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To this very day, like many, I can remember when the world was first introduced to Susan Boyle. I remember her like it was yesterday, stood there clutching her microphone wearing a gold lace dress, black tights and a wee clip in her hair. Before the audience had even heard her sing, many had already made their decision, most were giggling at her from the audience and had decided she’d be enrolled into Britain’s Got Talent for comedic value. Some people thought I looked like a doily in that dress,” she laughs. “I’d been to 12 auditions for various things before, I’d actually already auditioned for X-Factor previously and it was suggested that I should audition for Britain’s Got Talent.”

Susan Boyle
Susan in rehearsal for The Ten Tour

I was eating a Chinese takeaway at the time, and never in a thousand years did I imagine that by the end of her song – I Dreamed a Dream, I would be crying into my sweet and sour chicken, while she stood there looking rather bewildered to a standing ovation. In the words of Whitney Houston, that was her ‘one moment in time’ and a decade on, Susan continues to enthral and captivate the nation. It wasn’t just the millions of viewers who were overcome with emotion, Susan was too. “At the time my mother had just died. I would have loved her to have seen it, but I believe she was there spiritually to see what was going on. She was right beside me. I decided to just ‘tough it out’”, says Susan, and tough it out she did!

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And here I am 10 years later chatting to Susan, with vomit on my shoes. Yes, you read that correctly – vomit. Prior to the interview my son Frank had a raging temperature due to a viral infection, and was extremely poorly, initially my first thought was to cancel the interview, but luckily my husband Chris stepped in to play nurse maid. Just as I was about to leave the house, I kissed Frank goodbye and was met by a steady stream of sick which splattered over my boots. But being the professional I am, soldiered on…

I’ve only been chatting with Susan for a few seconds and it’s apparent that I’ve met my match. Being a Yorkshire lass, I enjoy banter and have always have a speedy retort, but Susan’s giving me ‘a run for my money’, she has a speedy response for every ‘funny line’ I deliver. She is, as we would say in Yorkshire, ‘wick’ – not surprising when you consider she has an extraordinarily high IQ. I concede defeat.

“THE FUTURE IS THE FUTURE, IT’S THE HERE AND NOW WE MUST FOCUS ON!”

Susan Boyle Credit: Syco Entertainment and Nicky Johnston
Susan Boyle. Credit: Syco Entertainment and Nicky Johnston

Susan is a Blackburn lass. Born and bred in the town of Blackburn in Scotland. Yes, that’s right, there are two Blackburns! She continues to live in her parents’ home where she grew up, despite buying a new build down the road, she feels happier at her homestead. Reported to be worth £40 million, money doesn’t play a part in her decisions. Susan is wholesome and genuine, a rare commodity in today’s ‘celebrity’ culture. It’s blatantly obvious that Susan is motivated by music and not money, and after a recent sabbatical, this Scottish lassie is back to celebrate a decade in showbusiness.

“I enjoy singing in front of the public. It’s good to get back out there again, after six years, there has been a bit of a gap. I had to go away and revamp myself and revamp my act. Life is very exciting.”

She certainly has revamped herself. Gone has the extra weight, along with her signature gold lacey dress (although she assures me, she still has it hung in her wardrobe), and here she is looking like she’s just stepped off the catwalk.

You look hot, how have you done it? I ask.

“Hot?” she asks, and then I’m met with silence for a second before she erupts into a fit of giggles.

“Ah…you mean…” she shrieks, slightly embarrassed. Yes, Susan, you look great, I confirm.

Still laughing, she replies, “I’ve just cut back on the things that are bad for me. I do a lot of walking and cycling. And if you’ve got an exercise bike you can sit down and watch Coronation Street at the same time!”

With an exhausting tour schedule ahead of her it’s probably just as well she is fighting fit. The Ten Tour promises to wow audiences. The spectacular concert will feature her greatest hits and some incredible new genres of music in an honest and intimate show that will inspire and delight, just as she did 10 years ago. She’ll be joined on the tour by fellow BGT alumni Jai McDowall.

Susan Boyle Credit: Syco Entertainment and Nicky Johnston
Susan Boyle Credit: Syco Entertainment and Nicky Johnston

Performing in 15 cities across the United Kingdom, starting on the 3rd of March through to the 25th of March 2020, Susan will visit The Palace Theatre, Manchester on the 11th March.

