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David Essex shocks fans with appearance on Countryfile

Gemma Strong

Fans of Countryfile were in for a treat this week. Singer David Essex made a surprise appearance on the show to present a feature titled 'My Countryside' – and he caused quite a stir amongst viewers. After some time out of the spotlight, David, 69, was seen on screen reminiscing about his childhood summers on the East Sussex/Kent border, but it was his youthful appearance that really got people talking. "David Essex still as interesting and gorgeous as ever #countryfile," one tweeted, while another remarked: "David Essex on #Countryfile, what's not to love? He's still got that certain something."

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In the 1970s, posters of David, with his tousled black hair and sparkling blue eyes, adorned millions of bedroom walls. He has since attained 19 Top 40 singles in the UK and 16 Top 40 albums in his career – but by his own admission, he has mixed feelings about his time as a pop idol. "To be honest, I was never truly in touch with that person, even at the time it was happening. I found it a bit bewildering," he admitted in an interview with the Telegraph last year.

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It's not just in the world of pop that David carved a name for himself. He has also had an extensive career in musical theatre and as an actor – in January 2011, he joined the cast of EastEnders as Eddie Moon, appearing in the BBC soap from June 2011 until October that same year – and is a talented writer, releasing his first novel, Faded Glory in November. His personal life has also been keeping him busy. In June 2015, he welcomed his fifth child.

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Son Sonny was born to David's third wife, actress Susan Hallam-Wright, who is 26 years his junior, and younger than his eldest daughter. David is also a dad to daughter Verity and son Danny from his first marriage to Maureen Neal, and identical twins Billy and Kit with ex-wife Carlotta Christy. "I missed so much of the other four when they were growing up because I was travelling all the time," he told the newspaper. "That's one of the reasons I've been trying my hand at writing fiction; it means I'm home-based."

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Asked about the challenges of being a father in his late 60s, David replied with a wry smile: "Yes, he wakes up at five each morning ready to start the day. Actually, we had a lie-in today: it was twenty-to-six. Overall, though, it's been magical. And I say that, hand on heart. He's a great little fellow, truly a real blessing. My wife was in her forties, so we didn't know if we'd be lucky. But our attitude was that, if it happens, it happens. And it did."

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