A former antiques whizz kid who had a sex change and became a woman yesterday launched a public bid to find herself a man.

Lauren Harries, who shot to fame in the 1980s as pre-teen antiques expert James Harries, underwent her sex swop operation two months ago, but has yet to find a partner and has hired a public relations agency to search for suitable men and help out with an image change.

Blonde Ms Harries, now 23, said: ''It's hard. I'm based in Cardiff and I need to be in Stringfellows living the high life.

''I need somebody in my life but I'm not having much success.

''I don't think men have the nerve for me yet though - most of them have a plan of how to approach a girl and they see me and think, how do I approach her.

''Some men talk to me for five minutes and then run a mile and it's not anything I've done.

''I'm a career girl but we all need a little bit of romance in our lives.''

Before her sex change, Ms Harries was known to millions as the outrageously precocious James Harries, who by the age of 10 was running his own antiques business in Cardiff.

With his upper-class accent and bow tie he was feted as a child genius and soon became a regular on the nation's television screens, including a memorable appearance on Wogan.

At 14 he published a book, Rags To Riches, which explained how to make money from jumble sales.

He waxed lyrical on all sorts of issues, including the state of the economy, and ''retired'' early from school.

The PRHQ public relations agency has agreed a success fee, thought to be around #5000.

Director Kizzi Nkwocha said: ''We have agreed a fee which will be payable if we have found Ms Harries a partner within three months.''

The search will be international - today Ms Harries will appeal to radio listeners in Spain.