Star Q&A: Ian Botham

Liz Nicholls

Star Q&A

Ian Botham, cricket legend, member of the House of Lords, dad and grandad, 67, chats to us about sport & more.

Q. Hello there – should I call you Lord Botham? Ian…?

“You’re quite welcome to call me Ian, Beefy, whatever you want. The world calls me Beefy.”

Q. Who was your sporting hero growing up?

“Jack Nicklaus. I love golf, I love fishing – those are my main pastimes. I was lucky enough to meet Jack on more than one occasion and I caddied a round of golf where they opened a new golf course that Jackie had signed on the Welsh borders, and I caddied with Ian Woosnam and spent a lot of the evening in the locker room with the great man. I’ve always been a great fan of what he did for golf – he took it to a new level. He’s still right up there, and no one’s caught him yet. Perfect gentlemen, lovely man.”

Q. Did you enjoy school?

“School was a great vehicle to play sport. That’s pretty much all I did. From a very young age sport was ingrained, football as well. I got my obligatory exams at the end – you’d have to be a pretty big numpty not to get some of those right. But sport was the driving force all along. Mr Hibbert at Milford Junior School in Yeovil – that’s where my prowess in sport came to the front. Played football professionally, cricket, obviously, AFL in Australia, I love it. I spent about four to five months of the year in Australia – it’s part of life in Australia. I love rugby union, rugby league… there’s pretty much no sport I don’t like. Not quite sure about equestrian but we’ll move on, horses are a debate.

Q. Can you tells us a bit about your Sliding Doors moment in 1977 and how it led to your involvement with Bloodwise?

“I broke a bone in my foot playing against the Australians at Headingley in ’77. I went to see the club doctor who took me to the physio department through the children’s ward. I remember seeing children who were ill, whether tubes sticking out of them or legs raised in plaster. There were four lads round a table playing Monopoly and I asked the doc are these guys visitors? He said no they’re seriously ill; they’ve got leukaemia. I said what’s that?! I didn’t have a clue in 1977. And he said it’s cancer of the blood and there’s every chance these four won’t be around by the time you’ve finished your eight weeks of treatment for a broken bone. That’s how it started,; it grew into a family charity, my wife Kath & daughter Sarah kept it going.

We raised millions upon millions. We’re always doing golf days and whatever. I’ve heard numbers from 30 to 100 million. What drove us what when we first did the walk in 1985/6 there was a 20% chance of survival for children with the most common form of leukaemia. Before Covid it was announced that figure was 95%. So in a short period of time we’ve gone from 20 to 95 which is a miracle in many ways, and we built this lab outside Glasgow that’s expanded, and they’re the ones who should have the pats on the back because they work in the labs and come up with the remedies. At the end of the day I’ve paid for it – I had to have my spine redone, I had both of my hips removed and fully replaced, and seven months ago I had an open knee replacement… Bionic!”

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Our Q&A with star Adam Frost

Liz Nicholls

Star Q&A

Garden designer, TV presenter & dad Adam Frost, 53, chats to Liz Nicholls about favourite flowers, family & being propositioned ahead of his UK tour.

Q. Hello Adam! How are you?

“I’m all right thank you. Even though this is the worst time of the year; I can’t wait for it to warm up and get outside!”

Q. Please could you tells us about your grandparents’ allotment?

“It was Tidy Nan who had the allotment (I’ve got Tidy Nan & Scruffy Nan, who I talk about a lot). Tidy Nan & Grandad had the allotment just along the lane from their back gate and here was one of my first experiences of growing veggies, following my grandad along, dropping the potatoes in the holes. I had a bed with my name on it in black slate, which I’ve still got. I used to grow the marrows, cabbages. We’d go up there on Saturday and have breakfast. Grandad would have his tie and jacket on and off we’d go.

“Nan would come along later when she’d done her bits and pieces in the house. I didn’t realise it at the time but looking back it was amazing times because I had quite a complicated time growing up but grandparents or gardens were my safe places. I still use it as that; I use the growing veggies as my hobby, which sounds sad from a gardener, but it’s the bit I go to when I don’t want to think about designing or creating. We’d come back teatime and Nan would boil something half to death, because that’s what they did then, bless them. We’d do the Pools on the football results and have a wonderful time. That particular Nan was probably more of a maternal figure. The smell of tomatoes… all that early scent memory is driven from their garden, their greenhouse, their allotment and there’s not a time goes by when I don’t give them a thought. Strange, innit, how we connect to those things? That generation. We miss those times with grandparents.”

