309Write - How Amanda Abbington met Jonathan Goodwin: ‘I was on him like a rat up a drainpipe’
Actor Amanda Abbington and stunt performer Jonathan Goodwin first connected on Twitter in 2012. “We were both in relationships at the time, but we admired each other’s work and occasionally liked each other’s tweets,” says Amanda. Years later, when they were both single, their messages to each other became gradually more flirty. But it wasn’t until August 2021 that they discovered a deeper bond between them.
“I was living in Las Vegas at the time and we started talking about past relationships,” says Jonathan. They instantly felt connected by the challenges they had experienced in their personal lives and decided to swap numbers. “I was on him like a rat up a drainpipe. I had fancied him for a few years,” laughs Amanda.
The next day, they had a seven-hour phone call and admitted they were both smitten. “I had never considered moving back to the UK before that, and I actually changed my mind on that call,” says Jonathan. “I kind of knew that I’d found my person by the time we hung up.” Amanda remembers thinking he had “a great voice” and enjoyed the way he made her laugh. After the call, Amanda sent a series of voice notes. “She called me ‘darling one’ and then got all embarrassed and tried to backtrack. She was like Hugh Grant from Four Weddings and a Funeral,” says Jonathan. “I thought: ‘Holy fuck, Amanda Abbington likes me.’”
From then on, they spoke constantly online. “I was filming in Vienna and had a little downtime,” she says. “I was like a giddy schoolgirl, constantly messaging him while he was at work,” she says. At the end of August, Jonathan visited Vienna to meet Amanda in person for the first time. “By this time, I knew that I was going to ask her to marry me. I had been planning it already, even though we’d only been talking for a month,” he says.
When they saw each other they shared a “big cuddle”. “It felt like the most amazing, natural thing in the world,” says Amanda. Within 30 minutes of that hug, the couple were engaged. “I cut the shape of the ring box out of the middle of a book of Shakespeare’s sonnets, so it fitted inside. Underneath the box it said: ‘Will you marry me?’” He admits his romantic gesture may have been too complex, as it took Amanda a few minutes to realise what was going on. But, like Jonathan, she knew instantly that he was ‘the one’. After their 48-hour first date, saying goodbye at the airport was painful. “We realised we couldn’t be away from each other after that,” says Amanda.
Two weeks later, Jonathan flew to the UK to meet Amanda’s family and they enjoyed three nights together. He then travelled to Atlanta, where he was filming an extreme stunt. But before Amanda could visit him, disaster struck.
Jonathan was involved in a life-changing accident during a stunt rehearsal, which left him paralysed from the waist down. “On the morning of 14 October I noticed there was a phone call from him, which was weird as we always texted,” says Amanda. “It was a voicemail from his stunt coordinator telling me to call him as soon as possible.” She was told her fiance was “in really bad shape” and had been taken to intensive care. “I rang his sister, who told his parents. As a family, we tried to speak to Jonathan, but he was in critical condition and there was hardly any information for hours,” she says.
Before having spinal surgery, Jonathan was warned there was a significant chance he might not survive his extensive injuries, which included a severed spinal cord, broken spine, shattered legs, third-degree burns and other complications. “There was a lot of sharp broken bone on an artery which could have been severed,” he says. “I called Amanda to thank her for the time we had together, in case I didn’t see her again.” Fraught with anxiety, Amanda flew to Atlanta. Due to the severity of his injuries, Jonathan wanted to give his partner “an out”. “He told me we had a lot to talk about,” she says. “I said: ‘Unless it’s about the wedding, then no, we don’t.’ Breaking up never flashed through my mind. I just thanked God he was alive.”
In November, Jonathan was transferred by air to St Mary’s hospital in Paddington, west London, before going to a rehabilitation hospital for two months. “The NHS gave me the best care I had,” he says. As soon as he was discharged, Amanda had to travel to Budapest for work. “I decided to fly out and it’s where I learned to use my wheelchair,” says Jonathan. Despite the challenges, they were ecstatic to be together again. “I recognise what’s happened to me is traumatic and I’ve lost a lot,” says Jonathan. “At the same time, I still have the thing I wanted most in my life – Amanda.”
The couple now live together in Hertfordshire. “Our quality of life is so gorgeous,” says Amanda. Jonathan believes the accident would have been far more devastating without his partner by his side. “I’ve always been a very cynical person but since meeting Amanda I’ve shifted my opinion about the power of the universe. I just had this really powerful feeling that we were supposed to be together.”