Star could come ‘full circle’ after starting out on circuit as teen
TELLY presenter Gloria Hunniford has been offered a cabaret tour after starring on The Masked Singer.
The Loose Women and Rip-Off Britain host was revealed as Snow Leopard on the hit UTV series earlier this month.
And now the Portadown-born performer is mulling over an approach to reprise her singing career — at the age of 81.
Gloria said: “People have been in touch already. A guy I know who lines up concerts said, ‘Are you up for doing some cabaret dates?’
“And I replied, ‘No, not yet! I want to continue with my broadcasting,’ but the odd thing might come up in a show that I’d like to do. And it is fun to go full circle.”
Gloria started singing when she was a child and by the age of 10 she was being paid to perform in public in churches, schools and concerts across the whole of Ireland.
As a teenager she progressed to singing with dance bands in cabaret shows and in her memoirs spoke of her showbiz dreams before becoming a broadcaster.
After appearing on TV in a show called In Town With Tommy, she was approached by a songwriter who had a number originally written for Lulu for the Eurovision Song Contest.
She added: “The song was called Are You Ready For Love? and the orchestral backing track had already been recorded.
“I was flown to London which in itself was thrilling, and the excitement mounted as I was taken to a proper recording studio.
“I made my way into the tiny recording cubicle and could hardly believe it as I heard the playback of my voice over the backing track that had been recorded for Lulu. It was one of the most extraordinary days of my life.
“And so a new world opened up as I set about plugging my record. It was played a lot on the radio and I couldn’t believe it when Are You Ready For Love?, which had been released on the Tangerine Label, got to number 8 in the Ulster charts.
“But what turned out to be life-changing was when Good Morning Ulster got in touch to ask for an interview.”
So impressed were BBC Northern Ireland bosses that they convinced her to set her sights instead on a broadcasting career — and the rest is history.
Gloria admitted that, given her past life as a singer, that she was very excited when the opportunity to star on The Masked Singer came up. She added: “It took me all of 10 seconds to say, ‘Yes!’ I’ve loved the programme since the beginning, and I always thought it would be fun to do.
“They showed me some drawings first of all. I don’t remember the third one, but one of them was a very fat owl, and I thought, ‘I’m not going to be a fat owl.’
“The one I really liked was Snow Leopard. They said to me, ‘Snow Leopard is very regal, and moves very slowly and elegantly,’ so that gave me something to think of. I cried when I first saw the mask — it’s so beautiful.
“I’ve been a singer since I was seven, but broadcasting had slowly but surely taken over. It was great to show a different side of my career.
“A lot of the Loose Women girls didn’t even know that I sang. They were pleasantly surprised, I think.”