Muddy meets Mandy!
Pizza with Brendan Cole, a double act with Christopher Biggins and the blingiest panto dressing room of them all. Mandy Muden, who played the Mirror in Snow White at Wycombe Swan, tells all.
Recognise that face? Mandy Muden, magician and comedian, was a semi-finalist in Britain’s Got Talent earlier this year, winning over Cowell and crew with her earthy humour and raucous act. She’s now rocked up in High Wycombe to star in this year’s panto at the Wycombe Swan, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. We grabbed marvellous Mandy for a quick chinwag between rehearsals – turns out she’s friends with national treasure Christopher Biggins. ‘Course she is!
How’s the panto going?
We started rehearsing yesterday in the town hall, in a beautiful oak-panelled room with stained glass windows – it’s very glamorous. Everyone is bonding and starting to take the mickey out of each other which is a good sign. I play the evil queen’s dozy mirror and I don’t want to say too much and spoil it for the kids but there’s lots of magic and comedy involved.
Brendan Cole, Bucks local and ex Strictly dancer, plays the huntsman – any BC gossip?
Well, I’ve just been over the road for a pizza at lunchtime with Brendan. That’s about the highlight of the gossip.
Did he pay for the pizza? He once bought me a kebab (true story).
No, we all went Dutch. He did say he’d show me his rhumba soon though so that’s nice.
Describe your dressing room?
I’m sharing one with the Dame, Jason Sutton, because we’re old friends. We’re going to transform it into a boudoir cum grotto, with loads of fairy lights and tinsel. We’ll be hitting the pound shops of Wycombe later to stock up. And I’ve got a large reindeer’s head that sings Lonely This Christmas so I’ll put that on the door. There will be a fully stocked drinks cabinet so you can drop by for a Christmas cocktail if you like? I might go mad and get Pringles too. Selfridges’ grotto has nothing on this!
How did your life change after Britain’s Got Talent?
It got really, really busy. I’ve had three days off since June. And I got recognised a lot – I was in Portugal recently and an Aussie man came up and asked for a selfie because he watched the show in Australia. It goes much further afield than I thought.
What’s Simon Cowell really like?
I found him to be adorable. So nice, so encouraging and not mean at all. David Walliams, Amanda Holden and Alesha Dixon were all lovely. It was the best experience.
Were you a fan of Paul Daniels growing up?
Tommy Cooper was always my favourite. When I started in magic it was very hard for women. We weren’t allowed in the Magic Circle, it was a closed shop and there was nowhere to learn. Their argument against women joining was that we’d talk too much! They finally let us in 26 years ago. At first men would be doing tricks and when you’d go over to their table to watch, they’d stop and wait for you to leave. We had to really fight our corner but luckily it’s all changed now.
Has it all ever gone horribly wrong onstage?
At one of my shows there was this incredibly handsome man with beautiful green yes. I was so busy looking at him that I set my hair alight. I was doing this trick with fire and all my hair went up. I had to run off and extinguish it and then come back on and continue.
Did you get his number?
No, I was doing alright until I lost my hair – it started falling out in chunks when I came back on stage.
You’ve been on Come Dine With Me and Ready Steady Cook – are you a whizzy chef?
No, not at all. The reason I was on Come Dine With Me was because it was a celebrity special and my friend, Christopher Biggins, asked me to come on and do some magic for his guests. He’d mucked up his pudding and had to buy an emergency one from Waitrose so he called me up and asked me to do an act to help him win over the other diners. It must’ve worked because I think he won.
Everyone loves Biggins. How did you two meet?
We did a show together in Brighton called The Pink Revue about 15 years ago. We did an illusion together – I was wearing a hairpiece and he was supposed to twist it around but it got caught somehow and he ended up nearly twisting my head off. I screamed, he stopped, pulled off the hairpiece and clipped it onto the front of his kilt. We’ve been friends ever since.
You’ve worked a lot of cruise ships – what’s that like?
I’ve been around the world about seven times – Antarctica, North Pole, China, Japan, all these amazing places. But I get really seasick. I was on a ship once and the weather was so bad and the sea so choppy it took six days to go through Bay of Biscay. Everyone had to lie down on the floor because people kept trying to walk, falling over and breaking limbs. I still had to do my show though. I had a bucket in the wings and kept having to crawl off to be sick.
When you performed at Buckingham Palace did you bring home a little memento?
I warmed up the crowd at the Queen’s Golden Jubilee show. I couldn’t take anything home with me though because they searched our handbags. Which was a shame because I had my eye on this lovely urn – I thought it would look nice in my garden in Wimbledon.
Snow White & The Seven Dwarfs is at the Wycombe Swan from Fri 7 – Sun 30 Dec