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24 September 2014
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Heather Mills-McCartney opens her heart to Parkinson in her first British television interview since marrying Paul McCartney

Saturday 22 February, BBC ONE, 10.20pm

In a frank and honest interview Heather Mills-McCartney talks exclusively to Michael Parkinson and reveals how she feels about the negative press she receives and how it has affected her charity work, how she has battled against disability prejudices and stereotypes, and the difficulties she's encountered since marrying a Beatle.

Michael Parkinson talks to Heather Mills-McCartneyMichael opens the interview by asking Heather if she's wearing one of Stella McCartney's creations.

Heather answers: "It's not tonight, but it is a lot of the time, but it's not tonight."

Michael continues this line of questioning when he asks what the truth is about her alleged falling-out with Paul's children?

Heather responds: "That's why I'm always wearing her clothes Michael, because we don't get on of course... That's why she was at the wedding and we do charity together."

Michael then asks why she thinks the press lie about her relationship with the family.

Heather says: "I think because it's easy. If I was an editor and I had somebody who wouldn't talk to the press, it's easy to make up: well there's a 30-year marriage there, how's she going to live up to the legend of Linda, there's kids.

"There's always problems between stepmothers - think of Cinderella, there's the wicked stepmother… it's just very easy to make up.

"And you just can't take the bait. I don't think the public are that stupid to believe everything they read."

She continues: "To get it straight, for eight years the media were fantastic with me because I was the model that overcame adversity and supposedly inspired other disabled people and amputees - poor girl's had a rough life, loses her leg and now she's got to crawl to the loo at night.

"But then I went quiet. So understandably after being very open - I wrote a book which the money went to charity nine years ago and then I updated it recently and there wasn't any support this time even though the money goes to charity because I wouldn't do any interviews."

Michael asks Heather if she didn't do interviews because of her relationship with Paul.

She responds: "I want to protect Paul and his children and their privacy, because they're very private.

"We agreed because someone was going to do an unauthorised biography that I would update the book and call it A Single Step and put the money to charity, but only in America so I didn't have to promote it here because it's only in Britain where it's pretty hard."

Michael then asks her about the stories that she has been pregnant.

Heather replies: "They said I'd been pregnant, which is really hurtful knowing that I've had cancer of the uterus and two ectopic pregnancies.

"The chances of me getting pregnant are about that much [indicates small with thumb and finger], and I'm sure for any woman out there it's hard enough when your family keeps saying 'when are you going to have a baby then?' Never mind the whole world keeps saying 'oh she's pregnant this week'."

Earlier, Michael asked whether Paul's former wife, Linda, has cast a long shadow for her.

Heather says: "No not at all. For me, what people don't realise, is that I have a huge amount of respect for that marriage. She did a great job on him - she trained him up well.

"And I believe when you've loved, like he's loved, it's much easier to fall in love because you haven't got so many barriers. So no, absolute respect for that."

Michael then says that Linda went through a tough time with the press when she first started her relationship with Paul.

Heather agrees: "[She went through] much worse. I didn't realise that because I was never a Beatles fan.

"And I fell in love with him after he had chased me for a while and he was very charming and wooing.

"He is a fantastic, fantastic man, but the stuff that comes with it is very hard to deal with.

"Nobody would have sympathy with it because everyone's dream person to be with is either Paul or George Clooney."

She then jokes: "I mean George is cute, but nothing on Paul."

Heather also describes how the bad publicity has directly affected her charity work for amputees with companies refusing to sponsor her.

She says: "I'd been trying to make these limbs that I'm always flashing off available to all amputees with the cosmetic covers.

"And the manufacturers actually said to the prosthesist 'we can't manufacture them with Heather Mills because she gets such bad press'.

"So it's not just attacking me, it's literally depriving millions of people because they don't want that association as they'd rather go with someone else. And there's many charities to choose from so they don't want that association.

"And then I sue and I win, but I get that much of an apology because they make up things about the charity.

"They made up things, saying I'm doing a vegetarian cookery book. As if I'm going to do that? I like cooking but I'm not doing a vegetarian cookery book."

Michael then asks Heather if she's ever felt that she's been dealt a bad hand.

Heather says: "I never [felt] it until recently, I have to be honest. I think the reason I get so affected now, if anyone throws anything physical on me, like if you paralysed me from the neck down, I would just get a pen and tap it on the computer and get on with it.

"So I suppose losing my leg and all those kind of things, I just dealt with. Got to do this now, got to do that now.

"But when you feel powerless - everything I've worked for in my life, tried to do and overcome, it's just all been forgotten.

"It's all just, 'she's the bird of Paul McCartney' and it's just knock, knock, knock. And that's affected me really badly."

When Michael asks her what her lowest point has been, Heather answers: "The lowest point of my life has been since the press turned on me really badly which sounds crazy.

"But I think what it is that you start off as a whole being and then things chip away.

"Yes my mother left and my father abused me, then my father went to prison and I think you just slowly get chip, chipped away and you've got so much strength and in the end when you're put down for constantly overcoming that and they come for you more and more and more.

"Now I'm at that stage where I feel [sighs] absolutely wiped out."

Heather then goes on to tell Michael that her anti-landmine work and helping fellow amputees and disabled people has kept her strong.

She says: "That's what keeps me going. When I get to go and see them, or when I go to Vietnam or Cambodia or somewhere like that, that's really rewarding.

"When I get out of England, that's when I go [sigh] 'why did I even let that affect me? It so doesn't matter'."

Michael then asks Heather how she dealt with the negative counselling and artificial limb she received, and if she was ever worried that people wouldn't 'fancy' her again.

