My life can be surreal at times. For example, last night I popped over for supper at Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber’s house.
The musical legend and his charming wife Madeleine opened their Belgravia doors for a splendid dinner party to celebrate the launch of the new BBC/Lloyd Webber talent search I’d Do Anything. Dinner guests were a handful of journalists and a few special guests.
Walking into Andrew’s home is like stepping inside a treasure trove. Huge tapestry’s cover the walls, beautiful paintings are hung everywhere you look and the wood floors are a lush deep brown. We were met at the door by the butler who told us to leave coats and bags at the door and shuffle into the lift. It was literally like going in that magic lift in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory….and I had no idea what to expect.
We were met by Madeleine at the top and served champagne and canapes before sitting down for dinner. The first thing I noticed was how fragrant the room was – there were huge Jo Malone candles burning everywhere you looked. She’s absolutely lovely and clearly loves her art. She talked me through most of the work displayed in the living room.
Dinner was fabulous. I was on the main table and had Denise Van Outen on my left and Graham Norton opposite. Now I’m the first to admit me and Denise have not always seen eye to eye – but we got on like a house on fire last night. She’s great fun. Dinner conversation kept going back to gossiping about Kate Moss. We are both huge fans. Denise and Kate are the same age. She kept saying: “I don’t know how she keeps going out like she does. I just want to be in bed early with a cup of cocoa and a hot water bottle.”
Denise, who’s one of the judges on the BBC show that searches for a new Oliver and Nancy to appear on the West End in Oliver, came out with some classic one liners throughout the night. My favourite was when she fondly spoke about her Capital FM host Johnny Vaughan. She giggled: “I have to get up at 4am to do the breakfast show because I like to shower and wake up – but Johnny just rocks up and he wears the same Help a London Child hoodie every day. He stinks though because of not showering before so the hoodie makes you want to gag.” Classic.
We also spoke about her time in America – she loves LA but is glad she isn’t out there full time. “It was annoying that you had to stick to the script so much – there was no ad libbing or anything. It became tedious after a while,” she added.
FYI. Dinner was delicious Thai fish cakes and poached egg, some sort of meaty rice combo with broccoli and beans that was delicious and a prune parfait for afters. We slurped on some fabulous white wine too – which Andrew said: “Is great for £11 a bottle when you buy it in bulk like we do.”
After dinner we gathered around the piano and had an extra special treat – Sir Andrew played us a couple of numbers from his brand new score of Phantom: The Sequel. It was beautiful to watch him play on his own piano in his own living room. He’s fascinating to watch too – his eyes are more alive than ever. You can tell there’s a lot going on in that head of his.
Sir Andrew also played us the early orchestral recordings of a couple of numbers that he’s been working on – it has hit written all over it. Over dinner he said he fancied Hugh Jackman to take on the role of the older Phantom. “He has to be rugged and a bit rock and roll and around 50 years old,” he said.
Madeleine said Andrew is completely consumed with writing music and working on new ideas for the second Phantom project. She told: “It takes about three years from start to finish to get it on the stage. It’s a long process. Andrew’s looking to have it opening in October next year if things run smoothly.”
We all briefly discussed Andrew’s work on Evita and working with Madonna and then it was time to make a move – we woke up one of the children with Andrew’s performance!
I jumped in a cab with Denise to ride into the West End afterwards. She told me all about her man of five months Lee Mead. She’s in love big time and although it’s too early for any sign of a ring on the finger she has high hopes for the union.
We arrived at Bungalow 8 and I go to pay the driver. Denise says: “Shit, I’ve got no money.”
I told her not to worry and that I’d pick up the fare.
And then just as I go to get out she stops me and in the most hilarious Essex accent says: “But I do have theeeeese for you!”
I looked down and my mouth fell open. She smiles and says: “A tampon and some contact lenses.”
I told her I would post “Denise Van Outen’s unused tampon” on Ebay first thing and let her know what I made!
Tune into I’d Do Anything on BBC1 on Saturday at 6.50pm. And the results show can be seen on Sunday at 7.30pm.
And…..Sir Andrew will be doing weekly blogs throughout the series on his own website – www.andrewlloydwebber.com.