He fell in love with her watching Top Of The Pops with his parents. She fell in love with him when she saw him on the cover of Smash Hits magazine.

Then a certain George Michael introduced Shirlie Holliman to Martin Kemp and Wham!, their dreams came true.

Today, almost 40 years on, they prove that happily ever after really can happen.

This couple of Old Romantics, who helped make the soundtrack to the teenage years of millions of pop fans, are still madly, hopelessly in love.

Martin Kemp with the rest of the Spandau Ballet crew

That much is clear as they sit as close as they can to each other on our Zoom call from their Hertfordshire home. I feel a bit of a gooseberry as they gaze adoringly at each other as we speak.

Shirlie is now 58 and Martin, 59, but despite the passing of time, the kids, struggles and tragedies, both talk about the moment Cupid’s arrow struck as if they were still in the throes of new love.

In 1982, Martin was the bassist in Spandau Ballet, while Shirlie was a backing dancer in a new band, Wham!.

Martin says: “I remember being around my mum and dad’s, my back was up against the sofa because I was sitting on the floor, watching Thursday night Top Of The Pops and Wham! came on.

Shirlie with Wham! in 1985

“I saw Shirlie on there and absolutely fell in love through the television. You know, you fall into that bubble where you can’t think of anything else. And that’s how it was for me for a couple of weeks until we finally met.”

Touching his hand, Shirlie tells Martin: “I saw you in a magazine. I just got that feeling, I think I’ve fallen in love. That’s how my crush started. After that you starred in my dreams for a long time.”

Knowing how infatuated Shirlie was with Martin, George Michael decided to arrange a meeting, and when the band turned up at a theatre premiere, called him over.

Martin ended up leaving her his number, but Shirlie, who had previously dated Wham! bandmate Andrew Ridgeley, could not pluck up the courage she needed to call him.

After two weeks, Martin was almost giving up hope.

Martin and Shirley Kemp wed in St Lucia in 1988

Shirlie, who grew up on a council estate in Bushey, near Watford, Herts, says: “I thought he might be out of my league. I left his number in my pocket for ages. George was like, ‘I just don’t understand why you’re not calling him’.

“I told him it was intimidating to call him. I mean, he was – he is – just so gorgeous. It was George who called Martin in the end. We were in his bedroom, and he picked up the phone, dialled the number and just gave me the phone. I was in at the deep end by then.”

Martin, who grew up in Islington, north London, says: “I really don’t thing Shirlie would have called me if he hadn’t done that. We owe him everything. And he went on to be a massive part of our lives. He wasn’t George Michael the superstar, he was one of our best mates.”

Martin and Shirley Kemp lark about for the cameras in the 1980s

Martin and Shirlie wed in St Lucia in 1988, and have just released a joint autobiography, It’s a Love Story, charting the highs and lows of their relationship.

In 1995, Martin was diagnosed with two brain tumours. The largest was removed in an operation which left him with dyslexia, memory loss and epilepsy.

For three years Martin, who had gone into acting after leaving Spandau, was unable to work. Unable to afford their mortgage, the couple had to downsize.

The second tumour, while much smaller, was deep in his brain.

And when, 18 months later, it began to grow at an alarming rate, doctors told him the only option was invasive surgery which could leave him blind and paralysed.

George Michael and Shirley Kemp in a previously unseen Christmas photo

Martin says: “They would have to pull the two halves of my brain apart to try to get to it. The damage would have been immense, I would probably have lost my sight, the use of my legs.

“I would have gone through with it, as the doctor had told me it was the only way. But Shirlie stood up and said, ‘I don’t think we want to do that’.

“She spent the next few months searching to try to find another way, and eventually found a new kind of treatment using lasers to blast tumours without the need for surgery.”

The procedure was a success, and Martin has “no doubt” that Shirlie saved his life. He says: “Shirlie refusing to accept what the doctor said saved me. It made our love even stronger.”

Martin and Shirley Kemp share two children together

Shirlie, who had a No2 hit with Heartache after forming Pepsi & Shirlie with Helen DeMacque, says: “But he saved my life too. I do think what my life would be without him.”

Martin got the part of Steve Owen in EastEnders in 1998, something he can also thank George Michael for. George had visited the set and suggested they take him on.

George, who was found dead at his home on Christmas Day in 2016, is sorely missed. Shirlie says: “My relationship wasn’t with George the superstar, it was very intimate. We’d love to sit together, just having a cup of tea and a chat.”

She and Martin admit suffering Empty Next Syndrome since their kids left home. Son Roman, 27, is a radio DJ, and came third on 2019’s I’m A Celebrity, and daughter Harley, 31, released her debut single this year.

Martin and Shirley with their dogs Popsey and Oscar
It’s a Love Story by Shirlie and Martin Kemp, Mirror Books, £20, is out now

Martin says: “We had a really difficult time. You don’t just lose them, you lose your friends, the noise, the hustle and bustle. But we’re of proud our kids. They are really nice people.”

Spandau Ballet, which sold 25 million albums and had 23 hit singles, split up in the early 1990s after a dispute over royalties.

Lead singer Tony Hadley, 60, recently said he would rather have joined their 1980s rivals Duran Duran.

Martin understands. He says: “My experience with Spandau was absolutely beautiful for 10 years, and then it fell apart. When I look at Duran Duran now I think they’re really cool, making great music, and they still look like a real bunch of friends, and that’s what I’m kind of jealous of.”

Martin with his soap wife Tamzin Outhwaite in 2002

He says writing the book with Shirlie was “like therapy” and says: “So now we want to do more things together, at least one a year.

“When we do have to be apart, we appreciate each other more when we’re together.

“That’s one of the reasons we have lasted so long. When you come home and realise you love each other more than ever, you know you were always meant to be together.”