Melanie Blake on the ‘toxic culture’ debate as she shares thoughts on This Morning

The chances are that for the past 23 years, if you were flicking through TV channels, the stars you saw were on Melanie Blake’s roster. From The Nolans to Stephanie Beacham, Gillian Taylforth to Patsy Kensit, she’s forged killer deals for female talent.

Specialising in representing older celebrities and actresses – a niche rival agents missed – Melanie gained power and industry recognition, but managed to keep herself out of the spotlight.

Skip forward two years and the showbiz tables have turned. Posing perfectly for the camera, Melanie is a star in her own right after writing three bestselling novels – The Thunder Girls, Ruthless Women and Guilty Women.

In what she calls a “roller-coaster ride”, Melanie has racked up a million Instagram followers, walks every red carpet and receives endless fan mail addressed to her as well as her clients.

“The pandemic allowed me the time to fulfil a lifetime secret ambition of becoming a novelist,” says Melanie, 46, who has dyslexia and says she was ridiculed for her attempts at writing by English teachers at school. But boy did she prove them all wrong.

“I never in my wildest dreams expected my books to sell over 300,000 copies, but they thrust me into the spotlight and once it took off, it took off fast! I was known to be one of the few agents who was able to reinvent my clients, and I guess in a way, that’s what I did with ‘Melanie Blake’ during Covid. I saw her as a client. No one was working so I just sent her out there,” she laughs.

Having made the near-impossible switch from behind the scenes to a celebrity in her own right, we wonder why Melanie is stepping those six-inch heels away from the cameras to sit behind a desk again as she launches her brand-new celebrity agency Nemesis, named after the Greek goddess of vengeance.

“The name is provocative, but come on, I’m no stranger to controversy and public spat,” she laughs. “I’m sure there was a sigh of relief when it was thought I had retired. I know a lot of people were hoping my books would flop and I would disappear. So yes, there is a little revenge in the name of my new business. I have a few scores to settle and will prove I can do it all again. The best karma is, of course, success.”

As the business powerhouse behind scores of famous faces, Melanie has secured the TV deals that have seen Rita Simons in Hollyoaks and Claire King ruling the Dales, among many others. “When I got Claire Sweeney into Coronation Street, she publicly thanked me. Talent has no expiration date,” she smiles.

“I’ve kept people working – these actors and presenters have families and this is a small business with not enough jobs to go around,” she adds.

“You need a good agent to get the best out of showbiz and I’m a bloody good agent, so I’d be mad to not return to something that is a guaranteed success, especially with my next three books written and ready to go. I am a businesswoman after all. I’m used to turning on the TV and seeing my clients on screen from six in the morning till midnight. I’m proud to have achieved that.”

She dedicated 10 years of her career to representing various Loose Women presenters, often having the entire panel on the show as her clients. When asked about the rumours of toxic daytime TV culture, she chooses her words carefully.

“Considering I represented over 15 women on that show, I am only still friends with Saira Khan,” she reveals.

“But I am in such a positive career space right now, it’s just not a period of time I want to relive. But I can confirm in my experience, it’s that show that’s a cut-throat place to work and not This Morning.

“I was even on set the day Holly started and have been there hundreds of times and have never once felt on edge. But put a load of ambitious women together with a small amount of seats to fill and inevitably there is always going to be tension. Showbiz isn’t all diamonds and rosé.”

The star adds, “Despite the party line of the Loose Women having been the best of friends from day one, it’s simply that, a party line. Just because you get a job sitting next to each other, doesn’t mean you’re going to be friends. There were a lot of egos in my era, so it’s not a show I want my new agency to represent stars from again.

“I don’t watch it any more – it’s like a toxic ex, you just want to move on. I’d literally cross the road to avoid former clients from that show. But hey, my work on the show did buy me a massive house, so every cloud!”

She’s now mainly turning her laser-like focus on bringing the best talent to UK soaps, but Melanie admits she gets angry about the lack of recognition for the teams behind them.

“Growing up in an unhappy home, soaps were a comfort for me and UK soaps are the best in the world. Representing those actors again is an honour and I am doing my bit to bring the recognition to where it is so rightly deserved.”

With her new-found ambition comes a “cleaner” client list of “women who support women”. In her usual frank style, Melanie says she got rid of some of the “dead wood who were full of jealousy” when she suddenly had a high profile of her own, too.

She explains, “A good example of this is, we made a TV show when Beverley Callard got married again. She asked what I was going to wear to the wedding as her Maid of Honour.

“From past experience, I was immediately worried – when I was looking after Andrea [McLean], she would comment that my outfits were too revealing for a showbiz event, which was hilarious considering she would turn up to the opening of an envelope wearing a couple of twig leaves to get her picture taken. Oh the irony!

“But Beverley said, ‘I want you to promise to wear something drop dead gorgeous and look fabulous by my side.’ Now there’s a self-confident woman’s woman for you.”

Aside from professional ambitions, there is one important role Melanie is very keen to cast – her Mr Right. “In three years I turn 50, which is just shocking to me,” she admits. “I thought I would be married with kids by now. I’d like to get some personal life balance back but, at the end of the day, I am still full of ‘blonde ambition’.

“I’ve got all the material things I could ever wish for yet true love seems to elude me – although there’s no shortage of lust on offer!

“But who knows, next time you interview me I might have a different name and a fabulous wedding ring on my finger. Maybe Mr Right is reading this right now,” she says, laughing. “My DMs are open… Who knows? A girl can always dream.”

Ruthless Women and Guilty Women are available on Amazon. Vengeful Women will be published next year

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