Melanie Sykes’ birth date:
Melanie Sykes, born August 7, 1970
Birth dates of Roman and Valentino:
Roman, born 2002
Valentino Luca, born July 21, 2004
Father’s birth date:
Daniel Caltagirone, born June 18, 1972
Finding fame and love
Melanie Sykes shot to fame after becoming the face – and broad northern accent – of the Boddington’s beer ads in the 90s. She then became a successful lingerie model, before starting her TV presenting career on The Big Breakfast in 1997.
It was while working for Galaxy FM radio in 2000 that Mel interviewed actor Daniel Caltagirone – who had just starred with Leonardo DiCaprio in The Beach. The pair clicked and they married in the Caribbean a year later.
First child – Roman
In 2002, when Mel was 32, the couple’s first son Roman was born. A year after Ronan’s birth, Mel got her biggest TV gig to date, co-hosting ITV lunchtime chat show Today with Des and Mel with Des O’Connor.
Second child – Valentino
By the end of 2003, Mel was pregnant with her second child – and revealed how hard she found it working during her pregnancy. “I had terrible morning sickness with both my pregnancies. With Tino it lasted 6 months,” she told The Mirror. “I’d be on TV and I’d have to go off in the break to throw up. Everything would make me nauseous – having a hot shower, opening the fridge door, everything.”
And Mel’s pregnancy woes didn’t end there – she had a traumatic birth too.
“I had to have a blood transfusion and they nearly gave me a hysterectomy because the placenta wasn’t coming away from the womb, and I was haemorrhaging,” she said. “My obstetrician said, ‘Right, we need to get this whole thing out.’ But as soon as he said it, I stopped bleeding. It was awful. I remember looking in the mirror afterwards and I was grey. I thought, ‘That’s what death looks like.’
“I remember the baby was crying and I just said to the nurse, ‘Can I feed him?’ She was like, ‘Are you sure?’ And I was in bits saying, ‘If it’s the last thing I bloody do, I want to feed my son. Give him to me now!’ You’re like a wild animal when you’ve just had a baby, and I just had this desperate need to feed him.”
In 2006, her talk show with Des O’Connor was unexpectedly pulled. ITV announced that it was to be one of a number of shows being axed in a ‘painful but utterly necessary move’.
Since then Mel occasionally filled in for Paul O’Grady on his evening talk show and presented daytime show Gene Detectives on BBC1.
Meanwhile, Dan’s career took a turn for the worse too. After starring in high profile TV series Lock Stock, Caltagirone found it hard to get other big parts and ended up making appearances in episodes of shows such as The Bill.
In July 2008, it was reported that Mel and Dan had split up and a year later they divorced. In the divorce papers, Mel claimed she had been left ‘distressed’ by her husband’s failure to understand their financial troubles – after both of their careers had stalled.
Despite their differences over money, the pair are on good terms and have shared access to their children.
“Daniel’s very much involved with the kids,” Mel told The Sun’s Fabulous magazine. “It’s not 50/50 because they’re with me Monday to Friday. But between us, we work it out and it’s pretty good. The boys are very cheeky, very challenging but great fun. Me and Daniel have gone through some crappy times. Everyone does when they get divorced.
“But now it’s totally hunky-dory. We’re over the worst and everything is really good at the moment.”
Valentino diagnosed with autism
In 2012, Mel opened up about her son’s battle with autism. She said that she had known her youngest son Valentino suffered with autism for several years before he was officially diagnosed.
“I have never said anything publicly [before]. I have known for 5 years that he has autism but I felt it is his business,” she told The Sun. “He is an amazing little boy and he has changed my life. I want everybody to know that if you have a diagnosis of autism today, there is so much you can do with your child. It is miraculous.”
She said that once Valentino was diagnosed, he had therapy and treatment. “Within a 2-and-a-half-week intensive course with a clinic his speech came back very rapidly,” she said.
Just 2 years later, Mel had become a spokeswoman for autism and appeared on ITV’s Daybreak to raise awareness of World Autism Awareness Day.
“There are issues such as judging from other people,’ she said. “Tino looks like a normal child but if he gets overloaded… If in a restaurant there is too much music, or the clatter of cutlery, he will have to get up and hop about. He doesn’t realise [there might be people nearby]. I do try and explain to people.”
But despite the struggles with other people’s perceptions, Mel said how much joy her son had brought to her life. “They’re very sensitive people but also very funny,” she said. “Tino makes me laugh on a daily basis because he says everything how it is. There’s no filter.”
She explained that her son was in a mainstream school with 1-on-1 support – but did experience social issues with the other children. “He doesn’t have any friends but he doesn’t want any. Even though all the people at school love him. He couldn’t give a monkeys,” she said.
In 2012, single Mel entered into a rather flirty Twitter exchange with 27-year-old Jack Cockings.
“No way are you 41! Marry me?” Jack tweeted. He then bombarded Mel with tweets and eventually, she started flirting back.
A few months later, the couple became official.
“I’d like to formally announce that @bespokespartan is my boyfriend and we met on f***in twitter!!!! modern day romance. Yee friggin haa xx,” she tweeted.
The 7-month marriage
Mel married Jack on 18 May 2013 at Sherborne Castle in Dorset, but the honeymoon period didn’t last long. Just 7 months later in November 2013, the police were called to the couple’s home to investigate a domestic dispute.
Mel ended up receiving a caution from the police but in August 2014, she won a court battle getting the common assault caution withdrawn and removed from police records.
Her lawyers commented at the time, “This has been a testing time for Melanie. She believed strongly that it was necessary and appropriate to take legal action – not least for the sake of her children.”
Mel and Jack split in November 2013, and Mel has begun the process of filing for divorce.
I’m a Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here!
Mel flew to Australia to appear on the 2014 series of I’m a Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here! in November 2014. The 44-year-old said she was “up for the challenge” of the jungle, and she’s proved a fantastic and very popular contestant.
“This is a good year for me. I feel like I’m strong enough, both physically and mentally,” she said. “I’m going to be 45 next year, so I definitely won’t want to do it after then. It’ll be a decent challenge.”