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Wednesday, 24 May, 2000, 12:08 GMT 13:08 UK
The golden couple lose their shine
Liz Hurley and Hugh Grant, May 1994
That dress: The night which catapulted the couple to stardom
The gossip columnists loved them.

They always shied away from talk of marriage, and she was always upstaging him in public with her glamorous outfits.

Now Liz Hurley and Hugh Grant have split up after 13 years - six of those spent in the media spotlight - and their biggest fans are now speculating on what comes next for British film's golden couple.

Liz Hurley
In demand: Hurley in a 1999 photo session for Talk magazine

It isn't hard to see why they captured the imagination, with their good looks, easy charm and impeccable Home Counties credentials.

They are also respected within the film industry for keeping control of their own careers - despite their every move filling acres of newsprint.

Born in London in 1960, Oxford-educated Grant started out performing in a sketch group, The Jockeys of Norfolk.

Billed as Hughie Grant, he made his film debut aged 22 in Privileged with Imogen Stubbs, before heading into stage work.

The 1998 Bafta awards
Success: The couple dominated gossip columns for six years

At 27, he won the best actor prize at the 1987 Venice Film Festival for the Merchant-Ivory picture Maurice, sharing the honour with co-star James Wilby.

This was the year he met the 21-year-old Elizabeth Hurley, when he played Lord Byron in the critically-panned Rowing In The Wind.

She had only just made her screen debut in the film Aria, after working on stage and in TV roles.

Hurley was tipped for great things after her acclaimed lead role in the BBC mini-serial Christabel in 1988, but her only notable appearance since then was as a terrorist in the Wesley Snipes action movie Passenger 57 in 1992.

Success came first for Grant, as 1994's Four Weddings And A Funeral became a smash hit around the world.

Divine Brown
The Divine Brown episode could have destroyed the couple's relationship...

While the critics lapped up his acting, his girlfriend wowed crowds at the film's London première with a daring black Versace dress held together with giant safety pins.

She later said the dress was lent to her by the designer's company as a favour - she couldn't afford to buy her own.

This led to her becoming a model for the cosmetics house Estée Lauder, joining her partner in the celebrity limelight.

Hugh Grant
...but Hurley stood by her man

Behind the scenes, they founded their own production company, Simian Films - so named, reportedly, because they thought Grant looked like a monkey.

The following year, Grant nearly threw it all away on Hollywood Boulevard when he was caught in his car with prostitute Divine Brown.

He was fined $1,180, and, to rub it in, Brown also became an international celebrity for a time. Hurley said she felt like she had "been shot".

But the couple survived the humiliation - with Grant even being praised for his honesty, despite being heaped with ridicule, which only added to his dislike of press attention.

In spite of her partner's troubles, Hurley stood by her man and went from strength to strength. She produced 1996's Extreme Measures - starring Grant - and appeared in spy spoof Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery in 1997.

In 1999 the couple collaborated on Mickey Blue-Eyes, with Hurley producing and Grant starring and co-directing.

Hugh Grant
Notting Hill helped restore Hugh Grant's reputation

Grant's fortunes also picked up when he starred opposite Julia Roberts in Notting Hill, and he is now working on the film version of Bridget Jones' Diary with Renée Zellweger.

He can also be seen in US cinemas in Woody Allen's Small Time Crooks.

But their success appears to have driven them apart; while Grant was filming Bridget Jones in London, Hurley was in California making Bedazzled, her forthcoming picture with Brendan Fraser.

Now the couple have decided to call it a day, and press photographers have a new goal - to get the first shot of them with their new partners.

Even if they have fallen out of love with each other, the world media's infatuation with this quintessentially English duo is sure to go on for a long time yet.

Liz HurleyPhoto gallery
Hurley and Grant's life in the spotlight
See also:

24 May 00 | Entertainment
Liz and Hugh announce split
24 May 00 | Entertainment
In pictures: The photogenic couple
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