Like many of us, Louisa Lytton is hoping 2021 is a whole lot better than last year. After having to postpone her wedding to fiancé Ben Bhanvra due to Covid restrictions, the EastEnders star is now hopeful that this year the pair will walk down the aisle.
But the actress admits that while it was “sad” and “stressful” to move their big day, the one thing the postponement did allow for was finding their dream home.
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And as they exclusively welcome OK! into their new four-bedroom house in north London, Louisa tells us how important it was to have this new chapter to focus on.
“It’s definitely taken our attention off the wedding,” says Louisa, who plays Ruby Allen in the BBC One soap. “We just feel really fortunate because obviously moving the wedding was really sad, but if we hadn’t done that we wouldn’t have found this house.”
As well as their new home, there is a new addition to the family. After previously telling OK! they wouldn’t push back having kids for the sake of getting married, Louisa and Ben have become parents to a rather cute fur baby – a cockapoo called Riley.
Joking that the pup has been good practice for when they do start a family, Ben, who works in digital marketing, laughs, “We already have a baby monitor and a stair gate so we won’t have to buy them when a baby arrives!”
Here, in a socially distanced shoot photographed in a Covid-secure manner following government guidelines, Louisa, 31, and Ben, 29, introduce us to Riley and show off their home for the very first time…
Your house is beautiful! When did the two of you move in?
Louisa: In September. We were looking at different areas for about a year, but we were due
to get married last year so the moment we knew we were moving the wedding we really started
What’s it been like moving from a one-bed flat to a house?
Louisa: Honestly, the first few mornings when I came downstairs I couldn’t believe I was in a house.
I found it quite overwhelming.
Ben: Louisa loves going to sit outside and have her coffee in the garden.
Louisa: I’ve never had a garden before as I’ve always lived in a flat. I’m an only child and growing up, me, my mum and my dad lived in a flat, and even when I lived with friends it was always in a flat.
Do you see this place as your forever home?
Louisa: Yes, we do at the moment. We love it here and that’s why we feel so lucky. It might not be – who knows what will happen in the future. But for now we feel really settled here.
Do you have a favourite room?
Ben: I love being in the kitchen. I love experimenting and making new things for us to try. I enjoy it when people come round and we can have drinks and put on a three-course meal. That’s something I’ve missed this year.
Louisa: We’ve got an open-plan kitchen and living area, which I love. Our flat was like a studio flat – we got so used to living in one space that now we’re here we just spend all our time in one space, too. I never go to the middle floor because I’m not used to having so much space!
Who picked out the furniture and interiors?
Louisa: Mainly me!
Ben: Louisa is the planner and I’m the doer. We’ve pretty much repainted the whole house.
Louisa: I really enjoy it and I’ve upcycled quite a few things. The base was there and we have nice flooring and a lovely kitchen but we’ve tweaked things to make it more our style. There’s still so much I would like to do but it’s just time and money. There is one thing I want – in EastEnders Ruby owns a nightclub called Ruby’s and it has this neon sign that I think would look really cool in the toilet. I keep saying, “Have you got a spare one?” It’s not happened so far but hopefully
I will get one!
It must have been nice to have your new home to focus on after the disappointment of postponing your wedding?
Louisa: Yes, it’s definitely taken our attention off the wedding. It was a nice way to end the year. Moving the wedding was really sad, but if we hadn’t done that we wouldn’t have found this house. It’s funny how it’s worked out for us. In a way it’s been a bit of a blessing in disguise.
Are you still hoping to get married this year?
Louisa: We’ve booked the wedding for July, we just don’t know if it will go ahead. We’ve said that if we can’t have the exact wedding we want, with all our guests, we’ll postpone it again. Otherwise, to me that’s not a wedding – it’s not the wedding I would want. It’s not worth it for us. Now we’ve bought a house we know we’re going to be together forever as the house is a huge commitment. We will get married but when everything is relaxed and people feel safe. I wouldn’t want people to feel on edge.
Has it been stressful not knowing if it will go ahead?
Louisa: Yes, it’s just the logistics of it. There’s only so many people’s questions you can answer without knowing if it’s definitely going ahead.
Ben: We’ll reassess things early next year. I’d be fine if we had to do a last minute dash to sort everything out.
Louisa: Part of me felt like scrapping everything and starting again. There were things we just said yes to or didn’t really think about. We were going to change loads because I was a bit superstitious, but then we would have lost our money! I actually wanted to get married within a year of getting engaged and Ben wanted to wait two years, so if we do get married this summer Ben will have ended up getting his way! We’re getting married in York as that’s where Ben is from, but a website said we were getting married in New York and that Ben was American!
