Date: 1 June 1996
Originally published in: Hello! (UK)
With a starring role in the hit West End musical Tommy and a new man in her life, 1996 is providing to be a great year for Kim Wilde. Long established as one of Britain’s top pop singers, 35-year-old Kim – the daughter of rock’n’roll star Marty Wilde and former Vernon’s Girl, Joyce Baker, who is also her manager – is now dating Hal Fowler, the actor who plays Cousin Kevin in the show.
Many of Kim’s hit records, including Kids In America and Chequered Love were written by Marty and Kim’s producer brother Ricki, 34. Her other brother, 15-year-old Marty junior, is already a promising golfer, while her sister Roxanne, 16, is excelling as a showjumper.
For the past five years Kim has lived close to the family’s Hertfordshire home and recording studios, in a 16th-century barn which she herself helped to convert into a magnificent six-bedroom mansion. Now for the first time ever Kim gives Hello! an exclusive viewing and talks to us about her latest love and success…
Kim, how do you feel about the success of Tommy?
“After I opened Michael Jackson’s 1988 tour for three months and 30 shows, I never thought anything would come close to the euphoria which surrounded that. Then Tommy came along and it has completely blown me away – and much more so than that experience or any other that I’ve had in my career.”
Had you been intending to move into acting?
“Not exactly. I was put off by a lot of pop stars getting involved in acting. Although people like Gary and Martin Kemp do it really well, there are others who don’t. I’m also not at a point in my life where I want to waste six months of my time doing something that’s anything less than excellent. I don’t care how much notoriety it gets me or how many Hollywood friends. I really just wanted to do Tommy because I was in love with the music.”
Did you ever consider this project could be a big risk to your career?
“You know, I didn’t think about the consequences too much. I think people around me, like my management and my family and my record company, probably thought more about them. But, as soon as they saw the energy that I had to do the project, they all fell in. They all sort of trusted my instincts and my instincts were very strong right away. From the very first moment, I knew I had to be involved with the project.”
Did you personally have any doubts as to whether you could pull it off?
“Sure, some. But then, when I was asked to work with Michael Jackson and to present The Big Breakfast on TV a couple of years ago, I didn’t think I could do that either. But, then when I did it, I did rather well really. I actually thought I’d pretty much pushed my career to the limit, with live performance and so on, as a pop star. But that was really narrow-minded of me, and also a reflection of my own lack of self-confidence.”
Doing the show must have made quite a difference to your lifestyle as it is.
“Yes, it certainly has. I’ve been happily living here in Hertfordshire for five years now, and now all of a sudden I’m living in London all week. My living arrangements and my social life have been turned upside down. Actually, for years I was longing for a regular job. Scooting off on aeroplanes and things has been an incredible privilege and a wonderful thing to do, but I was really longing for a bit of stability. I also love meeting all these actors and actresses and people with different viewpoints, attitudes and careers. It’s really exciting. It’s much better than I thought it could possibly ever be.”
How long are you intending to stay in the show?
“Well, they’ve got me on contract for a year, until next spring, and that’s my intention.”
Are you not concerned that your pop career might suffer as a result?
“No because I’m still recording. In fact, I’ve got a single coming out in June. And there also talks under way at the moment for my own radio show, which will probably be weekly. That would be an interesting departure and something I could get my teeth into. I feel like I could do anything these days.”
It certainly seems that your life has suddenly gone into overdrive.
“I think it’s a lot to do with my age. I’ve changed a lot in the last few years and I’ve really, really got to know myself. Living here for the last five years has helped and I have truly found myself. I know what I want, what I don’t want, why I want it, and why I don’t want it. And things keep happening and they keep compounding other feelings that I have about why things happen, and I’m just going with the flow and putting my trust completely in what’s going on around me and I don’t question it too much, which I always used to.”
So it’s learning to relax that has made this change in you…
“I think just really learning to trust your instincts and the voice inside your head and giving in a bit to something that’s greater than yourself and having trust in the fact that it’s good and benevolent and supporting you. I suppose it’s a spiritual feeling that I have, becoming spiritually enlightened as a human.”
The press have always taken a very keen interest in you love life – how difficult has that been for you to deal with?