Q. The academy you helped found sounds great. Why is it important to inspire a younger generation of gardeners?

“I left home at 16 and was one of those kids who was told be a gardener, be a chef or join the Army. And I was lucky enough to get a placement with the parks department. But it was just at the time of privatisation so I was very lucky to get the end of this training system. When you look back through history, the amount of gardeners who went through these apprenticeships is mind-blowing. First of all I was doing bits & pieces for the RHS/ I’d do talks and go into the schools. The academy was born out of a conversation with a boss at Homebase really – a lad called Matt Compton on a rainy afternoon when I was generally moaning about the lack of opportunity for young people in horticulture.

“Matt and I set up this academy in our head and, bless him, he went and convinced the Homebase board that it was a really good idea. Then we developed this thing over four years and ended up taking on 80-odd students in a year. Sadly it’s gone now but it was probably one of the best things I’ve done, and it’s been nice bumping into people who went through that academy. Horticulture’s strange… I’ve heard people in education say gardening is for kids who mess about and I’ve even heard people say gardening is mainly for the ‘special needs’ kids said around the table… I went mental when I heard this! It’s an industry that covers everything – the arts, the sciences, everything in between. The opportunities are far better than they were 10 years ago. We’re getting more young people look at horticulture as something positive, a great career.”

Q. Do you get accosted while out and about, like a doctor? If so, what’s the weirdest gardening query anyone has ever thrown at you?

“I’m just a lad that’s done all right. The weirdest thing has been dealing with people knowing who you are and just… well, I’ve been more or less propositioned in supermarkets in a romantic way, which is rather bizarre for a 50-something bloke that’s married with four kids. It’s charming that I get recognised but that attention is weird! Some of the things that ladies have said to me, if I’d said to a lady, they’d cause quite a lot of bother but if you’re a bloke you have to laugh! To be fair Mrs Frost thinks it’s hilarious. People are lovely and the other side of that is I do feel semi-adopted by so many people which has been incredible. I just rocked up on telly and didn’t think anybody would take any notice let alone this… That’s one of the things with the tour – I didn’t think anyone would turn up! Then they did and then we even had to extend it. It’s humbling.”

Q. It’s great watching you on TV. How’s your mental health doing, and does gardening and the great outdoor help with this?

“My mental health is in decent shape thank you, even though the winters tend to be dark, gloomy and horrible and I’m better when I’m outside, as I said at the start of this chat. One of the things I’ve noticed from the tour is that a lot of people want to know why I’ve moved.

“Well, Mrs Frost was really poorly in lockdown and she ended up in hospital for about 12 weeks and number three child Amber Lily was about 15 at the time and was self harming and that turned into a full-blown eating disorder. Then about 18 months later I was locked in a room with Covid and sat in front of a doctor and psychiatrist who said ‘you’ve got burn-out and depression’, which was a surprise as I only thought I had Covid. I’ve done quite a lot of soul-searching, talking, sorting out over the last 18 months, so I probably understand a lot more about myself now. When that happened the garden we were in felt quite overwhelming and I was losing my contact with it. And then we simplified life and moved and it was like that connection was reborn. It’s been lovely and I hadn’t realised, Mrs Frost uses the garden quite a lot in the summer as a place to go and connect, slow down. I think the surprising thing was I’ve always used the garden to fix me and when I was poorly I didn’t want to go in the garden.

“I’ve just done a load of podcasts for Gardeners’ World magazine – eight conversations with different people and that was fascinating as well. You think you know it all then you talk to experts and realise you know a bit of it but you don’t quite understand the detail they do.”

Q. What’s your favourite flower, and why?

“Wow that’s like asking me who my favourite kid is. I’ve got a favourite child but it changes… Haha, my eldest is here with me, smiling at me! I sort of haven’t got a favourite but a couple I’m drawn to… Cercidiphyllum Japonicum, the candyfloss tree that makes me smile. I have little oddities like that. Some of the hardy geraniums remind me of my Nan. A lot of the plants I tend to be drawn to are memory-driven choices.”

“A lot of the plants I tend to be drawn to are memory-driven choices.”

Q. We’re celebrating weddings this month. What was the favourite aspect of yours? And what advice would you give for planning a wedding? And a happy marriage?

