Home People Personalities Darren & Anna… the love story

Darren & Anna… the love story

Darren Maule is a man of many talents. Whether he’s waking up KZN as the host of ECR’s award-winning breakfast show or being an MC, comedian or ambassador for major brands and NGOs, he is a renowned and much-loved personality. After a decade of being the ultimate ‘single dad’, everything changed when ‘Anna Banana’ walked into his life and KZN listened in awe as the two fell in love. We were recently granted a sneaky glimpse into the private lives of Darren, Anna Kelly and Darren’s daughter, affectionately known as ‘Mouse’.

Photo credit: Lara Baker

Arriving at Darren and Anna’s North Coast house, the breath-taking view of the ocean becomes a secondary thought as Anna, ever the gracious hostess, greets us with her effervescent smile. The moment you walk in, you can feel the transformation from a house to a home. Darren pauses the CNN channel to get up and say hello, and 12-year-old ‘Mouse’ and their three enthusiastic dogs come running down the stairs. Mouse goes to her dad and Anna individually to give them a big hug, before running off upstairs again with the loyal pooches right behind her. We’ve finally got them together so it’s the perfect time to get their thoughts on new love, demanding lives, and how they ended up as one of the most well-known couples in the province.

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Darren and Anna have a comfortable relationship and it feels as if they have been dating for years. Photo credit: Lara Baker

Questions for the couple:

What was the first thought you had when you met?

Darren: (chuckling) “She was sitting elegantly in the foyer at ECR. I went to my producer at the time and asked him to go have a look at the stunning woman who’d taken my breath away. He went to take a peek and came back saying I should definitely go out there and say something, but I didn’t, which I regretted. A few months later when the same scenario presented itself, I decided to go for it, but she was already in a meeting with one of the managers. I very subtly barged in and interrupted the meeting to ask some random, nonsensical question just so I could be in the same room as her and say hello. I thought that by my single act of defiance, barging into a meeting (which I had never done before or ever since), would be the bat-signal to tell her I was definitely interested in her. Well … it only took me three or four more years, but eventually we got there!

Anna: Our paths had crossed many times, but our first meaningful conversation was backstage at Toy Story at the Pavilion four years ago. It was the first time we had spoken one-on-one. I remember being surprised by how softly spoken he was, he was also very geeky and clearly shy! I did think he was so attractive in his attentiveness and sincerity and being 6ft 4 was rather yummy too!

Photo credit: Mark Whitlock

I was used to seeing people being really loud or acting like a fan club around him, so, after that meeting, I would make a swift exit whenever he came towards me at events or when I was at ECR. It was years later at a photoshoot at the Elangeni that he told me, “I hear you are leaving to live in England – we’ll have to do something about that!” Two days later in October 2019 we had our first date (with his daughter and her bestie) in tow.

What is your love language?
Darren: She gives me gifts in the form of handwritten notes, and they are always snuck in without me knowing. She has a note for everything. For example, I’ll be in the middle of a gig and I’ll look for something in my jacket pocket and find a note from her. They aren’t generic ones either, so it’s always specific to that moment. Don’t tell her, but I think there might even be some that I haven’t even found yet!

Anna: It’s as if his first thought every day is, “what am I going to do today to show Anna how much I love her?”. He’ll make sure that no matter what, when I put my head on the pillow at night, he has done everything he can to make sure that I know how loved and cared for I am. He loves to make me laugh and loves to see me smile.

If Darren/Anna was a drink, what would they be?
Darren: She would be a screwdriver cocktail with a twist. Sloe gin, with Southern Comfort, enjoyed leaning against the wall and enjoying the company you’re with. But, since I am a teetotaller, I will have to go with a really tall glass of cool water after a long day!

Anna: I think Darren would be a longed-for cup of really good strong coffee. One that is much-needed, great to wake up to – with a dash of Darren’s famous nut milk of course!

What was the last message that you sent to each other?
Darren: “Not long ‘til the weekend and some rest my love, I love you!”

Anna: A voice note saying “I am sending you this message for no other reason than to tell you I love you”!

Photo credit: Lara Baker

Questions for Darren:

What was the first gift that you gave Anna?
Our first date was at Suncoast Arcade, where Anna and I had a dance-off and I realised that she was not to be messed with! She took all her tickets and bought goodies for Mouse and her friend. I took mine and bought her a really kitsch ring, which I gave to her at the end of our date. She still has it in her jewellery box!

How does Mouse feel about ‘young love’ in the house?
She doesn’t like PDAs (public displays of affection) that’s for sure! She adores Anna and is the happiest person when it comes to spending time with us all together, but as soon as there is any form of PDA, she either becomes a ninja and disappears or she does the eye roll that you can feel from across with the room followed by a big sigh and stage whispering ‘guys, seriously’. She can see dad is happier and healthier and loves the real sense of ‘home’ we have created.

Questions for Anna:

What’s it like dating one of KZN’s most well-recognised celebrities?
When we are alone, I never consider him to be anything other than Darren, but when we are in public, I admire the way that he treats the people who come and talk to him or ask him for a photo, especially the kids. I know that every interaction is genuine and that he appreciates every single one of his fans.

Which of Darren’s talents do you love the most?
I love his voice! I’ve asked him to read me everything from a sonnet to articles in TIME to a shopping list. We had many early dates where we would sit for hours talking and I would get lost in those conversations – I still do!

What are some of the thoughtful things Darren has done?
I am a huge fan of the Obamas, and Darren knew that I was waiting on tenterhooks for the Barack Obama book to come out. The moment it went on sale he was one of the first in line to buy it for me and he even wrote a message to treasure on the inside! Also, In 2020, I was booked in for spine surgery, 15 days before we moved into our new home. Darren took care of me every step of the way with the challenges of COVID 19 while having major surgery, moving house, and helping me with my daily physio for two months.

It’s hard to imagine that Darren and Anna have only been dating for 18 months as they move around each other in the kitchen making coffee as if they have been doing this for years. Once they’re cuddled up to each other on the couch chatting away and their eyes shine with nothing but adoration, there’s no doubt that love lives here.

CREDITS

Photos: Lara Baker;www.imagesbylara.co.za, 0837714242, IG: lara_baker_photo, FB: Lara Baker Photography; Photographer’s assistant: Mouse; Darren’s wardrobe: Fashion Fusion SA; Image Consultant: Sparkle Image Consulting; Anna’s wardrobe: Lula Clothing; Hair: Gerald Wells Hair; Makeup & Beauty: DIY with products from Kryolan SA and tips from MUA Aldytha da Silva; Bling: Lauren Ginn Accessories; Nails: French Vanilla Health & Skincare

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