Over The Rainbow: meet Charlotte Church

Charlotte Church is one of the UK’s most successful, talented and beloved young performers. A Welsh icon, classical and contemporary songstress and mainstream television hostess, she continues to entertain audiences across the world with her glowing, natural charm and burgeoning talent.

Born in Cardiff in 1986, Charlotte first came to the nation’s attention in 1997 aged 11 when she sang Pie Jesu (written by Andrew Lloyd Webber) over the telephone on the television show This Morning, followed by a performance on ITV’s Big, Big Talent Show.

Only a year later she became an international sensation with the release of her debut album Voice Of An Angel in 1998. Showcasing her unique vocals across a collection of arias, hymns and traditional pieces, it sold over four million copies worldwide and made her the youngest artist ever with a No. 1 album. It also propelled her to double platinum success in both the UK and USA.

In 1999 she cemented her impressive debut with the self-titled second album Charlotte Church. A Top 10 hit in the UK, peaking at No. 8, it was also a double platinum success in the US.

Her third LP Dream A Dream – an album principally made of Christmas carols – witnessed a triumphant experimentation with pop.

At just 16, in 2002, Charlotte released the best-of collection Prelude. Summarising her deftly impressive classical career, it coincided with an American Royal Christmas Tour alongside Julie Andrews and Christopher Plummer, which also preceded a change in musical direction.

2005 saw Charlotte move from the classical world she grew up with into the world of pop music. Her efforts were awarded by platinum UK sales of the album and a nomination, at the age of 19, for Best British Female at the 2006 BRIT Awards.

Although an accomplished and internationally successful vocalist, Charlotte is never one to rest on her laurels and began to broaden the scope of her career with film and television.

Having made her silver screen debut with Craig Ferguson’s I’ll Be There, she also made a number of acclaimed cameo TV appearances in Heartbeat, The Catherine Tate Show, CBS’s Touched By An Angel and the BBC’s Have I Got News For You.

In the summer of 2006, Charlotte was hosting her very own series – The Charlotte Church Show. An intoxicating mix of humour, audience hits and celebrity guests – as well as live performances by Charlotte – it was an instant hit and garnered unprecedented success with the highest 16-34 year old ratings in its time slot.

She was already the holder of a Classical BRIT and a GQ Woman of the Year Award (2005), and 2006 saw Charlotte gather yet more accolades, including the Glamour Magazine Woman of the Year Award, a Loaded Magazine LAFTA for Favourite Television Personality (2006), and a prestigious British Comedy Award for Best Female Newcomer.

Returning in early 2007 with the second series of The Charlotte Church Show, Charlotte announced midway through the series that she and long-term boyfriend, Welsh rugby star Gavin Henson, were expecting their first child. While production of the show’s third series was delayed as a result, Charlotte’s talents as a television personality were again recognised when she received Glamour Magazine’s Television Personality of the Year Award (2007).

Charlotte took a necessary and well-deserved rest during pregnancy, but still found time to release an autobiography (Keep Smiling) and raise funds for the Topsy Foundation (South African HIV/AIDS charity of which Charlotte is patron).

In September 2007, Charlotte gave birth to a baby girl, Ruby Megan Henson, at home in South Wales. In June 2008, Charlotte became pregnant with her second child and gave birth to her son Dexter at the turn of 2009.

2008 also saw the third series of The Charlotte Church Show on Channel 4, which finished up with a Christmas Special.

Hurtling into the here and now, Charlotte is ready to stamp her indelible mark over the music and television arenas yet again. As well as joining the panel of BBC One’s Over The Rainbow she has signed a new record deal and is set to release her sixth studio album in the autumn with a tour to follow.

Interview

Why did you decide to join the panel for Over The Rainbow?

I’m a big fan of the previous shows Andrew has made and a big fan of Andrew’s work in general.

Are you looking forward to working with Andrew Lloyd Webber?

Very much so. He’s an icon of the music business and Pie Jesu, which Andrew wrote, started my career off.

What are you looking forward to most about working on the show?

Getting dressed up each week and hearing some terrific voices.

What kind of qualities are you looking for in the contestants?

A beautiful voice and all the right emotions to suit the part.

What is your role on the panel? What kind of panellist are you?

We will have to see. I’ve never been a judge before.

How do you know when you’ve found your ‘Dorothy’ – who is your ideal Dorothy? And Toto?

In an ideal world, someone who could give Garland a run for her money. Not so sure about who could play Toto.

How does it feel returning to work following a break?

I’m looking forward to it. I’m very lucky in that I can bring the children to work with me.

You’ve had a hugely successful performing career. How do you think your experiences will help budding performers on Over The Rainbow?

Well, I certainly know what pressure and nerves feel like.

What character out of the Wizard Of Oz would you like to be and why?

The Wizard of course! He helps to solve Dorothy’s problems by using common sense.

Lisa McGarry

Lisa has been watching reality TV for too long now. She won't do any housework unless 'Big Brother' announces it over the tannoy and everything she does has to be put to a public vote!