“As a bloke, as a fella, propose to your wife and if she says she wants to get married quickly let her organise it in eight weeks! That’s pretty much what happened with us. She went into manic wedding mode and organised it incredibly quickly, and I said ‘yes’ a lot. I enjoyed the musical element to the day – we walked in and out to music; all sorts including one particular song by David Gray, and we have a line from that inside our wedding rings.

“I think try to do something that’s going to be a surprise to your wife, your partner. If you’re not the main organiser, add a surprise. I found a beautiful limited-edition painting called Wedding Day of a lady in a slip holding a rose and I bought that to give to Mrs Frost. I was once told by a fella in his 90s that he decided early on that he could either be right or happy… and he went for happy. I would say, 20-plus years on, do romantic things! Do little things! I annoy my missus by writing in lipstick on her mirror if I’m away for a couple of days… Which she pretends she likes but she tells the kids ‘oh he’s knackered the end of my lipstick!’ Make sure you keep the romance going. Cook a meal, do something, find some time.”

Q. Do you still love Chelsea Flower Show as much as ever?

“Yeah I love it. I’ve done it that many years that I’ve probably got slightly addicted to it. I’m probably at the stage that I need to go back and do one rather than turn up and walk around other people’s and tell the nation about them! The whole process from design to build, the people there, they have put 20+ days on site – those big gardens they have put their heart and soul into them and then on that press day morning the place gets cleaned up and transformed, everybody from horticulture turns up and it’s a celebration of the start of the gardening years. On the Sunday, Monday there’s this slow buzz. I think from this year on we’re going to be seeing more abut the connection with nature, we’ve gone from formality, how to create habitats that balance with nature. Our gardens are becoming more precious by the month really. We’re going to see a looser, more relaxed notion of what is a garden, what is a landscape? These filter down into the gardening world. Mental health, physical health. References to these as well.”

Q. What’s the best bit of gardening kit/ gadget that you couldn’t do without?

“Two bits: I’ve privileged enough to have worked in Japan, probably about 10 or 15 years ago, and I have a pair of Japanese secateurs which I adore, and then also a lovely little Dutch planting trail which is the one bit of kit that I get asked about the most. Monty [Don] has a similar one. I get slightly anxious when I can’t put my hands on them.”

Q. If you could make one wish for the world, what would it be?

“Connectivity and that we all look after it a little bit better, stop taking it for granted. We get sucked into the details of the politics of this or that but we collectively all just have to do our little bit.”

To book your tickets to hear Adam talk at a theatre near you, please visit

Star Q&A: Zoe Lyons

Round & About

Star Q&A

Comedian Zoe Lyons shares her thoughts ahead of her Bald Ambition live comedy tour which visits Aldershot, Banbury, Farnham, Salisbury, Maidenhead & more

Q. How are you?
“Very well thanks. Life is a very pleasant mixture of work and fun so all is well in my world.”

Q. I read your funny quotes about a ‘midlife crisis’…
“Well I had an absolute cracker of a midlife crisis during the pandemic. I turned 50, hit the menopause and bought a sports car, among other things. It was a tricky time but because there was a backdrop of global chaos I managed to hide it quite well. But in this challenging time, there were also a lot of funny moments. And surely the best thing about being a comedian is we can turn personal difficulties into a new show! It’s cathartic to laugh in the face of adversities.”

Q. Who was your comedic inspiration growing up?
“It was always Billy Connolly as a kid. We’d get his videos at Christmas, watch as a family and howl laughing. I remember watching my mum, tears of laughter rolling down her cheeks.”

Q. Did you enjoy school?
“I was taught by nuns at my first school in Ireland. I’m afraid I wasn’t a big fan of school, I think largely because I didn’t like reading, especially aloud in class. I found it hard and I was always slightly embarrassed. We moved around quite a bit to and that made things difficult. I went to high school in Glasgow. There I found a love for geography and my teacher Mr Knowles made it so interesting and fun. I can’t look at a U-shaped valley even now without thinking…ahh glacial erosion. Funny what stays with you.”

Q. Loving your bold look… How are you coping with the alopecia?
“The alopecia was another symptom of my midlife blip. It was quite shocking to watch my hair all fall out over the course of the year. Pleased to say it has started to sprout back. I’m currently going through my dodgy growing-out phase… some patches, tufts and some longer bits. I need to get the tour done before it all grows back!”

Q. Who would be your dream dinner party guests?
“Grace Jones, Billy Connolly and David Sedaris… I think it will be a fun night and I know Grace will end up dancing on the table.”

