Myleene: Klass Act

Myleene Klass is the Hear'Say has-been who became TV's Queen of the Jungle. Now she wants to prove she has more to offer than a nice smile and a tight bikini, as Deborah Ross discovers.


I probably shouldn't say this, but I will anyway, what the hell. Guess what? That Myleene Klass - the "Queen of the Jungle"; the one from Hear'Say who kind of got away with it (I believe even the apostrophe is now broke and washed-up and on drugs) - is getting married this year and I'm going to be her bridesmaid! I hope I haven't put my foot in it with any of the Hello! or OK! deals that will doubtless be made, but there it is. I've done it now.

It was my suggestion, of course, but only because I could sense Myleene wanted to ask, but didn't wish to put me on the spot. I say I can already see my outfit. I say I'm thinking peach, frills, giant bow at the back. I say I'm thinking mid-Eighties Fergie. She says: "I'm not sure peach is exactly on the agenda." Get out of here, I say. You can't beat peach and a giant bow for a wedding. Everyone knows that. What kind of wedding would it be, without peach and a bow? She says, as it happens, she hasn't quite figured out the bridesmaid angle yet. I say it's a good job I came along, then, because now I've figured it out for you. Shall I text you the dimensions of the bow, once I've worked it out? "Please," she says. So that's settled then, I guess. I can't wait to be summoned to my first fitting.

We meet, the bride-to-be and the bridesmaid-to-be - I'm so excited; I'm so going to give her a bow she won't forget! - at her management's offices in London. She is 28 and certainly very pretty and, yes, she does have tip-top knockers. While she was in the jungle doing the I'm A Celebrity thing, there was a lot of discussion about whether they are real or not. (Although, as one male colleague puts it: "They're very nice either way.") Being the sort of journalist who, like Jeremy Paxman, is not afraid to ask the question, I put it to her: real boobs or not real boobs, Myleene? "Real, " she says. She adds that she is half-Austrian and is built as Austrian women are, with a good-sized bust and "the hips to balance them out". She says she had no idea, until she returned, that she was filmed in the shower so much. "I was absolutely amazed. I think it's funny. You have to have a sense of humour about these things."

She has since auctioned the famed white bikini on eBay. It went for £7,500. "Amazing!" Do you know who bought it? Or is it best not to think about it? Best not to think about it, she says. The money went to Farepak victims. "We were able buy lots of hampers. I'm very proud of that." I've always wondered why I've done so little for charity over the years, and now I know it's not because I'm mean or selfish or a terrible person. I just don't have the boobs for it.

She has no regrets about doing the jungle. None at all. "I only wish I could have stayed longer," she says. I say I fell in love with David Gest a little bit although could never quite work out the hair. She says everyone fell in love with David Gest a little bit and she never quite worked out the hair either. "It is rather ... multidirectional?" She says she did a lot of things on I'm A Celeb that also made her very proud. "When I came out my mum said to me: 'I didn't think you'd jump out of that helicopter, but you were the first to go.' I was very proud of that." She has no regrets about her Hear'Say days either. "I learned more during those two years than I ever did at music college," she says. I say all the criticism Hear'Say received for being " manufactured" always seemed a little unfair to me. Lots of bands are manufactured. The Monkees were manufactured. The Spice Girls were manufactured. Very few bands, in fact, evolve organically. She says that's true enough, but there is manufactured and manufactured and "we were manufactured more than you can imagine." How so? "We once recorded three songs with three different producers simultaneously. The recording studio was on three floors and we were running up and down, passing each other on the stairs. They were songs we hadn't even heard and they'd sing them to us and then we'd sing them back. But, at the same time, I was living the life of Riley. I paid off my mum and dad's mortgage. I paid off my student loan. I paid for my piano." I think Myleene Klass knows what's what. Head extremely well screwed-on and all that.

And now she's busy, busy, busy. "Lots of things have come up," she says. She's about to record a new classical album. She's been offered more TV-presenting jobs than she can possibly accept. Plus, "I've had eight separate offers for my own bikini line." Her first job on her return was as a guest reporter on The X-Factor final. I ask what advice she would give to Leona, the winner. "Don't ever leave a car waiting," she says. Excuse me? "Just by leaving cars waiting, that's where bands use all their money up." Fair enough. She is also cute about money, I think.

