Former prime minister Margaret Thatcher made a surprising return to the limelight in 2013 with the excellent Margaret Thatcher: Queen of Soho, which took the Edinburgh Fringe by storm with its flamboyant retelling of Maggie’s years in power (there was a lot more disco than I remember).
After successfully touring that show for a couple of years, Maggie took her natural people skills in the obvious directing by coming up with a unique game show experience, with plenty of audience interaction and political fun.
That show was again a Fringe success, and is now coming to London for a short run in May and a slightly longer one in June at the Underbelly on Southbank. We caught up with Maggie to ask the hard hitting questions.
Good afternoon Mrs Thatcher. How are you today?
I’m wonderful, dear. I’m just taking a break from rehearsing my show Margaret Thatcher Queen of Game Shows to do a bit of catching up on all the election news. Paul Nuttall wants to introduce a ban on face veils, which is ironic as his face is one we’d all rather see less of. Tim Farron can’t decide wether or not homosexualtiy is a sin, leading Lib Dem strategists to reach out to the gay community with the slogan ‘Love the Liberals, hate the Tim’. And Jeremy Corbyn wants to have four new bank holidays to give us all less work, although let’s be honest, if things carry on the way they’re going, he’s not likely to have to work at all after polling day.
You’re about to take your game show to the South Bank. What can audiences expect?
What can they not expect, dear! It’ll be like all the Saturday night game shows you loved as a child, except with a host who’s not in prison for sex offences. There’ll be games like ‘Check Your Privilege’, ‘Brexit Through the Giftshop’ and ‘Second Referendum.’ And there’ll be hilariuos sketches and scenes that will almost certainly have to be rewritten because of the election! What’s more, as it’s part of the Underbelly Festival in the giant purple cow tent on South Bank, I can honestly say it’ll be the most fun anyone’s had inside a cow since the porn remake of Zootropolis.
You had a run of the show last year at the Fringe. Did Edinburgh take to your hosting charms?
Well, dear, as you know, I’ve always been popular in Scotland. I was the Ruth Davidson of my day, only not gay and people could understand me because I spoke the Queen’s English. My show went down very well, one woman liked it so much she threw up in someone else’s handbag. And I was very glad the Scottish audience took a break from deep frying things to come and compete in my show – I wouldn’t let them touch me of course, but I was glad to see them there. They really got into the competition though, maybe it was because there was no independence referendum that year, they were just glad to have something to divide them.
What made you want to make the move from pioneering politican to game show host?
Well, I was sitting down to watch television one night and I happened upon a triple bill of Pride, Brassed Off and Billy Elliot, and it got me thinking about my time as Prime Minister. I began to feel something I’d never felt before. Could it be… Regret? Thankfully it turned out to be wind. So I changed the channel to an episode of ‘Take Me Out’, it was absolutely terrible and I thought ‘this is pathetic, anyone could do this.’ So I did.
Who are your game show host heroes? Jim Davidson? Anne Robinson? Bob Holness?
Well, Jim Davidson is a good friend of mine, and he took me out for lunch to give me some advice. Now, people think he’s a sexist, but he’s a reformed character – he only tried to put his hand up my skirt four times. No such restraint was shown by Anne Robinson. But I love all the great British game shows. And they’re so relevant to politics. What do I think of I when I consider the Lib Dem’s 2015 electoral results? Total Wipe Out. What about when British assets are sold off to the Chinese? The Price is Right. And how does the average conservatvie politican finance their campaign? Family Fortunes.
The only other person I’m aware of to have combine politics and game show hosting is Robert Kilroy Silk. Have you watched any Shafted for inspiration?
I don’t watch internet pornography, dear. And I certainly didn’t watch any old game shows for research. I watched them so I could blatantly steal entire bits from them.
It’s a very turbulent time at the moment for the UK. Do you have any words of advice to voters ahead of the general election?
Just this. Remember, if you are on the left, what’s really important at this time is to maintain your cool, keep things in perspective, forget about the Tories and instead focus on the petty disagreements you have with each other. It’s not the winning that counts, it’s the taking part… in pointless arguments on social media!
You had a very special relationship with Ronald Reagan during your time in office. Any thoughts on how Theresa May is doing with President Trump?
I never had to hold Ronald’s hand when he walked downstairs, although in fairness, that’s because he was so old he’d had a stairlift installed. But I like that Theresa has struck up a good relationship with the Donald. People say he’s misogynist, but some of his favourite possessions are women.
In the 1970s you campaigned for the UK to remain in the European Community. Whose side were you on in last year’s referendum?
We all made mistakes in the 70s, dear. Just ask anyone who ever owned a vinyl jumpsuit. However, I must say in the end I voted remain. It was the advert on the side of the Leave campaign’s big red bus that swung it for me. I don’t care if it was a lie, I’m never going to vote for any side that promisess to give £350 million to the NHS!
What are you plans after this run of shows at the South Bank? Back to Edinburgh in August?
Well, dear, I’m going back to the Edinburgh Fringe before the next independence referendum means I’ll need a visa to perform there. I’ve got some other exciting news in the pipeline about my other show Margaret Thatcher Queen of Soho. And, assuming Jeremy Corbyn don’t pull a majority-shaped rabbit out of a squeezed-middle shaped hat, I’m going to run to replace him as leader of the Labour Party
Maggie Thatcher: Queen of Game Shows is at the Underbelly, Southbank on:
May 12-13, June 28 – July 2