Q. Do you have anything on your rider?
“I need to up my ‘diva’ game. I have such a basic rider; water and a mirror and I’ll be honest I don’t always use the mirror! I try and eat well on tour but sometimes a girl’s just got to have a burger on the road… and fries….and milkshake… and maybe another burger.”

Q. Who is your favourite author?
“George Orwell. When I finally started enjoying reading, Animal Farm changed everything for me.”

Q. What new year resolutions or perhaps cool things or goals do you have planned for this year..?
“I don’t do resolutions. But I do want to keep up my fitness. My goal is to run another sub-two hours half marathon and complete a 100k challenge in 17 hours. I want to carry on enjoying my work. And of course growing a luscious head of hair.”

To find tickets to Zoe’s show click here

Star Q&A: Craig Revel Horwood

Round & About

Star Q&A

Craig Revel Horwood, 57, is excited about bringing Strictly Ballroom The Musical back to the stage on a UK tour, which includes Reading’s Hexagon, 16th-21st January & Guildford’s G Live, 20th-30th December

Q. Hello Craig! Can you tell us about this show, which you’ve directed and co-choreographed?

“Audiences are in for a night of laughter and comedy, with an insight into the ballroom world. It’s a glimpse backstage, which is very different to the smiles when dancers are performing. Most people see this happy, smiley world of people dancing together but when they come off stage they maybe have family issues to deal with or issues with each other. Strictly Ballroom lifts the curtain on all that whilst also being really funny and having such a strong central love story, plus there’s lots of glitz and glamour and beautiful costumes. I am absolutely delighted to be directing the amazing Kevin Clifton and the sensational Maisie Smith, together with our super talented cast in Strictly Ballroom The Musical – I know that they’ll all be FAB-U-LOUS! Expect some sexy moves, sizzling costumes and a simply sensational evening!”

Q. You left Australia in 1988 to forge a career in the UK, and I’ve read that the film Strictly Ballroom was a pivotal moment for you?

“I hadn’t really been home since leaving and when I saw the movie it made me feel really homesick. I absolutely loved it and it’s become one of those go-to films that I watch every Christmas. It cheers me up. So when the opportunity came up to direct it I didn’t hesitate. I’m passionate about all kinds of dance and this show is the perfect vehicle for me to explore that.”

Q. The show features songs by Sia, David Foster and Eddie Perfect, I believe?

“You’re going to see huge dance numbers and fantastic duets, with tunes that people know and love, as well as new music written specifically for the show which is equally brilliant. It’s mixing the old and the new.”

Q. How have people’s perceptions of ballroom changed over the years?

“People perhaps didn’t understand the world of ballroom dancing when the film Strictly Ballroom came out. Since the advent of Strictly Come Dancing they get what it’s all about. They realise that it’s full of very strict rules that the dancers all have to adhere to but Scott wants to break those rules, just as Fran wants to break the rules of flamenco. When they come together they also end up falling in love. That’s what makes it such a compelling and uplifting show.”

Star Q&A: Hayley Mills

Liz Nicholls

Star Q&A

Oscar-winning actress Hayley Mills, 76, talks about life & loves ahead of starring in The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel at Woking’s New Victoria Theatre, 15th-19th November

Q. You’ve had such a varied career. What have been your highlights? “The first film I ever made was Tiger Bay with my father [John]; a masterclass in film acting. I didn’t go to drama school, which I probably should have done later, but I was lucky to work with some incredible actors, my father included. I’m also very proud of some of the plays and musicals over the years. I love a challenge because it frightens the life out of me.”

Q. Do you feel enough stories are being told about the older generation? “No. People think ‘old people are boring’. But I’m in my 70s and I don’t feel as if I am that age, and I realise that’s how other old people feel too. We don’t feel old at all. [Laughs] We just look it and that’s why we all avoid the mirror.”

Q. What attracted you to The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel? “I loved the script and there wasn’t a shadow of a doubt about wanting to do it. I love the play, the writing, the part and I’m mad about the director Lucy Bailey. It’s a wonderful play and Deborah Moggach is a great writer. Like most people, I had seen the film and there’s something about the story that just gets you. It’s very truthful. It’s a reminder that where there’s life there’s hope.”

There’s something about the story that just gets you. It’s very truthful. It’s a reminder that where there’s life there’s hope.

