Jodie Prenger (born 12 June 1979 in Blackpool, Lancashire) is an English actress and singer. She was the winner of BBC talent show-themed television series I'd Do Anything on 31 May 2008. She was also the winner of the second series of The Biggest Loser on Living in 2006. She is also a former panellist on ITV1's flagship daytime show Loose Women.
Life and careerEdit
Prenger was educated at Elmslie Girls' School in Blackpool and Blackpool and The Fylde College before starting work in the area as an entertainer. She has performed extensively on the cabaret circuit in Northern England and particularly her hometown of Blackpool and Fylde coast where she has also worked as an agony aunt. In June 1998 she appeared in two different shows each night in two Blackpool theatres. First she had a solo spot in the Tiptoes Summer Spectacular at the resorts Opera House theatre before appearing 20-minute later in one of the main roles in a Blackpool and The Fylde College production of the musical comedy, Hot Mikado at the Grand Theatre.
Her first appearance on television came in 1999 when she appeared on A Taste for Travel on Granada Television alongside her mother. In 2000 she took part in the Dale Winton show The Other Half on BBC One in which she had to pretend to be the wife of boxer, Chris Eubank. Later that year she played the role of the good witch Hurricane in a non-skating role in Halloween Spectacular On Ice at Alton Towers in Staffordshire. In 2001 she spent eight months as one of four main entertainers in a team of 19 aboard the Disney Wonder cruise ship.
Prenger won the second series of The Biggest Loser in 2006 (Making her the 1st Female in the world to win the show), starting the show a size 22 and weighing 115 kilograms (18.1 st). During the series, she lost over 51 kilograms (8.0 st). Her final weight was 61 kilograms (9.6 st) and she slimmed down to a size 10 before settling at a size 14/16. She won £25,000 for winning the series. In 2006 Jodie Prenger was also featured on Charlotte Coyle's Fat Beauty Contest on Channel 4, where Coyle searched for plus sized models for a beauty pageant.
On 10 March 2009 Prenger appeared on The Paul O'Grady Show and spoke about her time on The Biggest Loser. On seeing a picture of herself after initially losing weight, she said that she believed she lost too much weight and became too thin at that time. She also commented that she believed all women should have curves, which she had also stated in a Daily Mail article on 16 February.
Prenger was the winner of I'd Do Anything, announced on 31 May 2008, giving her the opportunity to play Nancy in a West End revival of the British musical Oliver! at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane. Prenger attended auditions for the show in Manchester in January 2008, and made it through to the final 42 at "Nancy School" from where she was eventually chosen as one of the twelve finalists to perform in the live shows each week.
After her performance of "Chasing Pavements" in the first live show of the series, Prenger was installed as the joint favourite to win. Panelist John Barrowman said, "I love you to death, you connected with everyone and told the story – that's making a good Nancy!" while Denise Van Outen, another panellist, commented that "Nancy needs to have a lot of life experience and I see that coming through in your performance. It was absolutely brilliant". Barry Humphries, another panellist who had played Fagin in the original Lionel Bart stage production, said "You've got that toughness and also a tenderness. A beautiful performance and a fine actress." Head judge Andrew Lloyd Webber said that Jodie could "absolutely play this role." In week five Humphries said that Prenger was "destined for the West End", and in week eight Barrowman labelled Prenger his "perfect Nancy". In the week leading up to the final in week ten, the Nancy finalists posed for publicity pictures recreating some of Madonna's iconic images. Prenger posed in a wedding dress to recreate the cover of the album Like a Virgin. She was also installed as the favourite to win the show. On 30 May, Andrew Lloyd Webber revealed that theatrical producer Cameron Mackintosh, who produced the show in the West End, and joined the panel in week nine, was concerned about her curvaceous figure saying, "Cameron thinks she is a bit too big and has more or less said so". However, Webber defended Prenger, saying that she had both the vocal talents and personality for the role, saying "Jodie could be anybody's idea of Nancy - I can see it absolutely. She has got a lovely voice and a super personality. She has experience as well." In the final, on 31 May, Prenger performed a total number of seven songs including her performance of "As Long as He Needs Me" after she was announced as winner. She also performed "I'd Do Anything" with all the Nancy and Oliver finalists; "Son of a Preacher Man"; "Getting to Know You" from the musical The King and I with Laurence ; "Maybe This Time" from the film Cabaret withJessie Buckley and Samantha Barks as well as also singing "As Long as he Needs Me" and "I Have Nothing" from A Star Is Born before the final vote. Of her performance of "Son of a Preacher Man", Cameron Mackintosh said: "Jodie has convinced me that she could make a Nancy. You absolutely deserve to be in the final." John Barrowman said, "every song she sings, you believe the words. I look forward to the day I can guest star with you on the West End stage!" and Andrew Lloyd Webber said, "that was a very, very, very good performance. You have an outsize talent, and a very strong voice. I just don't know if it's going to be quite enough tonight, but it might be." In the second part of the live final, Prenger performed her favourite song from the series, "I Have Nothing", and Nancy's tragic love ballad, "As Long As He Needs Me". After she was announced as the winner, Prenger said, "You have genuinely given me my dream, I can't actually put into words how I feel. I'm so grateful and so chuffed. I'm just Jodie from Blackpool and to be here is my dream." Andrew Lloyd Webber said, "The people's Nancy. Jodie was always going to be the people's choice," adding " I think people love her, they love her open personality. I think they relate to that personality and I think that's what makes her Nancy for the public. Her strengths are her personality and her very, very strong voice." And Cameron Mackintosh said, "I'm thrilled for Jodie, congratulations!" adding, "She is obviously the public's view of what they want to see as Nancy. She'll give a terrific performance and I really look forward to putting her into training and getting her into rehearsals." Prenger revealed on The Graham Norton Show a week later; that when her name was called out as the winner, she urinated slightly and had to perform "As Long as He Needs Me" with wet underwear.
In June 2008, it was confirmed that Prenger would be performing six of the eight weekly shows of Oliver! after it opened at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane on 12 December 2008. She performed on Monday and Tuesday evenings, Wednesday matinees, Friday evenings and both the matinee and evening shows each Saturday. Prior to that she appeared in the ensemble in Les Misérables at the Queen's Theatre from 26 August 2008, in order to gain some experience of performing in the West End. Oliver! opened successfully on 14 January 2009, and Prenger received positive reviews. On 16 March 2009, a new cast recording of the revival was released with Prenger and the rest of the cast. For her role as Nancy, Prenger received the Theatregoers' Choice Whatsonstage Award for Best Supporting Actress in a Musical. She played her final performance as Nancy on 27 March 2010, and was succeeded by fellow West End leading lady Kerry Ellis, who is best known for her role as Elphaba in the hit musical Wicked. Prenger reprised the role of Nancy once more, for two one-off performances on 13 November 2010, whilst Ellis was absent.
Prenger was engaged to her boyfriend, Steve Greengrass, who proposed to her after the Saturday show in week three of I'd Do Anything on 12 April 2008; a whirlwind romance which was featured throughout the series as their first date some three months earlier had been Prenger's audition in Manchester. She split from Greengrass a few weeks after the show's finale.