My chat with… Jimmy Doherty

Jimmy Doherty, Katy Pearson

Essex lad: Jimmy Doherty (c) Rob Wilkinson

Jimmy Doherty is a farmer and TV presenter, famous for the show Jimmy’s Farm. He is mates with TV chef Jamie Oliver and the two film Jimmy and Jamie’s Friday Night Feasts together. Here he chats alligators, Southend road trips and Essex humour…

What is your favourite thing about Essex?
I’ve got such great memories of school trips to Colchester Zoo. I had a lovely upbringing in Essex and one of my favourite things, not far from Bishop Stortford on the Essex boarder there, was strawberry picking. I remember picking strawberries as a kid with my family, at a pick your own kind of thing where you have to go and weigh your basket and I would have eaten so many strawberries myself that I’d have about six in a punnet to be weighed, but I’d eaten about a kilo.
Essex provided for me, a great childhood – a mixture of town and countryside at the same time. And there’s a certain sense of humour that you get in Essex that you don’t find in many other counties.

Jamie and Jimmy’s café is on Southend pier… how did that come about?
My nan used to take me there all the time. And when we learnt to drive, all our friends had a little road trip to Southend and had fish and chips. It always had that element of escapism and fun. We could have taken the show anywhere, but Southend plays on our heartstrings, both me and Jamie, because growing up, Southend was, for me, always the place you went to for fun and Jamie’s family originate from Southend anyway, so it was a natural sort of thing to do. Continue reading

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‘You should never miss a bedtime…’

Witchy Travel Tales, author, Sibel Beadle, What Katy Did UK

Witchy Travel Tales author: Sibel Beadle with daughters Vie and Kie

A BILLERICAY mum’s bedtime stories, written to comfort her daughters as she divorced their father, are soon to be enjoyed by children everywhere.

Sibel Beadle, 46, who lives on a former farm at the edge of Stock, started penning the Witchy Travel Tales for her girls Vie, now ten, and Kei, now eight, two years ago.

Now the first of the five tales is on sale in book stores nationwide.

But how did it all come about?

“My husband left two and a half years ago and my decree absolute was almost a year ago,” Sibel explains. Continue reading

My chat with… Gareth Gates

Gareth Gates, Katy Pearson, Footloose, #whatkatydidUK

Footloose – Gareth Gates as Willard (c) Matt Martin

WHEN I chat to Gareth Gates – star of Footloose – the Musical coming to Basildon’s Towngate Theatre on August 21 – he is fulsome in his praise of our county.

“I love Essex,” he confesses. “It’s a great place, fun. My best friend in the world, Matt, he lives in Essex. He lives in Southend, so I’ll be staying with him probably while I’m performing.”

In fact, it transpires he even owns a house here.

Six students at Rayleigh’s Masters Performing Arts College actually have the Pop Idol’s runner-up as their landlord.

“I own a house in Leigh-on-Sea – a student house,” he explains.

“Matt [Plummer] is the principle of Masters – the performing arts college – and I bought a house literally down the road from there in Leigh for the students.

“I’ve got six students living there.”

So, he’s no stranger to Southend or even Basildon – where he has performed before. Continue reading

My chat with… Depeche Mode’s ‘Fletch’

Depeche Mode, Fletch, Andrew Fletcher, by Katy Pearson #whatkatydid

Interview: My chat with Depeche Mode’s Fletch in the Echo newspaper

What is your earliest memory?

It’s in the place I grew up in – Basildon – and it’s me and my sister. We had a barrow load of sand and we tipped it accidently over someone’s lawn and the man was shouting at me. It’s hazy but That’s my earliest memory.

Where is your favourite place in Essex, and why?

I like Leigh-on-Sea. I’ve got lots of friends who like there now and I like all the pubs and restaurants, especially those by the front on old Leigh.

Are the Essex roots still quite strong?

My sister lives in Basildon. My niece lives in Basildon. My mum lives in Billericay. So yes I guess they are. Continue reading

My chat with Lulu

Ahead of my phone call with Lulu I have been pre-warned she’s been “rather poorly” and won’t be able to speak for long, as her voice must not be “over-exerted”.

The Echo newspaper, interview, Katy Pearson, Essex

The Echo newspaper

Lulu, however, appears not too bothered by the bout of flu which had seen her laid up for ten days (“I just had to say that’s it and rest!”) and is in rather chatty, affable form.

There’s no denying it’s her from the moment she comes on the line – sounding just as she does on TV – her Scottish roots coming through clearly one minute and then lapsing into a trans-Atlantic drawl, mixed with the accents of the various places she’s lived.

The tour which is to bring her to the Cliffs Pavilion in March is in celebration of the 50-year showbiz career she’s enjoyed, since she shot to fame with her rendition of Shout in the Sixties.

The years since then have encompassed two highly-publicised marriages, decades of TV credits and hits galore for the Grammy-nominated singer.

But this tour, she tells me, feels like something of a new beginning.

Continue reading