Q. Can you relate to Evelyn, the character you play? “Absolutely. She’s such a beautifully written character and I can relate to her age, plus the fact we all look back on our lives realising we’ve made mistakes. One of my least favourite songs is Frank Sinatra’s My Way. It’s so smug! Who can really say ‘Regrets, I have a few but then again too few to mention’? You’d have to be in your own very selfish bubble.”

Q. Dame Judi Dench played Evelyn in the film version. Is it daunting in her footsteps? “If I dwelled upon it then yes, but I don’t. I briefly thought about watching the film again but I decided ‘no’. She is such a wonderful actress and I couldn’t begin to play it the way she does. That’s what is so fascinating about this business: everyone brings their own experiences and understanding to a role. But Judi is a consummate actress. I could watch her all day, even reading the telephone directory.”

Q. Can you relate to the theme of starting over or have you had a pretty steady ride? “[Laughs] Come on! Life is not a steady ride for anybody. My goodness, there are peaks and valleys, ups and downs, feast and famine. You have to weather the storms.”

Q. Have you worked with any of your co-stars before? “I haven’t. I’ve known Rula [Lenska] for years from bumping into each other but I’ve never worked with her. I’ve seen Paul Nicholas’ work over the years but not worked with him either. It’s fun meeting people you’ve admired and getting to be in a show together.”

Q. What do you hope audiences take away from seeing the show? “I hope they’ll feel infused with optimism and hope about the future as well as the belief that life really is what you make it. There are so many things dragging us down in the world today. We’re going through dire straits but then when you look back over history you see what people went through in the First and Second World Wars, the Depression, what have you. The world has gone through some very tough times but I believe in the goodness of the human race.”

Get your tickets for The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel at Woking’s New Victoria Theatre

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Star Q&A: Tom Kerridge

Liz Nicholls

Star Q&A

Michelin-starred chef & dad Tom Kerridge, 49, chats to Liz about life, loves and his Full Time Meals campaign with Marcus Rashford.

Q. Hi Tom! As this month is our education supplement, I wonder, did you enjoy school? “I loved school but it wasn’t necessarily the right thing for me. I had fun hanging out with mates but the academic system of remembering things and then repeating them wasn’t right for me. I felt much more at home at culinary college, vocational learning. I’m a using my hands, getting things done kind of person. But our son Ace loves school; he’s six so he’s making friends and loving it every day.”

Q. Your charity campaign with Marcus Rashford is very admirable; what’s your mission? “The big thing I’ve been involved in with Marcus is trying to end childhood poverty, trying to make sure kids from disadvantaged backgrounds are given those equal opportunities irrespective of their financial background. It shouldn’t matter where you’re born or what your background – I’ve love people from families who are struggling not to know: don’t be duped into believing you’re part of a system – believe you can achieve anything for yourself. The Full Time Meals campaign that we’ve put together is about using pocket-friendly ingredients and it’s for beginners or people who can’t or haven’t spent lots of time cooking before. It’s about confidence, which means less time cooking.”

Q. What’s the most surprising thing that fatherhood has taught you? “How hard it is! Parental guilt is a massive thing. I never thought I’d feel caught between two worlds, professionally and personally, paying your bills then the guilt of not being at home. Finding that balance is very difficult. Everybody feels that – but as long as the kid’s all right you’re doing all right!”

Q. Did lockdown highlight your love for your community? “We’re very lucky to live in Marlow. It’s quite an affluent town but it’s also very loving and giving, a very supportive environment. But it does also have its share of people who are needy and vulnerable in society. We made 1,000 meals a week for people from all different backgrounds who you wouldn’t normally see. It was incredibly worthwhile.”

Q. How are your dogs getting on? “Really well thanks. We’ve now got a French bulldog rescue called Zee and a puppy Labrador called Diddler. Marlow woods and common are great places for dogs – it’s like dog heaven with rope swings on trees.”

Q. What’s the first meal you cooked that blew your mind? “Spaghetti bolognese is one of those first meals everybody else cooks. I still adore it, especially if it’s been made the day before to allow the flavours to mature. My wife & I constantly argue over whether to put carrots in; I’m in the ‘carrots in’ camp.”

Q. What would you choose as your last meal? “It’s gotta be something brilliantly British like fish and chips or maybe roast beef and Yorkshire pudding.”

Q. What kitchen gadget could you not live without? “It’s always the simplest things that are the best, like a great knife and a good wooden chopping board. Or one of those speed peelers that works really well.”

