Paula Hamilton

Paula Hamilton (born 23 January 1961) is an English model. She is best known for her appearance in the classic 1987 Mk II Volkswagen Golf TV advert Changes. In 2006, she returned to public recognition as a judge on Britain's Next Top Model, for two cycles.

Paula Hamilton
Born (1961-01-23) 23 January 1961 (age 59)[1]
Modelling information
Height5 ft 8 12 in (1.740 m)
Hair colourBrunette
Eye colourHazel

Early lifeEdit

Hamilton's father died before her birth,[1] and after her birth her mother moved to South Africa, where she was brought up by her mother and stepfather.[1]

The family moved to Hertfordshire when she was eight years old.[citation needed] Hamilton has five half-siblings.[1] Aged 11, she learned that her real father was not Ian Gunner Hamilton, but family friend John Johnson.[1]

Hamilton is dyslexic, and did not learn to read and write until she was 11.[citation needed] For several years she attended Burnham Secondary Modern School near Slough under the name Paula Sherrin. Hamilton attended the Licensed Victuallers' School, then in Slough, along with Nicholas and Simon Cowell, who both attended for one year.[1]


At the age of 17, after appearing in pornographic poses and after several rejections as a model,[1] she moved to Tokyo, Japan and worked for 18 months. She then established herself in Australia and Germany, before moving to Italy.[1]

Returning to the UK, she was discovered by photographer David Bailey, and as a result became the main model of the Queen's couturier Sir Hardy Amies. During a tough interview with top Italian photographer Fabrizio Ferrei, Hamilton was told her hair was too long for the job. She promptly cut her hair, got the job, and went on to learn the tricks of the trade at Ferrei's side.[1]

Hamilton reached the zenith of her modelling career at the age of 26, when she appeared in an iconic 1987 television advert for the Volkswagen Golf. Changes starred Hamilton, made up to resemble Diana, Princess of Wales.[1] She is seen leaving her husband, posting her wedding ring back through the letterbox, throwing her pearl necklace, throwing her brooch towards a cat and ditching her fur coat – but keeping the car keys. "If only everything in life was as reliable as a Volkswagen" ran the tagline. The advert began a new era in car advertising.[2]

In the early 1990s, Hamilton participated in a television programme Back to the Present hosted by Eamonn Holmes and Esther McVey, where celebrities are regressed to 'uncover' their past lives. Hamilton, whilst being regressed, revealed that in a former life, she had been a male servant named Ashley Brown who emigrated from London to Dublin.[3]

Paula also acted, appearing in feature films such as Mad Dogs and Englishmen (1995) and Monk Dawson (1998). In 1996, she featured in the music video accompanying the British boyband Take That's single "How Deep Is Your Love". The single reached number one on the UK singles chart. In the same year, she also published her autobiography, "Instructions Not Included".[1]

In 2000, after the death of her friend Paula Yates from a drugs overdose, she left the UK and emigrated to New Zealand's south island, and started studying business at Christchurch Polytechnic.[citation needed] Having checked herself into Christchurch-based alcohol treatment clinic The Deanery, she later ended up as a media celebrity after leading a campaign to close the clinic down after it revealed private details of her admission and treatment. After her second arrest and conviction for drink driving, she returned to the UK after five years.

In 2006, it was announced that Hamilton, at the age of 45, had been re-signed by the leading agency Models 1, who hoped to capitalise on the popularity of more mature models, led by Twiggy and her successful advertising campaign for Marks & Spencer.[4] Hamilton is now signed to London-based Mandpmodels.

Hamilton was a mentor and judge on the second and third series of Britain's Next Top Model on Living TV, presented by model Lisa Snowdon.[citation needed]

In May 2011, Hamilton starred in the second series of Channel 4's Celebrity Five Go To... in which the celebrities visited South Africa.[5]

On 3 January 2013, Hamilton was revealed as a contestant on Celebrity Big Brother 11, becoming the third celebrity to enter the house on the night, and sent straight to the basement. She was later the first celebrity to evicted from the Big Brother house on Day 7, losing to Heidi & Spencer and Frankie Dettori.

Personal lifeEdit

She went into rehab in her twenties having become addicted to cocaine, having been introduced to the drug by her agent.[1] She was clean of drugs for seven years before becoming an alcoholic.[1] She claims to have been sober since 2006, but was convicted of drunk driving again in November 2012 after crashing her car through her neighbour's conservatory in Farnham Common, Buckinghamshire.[6]

Hamilton married a cameraman in 1987 but the marriage did not last long.[1]

Hamilton received therapy in 2006, and was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. It was revealed in 2007 that Hamilton was in fact suffering from a combination of dyslexia, developmental coordination disorder and Asperger syndrome.[6]

In February 2013, Hamilton was found guilty of assaulting a police officer with a sunflower, and was fined £400.[7]


Year Title Role Notes
1987 Empire of the Sun British Prisoner #5
1995 Mad Dogs and Englishmen Charlie
1998 Monk Dawson Jenny Stanten
1998 Titanic Town Mrs. Brennan
2000 The Low Down Cashpoint Woman


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n Paula Hamilton (6 June 1996). Instructions Not Included. Michael Joseph. ISBN 071814077X.[self-published source?]
  2. ^ "Golf GTi Development - Part Six". Retrieved 2 October 2016.
  3. ^ "YouTube". Retrieved 2 October 2016.
  4. ^ Eden, Richard (15 January 2006). "20 years on from the VW advert, Paula Hamilton joins the ranks of the older models". The Daily Telegraph. London. Retrieved 22 May 2010.
  5. ^ "Celebrity Five Go To..." Retrieved 25 May 2011.
  6. ^ a b Hannah Furness (28 November 2012). "Former supermodel Paula Hamilton banned from driving after crashing into conservatory drunk". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 8 January 2013.
  7. ^ Model Paula Hamilton fined for sunflower police assault. BBC News, 15 February 2013.Retrieved 16 February 2013.

External linksEdit