Where the Heart Is director Boorman’s marriage split

FILM director John Boorman is said by friends to have split from his wife, Isabella.

The couple have not been seen together near or around Boorman’s home in a village near Roundwood, Co Wicklow as she is believed to have moved into a Dublin address with property developer Adrian McFeeley – who owned a 100-year-old mill a few hundred yards from Boorman’s home.

Although Boorman and South American-born Isabella regularly attended the annual Christmas lights ceremony together in previous years – which is held just a few hundred yards from their front gates – they were conspicuous by their absence on Friday night.

And while she was a regular visitor to shops like Kavanagh’s butchers or the Cottage Food Store, staff there admitted they hadn’t seen her for “months”.

The couple – who have three children – met when Isabella worked as his secretary and then became his second wife when they married in 1995.

She worked as a researcher on his 1998 TV film Lee Marvin: A Personal Portrait by John Boorman and last year became a director in a film and video production company called KI Films.

The Boormans first met McFeeley – who was believed to been married to Spanish-born wife Rosa – more than six years ago, when he began renovating a century-old mill he bought in Annamoe, near Boorman’s remote Wicklow estate.

McFeeley only returned to Ireland recently after living in Spain and had been renting a property a few hundred yards from the Boormans.

Following the split, 40-year-old Isabella – according to neighbours – moved into a house in Monkstown that McFeely inherited from his mother.

Boorman – whose string of hit films include Where the Heart Is, The General, Point Blank, Deliverance and Excalibur – is said to be devastated by the split but last night he was remaining tight-lipped at his home.

When asked about the split, he simply said through the intercom at the end of his long drive: “I don’t want to talk about it.”

A friend, who asked not to be named, said last night: “John is devastated. He just didn’t see this coming and he is taking it hard.”

Father-of-six, Boorman has made little secret of his own past indiscretions, or his attitude to relationships.

In an interview in 2003, he admitted: “I’m probably quite controlling in my relationships. I like to know everything that is going on.”

And he added: that – at the grand age of 70 – he had “only just starting to understand women.”

He said in his autobiography Adventures of a Suburban Boy that his marriage to first wife Christel Kruse – which ended in 1990 – turned out to be “combustible and exhausting” while a friend of the director is said to have described it as “a continuation of the Second World War by other means”.

Despite their difficulties, the marriage lasted 39 years and produced four children – Katrine, Charley, Daisy and Telsche – who tragically died of ovarian cancer.

Boorman also revealed in the book a liaison with a young married woman called Alison Smith – the woman he would later make his 1964 six-part BBC TV series The Newcomers about – while he was still wed to Kruse.

He said that although he had a passionate friendship with her, the couple agreed not to sleep with each other so as not to “betray” either of their marriages.

But Boorman was caught kissing Smith by her husband Anthony, who said nothing after stumbling across the couple, left the room but later left a note for him, which read “You are a shit.”

On his first marriage, he later said in an interview: “I think I had a very clear idea about marriage. Exclusivity was always a problem for me.

“I mean, I think that marriage closes you off to some extent, particularly if you’ve got children – it becomes a very closed nuclear group.

“It tends to exclude other people. And of course in my work I’m dealing with people all the time. Whenever I made a movie, we always travelled as a family. That was very important to me.”

Of the split, a local resident who knows both Boorman and Isabella said: “All the village is talking about it.

“Although nobody has actually come out and confirmed the marriage is in trouble and that there is another man involved, it has become common knowledge.”

ENDS

Michael Flatley marries again.

LORD of The Dance star Michael Flatley has tied the knot for the second time.

The 47-year-old superhoofer wed fellow dancer Niamh O’Brien at the weekend in a small town parish church near his southern Irish mansion.

Thousands of residents from Fermoy, County Cork, turned out for the event – filling St Patrick’s Church, the forecourt outside and lining the streets.

Flatley was mobbed when he arrived at the wheel of his V12 Mercedes Roaster, and spent about five minutes shaking hands and kissing well-wishers before finally making it through the crowd into the church.

