A picture-perfect beach in Barbados and David Hasselhoff is doing what The Hoff does best: cavorting with a tiny-waisted, pneumatic blonde who can’t take her eyes off his perma-tanned chest.
Only, unlike the famous slow-motion scenes from the TV series that transfixed a generation back in the Nineties (who could forget the low-cut red swimming costumes that launched Pamela Anderson into global consciousness?), this time the iconic Baywatch star has the unmistakable air of a man in love.
‘Beauuuutiful,’ he coos, snapping picture after picture on his iPhone, which has been customised with a logo on the back reading: ‘The Man, The Myth, The Hoff’. ‘Baby, you’re so beautiful,’ he adds. ‘Don’t ever change.’
The subject of his adoration is Hayley Roberts, 36, a pocket-sized Welsh blonde whose ease in an itsy-bitsy string bikini will serve her well as the next Mrs Hasselhoff.
She giggles and waves, waggling the huge sparkler on her ring finger. ‘I want to wear it all the time,’ she says. ‘But David worries I’ll lose it so I need to get it resized.’ He is watching her like a hawk, lest his excitable young fiancée drops it in the sand.
She and David have been engaged for exactly a month today, following his proposal five years after they met while she was working as a £6-an-hour sales assistant in the Merthyr Tydfil branch of Debenhams.
Their relationship has come in for a fair share of criticism, not least because of the substantial age gap — at 63, David is 27 years Hayley’s senior.
Last week, unflattering photographs taken during their holiday in Barbados appeared to show her hoisting David up a ladder out of the sea as he struggled to climb it unaided.
But they insist the headlines couldn’t be further from the truth. ‘W*****s!’ says David of the paparazzi who took the pictures, proud of his very British turn of phrase. ‘I had sun lotion on my hands and the ladder was slippery.
‘I couldn’t get a grip on it, so she was helping me up. Simple as that.’
In truth, he looks remarkably young for his years, with line-free skin and a bronzed body that’s honed by dumbbells and protein powder (there’s a big tub of the stuff by his bed).
He wears long shorts, trainers and a tight black T-shirt, which he peels off as he pads around the couple’s palatial holiday villa.
Hayley, whose lilting accent rivals a character from the TV sitcom Gavin & Stacey, is watching her fiance with a smile.
‘David is an amazing person,’ she says. ‘He’s so protective and he always makes sure I’ve got everything I want. He has a good heart. I’m lucky to be with him.’
Remarks about their difference in age are upsetting, she says. ‘But I can understand why people say it. Maybe if I was on the other side, I would think the same — if I didn’t know David. But I love being with him and I am really happy.
‘I’ve got used to it. I accept what people say now. Age is totally a number. I’m living for the moment. I’d rather be happy now and deal with whatever happens in the future.’
When we first meet earlier that day, Hayley is fretting about something considerably more pressing.
David is getting his hair cut at the hotel barber and she’s panicking he’ll get too much lopped off. ‘I like his hair in a certain way,’ she says.
He’s most attractive, she thinks, when he’s coming out of the water Baywatch-style, topless in just a pair of shorts.
‘When he’s all wet, he looks even more handsome than normal,’ she says, giggling again.
‘I mean, he looks gorgeous when he dresses up for a night out, but when you can see his body, it’s really nice. Sometimes I think: ‘Oh, God, he’s too good-looking for me.’
At the peak of David’s career, starring in Knight Rider in the Eighties and Baywatch in the Nineties, Hayley was at primary school in the tiny Welsh town of Glynneath, Glamorgan, a world away from the Hollywood life she and David now lead.
She grew up in a terraced house, sharing a bedroom with her sisters, Melissa, 37, and Natasha, 35, while brother Christian, 40, slept next door.
Her parents, Steve, 63, a plasterer, and Lynne, 60, a housewife, didn’t have much money, but worked hard to give their children the best upbringing they could afford.
‘We shared clothes,’ Hayley explains. ‘I’m sure it was hard for my parents. My father would keep a list of the money we owed him and we’d have to pay back every penny. It wasn’t easy.