Ben: People were saying, “You’re not American.” We had no idea what they were talking about!
Louisa: All our family and friends were texting us saying, “We’re not flying to New York! How much are the flights? Why didn’t you tell us?” We couldn’t stop laughing.
Are you sticking to the same wedding dress you picked out?
Louisa: Yes. My dad bought me my dress, so I would 100 per cent stick to it. It’s sentimental to me, so for that reason I couldn’t bring myself to say I wasn’t wearing it. I haven’t seen it in months and I’m quite detached from it, but I’m sure I’ll still absolutely love it.
What do you love most about one another?
Louisa: I just love the life we’ve got together and I love how easy life is with Ben.
Ben: I love that Louisa is a dog person now and I love that we’re on the same page about everything.
Louisa: The dog is number one in his whole life now. He even sleeps on the floor next to him. I’m out of the picture!
How did you convince Louisa to get a dog, Ben?
Louisa: I think he just went on and on about it [laughs].
Ben: Louisa loves going out on walks, so that was the selling point for the dog. I said we
will go out for loads of long walks and go for a roast and that was what seemed to
finally sway her!
Louisa: I always thought dogs were cute but I never understood having love for a dog. Ben grew up with dogs so it was sort of the inevitable. I just woke up one day and was like, “OK then.”
Ben: I’d already looked into breeders and researched it all.
Louisa: Now I think I’m more of a dog person than Ben. I’m like a proud mum! I miss Riley when I’m at work. He’s pulled our focus into something wonderful.
Has he made you broody?
Louisa: Well, I got him to give Ben some baby practice and it’s definitely done the trick! I’ve been broody for a while anyway.
Ben: And at least now we already have a baby monitor and a stair gate so we won’t have to buy them when a baby arrives.
Louisa: It’s a good introduction for what’s to come!
Will Riley be at your wedding?
Louisa: Ben wants him there but I’ve said no.
Ben: I think he’d make a very good ring bearer. We’ll see!
Louisa: I’ll probably end up going on our honeymoon by myself and Ben will stay home with the dog.
You guys previously told us you wouldn’t put off having kids for the sake of getting married. Is that still how you both feel?
Louisa: Yes, but it’s just a hard time because every day it changes. One minute you think the wedding is going to happen and then the next minute it isn’t. We’re just going to see how the next few months pan out and see what decision gets made and go from there.
Would you like a big family?
Louisa: Yes, if I could I would love to have a big family. I’m an only child and I did have a very happy childhood, but I would like to have more than one.
Ben: I’m the same. I have a brother and sister and it’s nice when siblings can entertain each other. I think the more family around the better.
Presumably married life will be nothing like Ruby and Martin’s on EastEnders?!
Louisa: Definitely not! She is vile at the moment. I saw an episode the other day and I thought, “Why would anyone want to be married to her?” But it’s so fun to play!
You revealed you received a lot of abuse for Ruby’s revenge plot last year and asked people to “be kind” on social media…
Louisa: I wasn’t sure whether or not to say something, but the reason I did was because
I feel like we’re living in such a sad time when young girls feel the need to be mean to each other. I just wanted to highlight it because social media is a scary place. I had a lot of people reach out to say it’s so bad with trolling. I think you need to show you won’t accept that sort of behaviour. It’s not me doing those things, it’s a character, and I am human and I do get hurt by comments.
We sadly lost Dame Barbara Windsor in December. What are some of your favourite memories of her?
Louisa: I remember when I was working on the show when I was a child, she said to me once, “You’re like a young me.” How nice is that? A lot of people say that I’m quite similar to her when she was younger. She was just the most, kind, loving, thoughtful person on the team there ever was. She is the heart of EastEnders. She was such an amazing personality and she really lifted everyone
up. It’s an absolute privilege to say I knew her and worked with her.
Was she someone you really looked up to?
Louisa: Yes, I think she was for anyone who stepped into that building. When you think
of EastEnders you think of Barbara Windsor. She was an icon.
What are your hopes for this year?
Ben: To have more than four people round for dinner! And to appreciate what we’ve got.
Louisa: Yes, to appreciate our time with people. I hope this whole Covid, lockdown situation is over and we can try to reach the other end as soon as possible. And hopefully we can get married. It’s been a long year and full of ups and downs!
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