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Source:  The Express Saturday Magazine Supplement
Date:  6th - 12th December 1997
Heading:  Lucky Louise.
Interviewer:  Lucy Bannell


Our most successful solo female singer is consistently voted the sexiest woman in Britain. She's scored Liverpool's best-looking striker and she's about to have Wembley at her feet. All this, and she's still only 22, laments Lucy Bannell

Britain‘s unofficial sexiest woman, Louise Nurding has it all: an enviable wardrobe, stuffed with Prada bags, Dolce & Gabbana suits and killer heels, and of course, this year's essential pop babe accessory - a football star. Billed as the most successful solo female singer in Britain, Louise has Jamie Redknapp, £4m-rated Liverpool player and just as much a pin-up or arm candy as she is herself.

And you don't even have to like football to be a striker's girlfriend, as Louise told the papers. "I couldn‘t even tell you how many people there are in a side", she told me. "It's not that I hate it, it just doesn't interest me enough to watch it, or to go and freeze in the cold outside. I'd support Jamie whatever he chooses to do - but it's his job at the end of the day. I go and put on a video of Friends."

But she is keen to avoid discussions of the huge, square-cut diamond sparkler, on a thin platinum band, adorning her ring finger, which she removed before the photo shoot. "We don't talk about that ring," she says coyly. "For me, that ring represents private life."

Voted the sexiest British woman several times by men's magazines - a fact which draws peals of self-deprecating laughter and a tiny finger pointing at her unmade-up face when I mention it - Louise in the flesh is a size eight and looks even younger than 22. Despite her age, she has been hitting the airwaves for six years, first with girl band Eternal, before going solo in 1995. Her first solo album, "Naked", went platinum, and she has an autobiography out, called "Louise: My Story".

Louise - she dropped the surname she dislikes on going solo - looks much like a girl you might meet in the queue for the loo at a local nightclub, the archetypal girl next door, which is part of her mass appeal. And, as she is at pains to point out, she is a normal girl. She hails from Lewisham, eldest child of Tim, a builder, and Lynne, a housewife. Her brothers - aged eight and 11 - have yet to show an interest in showbiz. The family now live in East Grinstead, Sussex, although Louise still lives in south London. She attended the Italia Conti stage school - a contemporary of Emily Lloyd and Martine McCutcheon - although, as she admits, there was far more stage than school.

"I just wanted to sing, dance and act. I wasn't a natural at school work," she trills in her girlish sarf London accent. "I was never interested in school, and mum was great at letting me blag days off with my friends. She used to get into trouble with all the other mums, but I think she liked our company."

Louise is friendly and talkative the morning we meet, although she was up until four working on a new video. She has, in fact, danced through the night. But she's still bright-eyed and bushy-tailed. As if her schedule weren't demanding enough, she was jetting off "up North" later in the day to visit Jamie Redknapp for the weekend.

Although she is wealthy enough to "jet", her interests are the same as any other girl her age - clothes, admittedly designer rather than high street chain stores. She squeals with delight when she finds we have a Dolce & Gabbana suit, one she has been looking for, in her size, for her photo shoot. "I love clothes - you've got to look good, haven't you?" she asks, drawing from her make-up artist the despairing response: "Oh, Lou, you're not spending money again, are you?" Louise took the suit away with her - a snip at £940.

But despite the expensive fripperies - her watch is solid silver Cartier - there's more to this pop star than you might think. SHe is religious. "I'm quite a strong believer. I haven't gone to church on a regular basis for a while but, like my nan says, you can have your church indoors. Religion is not just for when you're having a bad time - I always say thank you when life's going well."

Although her old band, Eternal had their roots in the gospel church music, Louise's faith seems genuine in its own right. She is from a religious family, and she doesn't think, when I suggest it, that this is unusual for a young woman in the music business. "I bet most people, in the hard times, ask God for help. I enjoy having faith, but it doesn't restrict what I do."

A refreshing view for someone whose fans are mostly young girls. But any suggestion that she might be a role model is ot entirely welcome. "I don't want young girls to follow me in case I muck up!"

She certainly hasn't done that since she was spotted, aged 15, in a nightclub by Denis Ingoldsby, who is now her manager, and who put together Louise's first group Eternal. Bands designed by managers in this way have come under criticism lately, with groups such as the Spice Girls and Boyzone - both formed by Svengali-type-figures - standing accused of a synthetic, formulaic sound.

Louise was with Eternal for five years, not altogether a happy experience. There were rumours that the American market would not accept a mixed race band - Louise was the solo white member in the group of four singers - and Louise herself admits to personal tensions.

"When I joined Eternal I never thought I'd want to be solo. We were having top-five hits constantly, but I suddenly realised I was unhappy and had lost all my confidence. If you're always the odd one out it can become tiring. We were all different people which made it hard. I was scared stiff to leave, but I felt like a huge weight had been lifted when I did."

She is still close to her mother, and would like to have a family of her own "when the time's right. I think it would make me a better song-writer because I'll have other emotions to write about. I suppose I want it all - maybe I'm greedy - I want to get married, have children, and I also want to perform at Wembley. I just won't be dancing so hard in 10 years' time."

But the country's men need not despair yet. Marriage to fiancé Jamie is not on the cards in the near future. "I think I've found my perfect man, but right now we're both very busy. When the time's right, we'll take the next step.
"I would never deny that we are together but you give so much as an artist you have to keep something back for yourself. It's not easy to open up your private life because if things ever go wrong, if we ever break up, not only do you have to face it yourself, but you have to face the rest of the world too."

In the public eye she is also physically under the microscope. So how does she maintain the enviable figure? "I've had to start training because I'm going on tour, and I'm trying to go to the gym once or twice a week, but it's so boring. I eat all the wrong foods, too. I love chocolate and anything stodgy."

Just when I was beginning to like her.

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