‘But I had the best upbringing anyone could wish for. I’m so glad I was brought up the way I was.
When I go to America and see how a lot of rich people just spend and spend, it makes me sad. Even now, I like to earn my own money so I can pay for dinner or buy David a present every now and then. I don’t like him paying for everything.’
Hayley left school at 16 and, like most of her friends, went to work in a factory. She spent seven years making cereal boxes, then worked in another factory — and, aged 28, ended up in the womenswear department of Debenhams.
‘The people were lovely but it was a boring time as it was the same job every day. It’s not a job I’d want to go back to.’
Thankfully, she doesn’t have to: Hayley gave up work a few months after meeting David and has never looked back.
The start of their romance could have come straight from the script of a Richard Curtis movie.
One night in early 2011, Hayley and her younger sister were at the bar of St David’s Hotel in Cardiff, having just been to see pop band JLS, when a crowd in the lobby downstairs caught their attention. Britain’s Got Talent had been filming in the city, and the stars were all staying at the hotel.
‘First we saw Ant and Dec, then Amanda Holden, and then David — who was a judge on the show — walking past. He glanced up and that’s the moment he says he thought: ‘She’s gorgeous,’ ‘ Hayley explains.
‘Loads of people were asking for photographs, so my sister and I thought, why not? When it was our turn, I asked David for a picture — and he said: ‘Yeah, but only if you give me your number.’
Hayley did, and later that night David returned to the bar to invite her out for dinner.
She accepted, but asked if her sister and brother-in-law could come, too — so the four went for a meal at a local Indian restaurant. They met up again the next night, and the night after that, before David had to travel to London for work.
‘He took me outside and said he wanted to see me again, but I wasn’t sure,’ she says.
Incredibly, given The Hoff once held the Guinness World Records title for being the most watched man on television, Hayley wasn’t immediately bowled over.
‘I wasn’t star-struck. I never watched Baywatch and I didn’t know much about him, but I knew he was quite a bit older than me. He was handsome but I didn’t feel a spark, so I said no.’
David bombarded Hayley with texts, and her sister — who kept playing the Baywatch theme tune and stuck posters of David in those iconic red shorts up around her house — persuaded her to give him a chance.
‘I texted him and said: ‘OK, if you want to meet up, we can.’
Their first date knocked her for six. David flew her to a luxury Swiss ski resort for four days — they stayed in separate rooms, of course, The Hoff prides himself on old-school chivalry — and, ensconced in a snow-capped hotel, she started falling for him.
‘We shared our first kiss and I felt really attracted to him. But I was overwhelmed by it all.’
Back in Glynneath, Hayley broke the news to her parents, who took it admirably well, considering David is the same age as her father.
When David first visited the family home six months later, he told Hayley how impressed he was — before she realised he mistakenly thought the whole terrace block belonged to them.
‘It was a bit spur-of-the-moment, so my parents weren’t expecting to meet him that day,’ she recalls.
‘Mum wasn’t feeling well and when I ran in to say David was outside, she said: ‘Oh no, I can’t meet him now, love. Don’t bring him in.’ When I did, she went and hid upstairs.
‘My father shook his hand and Mum eventually came down the stairs all guilty and said: ‘Hiya.’ She was fussing around trying to get all the best cups out and find some biscuits, but he told her not to worry.’
David has since forged a friendship with Hayley’s father, and helped him fulfil a lifelong dream by taking him in a helicopter for his 60th birthday.
Three years ago, he spent Christmas at the Roberts’ family home, and he’s even invited his future father-in-law to come on his stag do.
In the early days, David was just as eager for Hayley to meet his family, and for their second date he flew her to Los Angeles to introduce her to his daughters, Taylor-Ann, 26, and Hayley, 23, from his previous marriage.
The three get on well, but Hayley sees them more like sisters than step-children. ‘They’re more my age. I’m good friends with both girls; they’re very similar to their father.’
