An Interview with Cheryl Baker. (Photo credit: Cheryl Baker)
I ‘wear’ Cheryl Baker, when I’ve finished with her, I hang her up in the wardrobe!
Back in 1981, they were the winners of the Eurovision Song Contest and went on to have 3 number 1 singles. 38 years later, The Fizz (3 of the 4 original members of Bucks Fizz) are back in the studio…. Helen Barnes caught up with Cheryl Baker, to talk changing names, reality TV, World Records and staying sane!
It’s hard to believe it’s been 38 years since your first number 1 record – are you planning on having a big celebration for 40 years?
We definitely will. We’ve talked about it, but we should actually get the ball rolling…
After the initial success of Bucks Fizz, you had a very successful presenting career. Looking back, which did you prefer?
Music. I don’t have to think about that – I just love singing.
That’s interesting, because I thought you were a very natural TV presenter too….
Ah, that’s very kind. I did enjoy it, but it was like a proper job. Singing is easy, TV is a lot harder – you have scripts to learn, people to research. Even presenting Eggs and Bacon, I love cooking, but it still felt like a job compared with singing.
When I first met you, 24 years ago, you were presenting BBC1’s Record Breakers, with Kriss Akabusi. I think he’s cool – do you stay in touch?
Our paths cross in this business and we follow each other on Twitter and Facebook, but I don’t see him regularly. I did see a picture he posted the other day though and he is looking amazing!
Presenting a show like Record Breakers, you must have met some crazy people. Do any standout?
(laughs) Yes, the one in America that was doing a World Record for cow pat throwing! The thing is, they REALLY believe in what they’re doing. You can’t laugh at them because they’re taking it seriously. You can laugh after – and I did!
So, do you have a Guinness World Record?
I have a few! The Longest Rope Slide, The Biggest Jazz Band and The Longest River Dance.
Wow! Well done. Are any still standing?
No, no – not now. But they made the book!
I didn’t know until recently that your real name is Rita Stroud. What do your friends and family call you, Rita or Cheryl?
They all call me Rita, but my children call me Cheryl. I have a bank account in Rita and one in Cheryl, but my passport says ‘Rita Stroud, professionally known as Cheryl Baker!’
You ran the London Marathon in 2011. I saw that you’ve recently just ran a half too. I have an entry for the 2020 London Marathon – fancy joining me?
(Laughs) No, I can’t do it again. I thought I had another marathon in me but after the half I have changed my mind! I got to the end and thought ‘oh my word!’ I just didn’t have time to train properly – I just trained for 7 weeks, twice a week, so I literally had 14 runs in preparation. I really paid for it after. …no, never again!
At Newark Festival last year, I met a couple of your loyal fans. How do you feel about the fans that have been with you from the very start?
It’s like an extended family. We know them now and because of social media we stay in touch with them – if they ask a personal question, we will answer it. It used to be ‘us’ and ‘them’ – 30/40 years ago I thought we had to be kept separate from our fans and not get too close, but that’s all changed now with social media. Some come to every single gig, it costs a fortune, so I think you owe it to them, the respect and to say thank you. After all, with out them, where would you be?
I read that you turned down Celebrity Big Brother. Are there any of those shows you would consider?
I would love to do Strictly and I’d absolutely love to go in the Jungle.
I think I saw a petition one of your fans started up on Facebook to get you in the Jungle – I’m pretty sure I signed it…
I’m always put forward, I was almost going one year and then the day before they flew the celebs out it was ‘Sorry Cheryl, you’ve not made the cut!’
With such a long career in the public eye, what’s kept you sane?
(laughs) Erm – I don’t really know, I’m the same as everyone else, an ordinary person with an extraordinary job. Tonight, I’m off to the pub for the local quiz night, I do things that ordinary people do, shop in Asda and Tesco. I’m no different to anyone. I think that when I made the decision to change my name in 1975 and that I wanted friends to still call me Rita, that I wasn’t going to wear the celeb name, that probably helped, being 2 different people. I wear ‘Cheryl Baker’ – when I’ve finished with her, I hang her up in the wardrobe!
You’re back recording new music, will we get to hear this on the tour?
During the 80s Invasion Tour we will be singing our old stuff, but we will release a new album at the end of the summer and a Christmas album towards the end of the year.
I can’t end this interview without asking how Jay’s doing?
She’s doing amazing. She’s surprised even me. It could have taken her life and she has literally handled it so brilliantly. She was diagnosed with pre-cancerous cells in her mouth, which meant they had to remove part of her tongue, but in the 2 weeks between diagnosis and the operation, the cells became cancerous. She has a nasty scar on her neck, but she is singing again and I’m just so, so proud of her!!