24 October 2018
How did you get your first start in the entertainment business?
I started at age three, singing and dancing at school, and performed in shows. As I got older, I did amateur theatre and performed at Norwich Arts Theatre throughout my childhood.
I originally wanted to be a singer and dancer but couldn’t afford to go to stage school and got into entertaining via the holiday park route. My sister was working for Haven and Warner on a park in Kent, and they were desperate for a dancer so I started there. My first summer season was in Romney Sands, and a lot of holiday parks after that. I then became the children’s presenter for one park, and I was writing the programmes, learning magic and balloons and then they gave me the opportunity to start performing cabaret.
How did you go about promoting yourself as a children’s entertainer?
I had a manager for a while to whom I’m very grateful, but I decided to be freelance, and I started up. It took me about two years to get established. You’ve got to believe in yourself and have real determination. I’ve been doing it now 23 years in January. I’m established, so it’s a lot easier for me, but I think if I started today, it would be a lot harder.
Who has been your inspiration?
Robin Williams. I still love him, and I tell everybody that I love him! I really admire Norman Wisdom and Tommy Cooper too. I love lifting the world through entertaining. I also look up to a lot of children’s presenters because that was my goal in life; I wanted to have my own children’s programme and present. That is the only thing that I haven’t quite achieved, and I’m 43 now!
What do you like about being an entertainer?
I go to work because I love what I do. I think all gigs are different. People say to me ‘what do you do?’ and I always say I’m not the world’s best juggler, though I can juggle. I’m not the best magician, though I can do magic. I’m very much an all-rounder, but I do know how to lift a crowd. I can have people laughing and chilled out and relaxing, and I feel that I’ve got the gift to do that and I enjoy it. When I’m entertaining I forget who I am, what I am, what’s going on in the world, I make sure I put 110 % into everything even if I’m unwell or something sad has happened. I love what I do; I think it’s in the heart. I’ve always said the day I don’t enjoy it is when I’d give it up, and I’m still here 23 years later!
Did you ever think of joining the circus?
I would have loved to have been a circus performer, and I used to visit a lot. I did once perform in a sort of circus in the Azores with my ex-partner. But in the end, the circus would not have been for me because after I had children, I didn’t want to do all the travelling.
As a children’s entertainer/clown what’s your view of clowning today?
I always thought Norman Wisdom and Tommy Cooper were clowns without the make-up, and I feel that you don’t need the make-up to be a clown. I still do slapstick and fall off chairs, and act out the comedy in errors. There has been negative press about clowns in recent years, which has been really unfair because clowning is such a skill. I love clowns and I know there are plenty of clowns still going strong. I will always speak highly of them.
What would you say your career highlights have been?
Unusual things happen in this business. I turned up to a gig once, and it turned out to be one of the Rolling Stones’ daughter’s wedding! But I just got on with it, although it was quite a shock and unexpected. Then there was one occasion when I had to perform at Butlins where there were more than 2,000 in the audience for a cabaret spot. I wasn’t a redcoat resident, I was just there visiting, and I had to follow the Chinese State Circus. I thought ‘I’m not good enough to follow them!’ But I went out there, and the buzz I got from that crowd was amazing.