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When we catch up with Samia and Sylvain Longchambon after OK!’s exclusive Christmas photoshoot, we quickly discover why they fell head over heels back in 2012.
Coronation Street actress Samia, 38, and former Dancing On Ice star Sylvain, 40, are as family oriented as each other, and tell OK! they love nothing more than spending time with Freya, 11 – Samia’s daughter with ex-partner Matthew Smith – and their son Yves, five. So it suits them both that they’ll be enjoying the holidays as a family of four, alongside their adorable dog Ralf.
“It was the same last year, so it probably won’t be that different,” admits Samia, who is best known for treading the Corrie cobbles as her unlucky-in-love character Maria Connor.
And while many who are part of a blended family face difficult challenges – particularly at Christmas time – Samia insists that everything is extremely amicable.
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“Matt, Freya’s dad, his partner Hayley and their two boys only live five minutes from us so they always come in and have a drink, or we’ll go there. It’s all really friendly,” explains Samia, as Frenchman Sylvain tenderly plays with her hair.
Another important person in Samia’s family is her mum Patsy. Unable to spend the festive celebrations together, Samia jokes that she’ll be providing “meals on wheels” on Christmas Day when she delivers turkey and all the trimmings to her mum’s door.
Here, the Longchambons, who tied the knot four years ago, tell us about their festive family plans. Samia is open about her struggle with anxiety, how Sylvain is her rock, how their marriage is the gift that keeps on giving, and why their hopes for the future include a potential vow renewal – but definitely no more babies…
Merry Christmas, Samia and Sylvain! How will you celebrate?
Sylvain: It’ll be the four of us.
Samia: Although I’m doing meals on wheels for my mum, as I’m going to deliver her Christmas dinner.
Even though she’ll be allowed in the house, she’s so paranoid about getting the virus. Sylvain’s actually put a gazebo up in the garden so that we can have friends round for a drink, so she might do that too.
Sylvain: I built a bar in the summer and we have garden furniture, a heater and some lights.
Is it nice to have a small family Christmas this year?
Samia: It was the same last year. We would usually go to France over the New Year to see Sylvain’s family, so
it will be strange not seeing them.
Sylvain: We’ll definitely have a drink over Zoom with them, though. But on Christmas Day, we’re always in England. Freya sees her dad half of the day, so we wouldn’t go to France.
Is it ever difficult being part of a blended family?
Samia: No, it’s dead good and we all get on really well, which is great. Matt, Freya’s dad, his partner Hayley and their two boys live five minutes from us, so they always come in and have a drink, or we’ll go there. It’s all really friendly. It’s so much easier to get on – luckily we all do.
Samia, you lost your dad Joseph in 2009. Do you do anything special to keep his memory alive at Christmas?
Samia: I always go to the cemetery. My dad was a massive fan of whisky, so on his birthday in June, we took a can of whisky and cola and poured it over the soil on his grave so he could have a drink. We’ll probably do that again and lay some nice flowers. And we always toast to him. He might be gone but he’ll never be forgotten.
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Do you incorporate any of Sylvain’s French traditions?
Samia: It’s very posh in France! We used to have a Vienetta when I was growing up – that’s as posh as it got. But at Sylvain’s, they have massive trays of oysters and other seafood.
Sylvain: We’re really not posh! Sam tried her first oyster in France a few years ago, so we could get some.
What other festive traditions do you have?
Sylvain: There will be Christmas movies on all day – Home Alone, Elf…
Samia: And we always have matching family PJs. I’ve bought them for the last few years, so we’ll be doing that again.
Sylvain: There might be a little karaoke, too…
Are you any good?
Sylvain: No, we’re both rubbish! But we like to think we’re good – everybody’s good after a few drinks.
Samia: He’ll be blasting out Bon Jovi. And we’ll have a kitchen disco. We had quite a lot of them in lockdown.
Are you romantic when it comes to buying gifts?
Sylvain: I always tell Sam not to buy anything crazy. I’d rather have something later when I need it, rather than just buying something because it’s Christmas.
Samia: I know, but I’ve still got you a couple of things to open. He’s had one Christmas present already. It was an inversion table so he could hang upside down in the garage and stretch his back.
