JODIE Prenger was still in shock when she rang me yesterday afternoon just hours after her I’d Do Anything final win.
“It really hasn’t sunk in yet,” she said.
“I just woke up and I’ve been bawling on the phone to my mum and my dad this morning. You just can’t take it all in.”
There’s a news story on Jodie in today’s MEN – but I thought fans might like to read a fuller version of our chat.
Over seven million viewers saw her triumph in the public vote ahead of runner-up Jessie Buckley, 18, from Ireland.
Earlier Samantha Barks, 17, from the Isle of Man had finished in third place.
After congratulating The People’s Nancy, I asked Jodie what time she had got to bed after Saturday’s live final
“They put a big party on for everyone afterwards and then me and Jess came back to the Nancy house and we actually watched the show again,” she explained.
“We had a right good natter and we probably got to bed about four o’clock in the morning.”
What was it like watching the show back?
“Oh, it was weird. It’s like it’s not happened, do you know what I mean?
“It’s like you have an out of body experience and you wake up and you think, ‘Things like that don’t happen to me.’ It’s surreal.
“It was nice to watch back because we both watched the duets with the boys and stuff like that, which is so lovely.”
Could Jodie, 28, recall her feelings as host Graham Norton announced the final result?
“My heart was in my mouth and I was like a deer in headlights.
“It was like going on the fastest rollercoaster about a thousand miles an hour, stood there, because that’s about the rate my heartbeat was going.”
And when he revealed she had won?
“You just never, ever think that he could call your name out.
“I’m over a million moons. It’s just so lovely that the public voted for me.
“I can’t wait to say thank you to the public because they’ve really let me live my dream and you can’t put a price on that, you really can’t.”
Viewers saw Jodie dash towards mum Madeleine and dad Marty in the studio audience, only to be called back to centre stage by Graham.
“Trust me in a live show, I went to run over to my mum and dad at the wrong time and I had to come back.
“When you have friends and family that support you so much, it’s so lovely to make them proud because they’re there for you.
“My mum was there for me all the nights I used to get on the phone and say, ‘Oh mum, does this song sound alright?’
“They’ve been through it all. So it was lovely to see the pride on their faces.”
And fiance Steve?
“He was over the moon. He’s just so happy for me. Everyone’s just so chuffed for me, they really are.”
Jodie accepted Steve’s marriage proposal during the 12-week run of the BBC1 series but has had no time to think of anything else but the TV show.
Landing the role of Nancy in Oliver! means those wedding plans have to remain on hold.
“He totally understands and realises that I have to put 100 per cent into this. I never wanted to go without having any regrets.
“And the same definitely goes for starting the stage show. I owe it to everyone who’s voted that I have to put every single bit of energy and every per cent I can give into the role of Nancy.“
So no wedding until after she finishes as Nancy at London’s Theatre Royal, Drury Lane – whenever that may be?
“It’s definitely probably be delayed until after.”
We then spoke about how she had defied all the odds after years of rejections because casting directors thought she was too big to star on stage.
Tired of being held back by her weight, she was also the winner of Living TV’s The Biggest Loser, shedding over eight stone in six months.
I suggested her past struggles made the I’d Do Anything win all the more poignant.
“It really is. I did try for so many years and to finally get that role and have the opportunity to be a West End leading lady, I can’t tell you what it means. It’s just a total dream, the most amazing thing that’s ever happened.
“It wouldn’t have happened without this show. I’d given up on singing for two years and just done a couple of local places and just thought that dream I used to have had dwindled. I was more focused on helping other people. Just to be here, it’s definitely worth the wait.”
What did Jessie say to her after the result?
“She’s so happy for me and we’ve been like that throughout the whole competition. We both said to each other last night, whoever wins or loses, we’re all winners, because we’ve all been through it and we’ve all put everything we can into it.
“And Jessie’s an amazing girl, I love her to bits and I can’t wait to buy the tickets for her first leading lady performance.
