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Michele kisses Rome goodbye to star in panto

TOP model Michele McGrath will put her long distance romance with rugby player Mark Siddons to the test this Christmas after signing up for Alan Hughes' annual Christmas Panto.

The Diary can reveal how the multi-talented beauty is set to step into fellow catwalk queen Pippa O'Connor's shoes this year after landing the lead role of Belle in Beauty And The Beast at the Tivoli theatre from December 14.

Michele (25) has been jetting back and forth to Rome in Italy, where her sportsman beau is based, for the past year but will find herself grounded here in Dublin once rehearsals for the new production begin next month.

"I won't be going to Italy at all. We've talked about it and we've decided that Mark will come here instead," Michele said.

"He's off for two weeks at Christmas so he'll come over for some of that as well. I'm sure it will fly by.

"This is my second panto with Alan as I also played Snow White in 2008. I'm really excited because I'll be working with the same team again and they're great fun.

"I'll be singing, acting and dancing in it so I'm a little bit nervous but once we get into rehearsals I should be fine.

"There's also going to be a big name celebrity making a cameo appearance in each performance so that will be fun as well. It'll keep it interesting."

The busy Assets beauty is also set to swap her Jimmy Choos for wellies later this month after signing up to participate in new RTE show ICA Bootcamp.

The leggy brunette is one of the four stars of a reality programme centred around the Irish Countrywomen's Association, which airs on RTE 2 on September 28.