Date: 18 July 1998
Originally published in: The Times (UK)
Written by: Joe Warwick
Joyce Wilde left the all-singing, all-dancing Vernon Girls, who in the 1950s promoted the Vernon Pools, for the arms of Fifties rocker Marty Wilde.
She married at 18, and by the time she was 21 she had an additional two mouths to feed with the birth of a daughter, Kim, and a son, Ricky. Both, with music in their blood, have famously followed in their parents’ footsteps.
Joyce found it hard work when she first had to cook for her husban and two children. “When I retired from dancing and got married I couldn’t even boil an egg, let alone do anything ese”, she says. “I wasn’t really up on anything and so it was mostly boil-in-the-bag stuff in those days.”
Having said that, she likes to believe that her children’s diet never suffered because of her initial ineptitude in the kitchen. “I think I’ve always been health conscious in what I gave to my children. I think because I was a dancer that I was always aware of the importance of diet and fitness.”
In winter, Joyce always makes the family a roast dinner on a Sunday. She looks forward to this meal for which the family still gather on a regular basis. “I like to make a good old roast dinner, that’s something that comes from my Mum and Dad, with a good drop of gravy. I appreciate that and I think that everyone else appreciates it”, she says.
Her gravy is a particular source of pride and, occasionally, conflict. “I’m meant to be the gravy maker in the whole family and if anybody makes better gravy I get really fed up”, she says with a chuckle. “I don’t like it one bit, and people do manage it sometimes.”
Joyce remains modest about her culinary abilities and insists that even after 39 years of marriage, she is no more than a competent cook who can do her roast dinners well, although when pushed she admits that she ‘can cook a nice meal that will suit everyone.’
This has not always been easy because Joyce’s younger daughter, 19, flirted with vegetarianism for a period. “At ten she decided to put herself on a meat-free diet for a while”, explains Joyce. “I think it’s a wonderful way to eat and that there are some wonderful recipes. We never made a fuss about her diet until it got to the point where she was watching us eat our sausages and roast dinners and she’d have a little pick at them. In the end she just drifted back to eating meat.” Joyce has some words of wisdom for parents who may disapprove of their children’s choice of diet. “Never make a fuss at the table, I say, let them do their own thing”, she advises.
Her more famous daughter, Kim, had a much more serious problem with her diet at the height of her pop fame in the 1980s. “She went through a period with her carer where she was under pressure and was binge-eating. It was big news at the time”, Joyce recalls. “Things take their toll in this business.”
These days Kim has left all that behind her. Married just under two years ago to actor Hal Fowler, who she met while he was co-starring with her in the West End musical Tommy, she now has a son, whose diet she is very particular about.
“Kim is very into gardening”, explains her mother. “Everything she puts into my grandson’s mouth is homegrown produce. She is very careful about what goes in everyone’s mouth.”
Mrs Wilde’s emphasis on healthy eating ties in nicely with the fitness video she is making. There is, she admits, a slight a chink in the Wilde family’s health armour. “I suppose like everyone we like to have a drink, I think that is everyone’s downfall”, she says.
She could be speaking of her husband Marty, who was handed a 15-month road ban for drink-driving at the beginning of the year after being caught over the legal limit on a return journey from his local pub at Christmas. At the moment, the ageing rocker has to cycle everywhere. “He cycles to the gym with an apple every day”, says Joyce.
Things weren’t so healthy when he was on tour in the Fifties and Sixties. “I can’t say we were as body conscious then”, says Joyce. “You don’t have as much choice when you are up and down the motorway, passing Little Chefs”.