Singer, actress, and TV presenter Ayshea moved from Los Angeles to Grantham in 2003 to be close to her mum, Rose.
Best known as the presenter of TV pop show Lift off With Ayshea, which ran for five years from 1969, and for her appearances in Gerry Anderson’s cult sci fi series UFO, she lives in the centre of town with her chihuahua Bonnie.
Do you miss the Beverly Hills lifestyle, or are you content now in Grantham?
I do miss the sunshine. I am a very high energy person and the days start early in LA, at about 6am, so there is more time to get things done and for socialising by the pool until about 10pm. I get a bit fed up here when you get up in the dark and go to bed in the dark. But we all come back. Michael Caine, who was a neighbour, and Joan Collins, who lived nearby, both came home. In the end, there is no place like home. I had thought I would retire to the south of France with my widowed mum, who moved to Grantham about 25 years ago, but she had a stroke. I live in the centre of town and walk to her home to see her most days when I am not working.
You have had an astonishingly varied and successful career. Which part made you happiest?
Believe it or not, pantomime made me happiest. Representing GB in the world popular music competition in Tokyo with a song by Elton John was a great honour and a high point in my singing career, but I loved the connection with the audience in panto. I remember appearing in a show on New Year’s Eve, with the whole audience singing Auld Lang Syne. That was an incredibly emotional experience.
Did your career make you rich as well as famous, and what spurred you on?
I was born in Highgate, London, and came from a comfortable background, so money wasn’t a motivation. I am a fairly grounded person, with a solid, businesslike approach which I later brought to my interior design and property businesses in LA. But money has never been a driving force. When I was on the Golden Shot with Bob Monkhouse he told me ‘never turn down work, because this is not who you are, it’s what you do’. And that is so true. That was never who I was.
All those famous people! Are you still in contact with any of them?
Not since I moved back to this country, but all the people I knew – actors, TV and music people – were all very sweet. Before that, when I started out, you have to remember the music business was not as big as it is today. People were really good to one another. People like Rod Stewart, Jeff Beck and Georgie Fame were all on the same circuit of clubs like the Marquee in London with me, working seven days a week.
Do you still get a lot of interest from fans?
As well as those who remember my singing and acting career, there is a whole different group of 20 to 30-year-olds who are fanatical about the 1970s TV series I was in called UFO. They are sweet people, gentle and very well informed.
You have a new ‘best of’ compilation CD out. How did that come about?
People have been saying they cannot get hold of my recordings, so now all my singles and some album tracks have been brought together in a ‘best of’ CD. It is proving popular and there are due to be two more.
Do you still get the chance to perform?
I have come back quietly into the public eye in the last year or so and have started to appear at Comic Con events all over the country. These are massive science fiction celebrations attracting thousands of people, many of whom get dressed up in costume. I love doing them. You can just sit down with the fans and have a chat. In some ways it’s just like the old days, interacting with the audience.
Do you have any regrets?
No, not really. I never had children and there are things I would like to do, but I believe you are where you are meant to be and that if you do the best you can, you will be content.
* The Best of Ayshea is available from her website www.ayshea.me.uk, where you also learn about her career and future appearances.