Kate Robbins on growing up in Liverpool, family get togethers with Paul McCartney and being a Grumpy Old Woman
- Credit: Archant
Wirral-raised Kate Robbins is an actress, comedian, singer, songwriter and now, at the tender age of 55, a Grumpy Old Woman in a touring show
Q. You’re starring in Grumpy Old Women Live, but surely you’re too young to be a grumpy old woman quite yet?
A. If you’re over the age of 21 you can be a grumpy old woman...the niggles, complaints and general moaning start at age 22 I reckon! The show is a celebration of what irritates, disappoints, irks and annoys and generally makes us women tick.
Q. You’ve imitated the voices of countless well-known people in the likes of Spitting Image and Dead Ringers. How did that talent come about?
A. Doing impressions originally happened by accident. I was a session singer after I left school. I was employed to be a backing singer for Harry Seacombe and the producer heard me messing around doing silly voices and singing impressions of people like Cilla Black, and also Tina Turner. That producer told another producer and eventually (after my 3 month stint in Crossroads in 1981, where I had a number 2 hit record) I was asked to do a series of my own in 1986 which included many different guises, wigs, characters, celebrities ... You name ‘em-- I did ‘em!
Q. What have been your favourite and least favourite voices to capture over the years?
A. My favourite voices are probably Cilla, Sarah Ferguson, Joanna Lumley and of course Her Majesty. They’re the ones I find the easiest. I don’t know why I can do Jo Lumley and the Queen. They’re much posher than I am! As for Fergie, I gave the poor woman a dreadful ‘snort’ when she laughed (on Spitting Image)
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My least favourite voice is probably Edwina Currie. She comes from Liverpool and I can’t quite ‘get’ her. Mind you, so does Anne Robinson but she definitely doesn’t sound like a scouser anymore?!
Q. Can you tell us about your Wirral connections?
A. I was brought up on the Wirral since the age of 5. It was known as ‘Wirral, Cheshire’ in those days. There was such a stink kicked up when all the Hyacinth Buckets of the day protested about Wirral being part of Merseyside! I found that quite funny at the time. Still think of it as Cheshire though....( please note I say on THE Wirral...as all Wirralians do!)
I went to Wirral County Grammar School for Girls ( I think they’ve dropped the ‘County’ now..) Great school but I was a rebel...a grumpy rebel :)
Q. Where is home for you now, and why there?
A. Home is Ampthill in Central Bedfordshire. I love living in this Georgian market town where I have two sisters and both daughters all on the same road. After my divorce ( which was amicable, by the way) I moved here to be near everyone! I’ve lived in this county since 1989. My son is in Manchester studying music (and drinking lots of beer no doubt)
Q. How does 21st century Liverpool compare with the city you knew as a child?
A. Liverpool is so changed and the docklands now are amazing! All of the city centre is revamped and revitalised. I hardly recognise the city I came from. But the soul and sense of humour is still there ...that never changes...Great people, great accent, great place!
Q. Your family is bursting with performers. Is it something in the genes?
A. Yes, we are a family of performers. When my brother-in-law Robert Daws ( the well-known comedy actor) wanted to marry my sister Amy he had to audition for my father! Haha
Q. Care to share any early childhood memories of your cousin Paul McCartney and Beatlemania?
A. Paul McCartney was so close to my mother (his first cousin) Sadly she is no longer with us but Paul remains a loving member of the huge family. He’s just one of us at a family New Year party. Brings a bottle and relaxes like we all do.
Mind you when I met John Lennon for the first time I was scared of Yoko Ono. She wore a huge fur coat which I hated (I was about 10) and she was bossing all the Beatles about. One time I was overcome at the screaming fans as we left Abbey Rd studios . Paul had allowed me and my brother to sit in on a Beatles recording session. I thought at the time ‘Ooh. This is coooool!!’
Q. You and the band Prima Donna came third in the Eurovision Song Contest in 1980. Was that a happy experience? It seems like torture for most British entries these days.
A. I’m so proud of the fact that I represented my country in Eurovision in 1980 -and we came 3rd!
These days we are lucky if we come anywhere. Me and my sister Jane (who was in the group PRIMA DONNA with me) went to The Hague and got drunk with Terry Wogan. Not difficult to do, I might add.