Since 2011, the lovebirds have spent barely a day apart. They’ve travelled the world together — Australia, China, Africa, Indonesia — and Hayley acts as David’s ‘sort-of assistant’, helping him learn his lines and accompanying him to meetings.
‘It’s not like I’m carefree, sunbathing every day,’ she insists. ‘That’s my little job.’
David got down on bended knee four times previously — on each occasion Hayley dismissed his pleas to ‘Marry me!’ as a joke — before buying a ring and properly popping the question on a picnic blanket in Malibu last month.
The proposal, although delivered in an undeniably romantic setting, was somewhat unconventional in the sense that it took place in front of a cameraman from Hello! magazine, whom David had invited to film the event, disguising his intentions from Hayley by telling her the snapper’s presence was just for an anniversary shoot.
‘He turned his back to me and suddenly produced this ring,’ Hayley explains. ‘Tears were streaming down his face. I cried non-stop for five minutes before saying yes. He’s such an old-fashioned romantic.
‘I couldn’t believe all these people were watching — but I’m glad we have pictures of that moment.’
They want to wait two or three years before the wedding — as Hayley says she wants to ‘enjoy being engaged for a while’ — but she has already picked her dress.
‘I’ve had it on my phone for a year’, she says. ‘It’s A-line, very traditional.’
She also wants the venue to be somewhere in Italy by the sea. ‘I picture it outdoors, with everyone sitting on pretty white chairs and us saying our vows under a little arch. When David and I get our photographs taken, they’ll all go into a field and be served Champagne — and then the reception will be in ruins or a castle.’
But don’t expect an all-Hollywood guest list: despite David’s Californian home adjoining that of music legend Stevie Wonder and reality stars the Kardashians, Hayley says they don’t spend all their time socialising with stars.
‘We have lots of ordinary, non-celebrity friends, too,’ she insists. ‘The guest list is still a work in progress, but we want to have people from all parts of our lives.’
Their little family isn’t going to get any bigger, either: Hayley says she simply ‘doesn’t feel maternal’ and wants no children of her own. ‘I haven’t got that urge,’ she says.
‘If I really wanted children, I know David would say yes — but I don’t. It’s a lifelong commitment. Although it would be nice to have a mini David… deep down I don’t want that. I don’t know if that’s selfish.’
She trails off and tears fill her eyes. ‘I have this gorgeous nephew I adore and that’s enough for me. Maybe, in the future, if I wish I’d had a kid, I could adopt. But just now I’m not ready.
‘I’d have to think of the baby all the time, and I wouldn’t have as much time for David.’
It’s clear she feels indebted to him, for whisking her away from her humdrum life in the Valleys to a fantasy world of jet-setting and red carpets. She relishes every day with a girlish enthusiasm that, from afar, might seem superficial, but up close is genuinely endearing.
Try as she might to fall in love with LA, however, Hayley’s heart remains in Wales. ‘I miss little things like my mum’s Sunday dinners, shopping in Marks & Spencer, potato waffles and Batchelors Super Noodles.
‘I get jealous when I see all my friends on a night out in Cardiff, or getting together in a pub to watch the rugby.’
So could this girl from the Valleys ever convince Mr Hollywood himself to move to Wales? ‘David loves the UK,’ she says, ‘but he can’t stand the weather. He needs sunshine to make him happy.’
She hopes, one day, they can have two houses — one in California and the other in the countryside outside Bath, where Hayley dreams of opening her own tea shop.
If the prospect of The Hoff serving tea in rural Somerset sounds a little too surreal, to Hayley it would be a dream come true. ‘He’s not the character you see on TV,’ she says.
‘I can deal with people saying mean things about me, but when people say stuff about him, I get so angry.
‘They don’t know him like I do. To me, he’s not The Hoff. He’s just David, my fiance.’
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-3601818/How-DOES-Welsh-shopgirl-marry-Hoff-Hayley-36-worried-Baywatch-star-handsome-63-s-old-dad.html#ixzz49J5b9FS6
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