From country bumpkin to city swinger

By Patrick LowmanTHE closest Claire Chapman had come to big-city living was the occasional night out in one of East Anglia's towns.But the self-confessed country bumpkin has swapped her wellies and horses for the bright lights and celebrity lifestyle of London to become the latest star of reality television.

By Patrick Lowman

THE closest Claire Chapman had come to big-city living was the occasional night out in one of East Anglia's towns.

But the self-confessed country bumpkin has swapped her wellies and horses for the bright lights and celebrity lifestyle of London to become the latest star of reality television.

The 24-year-old admitted to living a sheltered rural life on her parents Gary and Sue's farm in Burwell, near Newmarket.

But Miss Chapman has now endured a “huge culture shock” by spending a fortnight living in London and mixing with a host of stars at some of the capital's trendiest nightspots, while fulfilling her dream of working as a party planner for the stars.

With a television crew in tow, she attempted to come to terms with the pressures of coping with a high-profile job in the capital and the hassles of dealing with pushy and irate celebrities.

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Miss Chapman's “life-changing” experience was filmed as part of BBC3's new reality programme Fantasy Business, which depicts the reality of trying to set up a business in the capital and will be screened at 8pm today.

“I literally live in the middle of nowhere and I have had quite a sheltered life. I have never lived away from my parents and I work from home,” said Miss Chapman.

“The only place I ever go out in is Newmarket and I have hardly ever been to London. I have lived a real country life, with horses and fields, so to live and work in the capital for celebrities was a huge culture shock for me.”

Miss Chapman normally works for her father's marquee hire business, helping to organise weddings and various other events.

But her dream has always been to work as a party planner for the rich and famous - a dream she has now lived, if only for a short while.

During her time in London she was thrown in at the deep end and her tasks included organising a Notting Hill party for James Hewitt, the former lover of the late Princess Diana, and entertaining a host of stars at a music awards night.

She also made arrangements for glamour model Jodie Marsh and ran a celebrity guest list, which included comedian Richard Blackwood, at trendy Soho nightclub Rex.

“It was a real challenge and a life-changing experience. I really enjoyed mixing with the celebrities and they were really nice and gave me lots of advice. It is something I would really like to do again in the future,” said Miss Chapman.

During her stay in London Miss Chapman was initially put up in a top hotel and provided with a convertible BMW car to cruise around in.

But she was shocked when, a few days later, she was ordered to a much less fashionable part of London, where she had to spend the night in a grotty flat with a mobile phone that could only be used for emergency calls.

Miss Chapman said: “This was the reality check. The makers were trying to show me how I would really have to live if a came and started a business in London.

“It was a test to see if I would get through it. I was very scared, but there was no way I was going to give up. It was a real confidence booster and it enabled me to see both sides of life in a city.”

Miss Chapman added she now hoped to expand the family business to the capital in the future.

“I enjoyed every minute of my experience in London and it has definitely given me a taste of what I want to do in the future,” she said.

patrick.lowman@eadt.co.uk

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