Written By: Mark Armstrong
Having spoken to the man behind the Magic Mirror in the Epstein Theatre production of Snow White, Derek Acorah (read our interview with Derek here), it’s now time to chat with the lady who will be quizzing said mirror! And it’s not just any lady – it’s Kim Woodburn, star of How Clean Is Your House and somebody who maintains a strong presence on television to this day. We spoke to Kim about Snow White, How Clean Is Your House and what the most unpleasant things are that she has cleaned (you have been warned!).
First of all, tell us about your character in Snow White And The Seven Dwarfes.
I’m playing the Wicked Queen! I’ve been in several pantos, but this is the one I am most excited about because the theatre is tiny, it’s Liverpool which I love – I lived here from when I was 16 to when I was 42, so it’s like an adopted home for me – and we’ll be having a good laugh. I’ve met all the cast, they’re lovely; Derek Acorah is the man in the mirror which is a great idea. With the Scousers in the audience cheering us on, we can’t go wrong, can we?
You rose to fame on How Clean Is Your House. How much did that show change your life?
Well, I was 61 when I got the job on television. Nobody had ever done a cleaning show before; I think it was experimental, and most of them thought that it wouldn’t be popular to see someone cleaning the loos and shouting at people. But it was an instant hit. I did it for seven years, and they even flew us out to Hollywood, New York and Las Vegas to do it there. We wrote four books, and suddenly the money was pouring in, and I liked it! When you’re 61, like most people on the breadline, you think that you’ll pay this bill but you can’t afford that bill, and whether the gas will be cut off. And suddenly, you realise that you can pay any bill, but I never take it for granted. It began in 2003, so it’s been 15 years, but I still say that I am thrilled to bits to have made enough money to have no bills, I can own the house and I’ve got a good marriage – we’ll have been married for 40 years in 2019 – and I still say “haven’t I been lucky?” You never get over it when you’ve been on the breadline for so long, and I’m ever so grateful. I really am grateful.
There must have been all sorts of different situations that you encountered on the show!
Oh yeah! American houses, English houses – people ask me all the time “are the Americans as dirty as the British”? A dirty house is still a dirty house, but it smells worse in a hot climate, so it stinks more!
What were the things that you dreaded having to clean in people’s houses?
The toilets, of course, and especially when they’ve got animals and they don’t take the animals out. There’s animal faeces all over the house, in people’s beds; they sleep in that! They don’t take the bedsheets off for 5-6 years at a time, and you put your nose down there and you can’t breathe! But if you live like that, you can’t smell that because you’ve become so accustomed to it. The toilets are never cleaned; faeces on the seats, the sides, the walls, the floors; it is such dirt that it is unbelievable, more than the mind can imagine. It is such gross dirt, and the smells are awful. The people are nice, but they just couldn’t understand how to clean up their dirt. Even the ovens, and also the dishes being piled up, and the teacups with fungus growing in them after being there for ten years. Then you open the fridge and all the food is dripping down, having been there for years. You’d just close it, knowing that you’d have to clean it later. The dirt was incredible, but it made for a darn good show! I’m not going to knock it!
You appeared on Celebrity Big Brother last year; how did you find that experience?
Celebrity Big Brother was the hardest show that I’ve ever done. I walked into a terrible atmosphere, as you saw on the show. I was very angry by it, because my upset was anger. When I saw that 6-7 people were ganging up, and that comes from years ago when I was a little girl and I would hate to see injustice, but people who are gang-handed and come to you and say something – they’re cowardly, rotten people, and if they were on their own, they wouldn’t come near you. That angers me, because that is the lowest form of bullying; it’s like in the streets today, where you’ll see a gang of people, whether it’s boys or girls, aggravating a person who can’t defend themselves. Now, if they were on their own, that boy or that girl wouldn’t say a word. It’s cowardly, filthy, disgusting behaviour, and I don’t like it. So when I went into Big Brother, and I was getting it done to me, I got angrier and angrier, and my anger was spitting feathers. That’s why I was so bad-tempered and called them all sorts of names. They were disgusting. I don’t take it back. Plus, when they came out of the house, they’ve been filmed and their words have been heard, so how can they say that they didn’t say it? They’re just foolish; they must be thick, as they’ve done it on a recording, and there’s no firmer proof than that, so I rest my case. If they had brains, they’d be dangerous wouldn’t they? But I still appear on Big Brother’s Bit On The Side, I’ll be on it this week; I go on that quite a lot. Rylan is lovely; he does a marvellous show.
Finally, why should the Liverpool audience come to see Snow White?
I’m thrilled to bits, having started out in Liverpool when I was 16. I came here on my own, I got a grubby little bedsit, and found myself some work. Liverpool cheered me up; I’ve had many a laugh here, and I thanked the people very much for that. It’s like my second home, and to be here in Liverpool for a pantomime – I’m going to make them laugh if I can, I’ll do the best I can, and they’re good sports here, they laugh at a great deal of things, so I think we’re going to have a great panto!
Snow White And The Seven Dwarfes runs at the Epstein Theatre from Friday December 7 to Wednesday January 2 2019. To book your tickets, click here.