When O’Brien, 32, appeared – some 45 minutes late – in her stunning Badgley Mischka dress, she too had problems getting through the crowd, despite her police escort – which included two outriders.

At one point there were so many people gathered around the V12 Rolls Royce Phantom the 32-year-old Irish-born dancer arrived in that she couldn’t actually get out of the car.

During the service – which was attended by about 250 invited guests and around 700 local residents – Flatley was cheered and at one point, the entire congregation rose to their feet and sang “For he’s a jolly good fellow”.

Some of the music was performed by the Irish folk group, The Chieftains.

A message from Pope Benedict XVI blesssing their marriage was read out at the end of the service.

Afterwards, the couple posed on the steps of the church before being driven back to Flatley’s Castlehyde House mansion estate.

In a celebration that lasted until around 6am the following morning, guests feasted on a gourmet buffet, which included venison en croute, osyters, lobster, prawns, shellfish and medallions of beef.

There were also plates of fresh Irish salmon caught from the river that runs through his estate.

A small army of waiters and waitresses circulated with glasses of Krug and Bollinger champagne, while French wines, vintage ports, and Irish malts were also on offer.The couple’s first dance was Fly Me To The Moon, followed by I’ve Got You Under My Skin.

Every room on the ground floor of his home was filled with musicians – including a string quartet, a solo pianist and there were performances by The Chieftains.

Flatley himself played the flute almost non-stop for two hours.

He and his new bride – who he has known for about ten years – stayed up till around 2am before disappearing upstairs.

There was no honeymoon. That’s due later this year.

Instead the couple took just two days off at Castlehyde House before returning to work on his forthcoming tour, Celtic Tiger.

Groomsman Ronan Hardiman said: “He told me the wedding and reception was the happiest day of his life and that he was over the mon about it all.”

Lisa Murphy, the woman Flatley dated on and off from around 1999 till earlier this year, said: “I am happy for him. I hope he will be happy and I wish him all the best.”

Flatley first married Polish make-up artist Beata Dziaba in 1986 but they divorced in 1997.

ENDS

Kevin Wallace – Lord of the impossible.

AS the man behind the most expensive musical ever, Kevin Wallace is the closest thing Ireland has to its very own Cameron Mackintosh.

At £11.5 million, the budget his The Lord of the Rings musical is many times more than the average cost of a West End show – which normally comes in at between £200,000 and £3 million.

But if the former Limerick drama teacher is having any sleepless nights over the scale of what he has taken on board, he certainly isn’t letting on as he talks at his plush penthouse offices in London over-looking Trafalgar Square.

Perhaps that’s because he has at least achieved the impossible.

Nobody believed – least of all some of the members of his creative team – that turning the JRR Tolkien classic in to a musical could be done.

Yet the inspiration behind this massive project – the 40-tonne hi-tech three-stage set for which will take more than two months to assemble – isn’t some childhood dream to produce epics.

Instead, it’s actually the former chairman of Limerick Football Club – his father Michael – and the ritual goings-on round a dining room table off Limerick’s North Circular in the 1960s.

Wallace said: “Before I could read, I was at the game each Sunday with my dad and loving it.

“At the end of each game, the steward would hand my father a huge bag containing the takings on the gate, and it would be carried home and then the bag opened out onto the dining room table.

“The takings would then be counted and banked the following morning.

“Other things happened round that dining room table, the whole chat about who was going to be signed and how much players would be signed for.

“Various players would troop into the house to get their contracts signed and there was always a wonderful huddle of people around, all wrapped up in the whole drama of the game.

“There was a right lot of wheeling and dealing, and I’d be watching it all.”

He added: “The business aspect of soccer really appealed to me, especially as I witnessed my father and his friends pouring so much of their time and energy – and finance – into the game.

“They were the sort of characters up and down the country who were effectively keeping soccer teams going.

“They weren’t doing it for the money. They were doing it because they passionate about it.”

It wouldn’t be until 1990 when he’d be able to relive those days, which were also influenced by his mother Nancy.

He said: “She mum loved the theatre, and if there wasn’t something on in Limerick, we’d drive to Dublin and catch a play there.

