WHEN she met legendary South Yorkshire comedian Bobby Knutt, athlete Donna Hartley was less than impressed.
“I didn’t like him,” the 400 metre Commonwealth Games champion once recalled. “I wasn’t very keen.”
Today the pair are toasting their silver wedding anniversary.
“Are we celebrating?” asks Bobby, entertainer, actor, raconteur and voice of Tetley Tea’s Gaffer, down the phone from his Elsecar home. “This is Bobby Knutt you’re speaking to, kid. Of course, we’re celebrating. We’ll be celebrating all year long. Parties, friends, a holiday somewhere nice and hot later in the year.”
And fair play to them too.
She might have been sceptical on their first meeting at a North Wales holiday camp, but for Bobby it was nothing less than love at first sight.
“She had the most beautifully shaped behind I’d ever clapped eyes on,” he recounted in last year’s autobiography, Eyup Again. So overcome was he, he asked her back to his chalet for a spag bol.
He overlooked the fact she declined and, after 18 months of chasing, proposed on an aeroplane to Tenerife - she said yes and overlooked the salmon pink suit he wore to the wedding.
“That was a grand suit,” says Bobby, 65, who grew up in Summerfield Street, Sheffield, now lives in Elsecar, Barnsley, and is perhaps most famous for his roles in Coronation Street and Emmerdale - although his legendary drinking and womanising earned him something of a reputation too in the 1980s.
The pair had both been married before and decided to keep the ceremony low key.
Or, at least, as low key as it could be when it was appearing on the front page of The Star.
“I’ve caught her because for the first time in her life she couldn’t run fast enough to get away,” Bobby told our man waiting outside Sheffield Register Office, before inviting him for canapes at the reception at Baldwins Omega, on Brincliffe Hill.
They had the ceremony blessed at Sheffield Cathedral and then honeymooned in Lanzarote.
“It was a great day,” says Bobby, who is 10 years Donna’s senior. “One of the happiest of my life, although they’re all pretty happy when Donna’s about.”
And their secret of a lasting and loving 25 years?
“To appreciate each other and laugh every day,” says Bobby.
“Yeah, I know it’s what everyone says but it’s true.
“There were a few people who thought it wouldn’t last but twenty-five years on and we’ve never had an argument yet.
“She’s the love of my life.
“I’m the luckiest man alive.”