Heather replies: "No I'm afraid I never thought that. It's one of the things I talk to young girls about all the time.

"I was lucky in a way that I lost my leg at 25 because I was a very sexually confident woman and now I'm 35.

"But if I'd not had the relationships I'd had before I lost my leg then I may have been a bit more 'oh they might not fancy me'."

She continues: "A woman did come into the hospital once, a counsellor, and said to me 'Heather you're being far too positive about this you know. You're disabled' and I went 'Yes, I'm disabled but I'll get a leg one day' and every day she'd come in and try to beat me down because that's the way that they did it.

"And in the end she said 'but men won't find you as attractive as they did before' and I looked at this woman who was not very attractive, very unsightly actually.

"And I said 'look darling, both arms and both legs missing, I'd still be more attractive than you'. So she slammed her book down and just went out.

"And that's when I realised that I needed to start helping people because if that's the kind of counselling they're getting, you'd lose all confidence if you didn't start off with much."

Heather tells Michael about her collection of legs.

She says: "I've got four legs now, one for rollerblading, one for skiing, one high heel and one flat for the gym.

"It's funny, even today, I said to my husband 'can you get me my leg out of the cupboard' and he goes [shocked face] 'oh yeah'.

"We went swimming in the ocean once and I didn't realise my leg would fill up with water, because I was doing some surfing and there were big waves.

"And it filled up with water and popped off. And I said 'get my leg, it's flying behind you' and he's like 'eh, what?!' so we have some funny moments."

Michael then asks Heather about her love for Paul and, specifically, if he's very romantic.

Heather smiles and says: "He's very romantic that's why I fell in love with him.

"He said to me, 'how do I keep somebody like you?' And I said 'romance, it doesn't have to be anything else - just romance and lots of love'."

She continues: "Romance to me is not just writing a cheque out, romance is like picking up a feather, collecting some chestnuts."

Michael asks: "A feather?"

And Heather replies: "Yeah, a feather for Heather, that's what he does all the time. Or planting a Christmas tree in the garden without you knowing and you wake up on Christmas morning and he's planted a tree that he's driven three hours, chopped down and brought back and put lights all over it.

"It's that kind of thoughtfulness, bringing me breakfast in bed every morning, no matter how he feels.

"And I do the dinner, so we've got that agreement. It's thoughtfulness."

Michael then says he thinks Heather is a very strong person.

She responds: "I think you have to be, to go out with someone like Paul. Definitely. Because you've got to keep his feet on the ground… I just think he's so adored.

"If I was somebody like a fan, he would never have been attracted to me. If I was somebody that was like 'oh my god, you're so gorgeous', that's a complete turn off.

"So anyone who fancies George Clooney just stay cool and calm don't start screaming because it really isn't a turn on at all."

On the future, Michael asks what Heather has planned.

She answers: "[I will] carry on with the minefields, and try to encourage the nice side of the press to lay off me a little bit because it's creating a lot of damage in other areas which they are probably not aware of."

George Clooney and Dawn French are Michael's other guests.

Michael asks Dawn about kissing some of the world's most attractive men, including Tom Jones when she last appeared on Parkinson.

Michael laughs and says: "You frightened poor Tom to death."

Dawn says: "Did I? Well I think he enjoyed it personally."

She then jokes: "He came home with me so I don't think there was any problem there!"

Michael then asks her about Hugh Grant.

Dawn replies: "Ahh Hugh Grant, lovely. I didn't catch anything at all, that was good. I thought there was danger of that.

"But very nice mouth, very nice indeed. He's not the only one…

"Johnny Depp when he did Comic Relief with us. He did Vicar Of Dibley so there was a quick bit of lip action going on there.

"He's been writing to me ever since. You know, but I can't, I can't, I'm married."

Dawn continues: "Once Jennifer [Saunders] and I were in a play and went out for lunch [to The Ivy] with the writer… we were having our lunch and Terry Gilliam came in and he came over and gave us a hug.

"And he told us he was working on something called Twelve Monkeys which I thought was a porn film!

"He went and sat down and then Brad Pitt walked in [audience gasps]. Oh yes! A sort of angel really.

"He walked past our table - fool - and he sat down with Terry Gilliam. I went to the loo soon after and I wrote a note to Terry Gilliam saying 'you will make Brad Pitt kiss me or I will kill your family'.

"I saw the note being delivered to Terry and he just sort of winked at me and I thought he was just enjoying the joke."

She then says: "I got involved with my food as you do, somewhere near the chocolate pudding so I wasn't really thinking and suddenly, suddenly, Brad Pitt kissing me, kissing me, here! [points to cheek]

"I will never forgive myself for this, I didn't fully turn. It was half on, half off that side there which has never been washed since."

When George Clooney joins Michael, Dawn and Heather in the studio, he says to Michael: "You know what, I have to do this."

He turns to Dawn, grabs her and kisses her for several moments.

George then says, "thank you Dawn" to which she replies, "yeah dream on." [Laughs]

Music comes from Simply Red, who perform Sunrise and Everytime We Say Goodbye.

The guests on next Saturday's Parkinson (Saturday 1 March, BBC ONE) are Jamie Oliver, Damian Lewis, Jack Dee and music from Lisa Stansfield, Jools Holland and The Rhythm & Blues Orchestra, and Beverley Knight.

Bea Ballard is the Executive Producer of Parkinson.

Notes to Editors

George Clooney is the castaway on Radio 4's Desert Island Discs on Sunday (23 February).

All the BBC's digital services are now available on Freeview, the new free-to-view digital terrestrial television service, as well as on satellite and cable.

Freeview offers the BBC's eight television channels - including BBC THREE - as well as six BBC radio networks.



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