And they say romance is dead…
Samia: [Laughs] I know! It looks really weird if you walk into the garage and Sylvian’s hung upside down like Dracula.
Will you watch Corrie together at Christmas?
Samia: We’ll have it on, but it depends on what’s going on with the kids. It’s not going to be the happiest Christmas Maria’s ever had. Her worst Christmas was probably when she got sent to prison… and this will come second.
Do you have any festive traditions with your castmates?
Samia: Anne Kirkbride [the late actress, who played Deirdre Barlow] used to bring in her own homemade mince pies for everyone. She gave me the recipe once, so I should make some this year.
The show recently celebrated its 60th anniversary. Is a big party on the cards?
Samia: They would have had a massive party with everyone, but it’s obviously been very different this year. I think they’ll probably do one next year.
Would you be up for doing a Corrie cameo, Sylvain?
Samia: He plays Gary all the time when I’m rehearsing my lines. A French Gary. He’s great! You never know, he could come into the show as Maria’s new love interest.
Sylvain: I’d like to!
Samia: She needs a good man.
Were you a fan of the show before you met Samia?
Sylvain: No, I’d never seen it.
Samia: They don’t get it in France.
Sylvain: I had to Google her when we were partnered on Dancing On Ice.
Speaking of Dancing On Ice. Are you sad to be missing the new series?
Sylvain: A couple of years ago, I had it put in my contract that I’d be based in Manchester. But they couldn’t do it any more because they wanted to sign all the pros at the end of August, and at that point they don’t have all the celebs to know where they’ll be based. That’s why I didn’t sign. Also, I’m a personal trainer too, and didn’t want to be away from my clients. But I’ve done The Full Monty On Ice this year!
Samia, are you happy to have him home?
Samia: Yeah, it’s always really manic as he’s up and down to London.
Sylvain: Because of Covid, there are also some pro couples who are married and can’t even live together. I didn’t want to
be away from Sam and the kids for so long. We might go on holiday instead – maybe skiing.
Who from the Corrie cast should be next on the ice?
Sylvain: Ali King [who plays Carla Connor] would be good.
Samia: She’d be brilliant and would look gorgeous in the costumes.
For many couples lockdown proved to be make or break. How did you find spending so much time together?
Sylvain: I don’t think it changed anything for us as we’re always together.
Samia: It wasn’t that big a deal for us. But we make sure we give each other space. Sylvain has his workouts and I do yoga.
Samia, you’ve spoken about your anxiety struggles. Has this year been tough?
Samia: In some ways lockdown eased it a lot, as I love being at home. I have good days and bad days, and sometimes I’ll take anxiety medication. Quite recently I spoke to my doctor and said, “I think I need some medication again.” It does really help.
Has Sylvain helped you?
Samia: He’s made me more sociable and calmed me. Whereas I always go to the worst case scenario, Sylvain deals with things in a more rational way.
Sylvain: Sam’s made me listen more – and be more careful with how I say things.
Samia: That’s just the language thing, though. My nickname for Sylvain is “golden balls” because I don’t think there’s much he needs to change.
It’s your five-year wedding anniversary next year. How will you celebrate?
Sylvain: Every year we Google what it means and buy the traditional gifts.
Samia: This year was silk so Sylvain got me silk pillowcases and a silk nightie.
Sylvain: The second year was cotton and we both bought bed covers.
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Would you renew your vows?
Sylvain: I think at 10 years.
Samia: Yes, not before that.
Are there any plans for more children?
[Sylvain shakes his head]
Samia: [Laughs] There’s your answer!
Sylvain: We’re good.
Samia: We’ve got our dog Ralfy, he’s our baby.
Would you do more TV work together?
Samia: It would be fun, it just depends on what the show was. We did a cooking segment on This Morning last year.
How about I’m A Celebrity?
Sylvain: I’d sign up tomorrow. I’m not really scared of anything.
Samia: I’m pretty much scared of everything! But I’d never say never. I said I wouldn’t do Dancing On Ice, but I’m obviously very pleased that I did.
Coronation Street airs over the Christmas period on ITV
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