Q. You look so fit & well – do you have any guilty pleasures? “You’re very kind but I have a daily battle like everybody else. My world is full of food which makes it very very difficult, no matter where I am in different spaces. I feel guilty about eating all of it! I basically try to go to the gym four or five times a week if not more to offset my eating. I give myself specific long-term goals. It used to be swimming a mile or doing heavy deadlifts – I like something to work towards.”

* For more about Tom, his restaurants and the Full Time Meals campaign at

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Star Q&A: Ainsley Harriott

Liz Nicholls

Star Q&A

We chat to chef, TV presenter & dad Ainsley Harriott MBE, 65, about love, laughs & living well.

Q. Hello Ainsley! You’ve been cheering the nation up for decades. Do you work hard to take good care of your mental health or are you blessed with being a naturally positive person? “I think people who know me would say that I’m lucky enough to be naturally positive and I genuinely like to have a good laugh whenever possible. I shrug off disappointments fairly easily – it comes from years of following Arsenal…”

Q. What’s the first meal that blew your mind? “I remember my dad regularly taking us all to a Chinese restaurant in Soho when I was a kid. It was a much rarer experience in those days and I loved those meals.”

Q. You’ve had so much success as a writer. Whose books do you love? “Maya Angelou’s I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings has always been an important book to me. As for cookbooks, I’ve always enjoyed anything by Ken Hom.”

Q. We’ve been loving watching your travels on your shows. If you had to pick anywhere in the world, where is your ‘happy place’? “Well, I just returned from a fabulous break at the Coral Reef in Barbados. It’s where I go to really relax, so I guess you could definitely call it my happy place.”

Q. Is there anything you don’t eat? Either because it gives you the ick or you steer clear of? “I’ve no idea why, but the only thing that disagrees with me is cucumber.”

Q. What kitchen gadget could you not do without? “I wouldn’t like to be without my late mum’s dutchie pot.”

Q. What’s your favourite piece of music? And what’s your first memory of music? “Picking one piece of music is impossible, of course, because it completely depends on your mood. I love a bit of Nina Simone – but then again, I often have Classic FM playing throughout the day. My earliest memory of music would be sitting under the piano while my dad, who toured the world as a professional musician, was playing.”

Q. What piece of advice to give to any parent trying to make ends meet in terms of feeding the family? “Plan and stick to a menu for the week. It helps to avoid waste and ought to reduce overbuying.”

Q. Finally, if you could make one wish for the world, what would it be? “The same as everyone else: an end to all the constant conflict and all the human misery that goes along with it.”

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Star Q&A: Lesley Joseph

Liz Nicholls

Star Q&A

Lesley Joseph chats to us about meeting the Pope, Birds Of A Feather, her pal Maureen Lipman and the joy of starring in Sister Act at the Apollo until 28th August

Q. Hello Lesley. Is this show as much fun as it looks? “Oh my God yes! It’s such a feelgood show. The audience have been on their feet going beserk; it’s hard not to get emotional. Everyone on stage is so glad to be there, after the two years we’ve had, and who doesn’t enjoy singing, rapping nuns!? Alan Menken, who has written the songs, is a genius and Sister Act is a story everyone knows, thanks to the film.”

Q. You have so much energy: what’s your secret? “Well my mother died just shy of 104 – she still did yoga and tennis in her nineties – so I hope I’ve got her genes. I walk everywhere. I keep my brain active. And I love what I do – it’s a privilege to be in a show like this.”

Q. Did you expect Birds Of A Feather to be such a hit? “No I didn’t have a clue. It’s a great show and was one of the first, along with The Liver Birds, to celebrate women of a certain age. My father, when we filmed the first one in front of a live audience, asked the writers, ‘do you think this will go anywhere?’, and they said ‘we’ll still be here in ten years’. Well, we kept going 33 years, with a break in the middle, and it’s still well loved, because it was so well written.”

Q. Do people expect you to be Dorien? “In the early days they expected me Dorien-esque, all in leopard print. But we’re so different. I was always very careful to make sure Dorien wasn’t a silly caricature. And I’m nothing like her – if you could see me now in my training clothes, no make-up, hair awry, you’d believe me!”

Q. What was it like meeting the Pope? “Yes, for Pilgrimage [on the BBC] we walked from the Swiss Alps to Rome, and had an audience with the Pope, unexpectedly. I said ‘I’m Lesley Joseph, I’m 72, I’m an actress, and I’ve just walked 100 miles and feel rejuvenated’. He burst out laughing and said ‘you don’t look 72’. We hugged and I came out with ‘oh bless you!’ Haha! One of the highlights of my career.”