“One of the people I remember seeing was Peter O’Toole in the Dublin Festival. Back in Limerick each year, I’d be hanging round the actors, the technicians, I’d sell programmes, clean bottles – anything just to be part of it all.

“I was completely lost in this world and saw countless repeats of some of the great classics.”

He added: “It suited me fine because I don’t think I was ever particularly gregarious or much of a mixer.”

After school at Limerick’s Salesians Convent followed by Crescent College with Jesuits for his inter and leaving certs, he spent a year teaching drama in Clare.

Despite the fact that his father thought he should try for “a proper job”, he funded Wallace’s drama studies at Rose Bruford in Sidcup, Kent.

He then went on the road around the UK with an 18-strong troupe of actors funded by the UK Arts Council to perform plays by Irish playwrights.

Two years later he joined the Royal Shakespeare Company, working with actors such as Joss Ackland. But, despite his success as a stage actor, he became disillusioned with acting by the time he was 32.

So he decided to raise £7,500 to produce his first ever show, Eugene O’Neill’s The Emperor Jones and staged it in a 48-seat venue in north London during the 1990 Camden Fringe Festival.

He recalled: “The play hadn’t been done in the UK for some time. Consequently it got a lot of favourable critical attention.”

That’s as maybe, but it ran for little more than two weeks and – like the 22-week first run in Canada of his Lord of the Rings – failed to recoup its costs.

He said: “From the start, I said to the people who were putting their money into that one, I want your money and your not going to get it back.

“Instead, it’s going to cost you £50 to get two tickets to come and see it.

“But despite not recouping its costs, the experience was the most exhilarating and all consuming of my life.

“I was only getting four hours sleep a night, and was doing every aspect of it – from PR and marketing to negotiating contracts with the actors.

“When I came out of it, I realised it was the two main influences of my life combined into one.

“One one hand, there was the theatre my mother had introduced me to, and on the other was me as a young kid counting out the takings from the gate of various Limerick FC matches with his father, and getting wrapped up in the politics of whether or not players should be signed, and how much the players should be played.

“Although I had loved my experience as an actor, I found that I actually liked theatre more than I liked acting.

“And after all those sleepless night as an actor where I said to myself ‘this isn’t quite what I want to be doing’ while not having any idea what else I wanted to do – I had finally found what I wanted to do.”

And, however odd this may sound coming from the man behind the biggest musical on the planet, he added: “The scale is immaterial to me.

“From that moment in 1990, I knew I’d be happy producing shows in Camden for the rest of my life.

“It was being stuck in the whole process that was the real pleasure for me.”

And it’s a passion that saw him being taken on as a producer by Andrew Lloyd Webber, for whom he worked for seven years until 2001, putting on various Really Useful Theatre Group productions on around the UK and London.

They included Whistle Down The Wind, The Beautiful Game and the Belgian production of Phantom of the Opera.

His most successful production was the UK tour of Jesus Christ Superstar, the musical.

He won an Emmy award for his role as executive producer of the film based on that production.

Keen to shine in his own light, Wallace went freelance in 2001, setting up his own production company a short time later with the help of a £300,000 “golden handshake” from Lloyd Webber.

Shows he has produced since include the Irish Times Theatre ESB award-winning Abbey Theatre production of Eugene O’Brien’s Eden.

In 2001, he was approached by writer Shaun McKenna with an early draft of a stage adaption of JRR Tolkien’s classic.

He recalled: “It was my introduction to the Lord of the Rings because I had never read the books and this was before the film came out.

“I just thought it was a great yarn, it felt like a very strong story and one I thought the would resonate very well in a theatrical environment.”

Duly inspired, he bought the rights to what McKenna had written.

Then, in November 2001, he began an 18-month bid to secure the stage rights from San Francisco-based Saul Zaentz, whose Tolkien Enterprises company owns the stage and screen rights to Lord of the Rings.

Wallace said: “Most of the people in my business thought the stage rights had already gone, but they hadn’t.”

Negotiations with Zaentz’s lawyer began in February 2002, they finally met in May that year and the script was worked on until December.

