“You can't have a big ego if you want to play a real part.” Martine McCutcheon
British actress and pop singer Martine McCutcheon had her first brush with fame playing Tiffany on the successful British soap opera “EastEnders” from 1995 to 1998. The role brought her a 1997 National Television Award and a 1999 British Soap Award. The graduate of the renowned Italia Conti stage school in London gained additional prominence with the release of her first single “Perfect Moment” (1999), which went on to become a worldwide hit. Her debut album, “You, Me and Us,” was certified double-platinum. The gold “Wishing” and the silver “Musicality” followed in 2000 and 2002, respectively.
Making her film acting debut in “Kiss Kiss (Bang Bang)” (2000), McCutcheon did not come to the attention of the American public until she was cast in the breakout role of Natalie in Richard Curtis' hit romantic comedy “Love Actually” (2003). She won an Empire Award and a MTV Movie Award for her acting in the film. On stage, the model for such television commercials as Marks & Spencer (2004), Lenor fabric conditioner (2006) and Tesco home delivery (2007) picked up the noted Laurence Olivier Award after playing Eliza Doolittle in the London West-End version of “My Fair Lady” (2001).
Recently starring as Susan Penwarden in ITV's soap “Echo Beach” (2008), McCutcheon is set to portray Gina in “Miss Marple: They Do It with Mirrors” (2009, TV).
Daughter of bestselling writer Jenny Tomlin, the Hackney native has released two autobiographies: “Who Does She Think She Is?” (2000) and “Martine McCutcheon: Behind the Scenes -- A Personal Diary” (2003).
McCutcheon was engaged to DJ Gareth Cooke but they separated in 1996. Her ex-fiancé then sold stories of their sex life to the public. McCutcheon tried to build a new relationship by dating her friend Jonathan Barnham. The relationship ended in 2001 after she discovered Barnham was involved in many affairs. Later that same year, she began dating actor John Sheppard, but the relationship lasted only seven months. McCutcheon was next linked to property developer James Tanner, but the pair broke up in 2004. McCutcheon also dated “EastEnders” costar Paul Nicholls and Simply Red singer Mick Hucknall. In January 2008, it was reported she was dating songwriter Jack McManus, who is eight years her junior.
Childhood and Family:
Martine Kimberley Sherri Ponting, who would later be famous as Martine McCutcheon, was born on May 14, 1976, in Hackney, East London, to unmarried parents Jenny Tomlin and Thomas Hemmings. Because of the insulting and irrational behavior of her drug user father, young Martine dealt with a traumatic early childhood and when she was 2, she and her mother left home. Although they had lived separately, Thomas often arrived to menace Martine and her frightened mother. It was not until Martine was nine that Jenny eventually acquired sole custody of her, a win that prevented Thomas from seeing his daughter until she turned 18.
When Martine was 10, Jenny married John McCutcheon, a window cleaner. Shortly after, Martine took his stepfather's last name. Raised in a poor family with three children (Martine has a younger brother named L.J. and a sister named Isla), she knew her family could not send her to a prestigious drama school. The aspiring entertainer then wrote letters to a number of charities and earned a scholarship from the Church of England to attend London's Italia Conti stage school.
Martine's mother is now known as a bestselling author. Her first novel, “Sweetie',” dealt with abuse. On her mother, Martine said, “It was so tough for my Mum but I can I always remember her saying to me, 'Martine, you either choose to be the victim or the victor in life, but I promise you, you will be happier if you are the victor.’”
A born entertainer, Martine McCutcheon made her television debut at age 6 weeks old in a Party Political Broadcast and by age 4, she had branched out to the world of advertising by appearing in commercials for Kool-Aid and Pears soap. At age 10, she was accepted into the renowned Italia Conti drama school in London.
McCutcheon's first real acting job arrived when she landed a part in the BBC children's series “Bluebirds.” At the time, she was 13 years old. A multi-talented youth, the fan of Barbara Streisand and Crystal Gayle then added music to her endeavors. In 1991, the 15-year-old girl was selected to front the all-girl rock band Milan. The group toured with bands like East 17 before splitting up in April 1994.
