Leigh turns camera-shy over hints of reel romance
IT'S that time of year again when couples profess their undying love for each other and the lucky few who have found romance can't wait to shout it from the rooftops.
That is, of course, unless you are an Irish celebrity.
Amid the heart-shaped balloons, stunning actress Leigh Arnold sprawled out on the plush, white couch of the Morgan Hotel penthouse suite. The luxury suite has been a haven for lovebirds down through the years.
A white grand piano in the corner, dozens of red roses around the room, heart-shaped chocolates and pink champagne at arm's length.
It was nothing short of cupid's paradise.
Surely his arrow couldn't miss the most beautiful woman in the room?
Flanked by two models dressed in pink, she laughed and smiled as assistants threw dozens of rose petals over her, which tumbled slowly down her designer white dress.
The former Clinic star was there to celebrate singledom for Valentine's Day as part of a promotional launch for 3 mobile's Valentine's Day offer on the Samsung Cara White handset.
But once the camera stopped flashing, the pretty brunette became more than a little coy about her current relationship status.
She had been spotted out on the town in recent weeks with a handsome stranger on her arm and naturally the social pages were whirring into overdrive seeking the identity of her latest admirer.
With Katy French's former fiance Marcus Sweeney now a distant memory, many were glad to see the small-screen star was finally getting on with her life.
Her career is on the rise again and, after the sudden cancellation of the hugely successful RTE series The Clinic, the pint-sized star with buckets of talent is back under the spotlight starring in the acclaimed production of My First Time at the Olympia Theatre. So the latest flutter of romance is only the last in a long list of things going right for the bubbly star.
But sitting down in the quirky caravan on the rooftop of the penthouse, Arnold had quite a different tale to tell.
"This is the longest I've been single for quite some time and it's nice because when I was younger I was only worried about being on my own," she smiled.
So what is she enjoying about single life, I ask.
"Well it's not being single, I'm not putting a label on myself," she explained. "I've met loads of lovely people."
"One of them I'm going to ask about now," I interjected.
"Well you can ask away but I ain't answering it," she replied as I broach the name Nick Thomas.
The handsome young director has been rapidly making a name for himself in the film industry, having worked on such projects as The Tudors and more recently, Leap Year.
"He's gorgeous and you make a very cute couple," I suggest. The tone changes and any sparkle in Leigh's eyes that first appeared whilst frolicking among hearts and flowers suddenly vanishes.
"Nick is a very private guy and we're not talking about it at all."
"But you've been dating him?" I ask.
"Of course, but I don't really want Nick to be mentioned in this. We're not in a relationship.
"Do you know Nick?" she enquires, in that give-away high-pitched tone that tells you someone is irked.
"I hear you get on like a house on fire," I offer.
"Yeah we do, we get on very well," she replies, as her media minder jumps in:
"He's a very nice guy but they're not dating."
"Hang on, they have gone on dates?" I ask getting more confused by the minute.
"Yeah of course we have," says Leigh chipping in.
"What's the problem then?" I ask.
"It's not fair. If I'm going out with a guy, just because I'm in the public eye it shouldn't mean that they should have to be in the limelight. And he's very much not."
"But you've been photographed on the social scene together?"
"He's been photographed but he hasn't given his permission for his name to be mentioned," says the PR woman.
Alas, we get to the root of her problem when Marcus Sweeney's name pops up.
"I have no intention of ever having any public relationship ever again. Absolutely.
"I will keep my private life always to myself.
"There's no way in hell that I'm ever going that way again," she asserts.
"Jesus Christ, this is just so unfair on Nick," she says grabbing her hair and vigorously scratching her head in a peculiar show of angst.
It was strange that she was fighting the link.
She had happily smiled for the camera when snapped by photographers being escorted by him to a trendy Dublin nightspot only two weeks ago.
"I'm not fighting it. It's just Nick's name. Nick didn't sign up to be in the media.
"He's not an actor. He's not a sportsman. I just feel sorry for him.
"It's not fair on him," she says, getting emotional.
"If you could kinda say Leigh has been dating and that's fine," she finishes.
"I don't really get asked out that much and being an actress is intimidating enough because they think you're in the public eye.
"So if someone actually has the courage to go out with me and we have a lovely time, it's not fair that they should have to be brought into it."
So there you have it. Leigh Arnold is dating. Just don't mention who.
She has learned from her previous mistakes after the media storm surrounding Marcus Sweeney and is now going to keep her private life very private.
Cupid's arrow may have struck, but it was only behind closed doors.