Belfast Telegraph

Bucks Fizz: This time we throw away Zimmer frames not skirts ... and then we fall over

Three decades on from their heyday, The Fizz are bringing their famous skirt-ripping routine back to Britain's stages. They tell Francesca Gosling about the joy of being back in the limelight and reuniting with their loyal fans, but confess they're not really cool

It's 36 years since the original foursome delighted viewers across the continent with their skirt-ripping dance routine on the 1981 Eurovision Song Contest, but the remaining members of pop legends Bucks Fizz agree that nothing has changed.

Now re-branded The Fizz, original bandmates Cheryl Baker, Jay Aston, Mike Nolan and relative newcomer Bobby McVay (replacing Bobby G) are returning to the spotlight with a comeback tour that promises fans a balance of, what Baker describes as, "nostalgia" and "new stuff".

The last two years have seen them back in the studio, working with acclaimed songwriter Mike Stock on brand new record, The F-Z Of Pop, including already widely-played banger Dancing In The Rain.

"We are a bit older," admits 63-year-old Baker. "But the music hasn't changed, the enthusiasm hasn't changed and the fans haven't changed - they've just got older with us."

"Everyone's getting older," adds Nolan (62).

"I think we've had a really good 36 years actually, really enjoyable. We have had some ups and downs like everyone else, but it has been more fun than anything else."

It could very easily not have happened at all, as the band owe their fresh thrust into the limelight to a couple of casual Twitter messages kicked off by one loyal fan.

While Baker and Nolan embarked on some performing in 2004, brought Aston back in 2008 and later added McVay, it was in 2015 that they got in touch with the songwriter of Stock Aitken Waterman fame.

"In the Eighties he was the UK's most prolific songwriter of all time," explains Baker. "Everything he touched turned to gold - or platinum.

"He followed me on Twitter and I followed him back, then a Bucks Fizz fan linked us in a message, asking how about a collaboration between the group and Mike Stock?

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Past glory: Bucks Fizz pose with the BBC's Song For Europe trophy in 1981

"Mike said he would love to, so I sent him a private message and asked, 'Really?'

"He said, 'Yeah let's do it', and here we are."

McVay, who has established himself as the joker of the band since joining three years ago, chimes in: "Of course, we had Twitter back in the day, but it was real pigeons then. Same logo."

While they have all been on and off the stage and screen over the years - not to mention the throwback Eurovision TV specials - it has been more than three decades since they brought their signature Eighties sound to some of Britain's most major venues. And a lot has happened since then.

There have been marriages, children and new branches on the career tree, with Baker especially becoming better known in recent years for her work as a television presenter, which included a stint on Celebrity MasterChef in 2012.

While their diehard fans remain as loyal and ever, mothers Baker and Aston confess their musical legacy is little more than an uncool hangover from a bygone era in the eyes of their own children.

On behalf of her teenager, Josie, 56-year-old Aston says: "She used to be a fan until about two years ago.

"There is a bit of bullying going on at school about what her mum does ... they tease her.

"She's at that age where it's all got to be cool, but we're not really cool, are we?"

For Baker, her twins are now in their early 20s and have passed their "angst" stage. In fact, her daughter Kyla is the writer behind album track Amen.

One thing that has stood the test of time is that unforgettable moment of Eurovision telly gold, where, reaching the climax of Making Your Mind Up, the boys cried out 'Do you wanna see some more?' before yanking the skirts from the girls' waists, revealing brightly-coloured dance pants.

While the unexpected move won the UK a rare contest victory and secured their fame for years to come, the idea of two blokes undressing their female counterparts on a public podium may not sit so comfortably with audiences today.

Asked if they are concerned about backlash or sexism accusations when they re-stage it for the tour, they unanimously agree: "Not at all."

"People thought that back then," says Aston.

"There was an MP who thought it was a bit too much and I even got branded wally of the week by the media for my outfit. But it was music, it was entertainment, they can make of it what they wish."

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The Fizz on Eurovision

Baker, on the other hand, teases: "It's a bit sad, isn't it, really? At our age."

McVay presents the alternative: "Now we are older we are bringing out Zimmer frames. On that line, we throw them away ... and fall over."

The landscape of music television has undoubtedly transformed, with live contests producing instant chart-toppers on an increasingly regular basis.

Rather than mourn for the good old days, The Fizz see it as the perfect opportunity to jump back into a gap in the market.

"Those shows have changed the face of music quite significantly over the last 15 years and this generation tends to think far more of just the lead singer," explains Aston.

"It's like the band element of it has been erased. It's a shame but it's good for us being four singers."

Then again, McVay points out: "We did the A Song For Europe programme - which is how they chose the act to represent the UK in Eurovision - and that was the grandaddy of your X Factors and your Pop Idols.

"The day before, nobody knew you, then if you won, the next morning you were in all the papers. It was virtually the same."

Having returned to the radiowaves, The Fizz have no plans to slow down and have already selected their Christmas single, with plans to start on another album in the new year. And McVay is still dreaming of a collaboration with Paul McCartney.

So the question now is, how will they be responding to the reality show offers that are about to roll in?

"I would do them all, except for Big Brother," says Baker.

For Nolan: "I would do I'm A Celebrity ... Get Me Out Of Here! or Strictly Come Dancing - because I am such a good dancer.

"I'm a bit late for it this year's but who knows what's in the future line-up?"

Betting is now open for which Strictly pro's skirt he will be ripping off in 2018.

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