Category Archives: Celebrity families

Celebrity Families: The Carters

International superstar Beyoncé has caused quite a stir by adopting her husband Shawn’s name for her forthcoming “The Mrs Carter Show” tour. We asked her about the reasoning behind it.


“It’s a powerful name. It’s a name of power,” Beyoncé tells me as we sit over cocktails and a plate of scotch eggs in a pop-up artisan cafe on the deck of a Dover-Calais P&O ferry that’s moored in uptown Beverly Hills. “For a good few years while Jay [Shawn’s “rap name” is Jay-Z] was growing up, his mum [TV’s Lynda Carter] was Wonder Woman every week on tv and his dad [Jimmy] was president of the USA. And that’s exactly the sort of drive and ambition my solo career encapsulates.”

It must have been quite a childhood, I say. “Hell yes!” spurts Beyoncé, waving at the waiter for prawns. “He used to get teased something awful at school. ‘Show us your magic bracelets!’ ‘Negotiate a peace with Cuba!’ All that sort of thing.” She sighs wistfully.

Just then we’re joined by Beyoncé’s aunt Helena [Bonham Carter, best known for her role as Don Johnson’s love interest in Miami Vice] – they briefly brush each others’ hair in greeting before settling down to tell me more. “When I had my kids they were always over at Lynda’s wanting to play with Jay-Z,” confides Helena in an outrageous Cockney accent. “My eldest Dwayne [Carter, best known today as musician Lil Wayne] has quite the rivalry with Jay these days but they were so friendly once. They used to do raps together over Sunday lunch!” Did they have beef, I ask. “No, chicken usually,” says Helena.

Beyoncé’s thoughts turn to the lost members of the Carter clan, as a regretful breeze ripples across her perfect skin. “Jay hardly sees anything of his uncle Chris these days,” she moues. “He went a bit wild with his conspiracy theories about twenty years ago, it was all ‘the truth is out there’ and ‘trust no-one’ and ‘aliens are in the jelly’ and that sort of thing. He and his kids the Backstreet-Carters have been shut off ever since. Poor Nick and poor little Aaron.”

“They wanted it that way,” spits Helena bitterly.

Still, happier times lie ahead, I venture, drawing Beyoncé’s attention back to her forthcoming tour and the reason for our interview. “Yes, and perhaps now you appreciate a little of the wonderful Carter legacy,” she says with a sweet, winning smile. “With all that rich history behind the name I’d be a fool not to adopt it for promotional purposes.” And the loss of the Knowles name? “My father Nick will be devastated. But with the money from the tour he’ll finally be able to do up his house.”


Celebrity Families: The Collinses

There’s a party atmosphere at the Collins house as son Marcus opens the door with a grin, resplendent in a startling pair of pomegranate trousers. “Hiya!” says mum Michelle in an accent that roves briefly across ten distinct counties and two Mediterranean ex-pat communities. Meanwhile dad Phil hands me a glass of champagne. It’s the eve of the launch of Marcus’s debut single and the family are understandably excited.

“It’s a cover of the White Stripes’ Seven Nation Army,” beams Marcus with a dazzling flash of teeth. “But in an easy listening style!” That sounds like a great idea, I say.

“Has it got an ‘orn section?” asks Phil. Marcus nods happily. “Good! You can’t beat proper instruments. Makes it authentic.” Phil occasionally plays drums in a local weddings band, it turns out. “But don’t tell the taxman!” he cackles.

I ask Michelle what she does for a living. She confides that she’s an accent coach. “So if you wanted to sound like you were from South Glamorgan, for example,” – she begins – “I could teach you!” she concludes in a perfect Bangladeshi twang.

Just then, fashionable grandma Joan totters in and flings a dozen carrier bags to the floor. “Closing down sale at Peacocks!” she gasps ecstatically before thrusting a handful of receipts at Phil. “See what you can do about claiming back the tax, darling.”

I ask Joan what she thinks of her grandson’s burgeoning music career. “Well I always hoped Marcus would go to private school, have the opportunities his mother and father never did,” she says impeccably.

“But it turns out he didn’t want to go up the Eton road!” guffaws Phil. Michelle and Joan glance at one another.

Then, oddly, Joan produces a Snickers bar from her pocket and takes a huge bite with her otherwise perfect teeth. I look around to see Phil has pulled out a Dairy Milk and is heading for his home drum kit in the corner while pulling on a gorilla outfit.

I worry that some sort of chocolate sponsorship is going to spoil the integrity of my interview. I turn to Michelle. “Cup of tea, luv?” she asks Marcus brightly in a faultless Easter Island accent.

“Brew? No. Mars!” smiles Marcus. I can’t help feeling that I’ve missed something.