“It’s had its difficult moments, most certainly. But ultimately, you know, it’s between two people. The press have created awkward scenarios, but none more than the awkward scenarios that I’ve managed to create with some individuals, all on my own! I can’t point any blame at the press for my success, or lack of it in romantic situations. I don’t have any grudge to bear really.”
Some press reports have even gone so far as to make out that you can’t hold on to a man and that you’re sad and lonely. Does that upset you?
“No, because I’m not. I’m the one that has to wake up with myself in the morning and as long as I’m alright and feel contented when I wake up, I don’t really care what they’re saying. Most of the time I’ve had a good reaction from the press. Just now and again they like to dig in, but I don’t think any more or less than at anyone else. In fact, probably a lot less.”
Much was made of your relationship with TV and radio presenter Chris Evans although it was later revealed that you only went together for six weeks. Did you feel the whole thing was blown out of proportion?
“No. It was an intense relationship and had a profound effect on both of us. Actually, it was made out to be rather trite, suggesting six weeks is nothing when six weeks can be a lifetime sometimes. But that’s okay, we know what it was all about.”
So, if it was so intense, why didn’t it last?
“Well, I can’t go into that. All, I know is that sometimes two people meet and have a profound effect on each other, and it can be years before they understand why. The world works in very mysterious, very wonderful ways. Through meeting him lots of things changed for me – a lot of attitudes to myself, about my work and a whole number of things. Meeting him has been great, it’s been great to have him in my life, and I don’t regret it at all. I’ll have a lot of respect and time for him always.”
You’ve since worked together on television. So are you still great mates?
You’ve even been seen out on the town with his ex-wife – are you now good friends with her too?
“Yeah, I know Carol very well and we’re very good friends. It’s all very cool.”
Tell us about your relationship with your Tommy co-star, Hal Fowler.
“I don’t really want to discuss my relationship right now, except to say that I’m extraordinarily happy with my boyfriend. I’m scared to talk about those sort of things these days.”
Can you see this one lasting?
“Time will tell. I’m having a great time, a really great time. I’m very, very happy and very, very relaxed for the first time in many, many years. Everything feels just perfect right now. Really perfect.”
There’s a good deal of social pressure on people in their mid-30’s to settle down. Do you get affected by that at all?
“No. Not at all. I’ve always been very clear about that in my own head. I’d rather be single and unmarried and with no children when I’m 80 than be with the wrong person and have children under circumstances that I didn’t feel were right for me. I’m not saying that for anyone else, Just for me. I want to bring children up in a stable relationship. I’d rather not do it at all than do it wrong and that’s how I am about the rest of my life. I’d rather not do anything unless I try and do it absolutely the best that I can or that it can be done.”
But you’re an old-fashioned girl from an old fashioned family. Isn’t a white wedding and happy family vitally important for you?
“I don’t know, I don’t think about it too much. I think white weddings are nice parties, but what’s more important is how people are each day, how they get on and if they can make it through 24 hours a day together. That for me is a far more romantic, and a bigger challenge to me than some white wedding and a lot of roses. In fact, a white wedding to me would be rather a gig. It must means I’d have to hire hair and make-up another day, so it would be like doing a session for Hello! magazine!. For a lot of people weddings are like the best day of your life but, because I do lots of gigs, I don’t know.”
You mentioned children earlier… is the old body clock ticking away at the moment?
“It’s not at all actually. I do despair with my body because I’ll probably leave it too late, knowing me. I don’t understand it, because my mum is extraordinarily maternal. I’m surrounded by children, so maybe that’s held the clock back a little bit. Maybe my clock will start screaming in a few years, like Madonna’s seems to have done. But then she is a few years older than I am!”
It would be a terrible shame if you didn’t have children though, wouldn’t it?
“Yeah, of course it would be a shame because I love them and I get on very well with them. I have a great hope that I will have them in the right circumstances one day. Not too soon though.”
Are you sharing this home with your boyfriend at the moment?
“Well, I’m living in London during the week at the moment because of Tommy. But when I’m here I share it with my friends and my family and people who I love, and he is one of them.”
Why did you decide to make your home here when you already had an apartment in London?