Q. Do you enjoy watching your pal Maureen Lipman in Coronation Street? “She’s brilliant in everything she does but no, I don’t watch much television. I am staying with her at the moment, up here in Manchester. We go back 50 years, were at drama school together. So we’re these two ancient flatmates together again!”

Q. Do you have a favourite author? “I love Hilary Mantel; I can read her books again and again. I love reading about Thomas Cromwell.”

Q. If you could make one wish for the world, what would it be? “Peace. I just wish people could live in harmony, believe in what they want, without greed, envy or corruption.”

Book your tickets for Sister Act, which also stars Beverley Knight & Jennifer Saunders, at London’s Eventim Apollo at

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Star Q&A: Kim Wilde

Liz Nicholls

Star Q&A

Kim Wilde chats to Liz Nicholls about performing at Heritage Live, alongside Boy George, Lulu, Gabrielle & more, including Ardingly on Saturday, 16th July and Englefield House on Saturday, 23rd July.

Q. Hello Kim – where are you chatting from right now? “From home. I’ve got a beautiful garden – it should be after the inordinate time I’ve spent on it! Everything that could be out is out looking amazing. Because of my experience and because of my love of flowers I’ve got lots more flowers to look forward to later in the summer. I don’t have a favourite flower but I have a real soft spot for roses – we called our daughter Rose.”

Q. We’re looking forward to seeing you at Heritage Live. How does it feel to be out on tour again? “Great! I think top of the list of things people really missed over the pandemic was live music; getting together with a crowd of like-minded souls and singing their heart out. Music has a great way of bringing people together in a beautiful way. It does a much better job than most other things in achieving that. I’ve already been doing quite a few gigs and the atmosphere has been noticeably ecstatic. Not just because they’re coming to see me – haha – but we’re all so excited to be back together. These are great days to be a live musician.”

Q. Your dad Marty is on tour right now – do you still enjoy going on stage with him? “Yes! I’ve been hitching a lift in the back of his car, jumping on stage for a few numbers, I just love it! I’ll continue to do that if I’m not working. It’s fantastic being on stage with my dad – his voice is still amazing and his ability to perform is astonishing for his years [83]. I think keeping going, doing what you love keeps you young. He’s no gym bunny, my dad, but he does a lot of golf, a lot of walking, always has done. He doesn’t smoke any more, and he drinks very moderately. I think it’s in the genes.”

Q. Yes – your whole family, including your children, all have musical genes? “It has definitely descended through the generations. Not just in my family but my brother’s family and sister’s family, so it seems to be in the blood.”

Q. Do you have a rider? “I do but I’m very easy to look after before a gig. I don’t really eat much – maybe a few sweeties but I don’t ask anyone to take out different colours for me and I don’t drink alcohol.”

Q. Is it nice to hang out with your old mate Boy George, who is also starring? “It’s great. We’ve done a lot of things together over the years – all kinds of TV and concerts and benefits – we have a real shared history. We recorded a song together which went on my greatest hits album called Shine On. So yeah I can’t wait to see him again. He’s a wonderful person to be around.”

Q. What is it about 1980s music that is so popular – even with younger people now? “It’s very eclectic, you know? Everything was in the 1980s – it wasn’t just sharp haircuts, shoulder pads and synthesisers – there was a lot of prog rock, rock soul, disco, R&B. All kinds of different grooves all happening in parallel. There was something for everybody and it all came under that beautiful umbrella that we call pop.”

Q. What new artists do you like? “I’m listening a lot to Lizzo, really enjoying what she does and how she’s doing it. Thomas Paul, too; I did a bit of work with him over lockdown on his first album Black Country Disco which is awesome! I went to his album launch for Life In Plastic the other night at the Vauxhall Tavern which was fantastic.”

Q. What’s your first memory of music? “I was born in 1960 and the first memories I can trace back are ’67 & ’68 when I was seven and eight. The Beatles – listening to Penny Lane in the back of the car, while my dad was driving us up to Liverpool to see my nan. I remember Cilla Black Anyone Who Had A Heart and Richard Harris MacArthur Park and Gene Pitney 24 Hours from Tulsa. All these beautiful epic songs.”

