LA VOIX is big star — big hair, big laughs and even bigger legions of fans — but when the Britain’s Got Talent semi-finalist and Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie star isn’t wowing crowds around the world, she lives in a cottage in the countryside, surrounded by fields and wildlife.
Tell us about your first home…
I bought it in 2004. It was a three-bed apartment in Forest Hill, south London. It was just outside of the town centre, so it was more affordable, and there were a lot of singers and performers there. When I was flat-hunting, I was doing a lot of panto and it seemed like everyone was moving there, yet I hadn’t really heard of it. It was a family area, so it edged on the slightly boring for someone in their twenties.
Did you stand out in that area?
Darling, with this red hair I was a beacon of light in that dark corner of Forest Hill.
What was it like?
It was very much a professional person’s complex, with everyone working in the corporate world. They disappeared during the day and I could sing and rehearse without upsetting anyone. The apartment block had an indoor gym and pool. We used to have fabulous pool parties. Actually, I think I may have brought a bit of glamour to the area. We would go to the pool at 1am — you probably can’t do that now. I used to work with David Gest, who would be awake at all hours. He once took a dip in our pool. I’d probably not be allowed back in Forest Hill now.
What put you in a position to buy?
I had a very theatrical father who, along with my mother, worked very hard and helped me get a deposit together. We only paid around £180,000. It seemed astronomical, but ten years later when I moved out the value had increased hugely.
What did you learn?
I learned a lot about renovating and making the apartment my home. It was my first home and I loved it dearly. It was a huge jump from the north east of England. I mean, all we have there are trestle tables and lino flooring. I now had a gym, a pool and a Sainsbury’s round the corner.
Where did you go from there?
I moved to Greenwich for a while and got a Georgian townhouse. It was smaller but it was beautiful, with delightful sash windows. But as my show grew, so did my gowns and feathers and I was soon drowning in ostrich feathers. I needed more space. Dear friends of mine have a hotel — Champneys, in Tring — and so I stayed there for several months while house hunting. I came to realise I liked the area, so I bought a house round there. I now live in an old Rothschild cottage surrounded by trees, badgers and fields — and I have a huge store for all my dresses. It’s a very different life to London, however my driver Joanne is somewhat speedy and can get me into London in around 45 minutes.
Most memorable moment?
House viewing. I love a good rummage around people’s homes, looking at the terrible décor people choose — and carpets. You think someone chose that colour, it didn’t just end up there. On the flip side, I love looking at people’s nick-nacks. If you ever come round, I’ll show you mine. I collect them on my travels around the globe and when I come home they bring back such happy memories.
What are you up to now?
I’m busy planning for my 2020 tour, The UK’s Funniest Red Head! — which starts in February and goes all over the country — and another new show, which I’ll be taking aboard P&O’s Iona cruise ship in May. I’ll also be back on BBC Three Counties Radio.
AREA GUIDE: FOREST HILL
FOREST Hill might not be as cheap as it once was, but it still has massive appeal for a number of good reasons. Its elevated position gives great views of the capital and makes it feel separate from the Big Smoke — if that’s what you’re after — with everything families and young professionals need. There are gyms, large green spaces, some nice independent shops and plenty of semi-detached and terraced properties that have largely been modernised. The majority of sales in Forest Hill during the last year were flats, selling for an average price of £362,103. Terraced properties sold for an average price of £615,850, with semi-detached properties fetching £847,753. Forest Hill has an overall average price of £522,382 (rightmove.co.uk).