How We Met: Magenta De Vine and David Okuefuna

Melanie McFadyean
Saturday 16 October 1993 23:02

Magenta De Vine's real name is Kim Taylor; she is 34. She has been a television reporter/presenter for seven years, six of them with the BBC's Rough Guide travel programme. The last series was sold to the USA. She lives with her boyfriend, David Okuefuna, in west London. Born of a Welsh mother and Nigerian father, David Okuefuna is 32. He grew up in Liverpool and went to university in Manchester and London. After working on magazines, he went into TV. He has been a producer on Rough Guide, a reporter for Granada Reports, and is now a producer with Channel 4 News.

MAGENTA DE VINE: I first met David at the office before we went off to shoot two programmes in the second Rough Guide series - Bombay and Rio - which he was producing. It wasn't love across a crowded room but I liked him instantly. We'd had some producers we didn't get on very well with and my co-presenter and best friend, Sanka, and I had a reputation for being stroppy. The first thing I said to David was, 'I'm sure you've heard awful things about us but we're not awful.' He said he didn't listen to gossip and would make up his own mind. I liked that.

He went to Bombay ahead of me. He'd been really ill, so when I arrived I put my hand on his arm saying 'My God, how are you?' He leapt up looking embarrassed. Then we started working and talking and we'd be deep in conversation at every available opportunity. He's very intelligent and funny.

I began to get the hots for him. It was a slow courtship. We'd be together in a hotel room till late at night and nothing happened. He's not the kind of person who jumps on women when he meets them. I will jump on someone but not if I thought I might get knocked back, embarrassed and hurt, so I was sly and manipulative and tried to get him on my own whenever possible.

In Bombay he wore shoes with clicky things on the heels and the hotel had echoey marble floors. Whenever he went on a shoot and I was back at the hotel, I'd listen out for his shoes. It was so exciting, the stuff that makes your heart jump.

I didn't have much chance to drag him kicking and screaming into bed in Bombay, I had to work up to it. In Istanbul for the next programme, I whinged like a love-sick schoolgirl to our production manager. I knew I'd see David in Rio and said, 'Shall I jump on him or what?' He said, 'Go for it, get his clothes off, what's wrong with you?' In Istanbul I listened to sloppy tapes he hates like Marvin Gaye and Al Green and yearned to be with him. I rang him on the pretext of discussing work but made a date for dinner in London before Rio.

We had a really nice evening. He had a big bag of books for me - he's well versed in semiotics and it really interests me, so we had a long conversation into the night about that. I'm into really clever men, so he did the one thing that really pushed my buttons. There was a peck on the cheek at the end of the evening. He went to Rio early the next morning and I went to Sydney. I mooned around Sydney and we spoke on the phone a couple of times. I think it was getting obvious by then. I rang him and said that I would bring him a bag of condoms because the women in Rio are so beautiful, and if he didn't get round to using them we could use them ourselves.

By the time I gotto Rio I was at fever pitch, absolutely pumping, which was wonderful because you don't do that in relationships any more because they happen too fast. We went out to dinner and talked and talked and talked. We walked home and he put his arm round me and pulled me across the road to Copacabana Beach. It was fantastically romantic.

We went back to the hotel and I said: 'Everybody thinks we're having an affair - why don't we have one?' Then typically we discussed whether we'd have a relationship for two hours. Then we decided we would and we made love for the first time. We've been together ever since - and that was four years ago. As with all relationships we've had our bad and good moments, but I'm never bored even if I'm annoyed. I've never thought, 'Oh stop talking, I can't bear the sound of your voice, you're such a bore.'

DAVID OKUEFUNA: Magenta and I hit it off right from the start, we have the same sort of sense of humour and we're relatively seriousminded. Of course I'd seen her on TV and was impressed by her. Looking at her as a viewer with that remoteness, I thought that she seemed quite cold and imperious, but I never trust my perceptions as mediated through TV.

When I met her I was very surprised. What startled me most was how terribly ill she looked. I always thought she was attractive but in the early stages I was concerned for her health, she was so thin and her pallor . . . I later found out it was because she was recovering from a bereavement. Her mother had just died, but she was still working the horrendous hours we were forced to do at the BBC. She was obviously in a great deal of pain, it may have brought out some paternal instinct in me.

I was in Bombay for three weeks before Magenta arrived and I was really ill. When she joined us she was thoughtful and considerate. She is one of the kindest people I've ever met. In Bombay you get sympathy fatigue. I've never seen her say no to a beggar. She has a fundamental niceness, she's idealistic.

We parted as friends after Bombay. For the six days that we were there we were working flat out. But we're both insomniacs so when everyone else was in bed we would still be up chewing the fat about anything from moral philosophy and hermeneutic circularity to her desire to modernise my style of dress. I suppose it's fair to say she took the initiative, I never considered myself the sort of person who would be attractive to a 'star' - not that I found her fame offputting. Having worked in TV I knew what it was like to be around famous people.

Our romance started in Rio. Rio obviously has problems as a city - terrible poverty, poor people oppressed by forces of the state - but it's difficult to imagine a more wonderful, vibrant place. From our hotel we could see the Sugar Loaf Mountain and Copacabana Beach and I fell in love. One night we had a brief discussion about whether to have a romance or not, but events overtook us and then it was all lust.

It was very passionate at the start, but she left for New York and there was a separation of a few weeks. It's easy to see how presenting a programme like Rough Guide would destroy most relationships. I travel a lot, too, we run up enormous phone bills. The travelling puts an enormous strain on the relationship. But we always come through, because there is a base level of regard for each other.

In our first two years we never had a row; I have enormous respect for her intelligence and I think it's mutual. In the last two years we've had two or three major rows - about deeply personal things.

She makes me laugh, her hats make me laugh, the whole of her wardrobe makes me laugh, she has some outrageous creations. She's clearly some sort of shoe fetishist, she'd put Imelda Marcos to shame.

Obviously one day we might want to have children. The decision is in her hands - it's up to her if she wants to give up Rough Guide and have a family. But I'd never pressurise her, because the chance to have the experiences she has is so rare and she'll probably look back in years to come and see this time as the golden years of her life.

(Photograph omitted)

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