprove of their activities? She seems almost offended by the question. "No, no, no, no, no," she says, getting shriller by the minute. "I'd never take a moral line. I can think of more grossly immoral things; like a man who marries a woman just because she has pounds 100,000. Or a man who has children out of wedlock intentionally, knowing there's never going to be a marriage," she says rather bitterly.

The issue she feels most strongly about is domestic violence. Something she experienced during a 10-year relationship with a Manchester property developer. "So many people keep quiet about it. I was forever making excuses. Even when he broke my nose I'd say, `It wasn't his fault - I didn't get out of the way in time.'"

This man has, she says darkly, the same initials as her mother's lover, David Blakely. She is aware that this is not the only thing the two women share in common - so much so, it is sometimes hard to know where Ruth ends and Georgie begins. In her book, Ruth Ellis, My Mother, she writes: "Central to us both was a desire to avoid falling into any rut that was the lot of so many of our contemporaries. From our earliest teens my mother and I were patent non-conformists. Both blessed with a pretty face and an attractive body, we were equally determined to employ our assets for personal benefit."

Which included meeting hard-drinking men who were exciting as they were unreliable. Georgie has had well-publicised relationships with George Best and Richard Harris. Her mother's tempestuous affair with David Blakely, a racing driver, led to more tragic circumstances on Easter Sunday in 1955. Ruth tracked down her unfaithful lover to a pub in Hampstead where she shot him. Georgie was only three at the time and living with her adopted family. "Obviously I was very fond of her [Ruth] although I was looked after by my grandmother and my mother's sister. I remember her - the closeness we all had. I've never had that since. Never. And I've always craved it. It's all I've ever wanted."

Her father, George Ellis, was a dentist - his marriage to Ruth had ended by the time Georgie was born. Years later she discovered he had committed suicide in 1958. Her half-brother Andy also killed himself, in 1982. Not the sort of background you can escape from easily. "It's one of the parallels that can really annoy me," she says. "When David left me I thought there's no point in killing myself but everyone was thinking, `Oh well, it runs in the family, everyone else has done it.' That really frustrated me. If I had done it people would have said, `Oh, they're all like that.' But I went battling on even when it was really bad."

Georgie is nothing if not a survivor. She used to manage her own escort agency - nowadays, still based in Manchester, she is "involved in several businesses" and writing a book about mistresses. Two marriages and a long- term relationship behind her, she adores her six children and seems quite happy with her lot. "I've been blessed. I'm a lucky, lucky woman."

In some ways, you feel she has had to assume her mother's aspirations in order to come to terms with, and forgive, much of the behaviour that went with that lifestyle. She says briskly: "I know she loved David Blakely more than she loved me. I do accept that - I've had plenty of time to get used to it." Then she adds: "But all she wanted was to be loved - he just wouldn't play the game."

Enough serious talk. She bounces off the bed to dry the rest of her peroxide locks and shouts to me over the hair dryer. "There's only one life. I don't want want to end up with a solicitor in Brentford with two point four children. I don't want to be stuck with a boring man - I want someone with a little zest," she laughs. With that she totters downstairs to the foyer, glammed-up and ready to socialise - all she needs is a Martini in her hand. "I know," she grins. "I think I'll give George Best a ring, see what he's up to tonight"n

`Molls', a BBC1 Inside Story documentary, will be shown next Wednesday.

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