Date: 10 August 2002
Originally published in: Evening Chronicle (UK)
Kim Wilde always dreamed of bringing up children in the countryside and living off the land. Then the small matter of international pop stardom got in the way and she had to push the plan to the back of her mind for a while. Now, though, she is living the dream – and loving every minute of it.
She has an idyllic rural life and, as the resident gardening guru on ITV’s daytime show This Morning, which returns next month, she gets to put her green fingers to work and gets well paid for it. “It might be a huge leap from pop to gardening but it’s one that I wanted to make and I’m delighted at the way things are working out,” says Kim.
As an 80s sex bomb with a mane of blonde hair, she drove fans wild and notched up a string of hit singles in the process. Now, though, she’s more interested in the spuds in her garden than the Kids In America. Home is a delightful country retreat in Hertfordshire, where she lives with her husband Hal Fowler and their children Harry, four, and two-year-old Rosie.
“I first got into gardening when I was still in the music business,” says 42-year-old Kim, the eldest daughter of veteran pop singer Marty Wilde. “I’d get back from doing stressful TV appearances and travelling and run outside into the garden with my make-up and stage clothes still on. It was brilliant therapy – a complete antidote to the rigours of the pop business. Eventually I decided to give gardening a go. I’d had enough of the pop business, so I enrolled on a gardening course and took it from there. I’m very pleased that I made the move. I had been worrying for some time about what I would do with the rest of my life. After all, I didn’t want to be a pouting pop star pushing 50, trying to get by. I realised that unless I made a career change, my world could be snatched away and I’d be just another unemployed has-been.”
Kim’s happiness today is in marked contrast to the period in her early 30s when she was struck by a bout of depression. “It was triggered by stress,” she says. “I have never felt so helpless in my life. I loved my years on the pop scene, having the hit records and the champagne lifestyle, but there’s a price to pay. The demands are so great that you have to be really tough to survive. Of course, coming from a rock family helped. Dad had seen it all before and still goes out on tour today because he loves it so much. And if my kids eventually want to make a career in the pop world, then I wouldn’t stop them – not if that’s what they really wanted to do. I still get back on stage occasionally to do 80s nostalgia tours (she’s back at Newcastle’s Telewest Arena on December 12), so I get the best of both words. I am a very lucky woman, completely fulfilled. Even when I was young, I yearned for the day I’d be out feeding chickens and growing vegetables. It was my fantasy to be bringing up children in the countryside.Meeting Hal, who is an actor and producer, helped make that dream come true.”
She found the switch from pop to the land relatively easy. And mixing with gardeners instead of celebrities like Michael Jackson, with whom she once toured, and Chris Evans, whom she dated, was no problem. “I love talking about plants and gardening and sharing that with like-minded people. To be honest, I’m more in awe of some gardeners than I am pop stars. For instance, I remember when I met Alan Titchmarsh a few years ago. I was starstruck and just stood there like a loved-up teenager.”