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Since then, perhaps surprisingly for someone who comes from a large, close-knit family – he is the youngest of seven children – Dec has found it difficult to meet the right woman.Those who know him report a very flirtatious manner and a marked twinkle in his eye yet Dec, unlike ant, has not made that final transition from boy to man into a life of domesticity. Even if romance works out for Dec observers believe it will be some time before he too goes down that route.
It was Dec’s father who heard that the BBC was casting for a new show to be set in the area, Byker Grove, but it was Dec who made that all-important call.
Pressures of work were blamed but many put it down to Dec’s one and only indiscretion in an otherwise blameless life: he had a one-night stand with a lap dancer who revelled in telling all of their encounter.
Dec and Clare had been together for 11 years at that point.
“I took the phone call from Dec in 1989 round about March when we were beginning to look for a cast for Byker Grove,” says Matthew Robinson, the show’s producer and director and later executive producer of TV Drama for the BBC World Service Trust.
“He had heard that we were hunting for young actors and he had that sort of outgoing, confident personality, even at that age.