This Life: The fairy's story

SUE Hodge is best known for her role as the waitress Mimi Labonq in the popular and long-running BBC sitcom 'Allo 'Allo.

She is currently starring as the Fairy Godmother in Cinderella, which runs at the Carriageworks theatre in Leeds until January 8.

The 53-year-old was born in Essex but now lives in Nottinghamshire with husband Keith 'Paddington' Richards and cats Betty and The Squidge.

Interview by Grant Woodward.

I've been in pantomimes since I was 13. I started out as a fairy and I'm a fairy again now.

Before that I was always an ugly sister with Bella Emberg, so this is a bit of a promotion.

One of the main things I love about panto is that quite often it's the first experience a young person has of live theatre.

I remember going to my first pantomime and thinking, 'this is what I want to do'.

It's so magical and hopefully once we've introduced them to it they want to come again and perhaps get involved in it.

I'm proud to have been part of something that was such a huge success as 'Allo 'Allo.

It was like being in a huge, wacky, mental family.

Gordon (Kaye) lives down the road so he's coming to see the pantomime and Vicki (Michelle) is staying in my house looking after the cats at the moment because she's doing panto in Newark.

We all see each other doing the rounds and it's lovely. Don't get me wrong, there were ups and downs, but we're all still in touch.

'Allo 'Allo is one of the biggest successes the BBC has ever had. Hopefully it will look after us well into our pensions.

I've had letters from people on Death Row saying all they have is a small screen and their only enjoyment is watching me.

Other people come up to me and say, 'did you never think of putting poison in Helga's lipstick?'

It's affected so many people in so many different ways. I think it will go on forever.

The one thing I couldn't live without is champagne.

I'm particularly partial to Dom Perignon but I don't mind a bit of Bolly.

It's great here (at the Carriageworks) because there's the Epernay champagne bar in the basement so I can just nip down and get which ever one I want.

The other thing would be my cats. There were 10 of them, all rescue cats, but I've only got two left now.

My first job was playing a fairy in Jack and the Beanstalk at the Cliffs Pavilion in Southend On Sea.

I got 9.25 a week which was an awful lot of money. I bought three dresses, two coats and had some left over.

My childhood was very happy.

We came from a country bumpkin sort of background, but we were lucky to have two very loving parents.

Sadly we lost my dad when I was a teenager, but my mum was very strong for me and my sister growing up.

I was never bothered about boys when I was growing up because all I was ever interested in was my career.

I'm really glad I met Paddy, who's my soulmate, later in life because if I'd have met him earlier it probably wouldn't have worked.

To relax I switch on my big telly in the bedroom and go to the cinema.

I might watch the whole of Star Wars or Harry Potter or something like that.

I take my glass of fizz up there, take all the make-up and cack off my face and chill out and think of nothing.

The best piece of advice I've ever received is to draw a line under things. My surrogate father taught me that.

We don't always go down a straight road in life, there are often twists and bends and sometimes we trip up.

If I was moaning about something he'd say, 'have you got a pound in your back pocket?'

I'd say, 'of course I've got a pound in my back pocket.'

'So move on then', he'd say to me. Life's too short.

I'm 4ft 11in tall and when I was young my mum always used to tell me to stand up straight and stop slouching.

I'm so glad I was never 5ft 2 or 5ft 4 though, because then I might have ended up as average.

My philosophy on life used to be that this wasn't a dress rehearsal, we come this way but once.

But as I've got older, I've started to wonder if that's really true.

My philosophy now is that nothing belongs to us, we're all just travellers playing a part and moving through.

If I could meet anyone living or dead it would be Meatloaf.

I would get him together with my husband because he's a mad 50s rock 'n' roller.

I would just put the two of them together at dinner and I'd drink the fizz and listen.

I never used to cry at all but now I just think a good laugh and a good bawl every day keeps the doctor away.

I haven't cried yet today but it's only lunchtime, give me time.

FAVOURITE THINGS

Food: Oysters and champagne

Book: Harry Potter

Actors: Oliver Reed, Anthony Hopkins

Holiday: Brisbane in Australia

Star sign: Gemini

O2 Academy Leeds.

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