Sitting opposite the larger than life northern bombshell Siobhan Phillips can be dangerous. The 42-year-old Britain’s Got Talent finalist’s laughter can be seriously infectious, and her one-liners can have you on the floor. OutNews Global’s very own Steven Smith got to grips with the camp comedy sensation and mother of one and asked her ten questions.
Siobhan, having a huge LGBTQ following and becoming a mum at 42, how would you educate your daughter Cerys about people who love the same sex or felt they were in the wrong body?
“Well Cerys is only three but already she has a friend who has two mums and she hasn’t questioned it; she just accepts it. I don’t feel the need to explain it to her unless she directly asks me. Parents need to lead by example so we can create a new generation of open-minded individuals and stamp out the bigotry that sadly remains in certain sections of society.”
You grew up listening to the likes of Victoria Wood. What are your other influences?
“When I first started in showbiz at the tender age of 16, I was a singer. I didn’t have the confidence or personality at that stage for comedy; I think that comes with age. My main influences in music were Whitney Houston, George Michael and Mariah Carey. Who doesn’t love a big ballad?!
“Comedy wise I’ve always loved Peter Kay. From ‘That Peter Kay Thing’ to ‘Phoenix Nights’ to watching him live at the Hammersmith Apollo, the man’s simply a genius and I love the fact he’s so grounded despite his massive success.”
Having worked on the cruise liners and travelling a lot, where would you say is the most fun gay place you have visited?
“I’ve been around a bit, it’s true! For me, Mykonos is one of my favourite ports of call. Picture-postcard perfect Greek scenery and fantastic night life all in one place.”
Ru Paul says, “If you can’t love yourself, how is anyone else going to love you?” You’re very vocal about this yourself, about body image. Have you always felt like this?
“At 42, it’s taken a long, long time to get to this point. As a child I was very tall (I’m 6ft now) and I felt different and like I didn’t fit in. I was painfully shy and very academic, a far cry from the character I am today.
“It’s harder than ever these days to be overweight in a society which implies thin is the only achievement worthy of praise. I find it alarming that some parents are bringing up girls who are spending hours on contouring their faces and perfecting frankly ridiculous eyebrows instead of encouraging them to develop kindness, humour and strength of character. Where are our future female doctors, MPs, campaigners and suchlike going to come from? It will be interesting to watch how it all unfolds.”
You embrace camp in your act. “Rue Paul’s Drag Races” is about to start on BBC 3. If you were a drag queen what would you be called and have you wished you were one?
“I’ve been mistaken for a drag queen many times! And whilst most women would take that as an insult, I revel in it… I’ve always tended to go out on the LGBT scene and drag queens inspired my comedy style and delivery. So, I celebrate them and admire their pithy comments delivered firmly tongue-in-cheek with that wonderful glamour thrown in.”
You waited till 40 to have a baby. Are you glad you waited, and what are the ups and downs of being a mum compared to once being a party girl?
“I was like a lot of women. I focused on my career and I just never met the right man to have kids with until much later in life. I think things happen when they’re meant to and there’s no right and wrong way to live your life. The difference is that back in the day I could luxuriate in bed all day with a hangover. These days I just have to get up and get on with it!
“Being a Mum is the best thing I’ve ever done but it’s also the hardest and anyone who makes it out to be Waltons-esque and mimics Mary Poppins gets right on my nerves! It’s wonderful, inspiring, heart-wrenching, relentless, exhausting, exciting and hilarious all at the same time. I’ve never loved anyone more.”
Do you have many close LGBTQ friends?
“Yes, I have lots. Some are frivolous showbiz friendships, but others are like family to me.”
What are your goals for 2020?
“BGT has opened many doors for me and it’s an exciting time. I have a great new management in Champion Talent who are working hard on my behalf. We are aiming to secure some more TV work and my UK tour ‘Live and Unhinged’, promoted by Jack Ryan at Our Rita’s comedy club, begins in February. I hope to expand my fanbase through that and show people everything I can do in addition to what they saw on BGT.”
If you got stuck on a desert island what three things would you wish you had with you?
“My daughter, a nanny and Bradley Cooper!”
What LGBTQ people do you most admire?
“Peter Tatchell for his unflinching beliefs and views. Stephen Fry for his inimitable wit and intellect but also his honesty about mental-health issues. And every LGBTQ person who gets out of bed each day even though they may face severe ridicule, bullying and ignorance from certain small-minded members of society but still manage to stay true to themselves.”
For tour dates https://www.siobhanphillips.co.uk
Follow Steven on https://twitter.com/asksteve2c