(continued on page 118)

Celebrity Families: The Lloyds

“We’re all a little bit excited,” says mum Siân in that soothing voice of hers as she ushers me into the family home. “My little girl could be going to number one today!” She rushes over to Cher Lloyd’s side as they huddle around the radio. For some reason the radio is a giant contraption being worn on grandad Christopher’s head. “My dad’s an inventor!” explains Siân proudly.

“Shut UP mum!” snaps Cher. “We’re into the Top Ten, I bet Reggie phones me any minute!” Siân clears her throat loudly and Cher notices me at last. She springs up, brandishing a terrier. “Hello hater!” she says. “This is my dog Wagger.”

“I wanted to call him Einstein,” says Christopher sadly. I pet the dog, who limps away with the stiffness of age.

I assure Cher that I’m not one of her haters, that in fact I quite like her. She kisses her teeth. “You can’t stop looking at me, can you? You can’t stop writing ’bout me!” I explain that it’s because I’m here to interview her for a magazine profile. “Well I’m laughing all the way,” she counters with unnecessary petulance.

Christopher shoots her a wild-eyed look. “You really are a cheeky girl, aren’t you.”

Siân looks round as if a gun’s been fired in the room. “What? Where?”

Fortunately there’s a sudden distraction as the phone rings. It’s Reggie Yates, confirming that Cher has indeed gone to number one. The girls turn the radio up loud and dance around, crying happily.

Christopher reaches into the sideboard and hands Cher a tattered envelope. “Time to open the sealed letter I wrote you in 1985!” he blurts.

Cher narrows her eyes, commenting that she hadn’t been born then, as she opens the envelope and reads out the letter. “Dear Cher, If my calculations are correct, you will receive this letter immediately after learning that you have reached number one in the popular charts…

“That’s amazing Dad!” lilts Siân. “What does the other letter say?”


“There were two letters in the sideboard – one with a Y on the back and one with an N.”

“No there weren’t,” says Christopher defensively. “When was the last time you did a forecast anyway?”

I clear the air by asking Cher where the inspiration for her song came from, but only a croak comes out as her little mouth opens and closes. She begins to weep.

“Too much excitement!” shrieks Siân. “You need vitamin C!” She rummages in the fruit bowl. “Oh my darling. I know there’s a clementine buried in here somewhere. Don’t even try to speak!”

But Cher has found her voice again. “Mum stop trying to shut me up! I’ll talk about my success if I want to!” She looks daggers at Siân. “Gagger!”




“Have you both quite finished?” I interrupt. A silence descends across the room. It is broken by a sad bark. Wagger staggers in.

[continued on page 119]

Celebrity Families: The Brookses

There’s a major celebration going on as I arrive at the Brooks mansion. It seems as though branches of the family from all over the world have gathered together for this special Sunday lunch. Mum Elkie is singing and playing the piano (standing up for some reason), her American cousin Avery is tossing a baseball from hand to hand and Rebekah, the woman I’m here to profile, is at the centre of it all. “What’s the special occasion?” I ask her.

“Things are just going really, really well at work,” she says, smiling tightly. “I’ve got some exciting new opportunities coming up and I’m just really happy with how everything’s turned out.”

As if by magic her dad Ray appears. I ask if he’s proud of his daughter. “She’s a terrible disappointment to be honest,” he says in a warm voice. “I used to tell her she could be anything she wanted when she grew up, but —”

“Dad you were always getting me to dress up as a knight, or a deep sea diver, or a clown!” scowls Rebekah.

“They’re good steady jobs! And I had the costumes lying around.”

“You substantially and deliberately misled me. You’re fired.”

“Big deal,” says Ray, slouching off.

Mum Elkie hands Rebekah a glass of a pale purple drink. “Never mind, love, have a swig of this. It’ll make you see what you want to see, and be what you want to be.”

“Well I don’t have any difficulty with that,” Rebekah snaps. “Things are going really well!” Just then there’s a knock at the door. It’s cousin Mehcad, back from the shops. “Have you got my shredder from Argos?” shrieks Rebekah excitedly.

“You said eggs!” smiles Mehcad handsomely, proffering a basket.

“It is inconceivable that I knew about or worse, sanctioned these appalling eggs,” snaps Rebekah in reply.

I spot great-aunt LaLa from America in the corner, sipping from a crystal goblet. I walk up to her and ask her if she wants to dance. She declines, so I ask her about Rebekah’s romantic life.

“There was a guy once,” she says. “Somebody told me that his name was Bill. They had a disagreement about her stance on domestic violence though.”

We’re interrupted as Rebekah raises a furious toast to her own success, forcing everyone to join in while glaring at them.

“What do you think the secret of your success is, Rebekah?” I ask afterwards.

“I learned everything I know from my grandad Mel,” she says proudly. I turn to the beaming old man and ask him what his story is.

