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‘Liz was a freelance working for the make-up department at Endemol [the production team behind Deal Or No Deal].When she came into my dressing room, I knew she was there before I turned round.I was still married but separated.‘I had a ring made at the jeweller Theo Fennell, and some beautiful drinking glasses with our names on,’ says Noel.‘Thank God it was cold, because I had a coat under a coat with the glasses and half a bottle of champagne in the pocket.Before you conclude this is another bizarre celebrity romantic tangle, I should make clear the woman in question is a life-sized mannequin, who today is perched in a chair, dressed to the nines in snug ‘Yes,’ Liz giggles.
In the car I kept thinking: “She’s going to hear me chinking.” ’So why does Noel admit all of a sudden that — to borrow Princess Diana’s famous phrase — there are three people in his marriage?
Not only that, the ‘other woman’ shares the name Candice (Liz’s middle name) with his wife — and is actually sitting with us while we drink tea in the sunshine.
Today, he has a house in the South of France, as well as a gorgeous Georgian home near Bristol, a presenting job on the Channel 4’s hugely popular Deal Or No Deal, the show that resurrected his telly career, and, yes, the woman, too.
‘You have to pick yourself up and think: Right, what’s the next stage? In fact, most people thought that, along with the wife, the job and the house, he’d also lost his marbles when he started banging on about cosmic ordering — a concept which claims to help people realise their dreams by directing them to submit a wish-list of ambitions to the cosmos, rather like a mail-order company.
At 45, she’s 20 years younger than him, but she says: ‘Age is just a number, and besides, he doesn’t act his.
It was the last thing I was looking for, or even thinking about.