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Sam McDougall

Sam McDougall

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For as long as she can remember, British actress and pop star Martine McCutcheon wanted to be in the spotlight. Whether as a singer, dancer, actress or stripper, it didn't matter: McCutcheon craved adoration. And from an early age, she got it. At a mere six weeks old, McCutcheon made her first television appearance in a Party Political Broadcast-a sort of infomercial explaining to the British public a political party's position on key issues. Not exactly the West End, but it was a start. At 4, she appeared in ads for Pears soap and Kool Aid. And at 10, McCutcheon burst onto the music scene when she played a fairy in an Enya video. And to think the tyke's career was just beginning. McCutcheon was a born entertainer. As a child, she had a penchant for copying song lyrics from Barbara Streisand or Crystal Gayle and belting them out for her mum to hear. In 1995, McCutcheon's career took off-in Britain, at least-with her role on the famous soap, "EastEnders" (BBC, 1985- ). McCutcheon played Tiffany Raymond, a bitchy barmaid at the character's favorite hangout. The actress won numerous awards for her performances, but after a only a few years, McCutcheon wanted out. The producers had her...

For as long as she can remember, British actress and pop star Martine McCutcheon wanted to be in the spotlight. Whether as a singer, dancer, actress or stripper, it didn't matter: McCutcheon craved adoration. And from an early age, she got it. At a mere six weeks old, McCutcheon made her first television appearance in a Party Political Broadcast-a sort of infomercial explaining to the British public a political party's position on key issues. Not exactly the West End, but it was a start. At 4, she appeared in ads for Pears soap and Kool Aid. And at 10, McCutcheon burst onto the music scene when she played a fairy in an Enya video. And to think the tyke's career was just beginning.

McCutcheon was a born entertainer. As a child, she had a penchant for copying song lyrics from Barbara Streisand or Crystal Gayle and belting them out for her mum to hear. In 1995, McCutcheon's career took off-in Britain, at least-with her role on the famous soap, "EastEnders" (BBC, 1985- ). McCutcheon played Tiffany Raymond, a bitchy barmaid at the character's favorite hangout. The actress won numerous awards for her performances, but after a only a few years, McCutcheon wanted out. The producers had her character killed off-the victim of vehicular homicide by the hand of former love. When McCutcheon announced her departure from the show, the BBC was flooded with phone calls from distraught fans.

In 1997, McCutcheon sang in a BBC charity event, rekindling her interest in music. After a successful appearance at the famed Royal Albert Hall, McCutcheon recorded her first album, You, Me & Us. The album was a smash, eventually reaching multi-platinum status; the first single, "Perfect Moment," reached number one. Her second album, Wishing wasn't quite so successful, but it made an impression. A third record, Musicality, a collection of famous show tunes, was a dismal failure, selling a paltry 3,000 copies its first week.

McCutcheon returned to television with "The Knock" (1994-2000), in which she played a nightclub owner who uses her business as a front to sell drugs. McCutcheon then got the role of a lifetime as Eliza Doolittle in a stage rendition of "My Fair Lady." From the start, however, McCutcheon ran into problems. She missed opening night, and many subsequent nights, due to illness. As it would turn out, her understudy performed the role nearly as much as McCutcheon did. Some fans were so outraged that they openly called for her to be sacked. A poll conducted online declared that 75% of fans were against personalities like McCutcheon being in the cast to begin with. Despite the pressure and multiple stays in hospital, McCutcheon eventually won an Olivier Award, Britain's most prestigious theatrical award.

McCutcheon made the jump to film, naturally, first as Mia in "Kiss Kiss Bang Bang" (2001), a crime-comedy starring Stellan Skarsgard and Christopher Penn. Released by the UK's Sky Pictures, the film failed to make its presence known outside the festival circuit. Next for McCutcheon was the romantic comedy, "Love Actually" (2003), directed by first-time helmer, Richard Curtis. As part of a mostly-British ensemble cast, McCutcheon played Natalie, the slightly overweight tea girl and love interest to the Prime Minister (played by Hugh Grant)--McCutcheon boasted of gaining ten pounds for the role. With such a high profile appearance, McCutcheon hoped to make the trip across the Atlantic to star in American-made films.

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