Back to acting, McCutcheon enjoyed a huge break when she won the regular role of Tiffany on the British soap opera “EastEnders.” McCutcheon was on the show from 1995 to 1998, during which time she was handed a 1997 National Television award for Most Popular Actress and a 1999 British Soap for Best Storyline.
Meanwhile, in 1997, McCutcheon resumed her singing career by performing at the “Children In Need” telethon on the BBC, and after the show, she was invited to sing for a charity event with the London Philharmonic Orchestra at the Royal Albert Hall. Her sparkling performance caught the attention of Virgin's Innocent Records, who soon took her under their wing.
After leaving “EastEnders,” McCutcheon launched the successful first single “Perfect Moment.” The ballad rose to No. 1 in the U.K. and in other countries like Italy, Ireland, Israel and Switzerland and received platinum certification. She scored two more hits with the songs “I've Got You” and “Talking in Your Sleep,” both of which peaked at No. 6. Her debut album, “You, Me and Us,” was released in 1999 and became the Top 2 hit on the U.K. Album Charts. It went double platinum.
Her sophomore effort, “Wishing,” followed in 2000. Less flourishing than its predecessor, the album failed to enter the Top 10 and only peaked at No.25 on the British Album charts. It was noted for spawning the No. 2 hit “I'm Over You” and the single “On The Radio,” which was used as the theme song for Hibernian striker Amadou Konte. “Wishing” sold approximately 250,000 pieces.
Also in 2000, McCutcheon made her big screen debut by playing the supporting role of Mia in the comedy “Kiss Kiss (Bang Bang),” which starred Chris Penn. She also appeared in an episode of the British series “The Knock” and released an autobiography titled “Who Does She Think She Is?”
2001 saw McCutcheon land the role of Eliza Doolittle in the West End revival of “My Fair Lady.” However, due to health problems, she had to drop out of the role on several occasions, including opening night. On the positive side, she received a Laurence Olivier in the category of Best Actress in a Musical for her bright performance. The next year, McCutcheon resumed her musical career by releasing the album “Musicality,” a compilation of show tunes. It peaked at No. 55 on the albums charts but only sold 3,000 copies in its first week of release. Because of the miserable sales, her contract was cancelled.
McCutcheon made an auspicious comeback to film in 2003 when first-time director Richard Curtis cast her in the high profile role of Natalie in the romantic comedy “Love Actually,” which went on to become a blockbuster hit and received positive reviews. She took home an Empire for Best Newcomer and a MTV Movie award for Best Trans-Atlantic Breakthrough Performer and a Phoenix Film Critics Society (PFCS) nomination for Best Ensemble Acting. Also that year, her second autobiography, “Martine McCutcheon: Behind the Scenes - A Personal Diary,” was published by HarperCollins. Lured by the success of “Love Actually,” the gifted brunette headed to America to further pursue her career. Unfortunately, she was largely ignored.
In 2005, McCutcheon had a two-part role as waitress Tash in the popular BBC series “Spooks” (aka. MI-5). She was then cast in the starring role of Tracy Pringle, a young working class girl who falls for a Muslim man, in the 2005 television film “The English Harem” and played Bonnie in “Withdrawal,” a 2006 short film directed and written by Mark Conn. She next costarred with Ben Silverstone and Patrick Swayze in the psychological drama “Jump” (2007), by director/writer Joshua Sinclair, and was cast as a maid named Jane Cooper in “Marple: At Bertram's Hotel” (also 2007, TV), starring Geraldine McEwan.
In January 2008, McCutcheon teamed up with Jason Donovan to star as lovers in the new ITV show “Echo Beach.” Her return to series TV proved unsuccessful when the soap only lasted 12 episodes.
McCutcheon will play Gina in “Miss Marple: They Do It with Mirrors” (2009, TV).
MTV Movie: Best Trans-Atlantic Breakthrough Performer, 2004
Empire: Best Newcomer, “Love Actually,” 2004
Laurence Olivier: Best Actress in a Musical, “My Fair Lady,” 2002
British Soap: Best Storyline, “EastEnders,” 1999
National Television: Most Popular Actress, “EastEnders,” 1997