“This will be an all-new show, like nothing you’ve seen me do before,” she grins. “It’s a great collaboration, Jai will be opening the show and performing other songs as well. I’ve known Jai for several years, and he’s a lovely guy. It’ll be two Scots singing together. There’s a mixture of tunes, some that I know go down well. I might even do a bit of dancing. But I don’t want to give too much away as I like to tease people!”

Despite performing alongside Michael Ball and Elaine Paige, Susan is a soloist, so I wondered how she found performing with someone else.

“It feels more like a family now, Susan Boyle and friends,” she smiles. “If you’re on your own, you carry the show on your own, you make mistakes on your own as well,” she giggles. “But, when you’re with others, if you make mistakes you have others there to help put you right.

“Being in the studio, you tend to be isolated. It’s just you, the music and the producer. Playing live is a ‘different kettle of fish’, there’s an audience in front of you, you’ve got a band and then everyone else around you. It’s a kind of protection really. It’s good fun. We all support each other, it’s a team effort.

“ALONGSIDE HER SWEET DEMEANOUR, SUSAN HAS A WICKED SENSE OF HUMOUR”

“When you’re performing, you’re sharing with the audience. And they’re all friendly, they’ve all come along to see you.” Despite the love and admiration she receives from her massive following, she admits to taking great comfort from taking Pebbles with her on tour. I immediately imagined her wandering around lugging carrier bags full of stones around. But she quickly assures me that isn’t the case. Pebbles is her “wee cuddly toy.”

Alongside her sweet demeanour, Susan has a wicked sense of humour, which has helped her overcome the many challenges life has thrown at her. Bullied from a young age, this lass certainly knows her own strength. “You have to stick up for yourself,” she says confidently, “because if they see you as weak, they’ll just give you more!”

Nowadays, Susan’s success has outshone her bullies of yesteryear, however, she recently found herself in a situation where she had to run from the crowds.

“A group of lasses saw me, and I didn’t feel like talking to anybody on that particular day. So, I made a run for it and ended up hiding in a cubicle in the ladies’ toilets. I asked if she flushed the toilet on her exit, “That’s a rather personal question, of course, I did!” she answers, howling with laughter.

I was keen to learn how Susan Boyle from Blackburn managed to muster up enough confidence and when she first stood on the stage at the BGT audition. What advice would she give to someone who is lacking confidence to ‘dare to dream’?

“My advice would be to be in the moment and enjoy the moment and have a ball! The future is the future, it’s the here and now we must focus on! You must be able to laugh at yourself and your mistakes and believe you me I’ve made some clangers! You must take life in your stride, I like a challenge, and this is very challenging!”

One thing that can be said for Susan is she’s not work shy, and believes her work ethic comes from her father, who was once a miner. “I was a real daddy’s girl,” she grins. “I was his favourite! My siblings used to go mad, as I got away with a lot.” The youngest of nine children, Susan jokes, “there was no television!”

When it comes to work, Susan openly admits that it’s her work that has help shape her as a person. “When I first went entered this business, I was a rookie. I didn’t have a clue what I was doing and I took things too personally. I’m much more professional now and I can cope a lot easier now. I believe in being honest with people, there’s no point in pretending to be somebody you’re not. You must be yourself; people find that more endearing.”

The first time I ever met Susan Boyle was at Madame Tussaud’s in Blackpool. There she was grinning from ear to ear next her waxy doppelganger. “It’s still there. I’m tempted to go back to see if it would fit into my new size of clothing,” she jokes. “My friend went there recently and had her picture taken with Simon Cowell, and then she found my model and had her picture taken with it. Looking at the pictures, I found it so surreal.” It’s no secret that our Susan is a big fan of Simon Cowell, and I believe she also has a soft spot for Piers Morgan, so if she had the choice, who would she choose? “That’s a difficult one. I’m fond of them both. I couldn’t possibly choose.”

As our chat draws to a close, I thank her for her time, and before I leave, she asks, “How’s wee Frank, will he be ok?”.

“I’m sure he’ll be fine,” I reply looking down at my stained boots.

Mar 1 Usher Hall – Edinburgh FIND TICKETS
Mar 3 Dundee Caird Hall – Dundee FIND TICKETS
Mar 4 SEC Armadillo – Glasgow FIND TICKETS
Mar 6 Royal Concert Hall Notts – Nottingham FIND TICKETS
Mar 7 New Victoria Theatre – Woking FIND TICKETS
Mar 8 Bristol Hippodrome – Bristol FIND TICKETS
Mar 10 St David’s Hall – Cardiff FIND TICKETS
Mar 11 Palace Theatre – Manchester FIND TICKETS
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