He said: “Lord of the Rings is such a great opportunity and me and my team have such a responsibility to put a story on stage that is dearly loved by a great many people who have such a strong opinion of it.

“The attraction and challenge of it was just too hard an opportunity to walk away from.

“I felt a bit like a climber confronted with Everest and the urge to climb it.

“In many ways, The Lord of the Rings is my Everest. It’s just too tempting a challenge to pass up.”

Right up until a deal was signed in April 2003, Wallace was aware he’d invested around £300,000 of his own money without any guarantee of success.

He said: “I’d put an awful lot of time and money into just getting to the negotiating table with no guarantee of success at the end of it.

“If he had said no, all my work would have gone up in smoke, not to mention an awful lot of my own money.”

After ten weeks of intense negotiations, a deal was finally signed in 2003 – on April 15, his late mother’s birthday.

To recoup costs – which a West End show traditionally has just a one in ten chance of doing – he has to completely fill the 2,200-capacity Drury Lane Theatre for 40 weeks.

If he does that, then the 50 or so investors who stumped up the cash stand a chance of getting a return on their money.

The investors are made up of a small number of large corporate investors and about three large and around 40 small investors, collectively known as “angels”.

He said: “Because of the level of risk, it’s no accident that these people are called angels because they take a significant risk in investing their money in shows like mine.

“If it wasn’t for them deciding to put a gamble on a show like this rather than a horse at Cheltenham, West End shows just wouldn’t happen.

“Like the people who invested in football in my father’s day, these people enjoy a certain amount of gambling but in a romantic environment.”

Typical “units” purchased by the angels cost around £12,500.

If the show is a hit, they stand to make a return on their money of around 25% over two years.

If it fails to recoup its costs, they lose the lot – and he will never see the £300,000 he has ploughed into the project so far.

Despite the pressure on him to come up with the goods, he rates its chances as “pretty good”.

But he’ll know for sure within the first six weeks of the show opening.

He said: “The critics are obviously important but word of mouth is vital and traditionally, it usually takes about six weeks to settle.

“But with the internet and the way things have changed, word of mouth can form even faster.

“People aren’t going to read every review, some people will probably only see a couple of lines.

“Instead it’s all about an instant death judgement – people asking themselves, is Lord of the Rings going to be on my list or not.

“The success is largely based around a combination of what people say and whether or not it has a feel of success about it or not.”

And as clear as he is about how it will sell, he’s also pretty certain about who it is going to sell to.

He says: “There are three audiences for this show, although they are not entirely mutually exclusive.

“There are the people who read the books, those that saw the film and people visiting the West End.”

When he received the signed contract from Zaentz in April 2003 giving him the rights to stage the musical, Wallace poured himself a large glass of Green Spot whiskey and toasted “the luck of the Irish”.

But with more than six months to go before the show opens in London,Wallace will be counting on more than luck to see if he can make a success out of what everyone once regarded as the impossible.

ENDS

Lynch and ex-love go AWOL

THE family of the woman Shane Lynch is believed to have quit Love Island for told last night of their joy at the prospect of a reunion between the two singers.

Sheena White’s mother Genie was speaking for the first time since the ex-Boyzone star walked out on reality show Love Island to get back with an ex.

After spending a day reading the bible, the 30-year-old told fellow contestants – including a sobbing Sophie Anderton – before he walked on Monday: “I need to put the mistakes right. To cut a long story short, my time has come and I need to leave this place.

“The truth is there’s somebody who really owns my heart and that’s where it lies right now.”

And although he refused to name the woman, he said: “It’s not just some random woman – it’s someone I’ve known quite some time. And I need to find out if she feels the same. A man can only live in hope.”

That woman is believed to be his former long-term girlfriend, Sheena White – a stunning 25-year-old singer from England, who he started seeing in around 2003.

They had split some months before Lynch, a born-again Christian who had vowed in their relationship to stick to a strict self-imposed no-sex-before-marriage rule, decided to go on the ITV1 show at the beginning of last month.

UK-born Sheena, who was a singer in a band near her home in Bexley in Kent before she met Lynch, has not been seen in public since.

