Wedding plans for Tv couple

NEWLY-engaged Suffolk television presenters Amelia Reynolds and David Whiteley talk to LYNNE MORTIMER about love at not-quite first sight, and popping the question.

NEWLY-engaged Suffolk television presenters Amelia Reynolds and David Whiteley talk to LYNNE MORTIMER about love at not-quite first sight, and popping the question.

FAMILY, friends and colleagues have known for a while - since David first slipped the engagement ring on to Amelia's finger.

Look East viewers may have spotted the sparkle as her diamond catches the studio lights. Yes, they are getting married and they just can't stop smiling about it.

David Whiteley, 30, is presenter and a producer of BBC East's magazine show Inside Out, and Amelia, 34, presents the late news and you'll often see her on the weekday news programme, Look East. She has also presented the Sunday Politics Show. Born in Fressingfield, Amelia went to the village's primary school and then to Stradbroke High before Thomas Mills high school for A-levels.

She jokes that David is late because he is fixing his hair and make-up. Eventually, her fiancé flies through the door, tanned from a recent week in Cornwall. David is a dedicated surfer and Amelia happily tolerates his passion as long as he goes skiing with her.

David is in the middle of filming and producing the next series of Inside Out. Amelia has a bit of time before she prepares for this evening's Look East, which she is co-presenting, and the late news bulletin after the 10pm news.

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Amelia took a degree in English and drama at Exeter University and, on graduation, was torn between a career in acting and broadcasting. Everything hung on an audition for the Bristol Old Vic - if she was accepted, she would become an actress; if she was turned down… well, the rest is history. Her first job brought her home to Suffolk where she worked for independent production company WRENmedia and travelled to Asia and Africa, reporting for BBC Radio 4 and World Service.

The move to television came at Red TV, a community cable channel based in Cambridge and from there she moved to Rapture TV in Norwich as a researcher.

So what was the big break? Amelia can't initially remember, then, it all comes back….

“Reggie Kray…”

“He was news editor,” jestsed the incorrigible David. He is, it must be recorded, an irrepressible tease and it's always advisable to check with Amelia before believing him!

Amelia recalls how, one weekend, the newsroom heard rumours that the notorious London gangster had died at the Town House hotel in Norwich and she was sent out to find out if it was true. “I went down there to find out what was happening and went on air live to talk about the breaking news.”

David was born in Rochford, Essex, to a theatrical family - both his mum and dad had acted in the West End. He remembers an idyllic childhood with summers spent sailing on the Thames estuary and hiking and rock climbing with the Scouts.

His broadcasting career began with a week's work experience in the newsroom of commercial radio station Essex FM in 1995, when he was 18. “On my first day I did an interview with a Jimi Hendrix tribute band… I was hooked.”

Reluctant to leave, David worked for nothing for eight months until, eventually, he was taken on as a trainee journalist, making it to senior journalist and a finalist in the New York Radio Festival. His next stop on his way up from Southend to Norwich was BBC Essex, at Chelmsford. His news reading won him a bronze Gilliard Award from the BBC and he begun to get some shifts working on TV, reporting for Look East.

Once he had moved to Norfolk David quickly fell in love with the county and, of course, Amelia. But it's all right, we're in no danger of things getting a bit too lovey-dovey - not with David's mischievous nature.

You might think it was love at first sight - after all, they work together - but it was a few years before they focused in on each other. Amelia arrived at BBC East in 2000, David a year later in 2001.

David said: “I saw her and thought 'Cor!' She was in a little short skirt - I'm a legs man - I remember thinking 'She's all right' and then I noticed those lovely blue eyes and everything. When we got together we talked about those first impressions, I said 'I thought you were pretty fit, actually.”

“And I called him 'an irritating little boy',” confessed Amelia. David roared with laughter and even looked rather proud.

“It's funny really. We didn't really hit it off,” he said.

So when did it all change? David revealed: “I was supposed to go to London in April last yearm but I blew that off and went to this party. Anyway, Amelia and I were having this chat outside, weren't we,” he checks with Amelia, who nods, “and she said to me, 'Come on, Whiteley, you must have some fit surfer mates I can go out with'. I said, 'Well, there's me' and she said, 'No, seriously, have you got any fit surfer mates?'.

“We had a bit of a kiss … more of a snog,” said David, “and we arranged to go out for lunch the next day.”

Amelia added. “I was staying with a friend and I hadn't really made up my mind [whether to make the date] and then he phoned to check whether I was going out for lunch or not. His confidence in phoning, impressed me. That was what appealed to me really…”

The first date led to another and another and despite the logistical difficulties of Amelia and David often working in different places and at different times, they usually managed to see each other at weekends. And so, as they say, they became an item.

Over the months they have been together, they have discovered some things that make them ideally suited. For a start, they are both “big party people” said Amelia.

“We both like cooking - but not together. David is very particular about doing it “his” way! I'd say he cooks a few signature dishes - roasted salmon and avocado, and chicken in a Boursin sauce for instance - very well. And whoever does the cooking gets out of the washing up.”

“We also both love the Norfolk and Suffolk coast and time spent there together is always great - Southwold, Sea Palling, Mundesley, Walberswick - and we intend to do skiing and surfing holidays from now on.”

The Big Moment came on David's 30th birthday, in May, this year. She told David they were going to have a late lunch in Southwold but, secretly, she had booked a room at the Crown Hotel, ordered champagne and packed his overnight bag.

David was guarding his own secret. “I had bought the ring, it was in my pocket. I had planned to propose on my birthday but I didn't know where or when I was going to do it.”

In part, his decision to ask Amelia to marry him was prompted by the death of his father. “My dad had died in December and he was only 59, so we had a terrible year, last year. I decided life was too short - I was crazy about Amelia,” said David. “And my dad adored Amelia, absolutely adored her. He said, 'She's the best one you've brought home yet,'” recalled David.

Arriving in Southwold, Amelia parked in the hotel car park. David was aghast. “You can't park here, it belongs to the hotel,” he fretted. Then Amelia opened the boot to reveal the luggage and the truth.

In the hotel room, David did some nervous pacing up and mustered his courage.

He groans as he recalled, “It was a stupid line… I had been running a lot that week, so I said 'Oh, my knee's gone again' and I knelt down.”

They dissolve into laughter.

“So I said, 'You know I love you, don't you?' and she says, 'yeah, yeah, I know you love me', and I said, 'No, you know I really love you…'”

“He says that quite a lot, so I'm going, 'yeah, yeah, yeah',” said Amelia.

David continued: “Then I reached in my pocket (for the ring) and said 'Will you marry me?' She was so shocked she didn't answer the question. I said, 'Well?'

“You didn't see the ring for 15 minutes because you were crying so much, did you?”

Amelia confirmed she burst into tears. Eventually, David had to ask: “So is that a 'yes'?” and it was.

The couple marked their engagement with a perishing cold walk to the end of Southwold Pier.

The marriage is planned for next summer and, as David and Amelia head off back to newsroom, hand-in-hand, I can't seem to stop humming the Wedding March.

It's looking like a severe case of Happily Ever After.

n A new series of Inside Out begins in September. Look East is weekdays, 6.30-7pm with the late news bulletin at 10.25pm.

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