Today’s lockdown tracks are picked by stage and screen actor, Melanie Hill. Melanie is known for playing Cathy Matthews on the cobbles of Coronation Street and for witching it up with Michelle Pfeiffer in Stardust. However, to me, she will always be Aveline Boswell in Carla Lane’s Bread and remembered for her fabulous portrayal as Sandra in Brassed Off and Barry's lass Hazel in Auf Wiedersehen, Pet...
You’ve starred in some huge films and TV series but, your first break came very young and a lot closer to home.
Yes, I was lucky enough to be chosen to be in a Tyne Tees show called Alright Now as a ‘coffee bar kid’. It was a live music show and we got to interview the bands and talk about the tracks they’d played. There were about eight of us with Den Hegarty presenting the show. One of the other ‘kids’ was the great Chris Cowey who has had a fabulous career in the music business producing some great shows, including Top of The Pops. It was an amazing experience. I always remember seeing a local band called ‘THE POLICE’ on the script and chatting with the others and wondering who they were. They did OK for themselves! I met some amazing artists, Kate Bush, Ian Dury… it was an incredible opportunity for me, I would love to get my hands on the recordings of the shows, I’m not even sure if the tapes still exist. We did six episodes and then the show returned with a new title, new presenters and a new name, The Tube.
Wow. So you were there at the start of an iconic programme! That’s very cool. Was that the sort of music that was playing in your house when you were little?
No, not at all! My Mum listened to Bread, Frank Sinatra, Jack Jones, Barbara Streisand, Doris Day and she was my influence then. And she still does listen to them, so do I, especially Barbara. She’s my go to after a few sherries. We used to watch musicals all day long and, when I go to visit mum, we still love sticking on ‘Hello Dolly’ or some other classic. The part I always wanted to play was Nancy in Oliver.
I can imagine you dancing around the pub singing Oom-pah-pah!
It wouldn’t be the first time I danced round a pub!
Were you straight on the dance floor in your youth?
I was never off the dance floor and entered all the disco dancing competitions. I even won £25 once and was in the Echo dancing to Play that funky music by Wild Cherry.
Sounds very disco!
I had white jump suit and a massive cheesy grin so, yes! I loved that music and still do. Parliament Funkadelic, Narada Michael Walden, Luther Vandross, Average White Band, Herbie Hancock, James Brown, Earth Wind and Fire… sorry I could go on, I’m reminiscing now!
How about now?
Sadly, the only time I get to dance to those bangas is when my sister and I get together and we have a few cheeky glasses and get lively in our front room! I’ve not been to a night club in years, I’m afraid I’m in bed now before they open!
So, if you could be released from lockdown for one day you wouldn’t be staying up too late?
No, but if you’re letting me go anywhere, maybe you could get me a time machine. Then I’d head to the dance floor in Annabelles with all my old mates. Very happy days.
And what about off the dancefloor? What sort of music would you be listening to?
The first record I ever bought was Maggie May by Rod Stewart which is still a great tune. And then as I got older and started going to the HotSpot in Sunderland I developed my own tastes which were not enjoyed by my mum! Bowie, Brian Ferry (who can’t sing to save his life), I loved Tears for Fears too and there was a mad Bay City Roller phase...
Lots of tartan?
Yes, Oxford bags, scarves, the whole look. And then I fell in love with David Essex for a period too. And I was a great fan of some of the local bands who were hitting the scene at the time, the Executives who became Dance Class, the Toy Dolls... I remember being out at gigs a lot. Then I discovered Annabelles and my jazz funk phase began.
Do you get to many concerts now?
The last gig I saw was Alt J in Manchester and it was totally bloody brilliant. And I saw David Essex back in the day at the City Hall in Newcastle. I remember I forgot my glasses and my dad somehow managed to get in and give me them half way through the concert. I’ve no idea how! Dads just manage things like that!
Last question, what is the best walk out music at any ground you’ve ever been to?
That’s a very easy question. Obviously, it’s Prokofiev, the Dance of the Knights. It’s so stirring and emotional, the best walk out music by far. They should never have dropped it, but that’s progress for you.
I agree. Nothing comes close. Thanks very much for chatting and keep well.