Edinburgh Tonight, the Fringe’s own chat show, hosted by Joe Simmons, one half of ‘Topping & Butch’, will return this August, again throwing the spotlight on performers and shows from across the festival. Though this year Simmons will have a co-host in the form of a certain Lorraine Chase.
Yes, that Lorraine Chase. To get things rolling we thought it might be fun to get Joe to interview Lorraine, and he did just that. Read on to find out a bit more about Chases’s life, how she plans to interrogate Fringe performers, and how she inspired a character on the ‘Kenny Everett Video Show’.
JS: Have you ever interviewed other people?
LC: No, I haven’t really done it before. Though I am always interested in meeting new people, and I suspect I slip into a kind of interviewer mode whenever I do. I’ve been a guest on many chat shows over the years, of course – Des O’Connor, Terry Wogan, Michael Parkinson – and each time if I found a question difficult, I tended to flip the interview on its head and becoming the interviewer. It’s a good survival instinct.
JS: Do you think you’ll be a sensitive interviewer?
LC: I think I probably will be, yes. Because in life, if you’ve had great sadness or great joy yourself, then you can see that in others… so I will observe, and look to see something, and if I’ve had the experience, then I’ll be able to work with that.
JS: Sometimes it’s a little like a mirror; there are little facets of people that come back at you, that you can identify with.
LC: Yes, and because of that, if it happened, I would be able to see I was touching a nerve, and I wouldn’t pursue it. Quite a lot of people these days go for the negative. I always like to go for a positive.
JS: Let’s find out about Lorraine Chase… Has she ever been in love?
LC: Oh yes. I lost the love of my life. He died of cancer. We’d known each other since we were in our teens. We all hung around together back then. He was going out with a lovely lady called Christine Jones. She and I were like a positive and a negative – she was very tall and slim with long blonde hair, and I was very tall and slim with long dark hair, and we all went out together. She lived with Johnny. But then, years later, I met John when he was coming home from work one night, and discovered Christine had moved out. Funnily enough, Christine then moved in with us after her next relationship ended!
JS: So would you say that you have lived a life that doesn’t conform to the norm?
LC: I probably don’t conform to people’s ideals. I’m not married… I don’t have children. I didn’t decide that would be the case, but I don’t see it as a problem. I often wonder what I must seem to other people, because I don’t feel any different to when I was 16. I’m still as ‘dilly’: that’s to say, silly and daft, a mixture of the two. I’m still as insecure as I’m childlike, joyous, lonely, all those things. And suddenly I’m 60. I don’t have the benchmarks of children, marriage. I don’t live an easy life; it’s very uneasy. I like order instead of disorder. I live my life in a kind of organised disorder.
JS: Edinburgh should suit you down to the ground, then.
LC: Yes, it is very organised in a way – because the timings are very regulated. But there is disorder too, it’s very confusing. I remember the first time I came up, just as a ‘muggle’ to see things. I found it really confusing, cos there was such a mass of stuff. I would have liked to have known what to tune into. To have had a place to see people talking about their shows, to get an idea of about what they were doing. And I hope our show will do that, help de-muddle the festival for people.
JS: It’s impossible to see everything. With your background in theatre, television, as a model, in musicals and so on, what are your favourite types of show?
LC: Last year I went to see a play in a tiny little space, about a birdwatcher; I went to see the singer Camille; and I went to see the Japanese Drummers. So theatre, cabaret and spectacle.
JS: Do you have a favourite comedian?
LC: I love Stephen K Amos, but I also like the little Scotsman in his kilt, Craig Hill.
JS: Which interviewer have you faced and most admired?
LC: I loved Parkinson. I was very honoured to be interviewed by him twice. It’s the style. Laidback. In fact, Parky said to me after the interview that he had three hours with a researcher and never touched on any of it. He wanted you to shine, and if you were shining that was great for him.
JS: Is that where you’re going to go with this?
