EastEnders Ricky Champ shares newborns first picture and announces hippie name

EastEnders Ricky Champ shares newborns first picture and announces hippie name

Becoming parents of a second child isn’t without its challenges, but for EastEnders actor Ricky Champ and his wife Sammy, becoming a family of four seems to have been a seamless transition.

It was only five weeks ago their son River arrived via C-section, but already the couple have found their natural rhythm, balancing the demands of a newborn with making sure their four-year-old daughter, Beatrix, gets lots of attention too. And far from being the jealous big sister, Beatrix has doted on her new brother – even helping to change his nappies!

“We feel incredibly lucky,” says Ricky, who plays Stuart Highway in the BBC soap.

“We’re elated and tired like all new parents, but we’re doing everything together and there are some beautiful moments as well as challenging ones. It’s definitely a different dynamic and we are most aware of that for Beatrix because she’s had our undivided attention for nearly five years and all of a sudden she’s got to share it. But she’s been wonderful.”

River arrived two weeks earlier than planned at 4.50pm on 23 June, weighing 7lb 3oz. Sammy had been booked for a C-section at 39 weeks, following advice from her doctors , but two weeks before she was due to go in for the procedure, her waters broke at 3am – a stressful situation that was made worse when Beatrix was taken ill and they were forced to leave her with Ricky’s mum to head to the hospital.

But despite River’s early arrival, everything proved smooth-sailing and Sammy, who previously worked as a visual merchandiser for H&M, was soon back on her feet at home, as they enjoyed some quality time together before inviting friends and family over to meet their new arrival.

Here, in an exclusive shoot, Ricky, 42, and Sammy, 34, tell OK! about River’s unexpected arrival, how they are feeling more relaxed as second-time parents and why they won’t be rushing to have any more children…

Hi guys! Congratulations on the birth of River. How are you both getting on?

Ricky: We’re doing great, actually, even though we’re both tired. You’re on their schedule. They just feed when they want and sleep when they want. But we are so thrilled that he has been such a little star at this photoshoot. He hasn’t cried and he’s slept well for most of it. He’s really pulled the charm out!

Sammy, are you recovering well from your C-section?

Sammy: I’m feeling great this time around – apart from the tiredness. The birth and recovery were much more straightforward than with Beatrix. With her, I was induced and the whole experience was quite traumatic because I was in labour for 36 hours before I had an emergency C-section. With River, even though he was early, it was all very calm and exactly what I wanted. I can’t thank the doctors and midwives at Southend Hospital enough – they were all amazing.

Were you up and about pretty quickly once you got home, then?

Sammy: It was quite tough, especially trying to keep things normal for Beatrix because she wanted my attention too, so there was a lot of juggling. But Ricky did an amazing job of taking care of all of us – and the dog – for the first few days while I was in bed.

You went into labour two weeks early. How stressful was that?

Sammy: I didn’t believe it was actually happening for about an hour – I thought I had just wet myself! Ricky had filming the next day, which I knew was going to have to be rescheduled so I wanted to make sure before I woke him up at 3am. Luckily, I had my hospital bag all packed and anything else we hadn’t sorted out was easily done before River and I came home from the hospital.

Ricky: The only stressful bit was just before we left the house. Sammy wasn’t in pain when she woke me up and her waters were just a trickle, not a massive gush like you see in films. So we were told to come in in a couple of hours. We were ready to go at 5am and I’d planned to drop Bea off at my mum’s, but then Bea projectile vomited everywhere. I had to send Sammy in a cab to the hospital and wait for my mum to come round and look after Bea.

What was it like when you saw River for the first time?

Ricky: With Bea, after 37 hours, the relief was enormous and it was much more emotional. With River, it wasn’t like that, but there were definitely happy tears.

Sammy: We were both emotional. I think I was still in disbelief that he was here so soon, but as soon as I saw his face, I knew he’d come right when he was meant to.

Where did you find inspiration for River’s name?

Ricky: It was on our list, but River just felt right. We didn’t go through a book of baby names – we’ve always prided ourselves on our naming skills. I mean, we have two cats called Bruce Willis and Patricia Mayonnaise… that says it all really. We told Beatrix about the name River and she started calling him that to Sammy’s tummy when she was pregnant, so we were kind of locked in. But we love it – it’s cool and a bit hippie.

Sammy: We had a list of names we both liked, but River was always at the top. I love the Joni Mitchell song River so that was where the idea came from. And his middle name is Leo, which is Ricky’s mother’s maiden name.

Who does River look like?

Ricky: I actually think he looks a lot like Bea. He’s got that hint of red hair like Sammy and Bea, and a bit of the Champ chin.

Sammy: He looks so much like Bea, it’s all I can see when I look at him. I’m transported back in time to when she was born.

How is life as a family of four?

Sammy: It’s wonderful. It’s like he’s always been here.

Ricky: It definitely is a different dynamic and we’re most aware of that for Beatrix, because the biggest change is for her. She’s had our undivided attention for nearly five years and all of a sudden, she’s got to share it. But she’s been wonderful.

