How a British bobby bagged Bridget Jones

How a British bobby bagged Bridget Jones
How a British bobby bagged Bridget Jones

Just like her fictional Bridget Jones character, Oscar-winning actress Renee Zellweger hasn’t been the luckiest in love. Once engaged to comedian Jim Carrey, she then embarked on a brief, disastrous marriage in 2005 to country star Kenny Chesney that was annulled after only 225 days.

She famously then dated Hollywood actor Bradley Cooper from 2009 to 2011 and a five-year relationship with rock musician Doyle Bramhall petered out in 2019.

But now she seems to have found love at last with the unlikeliest of suitors — Ant Anstead, a twice-divorced, British father of three — a former policeman turned TV star, no less.

Renee Zellweger (left) seems to have found love at last with the unlikeliest of suitors — Ant Anstead, (right) a twice-divorced, British father of three

Renee Zellweger (left) seems to have found love at last with the unlikeliest of suitors — Ant Anstead, (right) a twice-divorced, British father of three

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So who is this brawny 42-year-old who’s captured the heart of one of our favourite Hollywood actresses?

So who is this brawny 42-year-old who’s captured the heart of one of our favourite Hollywood actresses?

Bearing more than a passing resemblance to the brown-eyed Mr Darcy, he’s also a former semi-professional footballer who doesn’t mind getting his hands dirty under a car bonnet.

One can assume that Bridget would be v.v.v impressed indeed.

The couple have been seen out and about in California, holding hands, kissing and looking blissfully happy. Renee has also been spotted moving a large bag of personal belongings into Ant’s home. And, we can reveal, it looks like the relationship is the real deal.

‘I think Renee has found her Prince Charming and Ant has found a real woman in Renee,’ says Mike Brewer — Ant’s close friend and co-star on the American reality TV show which has propelled him to fame. ‘He’s got a woman who cares about him, and he cares about her. They are both wonderful people and they deserve this happiness.

‘They just clicked, and the timing was right,’ says Mike. ‘They wanted to keep it private at first.

‘When you’re in a new relationship, you don’t know if it will work or not so you’re not sure if you should tell your friends or share it with your family.

‘But Renee is comfortable now with them being seen together, shopping at Home Depot or just doing the ordinary things other couples do.’

So who is this brawny 42-year-old who’s captured the heart of one of our favourite Hollywood actresses?

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Born in Plymouth but largely brought up in Hertfordshire, Ant — short for Anthony — joined his local police force when he was 18 and became one of the youngest members of the country’s Tactical Firearms Unit, based in Welwyn Garden City. During his police career he received two commendations for bravery.

‘I was in Her Majesty’s police service for six years,’ he has said previously. ‘I knew I didn’t want to go down the education route with university etc, so I ended up becoming a copper, and I can honestly say it was the best decision I ever made . . . It forced me to grow up quickly . . . I saw and did things that people would shudder at.’

He certainly did. One of his tasks as a police officer was to help guard notorious serial rapist and killer John Duffy — one of the railway murderers who attacked lone women in southern England in the 1980s — at a safe house.

He’s also spoken of a number of ‘life-threatening incidents’ that ‘really opened my eyes to what humans are capable of’.

When you’re standing in front of someone armed — that’s real fear — it kind of makes standing on stage or in front of a camera easy.’

His transition from British bobby to Californian TV personality is worthy of a movie storyline in itself: in 2005 he was stabbed while apprehending a violent offender and the brush with death caused him to re-evaluate his life. He left the police force and began to pursue his passion for restoring cars.

He set up shop in a farmer’s derelict cow shed, renovating the place in lieu of a year’s rent, and funded his growing business by playing semi-professional football, amassing more than 700 games in 17 years.

After three years working at the farm alone, his business took off and he assembled a team of car builders. His company began to build bespoke cars for clients all over the world.

As Ant’s reputation as a master mechanic and car designer grew, he attracted the attention of television networks. After initially turning down an offer to appear on British television, Ant co-hosted Channel 4’s For The Love Of Cars in 2013.

In 2017 came the call that took him to California. He was invited to join the hugely popular Wheeler Dealers show which was co-hosted by his London-based car dealer friend Mike, and which has become the No 1 most distributed show on the Discovery Channel, making unlikely stars of the pair.

However, his burgeoning career took its toll on his marriage to first wife Louise, whom he wed in 2005 and with whom he has two children, Amelie, 17, and 14-year-old Archie. They divorced in 2017, and she and the children still live in Hertfordshire.

‘His first marriage broke down under the pressure of work and him being away from home so much,’ says Mike. ‘It broke him when he split up with Lou. It absolutely destroyed him because he was such a family man. He still came to work every day, but he was a mess and we all had to look after him.’

The 6 ft 2 in Brit found love again with American reality TV star Christina Haack. She was separated from her husband Tarek El Moussa, the father of her two children and her co-host on the home renovation show Flip Or Flop.

She recalled it was love at first sight when they met in late 2017, gushing on Instagram: ‘You take me for what I am, flawed and a bit crazy, and love all of me just the way I am.’

The British TV star was equally effusive, calling her ‘the most amazing lady I’ve ever met.’

The pair

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