LC: When you help them recall old memories, your guests will be are much more exciting and poignant, and relaxed. Do you remember the ‘Kenny Everett Video Show’ and “It’s all done in the best possible taste” [ie the character 'Cupid Stunt']? That character was based on my first appearance on Parky! I was in a feather boa and I came on stage and I talked and I talked and I talked… I was so excited that I turned to Parky and I said “What can I say?”, and he looked at the audience, and they laughed for Britain. That shows that he’s interested in you. It’s not about the host coming over all clever, it’s about the guest.
JS: People will have seen you most recently on ‘Emmerdale’, though many will still remember those Campari ‘Luton Airport’ adverts that first brought you to our TV screens many, many years ago. It was kind of the ‘viral’ of its day. Did you have any inkling that it would become so big?
LC: No, not at all, it was a commercial, and I’d done plenty of commercials before that.
JS: Was it an expensive commercial? Did you know it was important when you did it?
LC: Oh very – I knew when I did it was important because we had a wonderful director, Bill Owen, who was a big director at the time.
JS: What was the public response like?
LC: Overnight everybody knew you. I wasn’t overly beautiful, or overly sexy, so women would come up to me and say “Lorraine, you could be our daughter”, or “sign this, my ole man thinks your lovely”. It just seemed to appeal to everyone, and thankfully I had good people around me.
JS: You were modelling at the time, how long had you been doing that for?
LC: Since I was 16, and I did that commercial when I was 28. So over ten years. And I’d been getting along very nicely. And I’d already done a commercial, for Crunchie. I used to have to bite into the Crunchie and it would explode in my mouth. I got so sick of the taste that we started feeding the rest of the Crunchies to the horse that was next to where we were filming in Camber Sands! He’d start tooting, dancing around and kicking! I’d love to find a copy of that commercial.
JS: When you did the Campari advert – did they ask specifically for the cockney accent?
LC: They auditioned about 2000 models, and we were told that they wanted a regional accent because Campari was seen as a drink of toffs, and they wanted to put it on the optics in pubs with the gins and tonics, so that’s what their remit was. Most people think the first one was the ‘Luton Airport’ ad, but it wasn’t. The first one was ‘Nice ere, innit’ – which was set in Venice on the Grand Canal – and the guy said to me “have you ever read Pygmalion?” and I’d say “Pig Who?” I wore a Zandra Rhodes dress coming out of a gondola, and I had curly hair, so I’d travel out on the plane in rollers. I didn’t have any idea!
JS: Everything seems to have been ‘happenstance’ – model, singer, actress… which do you most closely identify with?
LC: I don’t. I feel like I survive. I always have the feeling someone’s going to tap me on the shoulder and say “What you doin ‘ere? Out! Out!”
JS: When you relax, Lorraine, your accent gets a little bit stronger.
LC: When I get too relaxed I swear! That, or I go posh…
JS: What’s your biggest fear for our show?
LC: Well, I’m not in it for the money! I met you when you interviewed me on last year’s show. You’re a lovely interviewer, and you’re not like anyone else, it’s intelligent and thought out, and you are very kind. And I like to do everything with an honesty and a truth, so I warmed to you immediately. Though when I was asked by producer Terry to come on board with you, I was very nervous!
But in the old days, when I hadn’t been in this business so long, when I wasn’t so tarnished, I feel I sparkled more. I think the best way to restore that sparkle is to try things that are really new, do things you’ve never done before. I think doing this show will help me get back a little, I don’t know, a little joie de vivre. The Edinburgh Festival is a joyous thing for all ages – across the board – 15 or 90. I feel this is a great opportunity, and I know I’m in good hands.
JS: And also, the opportunity of finding Mister Right?
LC: Oooh wouldn’t that be luverly…?
Joe Simmons and Lorraine Chase appeared in ‘Edinburgh Tonight’ at the Space Cabaret during Fringe 2011.