Jan 21 2010 By Lisa Williams
AS a judge on Britain's Got Talent, Amanda Holden spends a couple of months each year giving either the green or red light to hopefuls with stars in their eyes.
Fresh from a trip to the States to film her latest TV venture, Amanda Holden's Fantasy Lives, it is now Amanda who has that starry look.
She's just had a go at some of her dream careers and - perhaps unsurprisingly - they're all firmly in the land of showbiz.
First she dons a cowboy hat and has a stab at being a country and western singer, and she's thrown straight into the deep end with a spot on the bill at Broken Spoke, a prestigious music bar in the heart of Nashville.
Holden, who describes herself as "an actress who can sing and dance" rather than a trained dancer or a singer, was clearly nervous when she took to the stage. So has the experience made her more sympathetic to those due to audition in front of her this year?
She shakes her head: "To be honest, because I've always been the one that's stood up on stage and faced the black hole that is the audition, I try to think of myself in that position every time I judge, so I try to say things in a positive way, whereas the others - Simon Cowell and Piers Morgan - just don't give a monkeys, or they're just more honest, well not honest, just more blunt in the way they say things."
Holden is adamant, however, that she needs to continue performing - as she does in the new series - to justify her place on the panel.
"Because I'malways banging on about the fact that I'm the only performer on the panel of judges, I think I have to keep performing to earn my place to be honest, and I also don't think it's right to sit there in judgement of other performers unless I'mprepared to be judged myself," she states.
Luckily, the lifelong Dolly Parton fan's turn on stage is a success and she's awarded with warm applause from the discerning crowd.
But she's got a confession to make, and Cowell is not going to like it.
"I probably shouldn't say this," she says leaning in, "but it's bizarre because a record company has got wind of the fact I did this and wants to talk to me, but I think that's so cheesy.
"Unless I can make a television programme about trying to make an album I don't know if I could do it. In this country they think, 'you can't be a presenter and an actress and a singer, that's three things'.
"If I did it at all, I would love to release a song for charity, a tongue-in-cheek one, because I don't think I'm a recording artist. Simon would have a fit. And it's not even Sony, it'sanother company!"
The actress also fulfilled her dream of being a Las Vegas showgirl, but she found it much harder than expected.
"I think people thought I'd be in my comfort zone but, out of all of them, that was the one I was out of my comfort zone for because I was dancing with these gorgeous 21-year-old girls who are all 6ft 9 - I looked like Jimmy Kranky in the line up, I was tiny!"
And while she was brave enough to wear the skimpy outfit required for the dancing, she stopped short at going topless - but not because she didn't want to.
"They have the nude showgirls and they have the bluebells and I went in as a bluebell. It's actually a step up to be a nude and it's regarded as very high status and very beautiful. You don't take any notice of the nudity when you watch it. I think we look at it completely differently in this country, we see it as a bit saucy, but there you watch and you just think, 'Oh my god, it's just gorgeous'," she gasps.
But best of all was her time as a stunt woman, during which she got to do all the action moves she's always dreamed of doing.
"That was my favourite," she says with a little growl. "With the stunt one I thought, 'I could do this for a living'. I could! I absolutely loved being a daredevil and throwing myself off buildings.
"I used to really resent it when they'd bring in stunt doubles for me for TV shows. I love the girl who does my stuff, she's gorgeous, but I was always like, 'Oh why can't I do that?' But they'dnever get insurance.
"I loved the stunt driving - I could take that up as a full-time hobby - I learnt with the woman who did all the stunts for the Matrix, and I learnt fighting with the woman who did all the Buffy stunt work.
"We re-enacted a scene from that, I played Angel, and it ended up with her throwing me off the roof of her house and on to crash mats which was brilliant, then I jumped off a 30-foot ladder and then I set fire to myself. All in a day's work!"
Now she's back, Amanda's pondering other fantasy jobs she can try out if the series gets recommissioned, but she's also paranoid ITV1 might make her do the opposite.
"I can imagine ITV will ask me to do Amanda Holden's Nightmare Lives!" she says with a cackle.
If that happens, prepare to see her in various manual posts.
"Whenever I think, 'Oh my god I'm so tired all I want to do is sit at home,' I think of the men that dig the roads," she says.
"They're so hard working, they're always filthy and cold and they're always getting abuse from people in traffic jams - that would be one of my worst nightmares, or having to be in a confined space all day like a coal mine, or being on an oil rig, I'd find that a bit desolate and isolated."
With her TV work, happy marriage and young daughter, Holden is lucky her normal life is a good one.
"My real fantasy life would be spent on the sofa with a cup of tea watching TV all day. But that's not to be. But I live in Surrey and have just been backwards and forwards to the States - that's my fantasy life."
Amanda Holden's Fantasy Lives will be on ITV1 on Tuesday January 26 at 9pm.