Heart To Heart With Rich

Can you remember your first kiss?
Oh yes! Everyone was teasing me saying, "Have you ever kissed a girl before?" and I was like, "Yeah!" but I hadn't. I met this girl and started to go out with her and took her behind the Pavilion [shopping centre in Birmingham] and kissed her. Afterwards, I was like, "Oh yeah, wicked!" I couldn't stop thinking about it for days after.

Were you the school heartthrob?
I really don't have an ego at all, but I think I was pretty popular. I always used to think girls wouldn't like me but when I went into science lessons, I'd see, "I love Richard", written on tables and the teachers used to say to me, "There's a girl in the lower form saying she loves you." And when I played Romeo, in Romeo and Juliet about a year and a half ago, I came out to bow and there were all these younger girls in the front row screaming and clapping.

Who was your first proper girlfriend?
My first full-on love type thing was last year. I was 17 then, she was 19 and we went out for nine months. When I found out that she'd taken a bit of liking to me, I wasn't interested in the slightest. It came to New Year's Eve and my friend threw a party at his house and she was there. I had no interest in her whatsoever, until I walked into the garden and she sat there leaning against a wall. I looked at her and from that moment, I fell in love. I was like, "Why haven't I seen this before?"

Have you ever been in love?
Yeah, with my last girlfriend, I say I was in love, but when I talked to my dad about it he said he didn't think it was. It was just so intense and I got possessive of her.

So, how do you know when you're in love?
When you're thinking about that girl all the time, It's just a feeling across the chest. It's not just looking at someone and going, "Oh yeah, you're nice and I like you as a person." It's a feeling in your body - you've got to be with that person all of the time. You feel sort of sick and you can't sleep cos you're thinking, "I can't wait till tomorrow!"

Have you got a girlfriend at the moment?
No, I'm free, single and available - I'd just like to make that clear! I actually have trouble pulling! Although I'm confident when I go out, my mates say, "Why don't you just go up to her," but I can't do it. People think, "Ahh, he's just shy," but if they got to know me, I'm not. If I meet a girl and I think I like her, I won't rush into it especially in the career I'm in at the moment. But if you're going to fall in love with someone, you can't help it!

What kind of girls do you go for?
Usually blonde, although I'm attracted to girls with any hair colour. I like girls with high cheekbones, I love lips - on the top lips I prefer a very definite dip. I'm attracted to girls who are self-confident but not cocky. I like Michelle Pfeiffer, Cameron Diaz and Dannii Minogue. I used to fancy Angel in Home and Away, now I like Natalie Imbruglia (goes all dreamy). She's lovely, she's on our record label and she was at our showcase. I didn't speak to her though!

How romantic are you?
I'm very romantic. On Valentine's Day two years ago, my Mum suggested I take my girlfriend to this five star hotel in Birmingham. So I hired a taxi, we picked my girlfriend up from work and made up a story about how we had to go and pick someone else up at a hotel. When we got to the hotel I went to the boot and started to get our bags out and she said, "What are you doing?" I just walked straight up to reception with the bags and got the key to our room, when she realized she just started crying. It was so sweet.

Would you say you are a flirt?
Yeah, definitely. You just know if I'm flirting with you. All of the lads say I'm really obvious when I'm flirting. If I saw a girl in the supermarket then I'd probably go up to her and say, "Do you come here often?" just as a joke. When I'm chatting someone up I just check 'em out and look into their eyes - that sorta thing.