One of the most interesting things about reality shows, and particularly reality talent shows - remember, Hear'Say were put together on Popstars, the first of its kind - is why some contestants go on to build proper careers while others don't. I imagine talent has something to do with it, but it can't be all of it. Maybe the ones who stay up there are just smarter. Myleene is smart. She got three A's at A level and could have gone to Cambridge if she f hadn't opted for the Royal Academy of Music. She is mad for astronomy and is currently mid-way though a degree in the subject. She built a sundial in the jungle and Dec later told her it was amazingly accurate. I bet she's proud of that. "I'm very proud of that," she says. She reads a lot, too. Her favourite writers are Toni Morrison and Truman Capote. "My fella [Graham Quinn, a former Hear'Say bodyguard] and I laugh because we reckon we're like Madge and Harold [from Neighbours]. We'll be in bed with the football on TV but with the sound down so I can read my book. I'll read anything - at the moment it's a book about unusual phobias." While you and your fiancé are in bed? Is that wise? Before you're married? He might just be stringing you along, and then where will that leave my dress? She might be smart, Myleene, but she's obviously not that smart.

What, I wonder, does she put her survival down to? She says: "My wanting to be in a band was all about wanting to keep working. When you get people who suddenly decide it's about the clothes and the premieres and did-I-look-nice-in-this-photo? and did-I-look-nice-in-that-photo? they can lose their way. But it's not materialistic for me. It's just genuinely down to, could I have played that better? Could I have sung that better? If so, how? I used to get really excited about a key change. That's more exciting than someone sending you some jewellery to wear to a premiere." You can pass the jewellery on to me, I say. I'm as shallow as anything. "OK," she says. So that's settled too, then.

She says that she can't imagine a life without music. It's kind of in her blood. She was born and brought up in Norfolk. Her mother is from the Philippines and a nurse. Her Austrian father, Oscar, is a diver and ship's captain who comes from six generations of musicians. Myleene's first musical memory is of her Austrian grandmother, Carolina Klass, and "trying to reach the pedals on her piano". Carolina was an opera singer, while Myleene's grandfather left her the violin she still plays. She started on the piano and violin at four and next it was the harp. She says that if she could go out to dinner tonight with any composer, alive or dead, it would have to be Rachmaninov. "There's a man who didn't have the words to say how tormented he was," she says. Sounds like a cheerful evening, I say. Maybe, she says, she should go for Mozart instead. "I think I'd have a great hang-over the next day."

She became a session musician, then it was Popstars and Hear'Say. They had two good years before it all imploded. Myleene said she saw it coming. " Within the band it just wasn't working as a unit any more. Relationships with a certain person were just so strained." Was that certain person her bandmate Kym Marsh, perchance? She's not saying. She doesn't want to get into all that again. Also, when they stopped getting the number ones, and got to number five, or number seven instead, the record company "went into panic stations" and pulled the plug. She says she's normally the kind of person who never gets down ("I've got nothing to get down about") but she was quite down immediately after Hear'Say. One minute you're doing Wembley, she says, thinking this will go on for ever, and the next you're at home and the phone's not ringing. "The upside, though, is I've saved on the wedding guest list. I learned who my real friends are. And I'm now working every hour I can because I don't know when it will be taken away. But it's not just desperation. I also have a fierce determination to keep on working and put my kids though college."

Kids? "If we're blessed," she says. She asks if I have kids. A son, I tell her. "Then you're blessed," she says. I'm not so sure about that, I say. He's a teenager now so it's wet towels dropped wherever and the occasional grunt, although never before noon. Is that a blessing? She says she is godmother to former bandmate Suzanne Shaw's son, Corey, by Darren Day, who was reported to have walked out shortly after the birth, saying: "I don't do family." Christ, while not entirely unsympathetic - I don't do wet towels; or wouldn't if I didn't have to - I can't believe that is really true. Is it? "Sadly, yes," she says. "I was with her two hours after the birth so I've been though a lot with her. I said to her: 'Come on, you and I will do this.' She stayed with me and I looked after her." I bet she's proud of that, too. "I did everything in my power ... I'm very proud of that," she says.

Anyway, the rest of our time together passes amiably enough. We talk about Faith Brown. Are hers real? "Yes," says Myleene. And she's not even half-Austrian! I gasp. "I know. Unbelievable!" she exclaims. We talk about body fascism. "I've been a size 14 and a size 8 and everything in between and it makes no difference to your life." If some magazine wants to circle her cellulite, then so be it. "I couldn't care less." And, of course, we talk about the forthcoming wedding. She's yet to choose a venue but hopes to do so this month. All she knows is that there will be Guinness on tap, as Graham is Irish, and maybe a fish and chip van, for the fun of it. Plus, I say, don't forget the bridesmaid in the peach and the bow. "How could I?" she says. Now, isn't that sweet?

Myleene presents the Sunday breakfast show for Classic FM. She is also one of the presenters on 'The People's Quiz' on BBC1 later this spring

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