Sarah Beeny was just 18 when she met Graham Swift and moved in with him two weeks later. And 30 years on they’re still going strong
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Sarah Beeny and her husband Graham Swift are a force to be reckoned with, having built a property and TV empire during their 30 years together.
But back when they first met as teenagers, things didn’t look quite so promising – at least as far as her parents were concerned.
Having ditched uni in the hope of becoming an actress, a 17-year-old Sarah took off travelling around the world after being rejected by drama school.
The experience, she said, made her feel ‘lonely and seasick’, and returning to the UK she flitted between odd jobs, selling vacuums door-to-door and setting up a sandwich business.
Aged just 18, she spent her weekends researching the property market, hoping she might be able to make some money. Then she met Graham through a rather unexpected route.
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Just a week earlier her brother Diccon and started seeing a girl called Caroline, and he suggested that Sarah might like to get to know Caroline’s brother.
Sarah was not down with the idea of dating her brother’s girlfriend’s brother, but once she clapped eyes on him, she quickly changed her mind.
Things moved at lightening speed, much to the horror of their families.
“We were really young — he was 18 and I was 19. We moved in two weeks later and we bought a flat together about three months later,” she told The Sun.
“I look at 18-year-olds now and think, ‘God, if they came home and said they were buying a flat together, I would be horrified’.
“I don’t blame them for feeling that, but it does make me take young people’s relationships more seriously than other people might.”
They went on to set up a property developing business with Diccon, before Sarah landed her breakthrough gig on Property Ladder in 2001.
She and Graham married in 2003 and went on to have children Billy, 15, Charlie 13, Rafferty, 11, and 10-year-old Laurie.
But despite having been together for more than 30 years, the couple refused to say they love each other, avoiding the phrase ‘I love you’ at all costs.
Sarah previously explained: “When we first met, when he was 18 and I was 19, we joked about people who meet and say the ‘love’ word after two-and-a-half seconds – when they’re only saying it because they want to s**g you.
“It became a standing joke and as a result, we can’t say it to each other.”
But, she added: “When he’s not looking though, I tell the kids I love him. And I’ve heard them ask him if he loves mummy. He’s looked at me and said through gritted teeth: ‘Yes, I love your mother very much’. It’s funny.
“I wouldn’t know what to say if he did tell me he loved me. I’m not that good at that sort of thing. Graham often says it’s a good thing he’s not romantic because I’m c**p at accepting it.”
Together, the couple and their family starred in Beeny’s Restoration Nightmare, which followed their quest to restore the Grade II listed Rise Hall in Yorkshire. Most recently, they filmed New Life in the Country about their attempts to leave London and build a carbon neutral home in Somerset.
And although Sarah fronts the shows, she says Graham is the real force.
“I do joke about divorce as it’s funny, but there’s no possibility I could’ve done anything I’ve done without Graham. I’m not the rock with him as the support – he’s the rock while I’m floundering around,” she previously said.
“We’re very much partners in business, and in life. He is my best friend and it’s fun being with somebody you get on with and know inside out.”
* Sarah Beeny’s Little House, Big Plans, airs tonight at 8pm on Channel 4