NO wonder Guy Ritchie is like the cat that got the cream. Just a couple of years ago he was a struggling film-maker trying to get his feature film debut off the ground.

Today he's one of Britain's most successful directors, his partner is superstar Madonna, and he's just become a father for the first time.

It was a relatively low budget gangster film Lock, Stock And Two Smoking Barrels that changed Ritchie's world overnight.

The 1998 movie took more than £11m at the British box office, caught the eye of Hollywood stars such as Tom Cruise and Brad Pitt and so impressed Madonna that she released the soundtrack on her own record label.

Now, of course, the pair are an item and have just celebrated the birth of their first child Rocco.

It's clear Ritchie, aged 31, is besotted with his new family.

He jokingly refers to Madonna as "The Missus" and even included one of her songs, Lucky Star, on the soundtrack of his new film Snatch.

And it wasn't just Madonna who wanted to be in on the act though. Some of the world's biggest stars were queuing up to get involved in Snatch, including Brad Pitt, who was so desperate for a role in the diamond heist drama that he called Ritchie personally to tell him he'd do it for virtually nothing.

Pitt plays a bare knuckle fighting Irish gypsy whose talents are put to good use when he becomes involved with a bunch of diamond thieves and East End gangsters.

The film, which also stars Vinnie Jones and EastEnders actor Mike Reid, looks set to match the success of Lock, Stock, but Ritchie admits he was worried he wouldn't be able to pull off another big hit.

"With Lock, Stock I had nothing to lose, you just give it your best shot," he explains. "But I didn't want to disappoint people with this one, including myself. So there was a bit of pressure, but I was happy with the end result."