| Petula Clark was part of a sound that helped define the 1960s UK
music scene. The fact that her hit
song Downtown can still pack a
dance floor almost 40 years after she
first recorded it is just one testament to
the legacy of the sound of the times.
Petula (bottom, right) is now 68, but
shows no signs of slowing down or
retiring from showbusiness, where she
has made her career since starting as a
child star of UK movies during World
War II. She's still busy with touring
schedules, concert dates and even
rehearsals for a new Broadway musical.
The Grammy-winning singer arrives
in Australia this week to kick off a series
of nationwide concerts, starting in Perth
on Saturday, February 17.
"This one is a flying visit and really
far too short for a place as wonderful
as Australia," Petula tells TV WEEK.
Petula, who starred in movies such
as Finian's Rainbow and Goodbye Mr
Chips and in recent years has appeared
on stage in Sunset Boulevard, has been
in New York, negotiating to star in a
new stage musical.
"Maybe if this new show is a success,
I'll have to insist we do a season in
Australia," she says. "That way I can
spend a couple of months there rather
than doing just a few concerts."
While Petula enjoyed a string of
worldwide number one hits in the 1960s
including Don't Sleep In The Subway, I Know a Place and Colour My World, it's still Downtown that's by far her most famous song.
"This song has been remixed, sampled
and fiddled with so many times and it
just keeps on working," she says.
"The fact that new generations keep
discovering it is wonderful. It seems
to have a life of its own now."
When speaking with Petula, it becomes
clear that she's more interested in her
years ahead than celebrating her old
"I'm not interested at all in doing a
book," she says. "The idea of sitting
around for a couple of years and going
back over my life - well, I can't think of
anything I'd want to do less than that.
"As for a movie, I don't think so. There
has been so much that's happened in
my life - to get through it all it would
have to be a very, very long movie. I
lived it all once ... I don't know if we
could make someone else go through it."
As for the announcement that the
life of Dusty Springfield, a contemporary
of Petula's from the 1960s who died in
March, 1999 of breast cancer, is about
to be turned into a movie produced
by Madonna and Guy Ritchie, with
Madonna speculated to play the lead,
seems less than impressed.|
"Who could play Dusty? I mean, really
- who on earth could play Dusty?" she
asks, incredulously. "I was such a great
fan of hers and we only worked together
once at the San Remo festival in Italy,
but it was so memorable.
"We were sharing a portable dressing-
room in which the walls did not reach up
to the ceiling, and the paparazzi were
photographing us from over the top of
the walls while we were getting ready
for the show. Very bizarre!
"I knew for a long time that Dusty was
very ill and I did try to contact her, but
she wasn't seeing anyone." Petula
adds. "It's still one of the great regrets in
my life that I never sang with her."