Christine Webber - coming back to East Anglia
PUBLISHED: 09:25 22 November 2018 | UPDATED: 09:25 22 November 2018
In Christine Webber's newly published book, In Honour Bound, the former Anglia TV presenter and psychotherapist draws on all her experience to create a supreme love story. Lynne Mortimer talks to the author.
Christine Webber, broadcaster, agony aunt and author, has published her third book... to be absolutely accurate, it is her first book but it has been re-worked and re-published with the benefit of the experience she has gained from her later two successful novels, Who’d Have Thought It? and It’s Who We Are.
All her books are about relationships and in revisiting her first story, written more than 20 years before the second, she also re-ignites the towering passion between two people; one, a famous female television journalist, the other, a “celebrity” cardiac surgeon.
In truth, In Honour Bound gets pretty steamy from time to time.
Christine is well known in East Anglia having appeared in summer theatre at Southwold when she began her career as an actor, and then becoming one of the best-loved faces on Norwich-based Anglia Television before becoming a qualified psychotherapist, working alongside her husband Dr David Delvin. Recently she has been an agony aunt for Archant on podcasts with her former Anglia TV colleague and close friend Helen McDermott, and has been a staunch supporter of the Surviving Winter campaign in Suffolk.
A poignant dedication at the front of the novel begins: “I am dedicating this book, with all my love to my wonderful husband David Delvin who died in March 2018.”
It is written from the heart. Currently still living in the house they shared on the south coast, Christine is acutely conscious that he is no longer there.
“I’m a bit lonelier in this house than elsewhere. By the time we moved here, 19 years ago, we were both doing a lot of work in the (therapy) industry − mostly writing books and columns, and there were large chunks of work for netdoctor (www.netdoctor.co.uk).
“We each had a study at opposite ends of the house and there was a Harley Street practice. He read everything that I wrote; I read everything that he wrote.”
Their busy, intertwined working lives left little time to make friends and socialise in the place they lived and thus, now her husband is gone, it leaves an impossibly huge gap in Christine’s life.
“Before he died, he could see I was going to struggle to have a single life... I don’t ever want to stop missing him. Life goes on but in a different way.”
The couple met on an Anglia TV programme and knew each other for 40 years. Now, Christine is rediscovering her deep affection for Norfolk and the many people she knows there. She is now planning to move back there.
“David wanted me to have a life afterwards and be productive. In a way, being busy has been my saving grace.”
As well as writing and helping people with their problems,Christine has also been finding time to go to the theatre and appreciate wider culture. “To be quite honest that’s what makes sense of life for me. What artistry we have in this country, it feeds the soul.”
While she house hunts in Norfolk, Christine is spending the panto season with Helen McDermott, who is appearing as the Queen in Sleeping Beauty at Gorleston.
It is, in fact, no coincidence that the heroine of In Honour Bound is named Helen, says Christine. “I did use the name in tribute to Helen... but it was not her story,” she hastily adds.
I observed that in this first novel, which like the others, has all the Christine Webber charm and eloquence, sex is a very dominant topic; her second, written more than two decades later, is more about finding love, and the third explores of close relationships between friends, family and lovers.
“Your priorities do change,” Christine nods, adding that a lot of other things change too. “This novel is set in a time before mobile phones and emails. If someone was away or out for the evening, you couldn’t get hold of them.”
She writes in her foreword: “I’ve kept the narrative in the mid-eighties - with big hair, shoulder pads and far too much sex, smoking and drinking - but just tried to improve the original text.”
“The plot and her two main protagonists remain the same.
A news presenter, Helen, embarks on an intense love affair with a renowned surgeon, Aziz (known as Sam). Although their love is so fierce and all-consuming it seems nothing could ever part them, Sam has a secret that threatens their future. Which will rule, the heart or the head?
“My experience of having worked as a psychotherapist for over 20 years... has also influenced this rewrite.”
One absolutely true feature of the book is the assignments her character Helen is sent to cover. For example, just as it happens in the book, Christine’s programme director at Anglia thought it would be a great idea if she went into the lions’ cage to interview the circus trainer. (This was in the 1980s, of course).
“I said what Helen says in the book: ‘You won’t get insurance for that’ and I found he had already organised it.” Christine says she has the film on VHS somewhere. “I must look it up.”
She, like her character, also stood very still while a knife-thrower threw knives at her... well, near her.
The relationship she describes between her TV personality and her doctor represents that once-in-a lifetime, magical attraction; when a meal in a restaurant is merely a prelude to what happens afterwards; when what happens afterwards happens again... and again.
But there isn’t too much detail. “I don’t like the sex scenes to be yucky,” Christine says, “I don’t use crude or anatomical terms.”
She describes the relationship as “something so precious, it’s all enveloping” but it is nonetheless “a kind of madness”.
• In Honour Bound, by Christine Webber, is published by On Call is available online and in bookshops now, £7.99