“Well, I found it when I was about 28. i was still living in London, but I was staying at our studio in Hertfordshire while recording there, and I was thinking ‘I don’t really want to be in London, I want to be back here’. I’d left home very early, as soon as I had my first hit with Kids In America, and I did that growing up thing in London. But I thought ‘One day I want to go back home – not to my Mum and Dad, but to my own home’. I had never felt at home in London, and I wanted to be in the countryside and to watch my little brother and sister and my niece and nephew grow up. And the only way I was going to be able to do that was here.”
So how did you find this place?
“When I was staying at the studio, local newspapers would come through the front door with barn conversions in them and I went to look at a number of them because I really fancied the idea of living in a timber structure.”
Why was that?
“There’s a great deal of warmth and I wanted to live somewhere where no one else had live. I didn’t want to live somewhere where there were ghosts. I always feel there are ghosts in houses.”
So there are no ghosts here then.
“People ask if it is haunted and I say ‘Sometimes in the dead of night I wake up and I see this white face looking down at me, with four legs and I wake up and go ‘Aaaaargh!’. And then I realise it’s only a goat!”
What do you know about the history of this place?
“It’s a 16th-century Grade II listed barn. There used to be an old chicken farm here, and this was a farm building. It was full of hay and chickens when I arrived, and I just fell in love with it. It was so peaceful and I thought ‘Wow, I’d love to live here…'”
Turning a 16th-century barn into a great big modern home must have been quite some undertaking for you.
“Absolutely. It was a ridiculous situation. This pop star who lives in London and has no experience whatsoever buys herself a 400-year-old barn and designs it with an architect. And then I started having anxiety attacks thinking ‘Kim, who do you think you are? Just because you can afford it, does that mean you can take this lovely old building and do God knows what with it?’ But I’m happy to say that I’ve made mostly the right decisions for this place and I didn’t really change it very much.
How many years did it take to really get it into shape?
“About a year and a half with all the various setbacks. It was about two-thirds more expensive to do than I thought it would be, but it was all worth it in the end.”
As far as you are concerned is it finished now?
“Well I only started on the garden last year. I built the pond. But I take things very slowly here. I don’t like to rush into anything. It took me four years to buy egg cups!”
Is that because you don’t have a feeling that you’re here to stay and that it doesn’t matter how long it takes?
“Yeah. I’ll never sell this house. I’ll never leave. I’m situated here with this barn and another one and a farmhouse, and we’re kind of a small community on a hill near a village with a church. There is a great community feeling here. I know most of the local people.”
What do you like to do here at home on a normal day?
“There isn’t really a normal day. There’s nothing routine about my life, apart from the show. But on an average week, I have a lot of late nights – because I can’t sleep after a show for a long time – a lot of candles, and a lot of music. So, when I come back here, i try and catch up on a lot of sleep. I need that. I sleep up until about midday, or just sit and read or drink coffee. Sometimes we go to art galleries and just do something different. I like to go away at the weekends. Come here or go away.”
Do you ever get fans turning up here?
“Yeah, some of them. But they’re most unwelcome, and I let them know that. They are very welcome to come to my recording studio or the theatre to meet me, and plenty do, but this place is off limits. Anyone who comes here who is not known to me personally is most unwelcome, and I never even bother opening the door. Anyway, I have a security system here that is sufficient to stop situations becoming too awkward.”
What would you like the future to hold for you?
“God’s given me good health. I hope that remains for my family and for myself first and foremost, and then everything else is elemental really. As long as we’re all healthy, that’s the main thing.”
But you must have a few dreams tucked away.
“Yeah. One day I would adore to have my own family. I love my career and what I’m doing out, if I was to be blessed with having a family and raising children too, I don’t think you could ever possibly find a happier human being. Because I am so ridiculously happy now, if that happened I don’t think you could talk to me any more because I’d be floating up in the clouds somewhere!”
A lot of people say life is not the same unless you can share it with somebody special. Do you agree with that?
“Absolutely. I’ve always found that my success has been all the more joyful because I’ve had fantastic people to share it with, like my friends and my family. Without that my success would have meant absolutely nothing to me at all.”