“I don’t know,” he says slowly. “I had a good story once. An idea about someone who creates a piece of entertainment in the most cynical way possible, who deliberately embraces and celebrates evil, and yet somehow fools the public and their backers and ends up a great success. It was a silly idea really.”

Rebekah hands me a knife. “Time for the carve up!”

[continued on page 38]

Celebrity families: The Coxes

Rain lashes down out of an ominous black sky as eminent broadcaster Sara Cox ushers me into the terraced house she shares with her family in Manchester. “It’s like the end of the world!” she gawps.

“Actually Sara when the Earth is finally swallowed by the sun there’ll be a lot more heat and a lot less liquid water,” chirrups her brother Brian, emerging to take my coat.

“What a miseryguts!” scowls Sara. “He’s got a cob on because I won’t play his song on my radio show.”

Brian’s band D:Ream are on the verge of staging a comeback after many long years in the pop wilderness. Brian’s tried to make a living for himself in the meantime by giving science lessons to remedial children locally, but he’s the first to admit it hasn’t been easy. “They just don’t care about the wonder of physics!” he tells me, fixing me with an enchanting stare.

It’s just then I notice the elderly gentleman in oversized glasses perched behind a Casio keyboard in the corner, as he starts up an improvised song. “The kids don’t care about science! When they’re taught by Brian Cox!” he trills. “The boys just want to kiss girlies! And the girls just want to see — ” He looks around with a wink and pursed lips, as though for applause. “Frocks!”

“That’s our dad,” sighs Sara. “He likes it if you call him Doc. But he’s no more a doctor than our Brian’s a professor.”

Just then Brian’s wife Courteney wafts fragrantly in, shrugging off a cashmere coat to reveal a tight low-cut dress and four inch heels. “I’ve been working in the orchard,” she explains, referring to the family’s famous apple empire. Her accent sounds American, I remark. “Brian and I met at a Bruce Springsteen concert in the 80s,” she says affectionately.

“We got chatting,” says Brian, turning to me, beaming. “And I explained to her that despite its anthemic properties, the song Born In The USA is actually a disaffected howl in the face of an economic system that’s tending to chaos in the aftermath of the Vietnam war.” He fondles Courteney’s nose. “But then all closed systems disintegrate eventually. Even our own universe will one day flicker and die.”

“The death of all things! And we’re all out of luck!” sings Doc Cox, grabbing a ukulele for accompaniment. “If there isn’t a hope! Then I don’t give a —”

“And that’s the second law of thermodynamics,” says Brian sadly, grinning away. “Things can only get worse.”

continued on p15

Celebrity families: the Browns

It’s with some trepidation that I approach the impressive maisonette where Derren and Melanie Brown live with their son Chris. Chris has been in the headlines for all the wrong reasons recently, whether relentlessly smashing his girlfriend’s face to a pulp, light-heartedly revealing his elephantine penis to the internet, or flying into a rage on the set of a TV interview and storming angrily off to throw furniture around.

But my fears are allayed when Mel B flings open the door. Dressed in a trademark animal-print bikini & cape, and a broad Northern smile, she cheerfully bellows “Come on in, he won’t bite!” in that accent of hers.

The reasons for this become clear as I’m ushered into the kitchen-cum-TV-room. Chris has quite literally been muzzled and is bound to a chair with gaffer tape. “It’s for his own good really,'” laughs Mel, offering me a Ryvita Mini. “To be honest we’re thinking of having him put down!”

Mel’s husband Derren, a reclusive mastermind and sometime lord of illusion, emerges from the shadows. “I knew she was going to say that,” he says, prestidigitatively.

“Come on, our Chris!” shouts Mel. “Time for your mango!” She dribbles some juice into the corner of his muzzle with a pipette, while his eyes blaze murderously with fury. “He’s a terrible disappointment really,” she confides. “I were only a teenager myself when I had him. But to be honest if I hadn’t, I reckon our Derren would have been off on the other bus by now!”

“It… was… a thought experiment,” says Derren tightly, engaged in some business with a smashed watch and a locked box. Looking up at me, he asks “Oh, would you get the door?”

“What?” I ask, and just then the doorbell rings. A dour figure is stood there in kagoule and sunglasses – it’s Derren’s older brother Ian.

“ALRIGHT OUR KID?” he enquires, barging in. “I’VE COME FOR ME NEPHEW.”

Mel throws a teatowel protectively over Chris’s face. “You’re bloody not,” she swears. “He’s grounded.”


Mel races over. “I’ll give you a bit of spunk,” she yells, which unfortunately

continued on page 78

Celebrity Families: The Millses

It’s Scott who answers the door when I call on the Mills family at their East London apartments. He has a kindly face but a slightly haunted look about him. “Don’t make my sister angry!” he pleads, and insists I leave my shoes (“they look like leather even if they’re not!”) in the hallway for fear that they’ll enrage her.