Q. Thanks Kim we can’t wait to see you. “Thank you! And may I just say that anyone who misses these shows can come to my Pop Won’t Stop Greatest Hits Tour in September when I’ll be up and down the country. There’s a lot of sadness and there are terrible things in the world right now, but there’s a lot of beauty too, so don’t think it’s wrong to focus on that.”

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Star Q&A: Katherine Jenkins

Liz Nicholls

Star Q&A

Liz Nicholls chats to mezzo soprano Katherine Jenkins OBE ahead of her performance at Henley Festival, 6th-10th July.

Q. Hello Katherine! You’ve performed for popes, presidents and princes as well as that wonderful Jubilee performance for The Queen. Which of these, if any, has made you the most nervous? “I was nervous the very first time I performed for The Queen, at the Festival of Remembrance in Albert Hall, especially because you have the afternoon performance then The Queen comes for the evening performance which made me more and more more nervous! And as I’ve become more of a fan over the years I’ve actually become more nervous. You never get blasé about singing for her. Anyone backstage at these events who says ‘oh I’m not that bothered’ I just don’t believe them! The Queen always makes me want to do my best. Because of the admiration I have for her I think that it makes me want to pull out my best performance because that’s what she deserves.”

Q. You’ve met The Queen several times – how have you found her? “I’ve just always found her to be really warm and really good at knowing what to ask you, very interested in what you’re up to. When you see her at formal events but she’s quite witty and funny. I’m a real fan. I’ve grown up in a household who are real fans of hers. And I think as I get older the more I meet her the more I’m impressed by her and admire her – I think she’s an amazing woman. With the celebration at Windsor the whole audience were so thrilled to see her and be in her presence. It was incredibly emotional in terms of seeing that love for her. I remember once being at Buckingham Palace for an event to help musicians at Christmas, being in a line-up next to Brian May and she said oh yes you’re the one who keeps making all that noise on my roof! She’s very quick – she’s made some very funny comments over the years.”

Q. Are you looking forward to Henley Festival and are there any other acts you want to catch? “I listen to all kinds of music. I very much like Craig David [who stars on 7th July], I think Tom Jones is on on the Friday [8th July]. He’s a friend of mine. The thig is about Henley is I’ve been there as a performer and I’ve been there as an audience member. And it’s so much fun as an event that I don’t think I can allow myself to go prior to me performing, if I want to sing well on the Sunday. I want to be in good voice. I do go every year but this is my third time performing. I went last year for Sophie Ellis Bextor. I’ve seen Tom Odell. Whether you’re in the audience, or a performer, there just isn’t an event like it. It’s such a cool occasion, including the fact that the audience are better dressed than you are – it’s a very quintessential British event and I’m excited. I have friends who live in the area, I love the beautiful countryside around there.”

Q. You are an inspirational charity patron & ambassador – is helping others something that was instilled in you by your parents? “Definitely. One of my early memories at primary school was my mum fundraising for a minibus. She never sat still, whether it was for the school or church, there was always some kind of fundraising. I think when you see that at a young age you do inherit that. I’m so grateful that she did give us that sense of responsibility. If you have any kind of success in any field you should pay the good stuff forward. There’s a lot of different charities that are near to my heart but I try to choose ones I can make a difference in.”

Q. What’s your first memory of music? “My mum teaching me I’m a Little Teapot and standing there singing that for anyone who came into our house, putting on a show. When I think of my childhood, I feel like there’s a soundtrack, a lot of church music, male voice choirs, all those opportunities that come with growing up in south Wales. I look back and wonder: would I be in this position today if I hadn’t had that around me?”

Q. Are there any up-and-coming music stars you love? “I work with quite a lot of singers that are coming out of the Royal Academy of Music. Quite a lot of young singers have reached out to me for advice, about the business, how to get a job, and I’m so happy to help out. It’s a very small industry and. Mum and I didn’t believe it was going to happen for me because we didn’t know anyone in this industry, the entertainment sphere at all. So if I can help with connections and advice than I’m so happy to do that. But I can’t choose one to sing the praises of because that would be too hard!”

Q. What’s your favourite book? All the books I’m reading at the moment are parenting books. I have a daughter who’s nearly seven and I’m constantly reading to get ahead of the next stage.”

Q. If you could make one wish for the world what would it be? “Kindness – that’s the root of everything. That we can be kind to each other, to the planet – remember that we’re custodians of it, pass it on. Let’s be kind to ourselves and each other.”

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