But her mother Genie told the Irish Daily Mail: “I don’t normally watch TV but I had watched some of Love Island.

“However, because I had missed one night, the first I heard Shane had left the programme was when I heard it from reporters.

“I honestly do not even know where my daughter is at the moment and I am not currently speaking to her. That’s not because we have fallen out or anything. It’s just that she is doing her own thing and I do not know when I will either see or speak to her again.

“I don’t believe in molly-coddling my children, and they are free to do whatever they want. She’s a grown-up and can come and go as she please.”

On the prospect of a reunion, she added: “Shane’s a lovely boy and they were a lovely couple. I would love to see them back together again, it would be very nice but as to them marrying, I just can’t say because I honestly don’t know.

“Mind you, if my daughter needs any advice on that score, I’m sure she’ll get in touch. Other than that, I’m afraid there is nothing else I can tell you”

Lynch, who joined Fiji-based Love Island at the beginning of last month, has made little secret of his feelings for Sheena.

Of their relationship and the prospect of marriage, Lynch said in 2004: “I want to get married again one day. It’s something that Sheena and I are definitely working towards.

“I love her dearly and I would have married her when we first got together – I knew how I felt about her. But I guess I’m trying to be sensible. I’m in no rush.”

O’Leary gets into a stew

YOU’D think with a name like O’Leary, Big Brother star Dermot O’Leary would be able to rustle up a traditional Irish stew in his sleep.

But not at all, if his appearance in a celebrity challenge on Channel Four’s The F Word is anything to go by.

Indeed, the 33-year-old had to call on his Irish mother Maria to help him out, and even then the results were about as far away from traditional as you can get.

O’Leary was featured on a regular section of the food programme where celebrity guests cook the same dish as show host and celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay – an award-winning, if foul-mouthed, perfectionist who is notoriously short-tempered with staff in his kitchen.

The dishes his guests cook are sampled “blind” by a panel, who then decide which was best.

When asked by Ramsay what dish he intended to cook, O’Leary said “traditional Irish stew . . . with beef”, at which the brutish Scot pointed out that the traditional dish called for lamb instead.

“Yes, I know but my mother prefers beef and I think beef tastes better than lamb,” said O’Leary, who fronts Channel Four’s Big Brother’s Little Brother audience show in which news about and the antics of contestants in the reality show are commented on by relatives and other invited guests.

As Ramsay goaded him over his choice of meat, O’Leary – looking increasingly ill at ease, grabbed his mobile phone and dialled his mother.

She then advised him on when and how to put in stock cubes and even agreed to a glass of wine going in as well, saying “it’s not traditional in Irish stew, but does that matter?”

Despite Ramsay’s criticisms, the panel – which is not told in advance whose dish they are eating – chose O’Leary’s over his.

Last night Mrs O’Leary, whose sister Angela Browne lives in Wexford, said: “Generations Brownes have always cooked Irish stew with beef, my mother did and so did her mother. It may not be exactly traditional but we’ve always liked it that way and that’s the way Dermot likes it.

“In fact, he likes the taste of my stews better the day after they’ve been cooked.

“I thought he did very well on the F Word but I have to admit, although his dish wasn’t exactly traditional – especially as it had wine in it – Gordon Ramsay’s was more of a Moroccan dish with all that lemon and the spices he put in.”

And as to how people should cook a traditional “Browne Irish” Stew, she added: “I put my beef into the saucepan, boil it with some water for a while then skim off some of the water.

“Then I add some mixed herbs, potatoes, carrots and unions and some beef stock and then let it stew for at least an hour an hour and half.

“The simpler it is the better.”

A friend of the star said last night: “Dermot loves cooking but pretty much just makes it up as he goes a long, where as Ramsay obviously does this for a living.

“It’s telling that it was actually his dish that won the taste challenge in the end.”

Indeed, one taster said of Ramsay’s Irish stew: “It’s delicious, but it doesn’t evoke any feelings of Ireland for me”.

Elsewhere on the show, O’Leary did his own blind taste challenge – sampling different types of cooked testicles.

