Preston and Chantelle: Dream marriage or..
Mirror.co.uk – UK
… that contestants who get together post-reality shows make a lot of money – Jordan and Peter Andre being the prime example,” says celebrity PR Mark Borkowski. …
PRESTON AND CHANTELLE: DREAM MARRIAGE OR MARKETING?
EXCLUSIVE Preston and Chantelle: Dream marriage or..
By Antonia Hoyle
BY ANYONE’S admission, they make an unlikely couple. He’s a privately educated, middle-class lad who favours politics over partying and boasts a Prime Minister among his ancestry.
She’s a dizzy Essex girl who’s not quite sure what a member of parliament is and, until recently, scraped a living doing make-up at Debenhams and impersonating Paris Hilton.
Yet this week, Chantelle Houghton and Sam Preston announced that they plan to wed – and soon. “I’m over the moon. It’s what I’ve wanted for the past few months,” a beaming Chantelle tells us, flashing a diamond engagement ring which belonged to her new fiance’s mother. “We haven’t set a date but it will be in a few months.”
Preston, for his part, says of his new fiancee: “She’s like a soulmate. I could never be bored with her and that’s what you look for in a wife.”
Since meeting in the Celebrity Big Brother house just 14 weeks ago, they’ve been virtually inseparable.
Not a day goes by without a new picture of them looking longingly into each other’s eyes, be it cuddling in a taxi and even giggling on a camel in Morocco.
This week, Preston, 24, was househunting for the couple in Brighton and there are even rumours that Chantelle, 22, is pregnant after she ditched her clingy pink outfits for floaty numbers and cut down on drinking at showbiz bashes.
Perhaps tellingly, she told the Mirror this week that both she and Preston are big fans of children.
So far, so romantic. But more cold-hearted observers have questioned whether they are enjoying the profits of their dual fame even more than the first throes of passion.
As a showbiz couple, the pair may not quite be giving Posh and Becks a run for their money yet but there is huge earning potential.
“It has been proven that contestants who get together post-reality shows make a lot of money – Jordan and Peter Andre being the prime example,” says celebrity PR Mark Borkowski.
“As single entities, Chantelle and Preston were running out of gas. So it was highly likely they’d get their acts together and team up.”
Negotiations are already believed to be under way to sell pictures of their wedding to the highest bidder – with a £1million starting figure. Chantelle already has a £280,000 contract with a celebrity magazine and sold her life story for a TV documentary – E4’s Living The Dream – for £50,000.
Modelling has made her instantly recognisable and an assignment for Marks & Spencer alone bagged her £150,000. She pocketed a further £50,000 for endorsing Motorola phones and now has the same showbiz agent who has managed to keep Jade Goody in the limelight since her BB stint four years ago.
Meanwhile, Preston is currently looking to buy a house with a £500,000 price tag – something he’d never have been able to do before.
His group, the Ordinary Boys, has had a top 10 hit with the re-release of their single Boys Will Be Boys, he has had a regular DJ slot on Virgin radio and will tour with Robbie Williams this summer.
Not bad for a band the industry had all but given up on.
“I saw them at the South by Southwest festival last year and I thought ‘this is completely over’,” admits Conor McNicholas, editor of music bible NME. “If you’d told me last November that we’d have the Ordinary Boys on our cover by February, I’d have laughed at you.”
Though Preston is now at pains to present himself as a Jack the Lad – a perfect match for Chantelle’s shallow, lads’ mag image – he’s actually far posher and wilier than that.
Preston attended the exclusive £9,660-a-year Sompting Abbotts prep school, near Brighton. Before he’d even reached his teens, he’d already enjoyed success as an actor, playing Liz Hurley’s son in the BBC drama Christabel in 1988.
His great-great-great-great grandfather was Prime Minister Earl Grey and, as his mum’s family came from America, before he started up his band he had a cultured career working at New York’s Museum Of Modern Art.
“My dad came from a really good family,” he confesses. “My parents were really middle-class – we weren’t allowed to watch telly when we had dinner.”
While his passions include politics, Chantelle – who left school at 16 and describes herself simply as a “blonde bimbo” – asked fellow CBB contestant George Galloway: “Does (being an MP) mean that you work in that big room with the green seats?”
She relished the opportunity to go on reality TV but Preston maintains that he isn’t driven by fame and insists he isn’t “whoring” himself for cash. Unfortunately, his bandmates aren’t so sure. Ordinary Boys bassist James Gregory says: “We want to be respected for our music, not because our singer is on TV having a drunken fumble with a blonde.”
And it’s hardly surprising that Preston’s hard-done-by ex, Camille Aznar – who he both proposed to and dumped within days of leaving the house – is also perplexed by the pairing.
“I’m surprised they got together because Chantelle and I are so different,” says universityeducated Camille, 25. “We have different interests, personalities and backgrounds.
“He loved that I had a politics degree and a masters. We sat for hours discussing politics and the state of the world, and had a real connection. Then he leaves me for someone so different…”
While it’s hard to imagine Preston discussing anything more complex with Chantelle than what sandwich to have for lunch, he has defended his decision to dump sophisticated brunette Camille for the dizzy blonde. “I’m not playing a game,” he insists. “I’m not bothered whether she has blonde hair or fake nails. I like her because she’s the way she is. We had an almost instant connection, of the kind I never thought I’d experience.”
Chantelle’s dad, cabbie Alan Houghton, is also adamant that the couple’s romance is genuine. He even claims to be unperturbed about the fact that Preston – who proposed to his first girlfriend, Laura Van Der Wee, at 15 – has been engaged twice in just three months.
“Preston has good intentions,” he says. “You can’t help who you fall in love with. There is a chemistry between them and I think it’s fabulous news.”
Fellow CBB contestant Jodie Marsh is less convinced about the engagement. “Is it a sham? What do you think?” she scoffs. “All I’ll say is that they have very clever agents.”
Even George Galloway believes that behind Chantelle’s ditzy image she is “as sharp as a tack”. But Chantelle, who pocketed £25,000 when she won the show, insists that what you see is what you get.
“I haven’t got pound signs in my eyes,” she insists. “I haven’t even thought about the money.”
With her happy-golucky personality it’s hard not to warm to the girl from Wickford who has unwittingly entered her dream celebrity world.
It’s equally hard not to wish her every happiness in love, especially as she has “been cheated on by more or less every man I’ve been out with”.
Obviously, opposites can – and do – attract. But the unlikely lovers must know that theirs is a marriage made in millionaire heaven.
And even if it ends in tears, more cash will inevitably roll in. “I wouldn’t place any bets on them staying together long-term,” says Borkowski.
“But at least they would be able to make more money from a divorce.”
Is it a sham? Well, they do have a clever agent
Even if it ends in tears, the split will be a huge earner