Have there been any jealousy issues?

Ricky: I think maybe there’s an awareness that she doesn’t have all of the attention now. But she’s been so involved, she’s even been changing nappies. There’s a mothering instinct that’s already there and she really embraces it.

Sammy: She’s been an amazing big sister, just as I knew she would be. She helps me with everything and always wants to give him kisses and hold him. If he cries, she’s the first one there to stroke his head and hold his hand.

Was she quite involved and curious during the pregnancy?

Ricky: Definitely. She would insist on saying goodnight to Sammy and goodnight to the baby bump every evening.

What was it like when she met him for the first time?

Ricky: It was overwhelming. There was so much anticipation and a four-year-old is naturally very impatient. We told Bea about him at 16 weeks and then she asked every day when he was going to be here. As soon as she met him, she said straightaway, “Can I have a cuddle?”

Did you know you were having a boy?

Ricky: Yes, we did. Sammy has always wanted to know straightaway – she worked in fashion before she had Bea and she has this real visual side and wanted to plan the nursery. We went for a scan at this place where they change the lights to pink or blue when they tell you the news. Beatrix was there and she loved it. And then, of course, we had the entire range of reactions – elated, ecstatic and then disappointed because she was worried he wouldn’t like the same toys as her.

What’s been the biggest challenge since River arrived?

Sammy: Definitely multitasking. You always have to be one step ahead to get out of the door on time with everyone dressed and fed.

Are there any differences between having a girl and having a boy?

Ricky: You have to have more of a deft touch when changing a nappy. The other day, I was changing River and I had to do a kind of limbo move as an arc of wee came at me. Thankfully, I managed to dodge it.

It sounds like you’re very hands-on, Ricky…

Ricky: I’m brilliant at it! I do the dry work, the wet work, the burp work. Sammy’s expressing, so that means we can divvy up the feeds and we can store it in the fridge, so we just have to heat it up. So that makes potentially more time for sleep.

Sammy: He’s an amazing dad. The first two days after the C-section, I stayed upstairs and in bed so I didn’t have to go up and down the stairs with my stitches and he took care of everything, bringing me all my meals in bed, changing River and looking after Beatrix, all on sleepless nights. He’s done a brilliant job.

Do you feel like you were more prepared for what was to come as this was your second child?

Sammy: I think so, yes. I’ve found going from one to two children much easier than zero to one because you’re already in parent mode 24/7 and it’s not so much of a shock. I’m a serial list-maker. I’ll make a list the night before, ordering the things I need to do the next day and tick things off as I go.

Ricky: We are definitely more relaxed as parents because we know what we’re doing.

Were you prepared for his arrival?

Ricky: Oh, God, yes. Sammy was on it. She was designing the nursery in her mind for ages and it was pristine. I got the nursery room replastered and then Sammy chose the colours and had the ceiling painted in a terracotta colour, with white walls, and we put in a wooden cot and a wooden Ercol chair from the 1970s, which we had reupholstered for feeding.

Sammy: Interior design is a passion of mine. I follow lots of accounts on Instagram for inspiration and always use Pinterest to create mood boards. I like calm spaces with lots of rattan, plants and neutral accents, so that’s what I tried to do with River’s room. We will be in there a lot feeding him, so I wanted it to be calming and peaceful.

How are you coping juggling your acting work and a newborn, Ricky?

Ricky: Mercifully, my schedule at EastEnders isn’t mega at the moment, so I’ve been able to have quite a bit of time at home, which means that Sammy and I have been able to share the workload.

Sammy: He had two days and an overnight a few weeks after River was born, which I was nervous about as it was my first time solo parenting, but it was fine.

Do you think there will be any challenges when you’re back on set more regularly, Ricky?

Ricky: To be honest, it’s all we’ve ever known. Beatrix was five-months-old when I started on EastEnders so we’ve done it from the off and it’s something we’re very used to. As an actor, when you’re busy, you’re very busy and when you’re not, you’re not. It’s very stop-start work. But when I’m at home, I’m ready to be at home and when I’m at work I give it my all.

Have you had lots of well wishes from your EastEnders co-stars?

Ricky: Yes, tons. We’ve had some lovely gifts as well – flowers and cards and a lovely gift bag full of baby clothes from the Dyers. And Roger [Griffiths], who plays Mitch, made us this metal letter ‘R’, which sits in River’s room now.

Finally, would you like to have more children?

Sammy: I think that’s it now. It does feel complete here in the Champ household – so complete that it’s almost overcrowded. At the moment, there are no plans to and I don’t see that changing in the future, but you never know.


  • EastEnders' Peggy Mitchell returns in flashback episode – played by Jaime Winstone
  • Louisa Lytton's wedding – two dresses, EastEnders guests and 'one hell of a party'

  • EastEnders' Jack Branning star Scott Maslen shows off impressive muscles amid heatwave

  • Bobby Brazier makes EastEnders debut as he's seen for first time at Kat and Phil's wedding

  • For the latest on all your favourite celebrities and EastEnders , sign up for OK!'s daily newsletter here.

Source: Read Full Article