He gobbled the gruesome twosomes to raise money for the charity Everyman, which campaigns to raise awareness about and funds research into a treatment for testicular cancer.

ENDS

Big Brother star Spiral’s suicide heartache

People at Finglas meeting. Copyright Stephen Browne

FRIENDS of Big Brother star Glen Coroner told last night of his hidden heartache over the tragic deaths of some of his closest friends.

At least three of them have committed suicide in the past few years and an astonishing 20 or so more youths Spiral grew up with in north Dublin’s Finglas West area have also taken their lives.

One is believed to be 32-year-old Martin Prendergast, who fell from a nine-story tower block in nearby Ballymun.

Spiral’s home town – which has a high rate of unemployment – has recorded more than 30 suicides in the past year and tops the tables in Ireland – with drugs, unemployment and a lack of opportunities being blamed.

As a result the clean-living DJ – who entered the Big Brother “house next door” on Friday night – has thrown his weight behind a community project to help tackle the rising problem if youth suicides in Finglas West.

Local community worker Jenny Harris, 32, said last night: “It will be on his mind while he’s in the house.

“I know like a lot of us in Finglas, he has been badly affected by the suicides. It’s a really worrying problem in the area and it is getting worse with at least one-a-week.

“It’s not just drugs, it’s the general sense of hopelessness young people feel growing up in the area.

“If you asked Spiral himself he would tell you that he knew most of the people who have died, either gone to school with them or grew up with them.

“I know that out of the seven or eight people who committed suicide in the past few months, he would have known two of them really well.”

Another pal, Stephen Browne, from Finglas’ Music Box record store said: “He wants to do what he can and the fact that he is the Big Brother house not only draws attention to Finglas, but also gives him the chance to promote what his community wants to do about the problem.

“He knew a fair number of the youths who have killed them selves in recent years.

“It’s what has moved him to want to get involved in doing something to help.

“Despite his being a DJ and all that people might think of a lifestyle he should be leading, he is not into the drugs scene at all and is instead a very intelligent and determined guy who has a heart of gold and how really cares about what happens to his friends,”

Harris added: “Because of his clean-living lifestyle and the fact that not only is he a working DJ, but he’s also on a national TV show, marks him out as a good role model for the youngsters.

“The shocking thing is that because suicide is now so commonplace in the area, people are no longer shocked.”

The World Health Organisation recently released figures that put Ireland near the top of the league for suicide rates among 15-25-year-olds.

Scouser Jennie eyes up Dub Spiral on their first night on Big Brother.

It noted that 1 in 3 deaths in that age group was from suicide – above rates for deaths in the same age group caused by cancer or road deaths.

About three weeks ago, Coroner – also known as DJ “Spiral” – attended a meeting in a Finglas West field with about 400 other friends and family of suicide victims to set up a local initiative to tackle to problem.

Brown said: “He is one of the people who is heavily involved in this and when he gets out of the house is going to be giving away free DJ-ing lessons to youths around here.”

One of the people Spiral – who is vehemently anti-drugs – is believed to have been close to was Prendergast, from Cappagh Drive, Finglas.

The heroin user downed a massive coctail of drugs before falling from a nine-story tower block of flats in Ballymun in 2004.

Prendergast’s brother Joseph said: “He had a lot of friends that had died from suicide and he said how would they go off and do what they do and leave the world behind them.”

His body was found a short distance from the lift shaft of the block of flats on Sillogue Road, in the city’s Ballymun area on October 18, 2004 by a passerby on their way to work.

An inquest – which recorded an open verdict – in January this year heard that as well as traces of heroin and methadone, quantities of cocaine, amphetamines and sedative drugs were found in his blood.

Dublin City Coroner Dr Brian Farrell said in January: “He really had a combination of drugs in his system.

“I am not avoiding the question of possible suicide but I am not able to bring in a verdict here.”

Spiral was one of five new housemates joining the hit Channel Four show.

He recently released a rap single about what it’s like to grow up in Finglas which made the Irish Top 50 singles chart and is one of a number of releases the 22-year-old has planned when he eventually leaves the Big Brother house.

