Page last updated at 09:14 GMT, Wednesday, 1 April 2009 10:14 UK

Tales of the Queens of British Pop

By Dione Newton
Producer, Queens of British Pop


A taster of the Queens of British Pop

When faced with making music documentary Queens of British Pop, the first challenge was deciding which great UK female stars to cover.

Whose stories would we tell? Who would tell us their story? And who would be left out?

The artists we chose were by no means the only female artists to have made an impact on the charts, but they had interesting stories and we only had an hour to cram them in.

Dusty Springfield

With Dusty no longer with us, I thought I'd go to the stars that worked alongside her.

A few weeks before he became a silver fox, we met Tom Jones who flew in by helicopter from recording Top Gear to tell us why he thought Dusty was one of the greatest singers he had performed with.

I was taken aback when Lulu was reduced to tears when reminiscing about Dusty's vulnerabilities.

And Burt Bacharach gives us further insight into Dusty's insecurities in the studio, and he also told me how he works out to the Dusty in Memphis album. That's now an image etched on my mind every time I hear Son of a Preacher Man.

Sandie Shaw

My first memory of Sandie was an appearance on Top of the Pops with The Smiths - she wore shoes and the band went barefoot!

Sandie breezed into our interview and hugged me when she realised I was doing it - a good start!

I discovered her music whilst making the programme and I loved it. I knew she wasn't overly keen on her Eurovision Song Contest winner Puppet on a String, so I nervously broached the subject and she spoke candidly about it, telling me how her two-year-old granddaughter loves it.

Sadly Sandie doesn't sing any more because she gets too anxious, but she does sing at home for her husband - hopefully watching this programme will coax her back?

Marianne Faithfull

Everybody has heard the stories, but would Marianne be willing to tell them to me?

But I think people forget about Marianne the pop star, pre-Jagger, so it was interesting to hear her story about being discovered by The Rolling Stones' manager Andrew Loog-Oldham.

Moving swiftly on, we discussed the famous drugs bust at Keith Richards' house in West Wittering.

At the mere mention of this, Marianne's manager and boyfriend stormed out of the interview. Marianne continued gamely on as if she was telling the story for the first time.

Suzi Quatro

I know she isn't British, but Suzi was the woman who ruled the UK charts in the early 70s.

Renowned British record producer Mickie Most saw a void in the UK market for female artists and filled it with Quatro.

Aside from being a forerunner for women in rock, Suzi also claims to be psychic. Dave Dee, a friend of Suzi's, had died that very day and kept trying to muscle in on our interview from beyond the grave!

Henry Winkler also agreed to talk about Suzi in Happy Days. The crew and I were just a bit excited. And where do you go to meet The Fonz? Milton Keynes, of course, where Henry Winkler was in panto. Oh yes he was!

Siouxsie Sioux

Punk icon Siouxsie Sioux talked to us about the difficulties she faced as a woman in the industry between toilet flushes and various interruptions at the location.

She didn't complain and took it in good humour - I'm sure she'd played worse venues!

The contributors in Siouxsie's story were a joy - Viv Albertine from The Slits, Clare Grogan from Altered Images, Marc Almond and journalist Caroline Coon all spoke about her with real passion - she was a true inspiration to them.

Kate Bush

I knew she had refused similar projects, and sadly Kate turned down our offer.

Someone who made up for the lack of Kate was my personal highlight - John Lydon - one of Kate's biggest fans.

I found myself in Santa Monica waiting for John who turned up with his treasured Kate Bush box set. John recounted the time when he played Wuthering Heights to his mum.

"Oh Johnny, it sounds like a bag of cats," she said, but for John, his love for Kate's music was instant and we spent an entertaining hour discussing it.

I'll leave you with John's words: "At last there is a decent Bush in the world, there always was. We've just had a rotten one in between…there's plenty butch babes out there, this is Bush baby, love her, love you Kate, best songs ever"!

Queens of British Pop is on BBC One at 2245 BST on 1 April. The second instalment follows a week later.

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