Eighties icon David Van Day to combine 1940s Weekend appearance with north Norfolk house-hunting trip
- Credit: Archant
He found fame as a member of the chart-topping 1970s pop group Guys 'n' Dolls and went on to score a string of top ten hits as one half of boy/girl duo Dollar before bagging fourth place on the ITV reality show I'm a Celebrity . . . Get Me Out of Here!
And now, 1980s heart-throb David Van Day looks set to become the latest famous face to swap the celebrity lifestyle for the wide-skied tranquillity of the north Norfolk coast, as he reveals he and his wife and singing partner, Sue Moxley, have been house-hunting in the area.
KAREN BETHELL spoke to him on the eve of his appearance in Holt as part of this year's North Norfolk Railway 1940s weekend.
Born to a fairground family in 1956, David, who will be performing at Holt community centre with his wife Sue Moxley on Sunday, spent his early childhood touring the country in a caravan before moving to a house in Brighton, where his showman father ran amusement arcades.
He won a scholarship to the renowned Italia Conti Academy of Theatre Arts, in London, as a youngster and first appeared on TV as a 13-year-old member of the song and dance troupe The Young Generation, which was created for the BBC by choreographer Dougie Squires.
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Rising to overnight stardom in the 1970s as one of the six original members of the pop group Guys 'n' Dolls, David released a string of top-selling singles with the group before falling out with his bandmates and forming Dollar with fellow Guys 'n' Dolls member Thereza Bazaar.
The pair performed together until the late 1980s when, after Bazaar moved to Australia, David teamed up with a series of female singers to continue touring as a duo.
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He later enjoyed limited success as a member one of two rival reincarnations of million-selling Eurovision Song Contest winners Bucks Fizz and became embroiled in a court case after getting involved in a bitter legal battle with original group member Bobby G.
The pair's feud was featured as part of a BBC documentary series, hailing the start of an eclectic second career which saw David appear on a string of reality shows, win a by-election, and, controversially, end his relationship with former Sun journalist Sue Moxley - whom he later married in a wedding-themed reality show - live on the Channel 5 chat show The Wright Stuff.
Appearances have included the ITV1 show Reborn in the USA, Channel 4's Coach Trip and the Living TV documentary Pop Goes the Band, which followed him as he underwent cosmetic surgery in an attempt to revive his music career.
However, it was his 2008 stint on I'm a Celebrity that made him a household name for the second time in his career.
"I've got older people who remember me from the seventies and eighties, but, after I'm a Celebrity, I had a whole new audience of younger people who knew me from reality TV," he said.
Variously accused of being "egotistical", a "fake", a "nasty piece of work" and "thriving on confrontation", David, who also ran a burger van after hitting rock bottom in 2002, was tipped to be the first contestant to be voted off the show, but ended up surviving to the final four.
"I suppose I was cast as a villain, but I don't think you can keep people's attention without drama - I knew exactly what I was doing," he said.
"The problem is that 50 per cent of people believe I'm a complete prat and the other half know it's just a show.
"It's the easiest part to play, but it is just a performance and, in reality shows, although they aren't actually scripted, the situations are not real and what you see is a form of improvisation."
Now a grandfather and serving as a local councillor for Thurrock, in Essex, dad-of-two David, 62, is still delighting audiences with his back catalogue of Dollar hits which, as a supporter of the Alzheimer's Society, he has sung to residents of care homes all over the country with Sue.
"People still love the glamour of the 1980s," he said. "It's about escapism and getting away from the monotony of life; there aren't any messages in the songs, they are just about love and happiness."
After suffering a heart attack in 2016, he says he is keen to put his 'pantomime villain' reputation behind him and be taken more seriously.
"I want to feel relative in modern times and engaged with what is going on now, I don't want to just be thought of as a retro singer," he said.
He and Sue,who runs her own beauty business, were invited to perform at Holt by 1940s committee chairman and Conservative prospective parliamentary candidate for north Norfolk Duncan Baker, whom David met at the party's campaign headquarters, in London.
"We love the area so we just jumped at the chance," he said. "We can be there in two-and-a-half hours and, before you know it, you're in the sticks, you've got beautiful beaches and you just feel like you're in a tranquil place.
The couple, who have been house-hunting in Hunstanton, Burnham Market and Weybourne, will be staying in South Creake with their three dogs and plan to extend their stay in order to celebrate their tenth wedding anniversary at a local restaurant.
"We are really looking forward to coming back to north Norfolk, I like it so much, I might even retire here," David said.
David Van Day and Sue Moxley will be singing hits from the 1940s on Sunday in Market Place from 11am-11.45am and at Holt Community Centre from 2pm-3pm.