As I’m ushered into the kitchen-cum-living-room I catch my first glimpse of Heather, resplendent upon a pearlescent throne. “Lovely to meet you Heather,” I say, stepping forward.

“I prefer Lady McCartney on a first meeting,” she advises informally, with a thin smile.

I cast my eyes around the luxurious room. There’s a boy in the corner, Heather’s son Dylan from an early marriage. He’s famous too, known to millions of schoolchildren for his madcap antics as The Dizzy Rascal.

Scott is fussing around with a tea tray. “So,” I ask him, “Are you seeing anyone special at the moment?”

“My brother’s not the marrying kind,” stage-whispers Heather.

“For goodness’ sake Heather, I’m a proud gay man!” Scott ejaculates. “I’m the 12th most influential gay person in Britain!”

“Two below Sue Perkins,” tuts Heather.

I turn to Dylan, just as Heather spots the paper package he’s eating from and leaps from the throne, her nose twitching, landing nimbly with the skills admired by thousands on Dancing On Ice and Dancing With The Stars to snatch it from his hands. “Kebab!” she hisses. “This is the devil’s work.”

Dylan yelps. There are meat juices, chilli sauce and bits of onion all around his mouth. Heather licks a tissue and starts dabbing roughly at his face. “Aw MUM,” he protests.

“Quiet!” says Heather. “If you don’t get rid of all this grime you won’t be going to Ibiza.” I presume she’s talking about a planned family holiday.

“Did you and Heather have many nice holidays as children?” I ask Scott.

“Dad was always busy,” he replies solemnly. “When I was seven he was running around a plastic jungle with a snake drawn on his arm for Doctor Who. And after that he spent years providing Esther Rantzen with light relief.” A shadow falls across his face. “But his hard work helped inspire me to become one of Britain’s most popular broadcasters!”

Just then a blare of approaching sirens fills our ears. Dylan springs up like a rabbit. Heather unaccountably begins to loudly weep. “I’m being victimised!” she sobs. Turning to me with a savage look, she begins to explain that I’ll never again

(continued on page 37)

Celebrity families: The Welches

It’s mum Denise who flings open the doors of the grandiose Welch Mansion with a cheeky flourish. “I suppose you’ve come about our Flo!” she bellows cheerfully. A familiar face from TV’s Loose Women, Dancing On Ice, Coronation Street and whatever else it was that she was in, Denise wears her fame lightly, like a coat of primer.

As I get seated in the main hall, I notice Florence Welch (thankfully without ‘And The Machine’, her backing band!) sitting nervously by a French window, sipping some elderflower cordial. “I’m making cottage pie!” shouts Denise from the kitchen door, waving a mince-encrusted slotted spoon. Florence looks up with a blush.

It’s clear that cross-generational fame hasn’t dented the charm of these lovely ladies, for moments later, grandma Raquel slinks fragrantly in. “Where have you been?” asks Florence timidly. “We’ve got an interview!”

“I’ve been in my cave,” confides Raquel huskily. As I was to find out, she’s referring to a full size polystyrene cave she keeps upstairs, in which she enjoys reliving her ‘glory days’.

But it’s the remarkable contemporary success of these three women that interests me. Their grape juice empire has conquered the ‘Pentecostal communion’ market, and the purple variety is now the second most likely drink to be offered to a recovering alcoholic at a suburban dinner party.

“I had the idea back when we were filming Fantastic Voyage,” says Raquel slowly, that accent of hers very thick. “I looked out at that giant arteriovenous fistula we were dodging in our miraculous little submarine, and I thought ‘Grapes could change everything!'”

“He doesn’t want to hear about all that, Ma!” admonishes Denise through a mouthful of mash. “Tell him about the Grammies, Flo!”

Florence puts down the chrysanthemum leaf she’s nibbling on and daintily relates to me her pride at standing next to Jennifer Hudson and Christina Aguilera at the recent star-studded event in Los Angeles. “The NME keeps trying to make me out to be a credible rock chick,” she confesses credibly. “But my heart is in pop.”

“She gets that from me!” interjects Denise loudly, accidentally spraying me with tiny pieces of half-chewed diced carrot in her excitement. “Everyone remembers my chart battle with East 17 over Halloween ’95, don’t they! And that Thunder of theirs only got to number 4!”

She’s so enthusiastic it would seem unkind to remind her of the facts: her attempt to follow the success of her Soldier Soldier co-stars Robson & Jerome, with a Dusty Springfield cover, stalled at number 23.

“Our Justin was musical too,” says Denise, her eyes misty with nostalgia. “But I was so young when I had him.” She spears a forkful of cabbage angrily.

[continued on page 34]