My haven, Elaine Paige, 73, in the study of her apartment in central London

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My haven, Elaine Paige: The legendary West End and Broadway star, 73, in the study of her apartment in central London

  • Elaine Paige shares significant items in the study of her apartment in London
  • West End and Broadway star, 73, treasures a tennis ball signed by Roger Federer
  • Values a Wedgwood urn which will house her ashes at the Prince Edward Theatre


Elaine Paige, 73, shares items of personal significance in the study of her apartment in London

Elaine Paige, 73, shares items of personal significance in the study of her apartment in London

1. WHERE THE ART IS 

Painting is an on-off hobby that I turned to again when I was isolating because of the pandemic. It started after I won a place on a painting course in the South of France, near where I have a house, in a charity event. 

I made a good friend on the course called Barbara who was equally as hopeless at painting as me. I call her Matisse and she calls me Picasso. The painting here is of a village square in the hills near Saint-Paul de Vence.

2. ROGER’S ACE 

For years I’ve been a member of The Queen’s Club, where I play tennis at least three times a week. Roger Federer is, for me, the greatest player of all time. 

All the big stars practise at Queen’s prior to Wimbledon and I’d go and watch Roger warm up. In 2012, my then boyfriend managed to get him to sign for me the last tennis ball he played with when he won Wimbledon that year.

3. I URNED IT 

Elaine Paige treasures a Wedgwood urn, which will probably house her ashes and be placed in the Prince Edward Theatre

Elaine Paige treasures a Wedgwood urn, which will probably house her ashes and be placed in the Prince Edward Theatre

In 1978 I won Performance of the Year in a Musical for Evita in the Society of West End Theatre Awards. 

I was given this Wedgwood urn, which will probably house my ashes and be placed in the Prince Edward Theatre.

It was there that I starred in Chess and Anything Goes as well as Evita – they’d scoured the world to find the actress to play her. Evita changed my life.

4. HATS OFF TO MUM 

My mother Irene was a milliner. She used this old wooden headblock to create hats for her shop opposite our maisonette in Barnet, north London. 

She covered the block in a hard, straw-like material that formed the base of the hats and which she softened by laying it first in a bath of cold water. 

I’ve taken it with me into every dressing room when I’ve been appearing on stage – I use it for wigs. I wish now I’d kept one of Mum’s hats.

5. WELL HEELED 

Because I’m only 4ft 11in, I’ve always worn high heels. These are a pair of Jimmy Choos. My feet are so small – English size 2½ – that I’ve always found it impossible to find shoes in the UK to fit me.

So when I started performing abroad I used to say to my manager, ‘You must make sure Hong Kong is on the tour,’ as you can get smaller sizes there.

I’d come back home with dozens of pairs of shoes, which I still have because they’re so beautiful. But my knees won’t allow me to walk in them any more.

6. BROADWAY OR BUST 

This bust is from the set of Sunset Boulevard in London, which I performed in during the mid-90s. It’s meant to be of my character in the show, Norma Desmond. When the musical finally closed, they let me take it home with me. 

It took me 14 years to land the role of Evita when I began in this business and a further 18 to finally perform – as Norma – on Broadway. 

On the first night, I had to say the line to my leading man, playing Joe Gillis, ‘Why are you so late?’ The audience erupted as they knew how long it had taken me to reach Broadway.

As told to Richard Barber. Elaine is in Dictionary Corner on Channel 4’s Countdown from Tuesday at 2.10pm for a week; and is on Radio 2 on Sundays at 1pm 

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