Cheryl Baker has changed little in the 30-odd years since we, amid tens of millions of others, saw her skirt famously whipped off on The Eurovision Song contest.
The year was 1981, the song was Making Your Mind Up, and that piece of wardrobe wizardry could well have helped Bucks Fizz bring the winners’ medal home to the UK.
Today she is still blonde, just as smiley and full of fizz. She still sings, and yes, her skirt still gets whipped off.
Cheryl, together with original bandmates Mike Nolan and Jay Aston are coming to Bournemouth next month to play an exclusive, one-off gig at the end of the Pier.
It will be an intimate affair, with only 200 tickets going on sale. There’s a bit of a buzz surrounding it.
According to her publicist: “There will be a very special surprise that night – a major announcement so fans will not want to miss this.”
Despite suffering from hay fever on the morning of our interview, Cheryl remains chirpy as she chats to Seven Days.
“It’ll be a proper Bucks Fizz show – with all the hits including the three number ones (The Land Of Make Believe, My Camera Never Lies and Making Your Mind Up).
“Plus all the top 10s and top 20s we had. We sold millions of records. It’s a little reminder of what we did in the 1980s.”
Cheryl lives in Kent with her husband of 21 years, Steve Stroud, their 18-year-old twin daughters, Kyla and Natalie and their two german shepherds, called Bella and Simba.
She has no links to Dorset other than her former bandmate Shelley Preston hailing from Weymouth. So why did they choose Bournemouth for the gig?
“Well, Bournemouth chose us,” she laughs.
“We were asked to do it and we jumped at the chance. I’m thrilled to be coming back to Bournemouth. It’s such a lovely place to visit, especially at this time of year. We’ve played there many times.
“It turned out to be perfect timing as it also meant we could perform at the BourneFree pride festival the following day.”
Cheryl, Mike and Jay will be taking part in the parade and appearing on the main stage at the festival.
It’s a wonder she has time to pack anything more into her already full life. As well as singing she has been a presenter, an actor and has directed various student productions. She’s writing an autobiography and is currently touring the UK with Happy Days The Musical playing Mrs Cunningham.
“I love being busy. I couldn’t imagine not working,” she says.
“I have bills to pay like everyone else, but above all I work because I love it and I’m lucky to be able to do what I love.”
During the heyday of Bucks Fizz, Cheryl was asked to present kids’ programmes, and by 1997 she was on television six days a week: “Which was crazy really,” she muses.
“I guess I was afraid to say no!”
It’s unusual these days to remain in the public eye for 30-odd years. Even rarer to be spared any cruel coverage in the media.
But , as she explains: “I’m a fair person, I don’t upset people. I do the job the best I can and I’ve kept my nose clean.
“I’ve never been into drugs or falling out of clubs. I’m basically just an ordinary person doing an extraordinary job.”
She is also patron and trustee of many charities, one of which is HEADFIRST, a charity which raises funds for research, equipment and care of people who have suffered brain damage. The charity was set up following the horrific coach crash back in 1984 when Cheryl was in Bucks Fizz, where her colleague and dear friend, Mike Nolan sustained serious head injury resulting in brain damage. She took part in the London Marathon in 2011 raising many thousands of pounds for the cause.
“I’m in a privileged position to be able to help with charity work,” she says.
“I can’t say yes to everything unfortunately but where I can do it, I will. All charities need as much help as possible.”
Is there any other career she would like to have tried?
“Oh no!” she says emphatically.
“Singing is what I was born to do. Growing up in London’s East End, there was a little stage in the local park. I was there, on it, all the time, singing to what I called the old people but they were probably parents in their 30s. It’s all I wanted to do. Even back then I knew I wanted to be a singer.
“Although,” she corrects herself, “I was a shorthand typist for five years. I actually wasn’t bad at it. I’ve kept my hand in, too just in case I need to get a proper job again,” she laughs.
For a woman of 60, she looks fantastic. She attributes this to her outlook on life.
“I smile a lot. I have a happy disposition. I’m not on any tablets and I don’t mess around with my face. Don’t get me wrong, I am aging! They say you get the face you deserve. I’m always laughing so things tend to be going up and not down!”
She keeps her figure in check by making running a regular part of her week.
“Mrs Cunningham is quite a homely soul, so it doesn’t matter that I’m a bit curvier at the moment. But I will try to lose weight for my Bournemouth appearance by cutting out carbs, eating plenty of lean meat and fish and not too much red meat.
“I will also start running again, four or five times a week. You burn on average 110 calories a mile. A five-mile run and that’s half your day’s calorie intake burned up.”
It’s a wonder she has any spare time left, but she insists she still does everything other people do.
“I play those silly games on the iPad, as well as mind puzzles, crosswords, and Japanese things that all started off with Sudoku. When I run I like to do it socially. I go with mates.
“I also use my time to support my two children as much as possible. They both perform and they both work much harder than I ever did.
“Seeing them do well in the world... that’s my ambition now.”
But what of a solo album?
“Well maybe. But I know it won’t be a blockbuster,” she pauses.
“And that’s just fine by me.”
- Cheryl Baker, Mike Nolan and Jay Aston formerly of Bucks Fizz will be appearing on the Pier on July 11. Tickets, priced £50, include two-course dinner and disco. Tickets from bhlivetickets.co.uk. Tel 0845 576 3000.