The old saying goes “There ain’t nothing like a dame” and there’s certainly no one like Dame Edna Everage. The grande dame of showbiz has a career than has spanned 55 years and alongside Kylie and Dannii Minogue, she’s one of Australia’s most famous and glamorous exports.
And at 77, she has no plans to retire – in fact she’s got her sights set on Britain’s Got Talent.
“That panel needs upgrading,” Edna says. “I could be the new Amanda Holden. BGT would be perfect for me, Possum. I would do it if the approach was made.”
Meeting Dame Edna in the flesh is an extraordinary experience. Played by comedian Barry Humphries, 77, the Dame has mellowed somewhat – but she’s still keenly ambitious – even asking me to put in a word for her when it comes to the BGT job.
“I’ve never met Simon Cowell. I thought our paths would have crossed by now. He reminds me very much of my son, Kenny who spent a lot of time in San Francisco. There’s something about Simon Cowell… the sense that Simon could be passing through a bit of a phase, if you know what I mean.”
Dame Edna has three adult children, Bruce, Kenny, and Valmai. She claims her first daughter, Lois, was tragically abducted by a “rogue koala” during a family day in the outback whilst still an infant. Her surviving daughter, Valmai, assisted Dame Edna on her on her 2008–2009 live tour. She takes great pride in her two sons: Bruce, who is married to Joylene, and her youngest, Kenny, who designs all of her frocks.You will certainly never see Dame Edna behaving inappropriately in public, and she says that’s her secret to longevity in the industry.
She says: “I enjoy what I do and I convey that to the audience. I flatter myself that I’m a role model. And look at all these youngsters. I mean, Lady Gaga based herself on me and the poor thing has got it so badly wrong. She’s made my look grotesque. I’m a fan because if you’re as unattractive as she is then she’s done the best she could. She’s hidden her ugliness. She’s hiding behind Lady Gaga.”
And it’s not just the Papparazi singer, who feels the brunt of her sharp tongue.
“You certainly will never see me being inappropriate. I’ve never had a wardrobe malfunction. Never. Fortunately I am a bit of a Nicole Kidman when it comes to my bust. In Australia they call a white coffee a flat white –or a Nicole Kidman,” she says pointing to her chest and chuckling away.
Her style has always been truly unique – pink Margaret Thatcher-esque hair, wild bejewelled glasses and ridiculously sequin covered dresses.“I’m the Queen with a sense of style,” she announces. “Or a very youthful Margaret Thatcher. They are my style icons. “There should be a biopic of my life now. It’s time for that. I know Steven Spielberg and a few others are coming down to Wimbledon to see me in panto. It will no doubt lead to a lot of other roles too. Unfortunately they have definitely cast Meryl Streep to play Margaret Thatcher –otherwise I would have thought I would have been perfect for that. Or I could be in a film about Meryl Streep – playing the younger Meryl.”
She also seems to be a fan of Dame Helen Mirren – and even knows the secret to her much talked about bikini body. “I guess her secret must be filler and a very active romantic life,” she jokes. “People look good who are, how do I say it, active. Frankly my romantic life is on hold.”
There’s only one way to rattle the Dame – mention whether she’s going to retire at some point. “Darling, retirement doesn’t come into my agenda,” says the Dame. “And I’m disappointed that you should even think of it. I haven’t thought about it. I’ve thought about other people’s retirement though – whenever I see Bruce Forsyth I think I’ve retirement.”
Dame Edna appears at the New Winbledon Theatre and Studio in Dick Whittington this Christmas. Book at www.atgtickets.com/wimbledon