Amanda Holden is an English actress best known to South Africans for her role as dim-witted but likeable Mel on the television sitcom Kiss Me Kate, from 1998-2001.
Her father, Frank Vallely Holden, was a Petty officer in the Merchant Navy, from Liverpool. Her mother, Judith Mary Harrison, was a secretary from Gloucestershire.
Her father left her mother when Amanda was four. Her mother married Leslie, whom Holden regards as her real father, shortly afterwards. Her parents bought a guesthouse in Alum Chine in Bournemouth.
Holden went to school at Swanmore Secondary School in Hampshire for five years. She then studied Drama at the Jellicoe Theatre, now part of Bournemouth and Poole College. She gained two A levels, and went to the Mountview Academy of Theatre Arts in Wood Green.
She is best known in the UK for her role as the main character, Geraldine Titley in the TV comedy The Grimleys. She is also known for starring in Wild at Heart, Kiss Me Kate and Hearts and Bones.
She made her television debut as an unsuccessful contestant on the long-running ITV series Blind Date. Her first television role was in a TV drama with Edward Woodward.
She also appeared in the BBC soap opera EastEnders in 1994, and played Mia Bevan in the BAFTA Award-nominated drama series Cutting It from 2002-2004.
She has been a judge on the ITV show Britain's Got Talent for the first two seasons, alongside Simon Cowell and Piers Morgan. It has been confirmed that she will return with Morgan and Cowell for Season 3 in 2009.
Amanda Holden has appeared in several stage musicals and in 2004 was nominated for a Laurence Olivier Theatre Award for Best Actress in a Musical for her performance in the West End production of Thoroughly Modern Millie.
On November 19, 2004 she appeared on the BBC's Children in Need charity appeal singing Carol King's "(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman". On that night also, she announced her engagement to record boss Chris Hughes.
She starred in the drama series Wild at Heart, alongside Stephen Tompkinson, for the first three seasons (2006-2008).
Amanda's other TV credits include three seasons of the comedy Kiss Me Kate alongside Caroline Quentin, three seasons of the ITV comedy series The Grimleys, Celeb with Harry Enfield, the critically-acclaimed BBC series Hearts and Bones alongside Damien Lewis, the comedy series Mad About Alice with Jamie Theakston, and a Boxing Day special Marple alongside Geraldine McEwan and John Hannah.
She also co-starred with Bill Nighy and Sir Tom Courtenay in Ready When You Are, Mr McGill, Jack Rosenthal's classic comedy drama.
Amanda met the television presenter Les Dennis (real name Leslie Heseltine) in 1993 when both were performing in neighbouring theatres, and they married in June 1995 in Bournemouth when she was 24 and he was 40.
They separated following her affair with actor Neil Morrissey. These events made her a popular target for the British tabloid press. The couple were divorced on November 18, 2003. Holden's affair was later parodied in the TV series Extras.
On 21 January 2006, Holden gave birth to her first child, Alexa "Lexi" Louise Florence Hughes. She got engaged to record producer Chris Hughes (born 1954) in November 2004 and will be marrying him in December 2008.