Alan Titchmarsh's Walks of Fame

Sunday, 1 August 2010, 7:00PM – 8:00PM on ITV1

Episode One: Twiggy

Alan Titchmarsh joinsTwiggy on one of her favourite walks while they chat about her life, career and relationships in this warm and engaging new programme for ITV1.

The programme combines beautiful scenery, archive footage highlighting Twiggy’s career, and an insight into the life of a woman who shot to fame at the age of 16 and is still making headlines more than 40 years later.

They begin their walk in the picture-postcard town of Southwold on the Suffolk coast, near to where Twiggy and her husband Leigh Lawson have a weekend house.

Twiggy tells Alan: “I love the fact that this town has stopped in time in a way. It’s an amazing part of England. “

It also has a special meaning for Twiggy as a chance encounter in a Southwold pub led to her becoming the face of Marks and Spencer.

Six years ago Twiggy had been on a Sunday walk and popped into The Crown Hotel for lunch. She tells Alan: “There I was in a woolly hat, no make up, pigtails, a big old green anorak and wellington boots. Little did I know that sitting in the pub was the executive marketing director for Marks and Spencer’s, Steven Sharpe. Three months later I was asked to do the campaign!“

Twiggy takes Alan to the top of the lighthouse in Southwold to give him a bird’s eye view of the surrounding area and the walk they will be taking.

As they walk along the seafront,Twiggy chats to Alan about her early modeling career and describes how her life changed when she shot to fame on both sides of the Atlantic.

Alan asks about her relationship with the man called her Svengali, Justin de Villeneuve. She tells him: “He was ten years older than me, and my boyfriend. Then he became my manager, mainly because I was so young. My dad, quite rightly, didn’t want me going off to photo shoots on my own, because he didn’t trust those ‘bloody photographers’!”

She explains why they split up: “Most people you meet and have a relationship as a teenager, very rarely does it last through. I needed to grow up, I needed to be on my own and go off and live my life. I think I was like a bird in a cage and had to get out.”

Twiggy tells Alan about her film career which started with a starring role in The Boyfriend which was directed by her friend and mentor Ken Russell. She is delighted when they visit an old-fashioned picture house in Southwold and finds out Alan has arranged a private showing of the film.

After visiting the pier and having fun in the old-fashioned amusement arcade they decide to brave the cold and go for a bracing paddle in the sea. A warming lunch is called for and they head for the harbour and Mrs. T’s fish and chip shop. At lunch,Twiggy dispels myths about her slim figure being due to any eating disorder. She tells Alan: “Not only do I eat, but I eat a lot. I love food, I’ve always loved food… I just obviously have a very high metabolism.”

Alan asks Twiggy about her first marriage to the Hollywood actor Michael Witney.

She tells Alan: “We met on a film in 1973, and it’s not the best way to meet a future partner. When you are making a film you become a very immediate family, you’re thrown together. He actually told me a lie at the beginning, I was 23 and he told me he was 35 but he was actually 42. I fell in love and I moved to California. I was with him for ten years, and I don’t regret it because I had my gorgeous daughter Carly who is the love of my life. We had many happy times, but he was a chronic alcoholic.”

Alan asks if Twiggy knew that at the time she met him. She says: “No, he was dry for three years but then it got progressively worse to the point when I knew I had to do something about it.”

Twiggy tells Alan she doesn’t like to talk about Witney’s death in detail for her daughter’s sake but does say: “He died of a massive heart attack when he was with her, and it was horrible, horrible for her.”

Twiggy has been married to the actor Leigh Lawson for over 20 years and Alan asks her what makes him different from her previous relationships.

She says: “He’s quite an extraordinary man. I love him a lot, he’s my best friend. I was 35 when we met and he was 42. We’d both had a failed … well I shouldn’t say failed, a relationship that didn’t go long term. I thought he was very dishy ��” still do! “

The next stage of their walk sees them cross the Blyth estuary and walk through a reed bed and on to Dunwich Forest. Twiggy tells Alan that in the 1300’s, Dunwich was one of the biggest ports in Britain, but is now a tiny village because over the centuries most of it has been washed into the sea. She says: “Apparently there are about eight churches that are under the sea and on certain nights you can hear the tolling of the bells and people moaning. You won’t catch me along there at night!”

As they enter the final leg of their walk to Walberswick, Alan asks Twiggy: “Can you imagine what happened to you, happening to a young model nowadays?”

“I don’t know.” She replies. “I was incredibly lucky, very fortunate to be given the chances and maybe a little bit crazy to take them. You have to take the bull by the horns and jump in.”

Alan asks: “Have you still got the hunger you had then, to do new things?”

“Oh yes, always, that never stops I think. At my ancient age there are loads of things I want to do. There are hard things about getting old. What I don’t understand is getting depressed about it because it’s a fact of life I’ve never had surgery … yet, but that doesn’t mean I’m never going to. What I would never do is Botox because I don’t like the effect it gives and where does it go? That is my big question!”

After taking the ferry which is actually a small rowing boat from Walberswick back to Southwold they finish their walk with a well-deserved drink at a harbour pub as the sun sets over Southwold.

About the author

  • BBC One
  • BBC Two
  • BBC Three
  • ITV1
  • ITV2
  • 4
  • E4
  • Film4
  • More4
  • Five
  • Fiver
  • Sky1