“All the girls who have been on the show have a great future. You’ve got Amy, she’s going into The Sound of Music, and Rachel’s had these fantastic auditions. So I’m sure you’ll be seeing lots of Nancys all over.”
And what about that comment from John Barrowman, who said he couldn’t wait to guest star opposite Jodie on the West End stage?
“When you get comments like that from people who genuinely are at the top of the game, it is overwhelming. I’m really just glad that people put up with me. So when people come out with corkers like that, it’s lovely.”
Her feelings about appearing on stage with Rowan Atkinson, who will play Fagin?
“I’ve grown up watching that man. I was a Blackadder addict. I can’t wait.”
The identity of the actor who will play Bill Sikes has yet to be revealed, but John Barrowman has dropped hints that it could possibly be Torchwood and Bleak House star Burn Gorman.
Jodie will learn more later this week when she holds a detailed meeting with Oliver! producer Sir Cameron Mackintosh.
“I got to meet Bullseye the dog last night. How adorable was that dog? I’ll be chief dog looker-after. Animals and children – it’s perfect for me. I love my animals and I’ve got the same mental age as a child, so I’m fine.”
After appearing on BBC Breakfast this morning, Jodie has other commitments to fulfil before returning to Blackpool.
“Probably in a week or so I get a couple of days to go home. We had quite a few in from Manchester last night.
“I’m really looking forward to coming and just saying thank you to everyone who has supported me – and hitting the shops in Manchester.”
I asked Jodie about her postbag before the final.
“I wish I could show you the amount of letters and pictures and everything I’ve had from people who I don’t even know. The support has been fantastic.”
Previews of Oliver! begin on Dec 12 before the opening night on Jan 14.
Does she know when rehearsals start?
“I’m not 100 per cent sure on that. I know there’s six months to go but I’m going to go and have a natter with Cameron later on this week and then I’ll understand more.”
In fact, Jodie has since learned a little more as she told BBC Breakfast today that rehearsals start in October.
Both Cameron and Andrew Lloyd Webber chose their words very carefully when praising Jodie on Saturday night.
It was again clear that they favoured Jessie – and both said as much when put on the spot and asked to choose between the two remaining finalists.
I asked Jodie if that bothered her.
“It happens every week, doesn’t it? And they both came up to me after the show and just said they were so happy that I was their Nancy and they were just really lovely about it.
“And Cameron was absolutely fantastic, just saying he can’t wait to start working with me, which is nice to know that they are happy with me as Nancy.”
We saw the three final Nancys going to see Liza Minnelli in concert and then working with her the next day.
“I have never seen the passion that woman gave on stage. I get dead starstruck me, I really do. I’m not good with famous people.
“She showed me how to do this acting bit, and I said, ‘You’re dead good you, aren’t you?’
“I was like, ‘Oh God, Jodie, point out the obvious.’
“She was very inspirational. Just the way she told you to sing a song, it really set a lightbulb on in my head. I’m a huge fan. I think she’s fabulous.”
Now, I pointed out, Jodie Prenger from Blackpool is famous.
“Oh, get out of it. I’m not. No, not me,” she laughed.
“I’m shocked when people say that because it’s just not me, really. As my mum says – feet on the ground and head out of the clouds.”
I then asked Jodie to project forward to that opening night on Jan 14.
“I just can’t wait. I am so excited. I’d get started tomorrow if I could.
“I just wish I could get round to everyone and say thank you because it’s just amazing the support. Just thank you to the public for voting for me.”
Check out Jodie’s short audio message below:
Jodie Says Thanks (Audio File)
Final Battle Of The Nancys
I’d Do Anything: Jodie, Jessie And Sam
I’d Do Anything: The Final
I’d Do Anything: Jodie Wedding
I’d Do Anything: Jodie Prenger
Lord Leaps At Jodie
Jodie Would Do Anything For Corrie
Jodie Could Still Be Nancy
I’d Do Anything Official BBC Site