Before going in he confidently predicted he would be “the star of the show”.

A strict teetotal who still lives with his parents Tomas and Mary, he also said: “I want to prove you don’t need drink in life to have a good time.”

Sure enough, he was seen on Friday night drinking from a champagne glass his favourite tipple – Lucozade.

Spiral enjoys a drink on BB

Brown, who has known him for the past four or so years, said: “All he ever drinks when he goes out is Lucozade.

“And it’s hilarious, because he is usually the first in the dance floor and even though he’s only drinking Lucozade, he will invariably appear as if he’s drunk, but he’s not.

“He doesn’t drink alcohol, take drugs or smoke.

“As far as I know, he doesn’t have a girlfriend either.”

He added: “It’s not that he’s not interested or is short of attention.

“The girls love him. It’s just that he finds that when he goes out on a date, they get drunk while he stays sober.

“If he could find a teetotal girl, I’d say something would happen but all the girls he meets just want to get drunk and he’s not into that.”

The youngest of five, Spiral – who was sworn to secrecy about going on Big Brother – told pals he was going to America, where one of his brothers lives.

Spiral in his BB audition tape

Brown, who also works in Spiral’s local pub The Drake Inn, said: “We had the telly on and everyone went mad when they saw him on the show.

“None of them had any idea he was going to be on it and they were all cheering and wishing him luck.

“He’s well-known and well-liked in the area and it’s just great to have a local lad on the box.”

Spiral on his BB audition tape

Spiral’s Uncle Willie said last night: “I had no idea he was going on Big Brother but I’d say he’ll do very well.

“He’s a lively character, entertaining and funny.

“I don’t know how he will cope being on camera 24-hours-a-day but I’m sure he’ll be alright.”

He added: “I’ve never seen him have a drink because it just doesn’t appeal to him.

“From a very early age, he’s always just been into his music and I doubt the pressure of being in Big Brother will change that.

“He’s far too-focused and determined.”

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Man who sold Smurfit petrol speaks of his sorrow.

THE man who sold Jason Smurfit the petrol he used to kill himself spoke last might of his regret over having served him.
Kuna Phira said he was sorry petrol from his garage was used in such a way but said he had no way of knowing that this is what Smurfit was going to do with it.
The 31-year-old, who has worked at the Bath Road Texaco Garage in Hounslow for the past six years, said last night: “I am so sorry about what has happened but there wasn’t anything he did that made me suspect he was going to kill himself.”
Kuna served Smurfit about half-an-hour before the troubled 35-year-old turned up at a Catholic Church just over a mile down the road and set himself on fire.
He said: “He came in at around 2pm and walked over to where we sell petrol cans.
“Without saying anything to me, he walked back out to the forecourt and then filled both cans.
“I did wonder what he was doing because he just took the cans and walked out.
“I didn’t know if he had paid for them or not and I did keep an eye on him while I served other customers.
“But after he’d filled both of them with unleaded petrol, he walked back in, walked around the shop a bit and picked up one of the St George’s football flags you attach to a car window and a sandwich from the fridge and then waited in line to pay.
“He took out a £20 note and some change, paid and the only thing I remember him saying was ‘thank-you’.
“He then left, got in a car that was waiting for him and that was the last I saw of him.”
Kuna added: “The station was quite busy at the time, and I didn’t really have time to notice much about him.
“He looked a bit shabby, had a beard and was dressed in a long black overcoat.
“I can’t remember if he was drunk or unsteady on his feet, but I don’t think so.
“I am really sorry about what has happened and I’m sorry for the family. I’m also sorry for him.
“I feel very sad about what he did. If he had spoken to me and I had had a chance to figure him out, maybe I would have thought twice before selling him the petrol.
“But he just hardly spoke to me and it was busy and I had other customers to serve.
“It’s really shaken me up and I know now that I will pay more attention to people buying petrol in cans.
“I will certainly ask them more questions and get into a dialogue with
them so i can figure them out.
“But at the end of the day, it’s not illegal to sell petrol in cans and
it’s difficult to know what anyone working in a petrol station can do
about people like Mr Smurfit.”
ENDS