Diary: Esther Rantzen Is Copying Me and Alastair Campbell with a Travelling Entertainment. in Hers, She Sings an Edith Piaf Song and Invites the Audience to Find Her a New Husband

By Street-Porter, Janet | New Statesman (1996), May 24, 2004 | Go to article overview

Diary: Esther Rantzen Is Copying Me and Alastair Campbell with a Travelling Entertainment. in Hers, She Sings an Edith Piaf Song and Invites the Audience to Find Her a New Husband


Street-Porter, Janet, New Statesman (1996)


Combining the promotion of my new book, touring my one-woman show and writing two newspaper columns a week seemed a good idea in theory. The reality is exhilarating but tiring. A great night in Manchester with an audience who really laugh loudly (great) at the horror stories of my home life, men and marriages. The week before, in Canterbury, the evening slumped a bit when one dreary old fart complained about my language ... even though there were warning signs everywhere. Tailoring what I do to geography and social mix is not something I've ever considered. The day after tomorrow I'm playing Wimborne, near Bournemouth. Will they be prim or perky? I have decided to take a leaf out of David Essex's book, and rejected a run in London in favour of touring the provinces.

Before you ask (as about half of the local newspaper reporters have done), I am not copying Alastair Campbell--my show is rude, ruthless, indiscreet and true! More worryingly, I have discovered that Esther Rantzen has decided to copy both of us and relaunch her career with a travelling entertainment in which she sings an Edith Piaf song and invites the audience to find her a new husband. The Whitstable Times splashes with the headline: "Could you be the right man for Esther?" Esther confides in an exclusive interview that she's starring in an episode of BBC2's Would Like to Meet ... in the hope of finding a new hubby, and offers readers free tickets and the chance of a date with her. I am not that desperate. My show is not a way of finding even Mr 30 Per Cent, let alone Mr Right, in Bridlington, Lancaster, High Wycombe or Bury St Edmunds, so the male population of rural England can safely buy tickets to see me without worrying about being propositioned. On the train back from York, I see my attack on Boris Johnson's feeble arts manifesto has enraged the Telegraph's Sarah Sands, always a good sign. Ms Sands usually writes about film premieres and clothes, so she's really raised her game.

A walk and a picnic in the New Forest on a gorgeous Saturday before my performance at the Tivoli Theatre in Wimborne. The facade of the building is a Grade One listed house, and behind lies an art-deco auditorium. My dressing room has fresh towels, a shower, soap--the best yet. Having surveyed the audience (mostly over-55s, ie, my age) I decide against using the C-word to describe my mother. I don't want to risk a bout of incontinence or a mass walkout: there are enough F-words to shock them any way. A couple of gays at the front laugh hysterically all the way through and the Q & A session goes like a dream. I'm always pleased when women come up afterwards and thank me for saying all the things they secretly think about their nightmare mothers. …

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