Actress Melanie Hill's world was ripped apart when her marriage to hunky Sharpe star Sean Bean collapsed.

But now, for the first time, she has spoken about the emotional hell Sean put her through and has admitted: "I love him because he gave me my children and I always will love him."

Former Bread star Melanie was shattered last year when, after 15 years together, Sean's boozing and love of football finally got too much to take and they went their separate ways.

The couple, who have two daughters, nine-year-old Lorna and five-year- old Molly, are currently going through a painful divorce to end their six-year marriage.

And heart-throb Sean has now set up home with his stunning Sharpe co- star Abigail Cruttenden.

Yet despite what has happened over the last year, Melanie refuses to say a bad word about Sean.

Melanie, 34, is currently being comforted by film producer Jimmy Daly, who made Sean's football movie When Saturday Comes.

And until now, the red- haired actress has remained tight-lipped about her marital trauma.

But she opened her heart to the Daily Record when she spoke exclusively about the hell of having her life turned upside down.

SHE said: "We are going through a divorce and it's very painful.

"And the most important thing out of it all is the children - we don't want them hurt.

"That is why neither of us has talked to the Press, despite what you might have read.

"That sort of thing is upsetting - or it can be if you let it.

"We just want to get through this thing as privately and with as much dignity as we can."

The actress was calm and composed as she discussed the process that will lead to the end of her marriage.

There wasn't even the slightest hint of anger. She said: "I love Sean because he gave me my children and I will always love him.

"We had 15 years together. I deeply respect the man and I want him to be happy. He feels the same way about me and that is pretty much it."

Melanie also revealed that the couple's two daughters had been bearing up during very difficult times.

She added: "Sean is very good with the children, he adores them.

"And so far they seem to be handling all of this very well."

THE actress had admitted in happier times that her attraction to Sean had been instant.

He had been her dream since they first met when she went to London at 19 to audition for RADA.

They got together after Sean's first marriage collapsed and lived together for eight years until their first daughter was born.

Melanie said: "I always wanted to be married before I had children.

"But it's not a big regret to me. Lorna just came along.

"Whatever happens you just have to get on and deal with it the best way you can."

When she found herself in a nightmare with the marriage on the rocks, old friend Jimmy Daly, 38, was a shoulder to lean on.

Daly, who grew up in Sheffield with Sean, became friends with Melanie after working with her on When Saturday Comes and Brassed Off.

Melanie said: "Jimmy and I are seeing each other.

"We are just getting on with things and he's kind."

She was talking during a break in the filming of her latest TV series, Playing The Field, about a women's football team.

The buzz about this drama, which is still being filmed, is good and there's already talk that it might extend to a second series.

MELANIE, who won acclaim as a gangland boss in the TV series Finney, said: "We'll have to wait and see how it goes down with the viewers."

She has joined an impressive cast in the six part BBC1 drama, which is written by Band Of Gold creator Kay Mellor, and she's looking fit and well.

But she added: "I've had to do some training to get in shape.

"The hardest thing has been having to give up smoking."

Melanie decided the fags had to be stubbed out after being breathless during her first attempt to break into a run.

She added: "And now I haven't had a cigarette for five weeks."

It's ironic after playing second fiddle to football in her own private life, that Melanie's latest screen role has been set in the world of soccer.

As a Sheffield United fanatic - with a tattoo of the club's nickname The Blades on his shoulder - Sean often joked that football was his first love.

So has playing Rita Dolan, the veteran striker for the Castlefield Blues, given Melanie a better understanding of male passion for the sport?

She said: "I've always understood that.

"If you go and watch a good game of football, it's incredibly exciting - even if you don't support either team.

"And if you support the team it really is exhilarating.

"The feeling you get is just like cheering on Tim Henman at Wimbledon.

"I was beside myself - feeling desperate one minute and almost sick the next."

And Melanie enjoyed a laugh when she discovered that the blue and white colours of her TV team Castlefield Blues are the same as Sean's city arch rivals Sheffield Wednesday.

She added: "It was nothing to do with me."

But dressed in any colours, Melanie is shaping up to be a winner.
Source of this article : Scottish Daily Record & Sunday