Crouch End popstar Clare Grogan: ‘My biggest challenge is not to cry on stage’

Ahead of an appearance at the Reload festival, the ‘80s icon tells Leigh Adams about her first Top of the Pops appearance, the struggles of early fame and her advice for up-and-coming stars.

FOR many teenage boys in the ‘80s, Clare Grogan was their pin-up girl and posters of her adorned their walls.

Not only did she win the hearts of many when she played the part of Susan in Gregory’s Girl in 1981, but she also burst into the charts in the same year with her band Altered Images.

More than 30 years on, and Haringey’s Clare has as much enthusiasm as she had then, performing with boundless energy at ‘80s festivals across the country – and she can’t believe her luck.

Clare, who lives in Crouch End, said: “How lucky am I to get to do this? Honestly, I really feel that.

“My big concentration is not to cry when I’m on stage. At the Rewind Festival in Scotland, I literally sobbed through my three songs which was not great but the crowd sang for me because I feel really really emotional about it.”

The successful singer and actress recently performed at the Rewind Festival in Henley-on-Thames. Jumping around the stage in her own inimitable style, Clare got the ‘80s-mad crowd singing in unison as she performed hits like Happy Birthday, Don’t Talk to Me About Love and I Could be Happy.

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She was even joined onstage at the end of her set by her 10-year-old daughter Ellie, making it an extremely emotional occasion.

“This festival is something different and very very special,” Clare said. “I know that sounds like I line because I’m here and doing the show, but it really is special. It’s a huge crowd.

“I think I did the first ever Rewind seven years ago. When I saw the crowd, I was honestly terrified.”

Seven years on, Clare is enjoying her appearances more than ever, and has also made a new bunch of friends thanks to these ‘80s revival concerts.

Many of the ‘80s artists performing at Rewind are now firm friends, despite not knowing each other back in the day.

Clare said: “Everybody here literally left school and did this as a job. None of us really had any social skills. We found ourselves in this foreign territory which was brilliant but not one of us really knew how to handle it so we just retreated.

“So the thing that I really love about it now is the fact that we have become friends through this revival.”

Looking back at her success in the ‘80s, Clare picked out her first appearance on Top of the Pops as her favourite memory of the time.

She said: “My first Top of the Pops was incredible because I literally went from watching it one week to being on it the next.”

And although her parents had not actually pushed her into the acting world or music business, they were incredibly supportive.

My mum and dad were amazing,” she said. “They were so unimpressed, they were not pushy showbiz parents but they didn’t stop me. That is the key, and I love them for it.

“When I was older I asked them about it, and they said they were terrified.”

They needn’t have worried as Clare went from strength to strength, becoming a movie and TV actress (appearing on shows like EastEnders and Red Dwarf), a radio presenter, a successful singer and now an author.

The Glasgow-born star has recently published Tallulah and the Teenstars, the second in a series of books about a girl who forms a pop band, based partly on her own experiences.

Asked if she had any advice for up-and-coming artists, she said: “I think be passionate, don’t just want to be famous.”

Clare Grogan will next be appearing with Altered Images at the Reload Festival in Norwich tomorrow (September 12).