LOVE ACTUALLY star Martine McCutcheon is grateful for the bad press she got when she appeared on the London stage.

The British actress was hounded by the British media during her stint as Eliza Doolittle in 2001 production My Fair Lady, after missing a number of performances due to illness.

But two years on, the 27-year-old is now being touted as "England's answer to Jennifer Lopez" after Hollywood bosses were impressed with her performance in the Richard Curtis movie.

And McCutcheon is glad of the negative press coverage, because it helped her shed her image as a former soap star.

She says, "All the nasty press that I had during the My Fair Lady run was the best thing that ever happened to me. The newspapers kept writing about me as 'Eliza Do Little', and they gradually forgot to mention me as Tiffany from Eastenders (British soap opera).

"Being distanced from that role paved the way for me to do Love Actually. It just goes to show that there's no such thing as bad press."

28/11/2003 09:07