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Celebrity Masterchef's Carol Decker: My kids are tired of hearing 'China in Your Hand'

T'Pau star Carol Decker tells Georgia Humphreys why taking part in the new series of Celebrity MasterChef took her out of her comfort zone

Twenty famous faces, plenty of kitchen mishaps and triumphs, plus the formidable presenting duo of Gregg Wallace and John Torode: Celebrity MasterChef is back. The 13th series of the BBC One cooking competition sees singer/songwriter Carol Decker show us her culinary skills in the opening episode.

"I was shocked at how nervous I was," says the T'Pau vocalist, most famous for Eighties hit China In Your Hand. "I've done a lot of different things in my career - I've acted, I've been on the West End stage, I've hosted radio shows, I've presented TV shows. There's not much I haven't had a go at. But I was absolutely terrified."

Decker (60) competes against actor Keith Allen, TV presenter Michelle Ackerley, former international rugby player and TV presenter Martin Bayfield and recording artist and model Josh Cuthbert.

Stars taking part in the heats that follow include The Saturdays singer Frankie Bridge, reality star Spencer Matthews, cricketer Monty Panesar and country artist Stella Parton (yes, that's Dolly's sister).

As for the challenges the cooks can expect, it's no mean feat. There's a test of imagination, where they have to pick ingredients from the Mystery Box - Decker had items such as pork mince, prawns, fennel, cabbage and pears, as well as a basic larder - to create a stand-out dish.

Next, they get to work in a real restaurant kitchen, where, likely for the first time in their lives, they cook for paying customers. Sounds daunting, right?

Finally, they have to prepare a two-course menu of their own design in just one hour, which Gregg and John will judge. And, at the end of this test, one celeb goes home, while the others progress onto the next stages.

Taking part in Celebrity MasterChef was definitely a chance for Decker, whose new single, called Run, is released this month, to step out of her comfort zone.

"I'm married to an amazing chef, so I never have to cook, and my cooking's got worse and worse and worse with each passing year," admits the star, whose husband is restaurateur Richard Coates.

It's an experience she doesn't regret for many reasons, "learning to get on with different kinds of people," for example, and also her kids' reaction to her doing something different.

"They were super-excited, because it's a really big show and they understand the profile it brings and the attention," says the mother-of-two (daughter Scarlett is 20, while son Dylan just turned 16).

"I think they're bored to death of hearing me sing China In Your Hand."

Asked if her kids like cooking, she exclaims with a laugh: "No, not at all. Scarlett - typical student - eats pasta every day. And Dylan has now learnt to do a beef-flavoured pot noodle, which he's super-excited about."

Discussing the toughest moments during filming Celeb MasterChef, Decker says she felt "a great sense of responsibility" when cooking for diners at Leicester Square Kitchen (the London restaurant showcases contemporary Mexican and Peruvian small plates).

But, she points out, she refuses to be intimidated by working in a male-dominated environment.

"I'm very conscious not to look like the little woman that can't cope," she remarks. "Having been in the music business for over 30 years, and it always having been largely male-orientated, I'm used to not giving them any excuse to say, 'She's just a girl'."

Does she think attitudes have changed in the music industry when it comes to female artists?

"I think so. I don't know if that's just because I'm a grown-up now. I'm prepared to stand my ground over things, so I find I get a reasonable amount of respect back."

She continues: "I wouldn't like to make a sweeping generalisation. I would say it's not exactly even-handed, there's probably still more men in the industry than women, but I don't find I'm talked down to."

Decker's career has spanned decades. After forming T'Pau with then-boyfriend Ronnie Rogers, she secured her first record deal aged 28.

While being a popstar may be very different now, thanks to things like social media, it doesn't sound like Decker plans on retiring from performing anytime soon.

"It takes my breath away, especially when I get to China In Your Hand (it went to number one in the Eighties) - I barely have to sing the chorus and, after the lead break, everyone puts their arms up and they do this Eighties' wave from side to side. You've got 20,000 people doing that - it's still a privilege."

Celebrity MasterChef 2018, BBC One, Thursday, 8pm

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