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Exclusive! Former EastEnders star Kara Tointon reveals exciting engagement news ahead of baby's arrival

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With just weeks to go before the arrival of her first child, life could hardly be more magical for actress Kara Tointon. "It is an incredible time," the 35-year-old revealed to HELLO! in October 2018. "It is the biggest life-changing moment when you have this little human being coming into your life that you are yet to meet. I can't wait for motherhood and all the challenges it will bring." But impending first-time parenthood isn't the only cause for celebration for Kara and her partner Marius Jensen, as they exclusively confirmed that they are also engaged.

"For me it was always about meeting the person that you know is the one you want to share this experience with. Marius and I said: "If it happens, we are ready, but we won't plan,' and then it happened quite quickly," the actress explained. Like the Duchess of Sussex, she will become a mum in her mid-30s. "For me, this is the perfect age," she said. And 34-year-old Marius, a Norwegian-born chiropractor with a deep, calming voice, striking blue eyes and Scandinavian good looks, must surely be the perfect birth partner. "Who knows? I've never done it before. But I will do my very best," he said of his supporting role when their baby, due on 22 November, enters the world at London’s St Mary’s Hospital.

Newly-engaged Kara and Marius are expecting their first child in November

Of choosing the hospital’s natural birth centre, Kara shared: "We will start with no drugs and see what happens. There is no point in getting fixated on a set version of events. What will be will be. But it might be good if you have one of those squeezy [stress] balls." On her engagement finger is the beautiful vintage ruby-and-diamond Bavarian ring that Marius gave to her when he proposed in March. "“I had planned for a big proposal on the beach in India on holiday but I am not very good at keeping secrets. I'm someone who gives people their Christmas presents a week early… and so instead it just happened here at home, one Sunday morning, the week before we went away," he revealed.

Kara added: "We were having a lie-in and I had no idea he was planning to propose. It was so perfect as I am not someone who likes big moments, and it was just very Marius – He says it as he feels it. It was very lovely, very relaxed." As it turned out, the trip to Goa had a highlight of its own; there, just a week after the engagement, Kara found out she was pregnant. "I think it will always be a special place to go back to with the baby," said Marius.

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Among the first to hear the happy news were Kara’s parents and her sister, the actress Hannah Tointon, who is engaged to writer and Inbetweeners actor Joe Thomas. "Hannah is my best friend so she will be very hands-on, I hope. In fact we are relying on her for our first night off," Kara laughed. "Marius’s family has been wonderful too. His mum has given us so much. We went over to Norway with an empty case and came back with all the baby clothes we could ever need, a crib and a basket. So I am sorted, from Norway with love."

It is two years ago this month that Kara and Marius met, set up by mutual friends. "Our first date was at the Royal Academy of Arts, as we both love art and I thought I could impress her by reading up on the exhibition, Abstract Expressionism," recalled Marius. Impress he did, but even more so when he invited Kara to his annual festive dinner. "I was thinking it was just a small dinner party, but he said it was more than 50 people. He sets up a long table, it’s black tie, and he cooks sheep’s ribs, a Norwegian delicacy. I remember thinking: ‘This man is pretty amazing; this is my man,’" smiled Kara.

Meanwhile, Kara is an avid fan of Strictly Come Dancing, the show she won in 2010. "It was something I pushed myself to do and I was scared, but it felt good that I’d done it. I still love to watch. This is an interesting year, with lots of good contenders but I think it’s too early to call who will pick up the Glitterball."

It was post Strictly that Kara won her first West End role as Eliza Doolittle in Pygmalion opposite Rupert Everett in 2011, after first finding fame in EastEnders. She has since landed more TV and bigscreen roles, including opposite Dougray Scott in Last Passenger, and with Ray Winstone in the film version of The Sweeney. Most recently she has toured the UK in thriller Gaslight and starred in the Royal Shakespeare Company’s Twelfth Night. "Over the last ten years I’ve been lucky," said Kara. "I’ve been able to tick a lot of things off the list."

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As she focuses on the role of mum-to-be, Kara has been hit by "overwhelming tiredness and mood swings", she confessed. "I have been incredibly emotional over the last eight months; it has shocked me." Turning towards Marius, the star continued. "He has been incredible. He can almost spot it when I’m having an off day or an off moment – which happens maybe 22 times a day." She also credited Marius – and his Jensen Method of training – for helping her maintain her fitness during pregnancy. "I can teach people what they can do at home, how they don’t need gym equipment, they can get just as much effect with two [resistance] bands,” said Marius. "And once people see that it is working for them, it can change their whole approach."

kara tointon bump boyfriend© Photo: Getty Images

Kara is a convert: "“I remember Marius said: ‘We will just do 20 minutes,’ and I was amazed how it targeted areas quicker, so it was much more effective for me than an hour in the gym." Kara has relaxed more as her pregnancy has progressed but is no less busy. "I’ve painted the nursery about five times over, I am obsessed with Farrow & Ball colours." The couple have a name in mind for the new arrival – they know its sex – but are keeping it under wraps. "Marius came up with one name and I loved it so much that I haven’t drifted from it. But until you meet your child I don’t think you can be absolutely sure."

The same goes for where they will bring up their firstborn. "We are very easy-going, a bit unorganised and go with the flow with most things, so we will probably stay in London – which we love – then we may tiptoe slowly out," revealed Kara, who grew up in Basildon, Essex. They may even “tiptoe” as far as Norway, where Marius grew up in Oslo. "I skied to school in winter and cycled in summer. I would like our child to have that freedom," he said.

As they look forward to meeting their baby, Kara admits to feeling "apprehensive about what we are embarking on, but I am looking forward to this new chapter". "My mum - my rock and mentor in everything – always says when you have kids you stop worrying about the little things. You are no longer so self-obsessed and you start to care for this little human being in a way that you can’t really explain until it happens. So I’m up for the challenge. I'm sure we’re both going to mess up along the way, but together we will try to be the best parents we can be."

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