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17th August 2001: Dear Friends,

Sorry I’ve been a bit lax of late in writing my web site update,  but my schedule has been quite hectic and just as I’ve been about to reveal all, other things have conspired to not make it happen.

I finished filming “Songs Of Praise” a few weeks ago and next week I go to Broadcasting House to do a voice-over. Due to my “Pirates Of Penzance” schedule, I am not able to join the congregation in Cleethorpes for the usual church interior shots, so I’m providing a non-visual commentary instead. We had a fab time filming the show, as I know the area quite well from when I was a mere babe, it was really nice to revisit the old haunts and reminisce. The people there were just fab - really friendly and welcoming. We went to a great “do” at the community centre called “The Bags Ball”, which is exactly what you might think the name portrays. I suppose it’s an off shoot of the old “grab a granny” night. Of course, like any woman, I protested fiercely debating with the camera crew that no self-respecting female would even remotely consider herself a bag. We had a fab night, although I have to say the choice of music was dire. Who do DJ’s still play those dreadful CD’s with what I call music stabs, i.e. Just a few bars of, say, Ricky Martin, which you’re just getting into, only to suddenly find yourself dancing to a totally different rhythm. Drives me nuts ! And, most unusual for me, I was nearly tempted by a hot-dog stall. The smell was so mesmeric, I had to drag myself away. Why is it that at the end of a fab night, we indulge in what must be some of the worst food ever? The last time I succumbed all the tomato sauce dribbled down me sleeve and landed on me suede shoes. The stain still hasn’t come off.

My next venture was an appearance on a BBC Choice programme, a series of late night chat shows, fronted by different presenter. The one I guested on was presented by Ralf Little, better known as Anthony from “The Royle Family”. It was the usual stuff, plus a James Bond spoof sketch. I enjoyed it a lot. Having been in a show that has a cult following in it’s repeats now - Hi De Hi - I get treated terribly well  and with great courtesy by the young directors / producers of today. I so pleased I was in a show that people can still enjoy 20 years on. 

I also think it’s essential for established performers like myself to keep in  touch with the younger element, not only in terms of work but also socially etc. Actually it’s rather nice to be surrounded by 20-somethings, especially if they’re not ugly !

Another show I particularly enjoyed was “Gimme Gimme Gimme”. I was asked 18 months ago by it’s writer Jonathan Harvey if I would be in an episode and I immediately said yes.  In fact I almost yelled, well, he’s so good. The trouble is when writers have to produce a whole series of scripts, it can take some while, and that’s why I didn’t get my episode until June of this year. And even then the end product was nothing like the original script I was sent. You see I was brought up, professionally, in the halcyon days of sit-com with the masters of mirth, Jimmy Perry and David Croft. Each word they wrote was practically  sacred - you almost had to have a change in the constitution to alter one word. These days our sit-coms are going the way of American ones i.e. Scripts are re-written almost on a daily basis,  albeit to get the best end result possible and I’m all for that. The only drawback is, of course, you don’t get the luxury of learning your lines as early as you would like. But no matter - it was a great experience and one I wouldn’t have missed. Two friends of mine, Rob and Howard, who are great fans of “Gimme” attended the recording and deemed it excellent, so you’ll have to tune in. Hopefully, you won’t be disappointed. Kathy and James are excellent people and Jonathan Harvey is a top bloke. I got sent a superb bouquet of flowers which probably cost more than my fee and which, as I write, will have to be consigned to the bin as they’re starting to smell.

“Pirates” is in full swing. Today I have a day off,  as they’re rehearsing a production number I’m not in, so I’m to be found in-between writing this, in front of my long mirror downstairs rehearsing everything I’ve learned so far, as I don’t want to waste time. We have a cast of 18, all superb singers, all trained at varying academies. Gary Wilmot is going to be a great Pirate King and the costumes are T.D.F. - which means, in theatrical terms, to die for. I can’t wait to wear my pirate uniform, it’s all red and gold and big boots and showbiz. I may wear it to Sainsburys.

Don’t forget to look out for where I’ll be touring. I only hope that when we open in Regent’s Park I won’t be singing a duet with a Lear Jet on it’s way to Heathrow. Gary, who has already been in the Park playing Bottom in the “Dream”, says the trees make a terrible rustling noise when it’s windy. Still, I don’t mind, it’s the first time I have ever appeared in Regent’s Park and I’m looking forward to it. Another venue, another challenge. Once I’m settled in I’ll write and let you know all about it. Next Monday, I’ve been invited by the producers to attend the opening night of “Peggy Sue Got Married” at the Shaftesbury Theatre. Hopefully, it will be a major success. I do hope so as the producers risk a lot. Afterwards, there’s a “do” at the Connaught Rooms. I don’t care what we get to eat as long as there aren't any vol-au-vents,  as they stick to the roof of your mouth when you talk !

On December 9th, we break from the tour of “Pirates” and go to Llandudno for panto. I’m getting my “Dick” out this year with Paul Danan - he was Sol in “Hollyoaks”.- for 5 weeks. So if u fancy some audience participation, do come along. We then continue with the tour until April, whereupon I am to undertake a job which, when I get full details, I’ll be on your case.

Hope all’s well with you all, thanx for tuning in and as always a big xxxx for Dave, my website designer.

Much luv 2 u all -