TO celebrate 10 years and the many hits of The Beautiful South, one of Britain’s best pop rock bands, The South will be coming to Lyme Regis as part of their UK tour to perform all the favourite hits, Lottie Welch writes.

Featuring former singer of The Beautiful South, Alison Wheeler, as well as band member Dave Stead and a host of new musicians, The South promise to not disappoint and will bring back favourites such as Rotterdam, Perfect 10, Don’t Marry Her and A Little Time.

Ahead of the sell-out show at the Marine Theatre, Alison Wheeler spoke about life in The South and being part of the hit-making band.

How does performing with The South differ from The Beautiful South? In The Beautiful South, Paul Heaton was the lead singer so it’s weighted towards me now and I am enjoying the challenge of being more of a front woman.

I still get to enjoy touring with a lovely bunch of people and celebrate the back catalogue of The Beautiful South, but there is definitely more of a front woman role for me now, which I was a bit nervous to start with because I wasn’t really used to talking on the mic but I have got used to it now and it’s a lot of fun.

We’re celebrating 10 years this year on tour with The South and it’s a time of celebration and people who have followed us for so many years are coming with that in mind. If we have new people coming along, we can tell them to expect a fun night celebrating the back catalogue.

What’s your favourite single from The Beautiful South and your favourite to perform?

I can’t really round it down to one but it’s because of the audience – we have been blessed with some really supportive audiences over the years – you feed off their energy and how they react to a song.

There are two songs – Perfect 10 just gets everybody up and moving, it’s a jubilation when they hear the opening bassline, they just know what it is and they’re up off their feet and Don’t Marry Her as well because of the hilarity of the lyrics. Many of the venues ask me to play the clean version, but if I don’t sing the dirty version, they do.

If you look at the explicit content in songs nowadays it’s quite gentle, but I have to tell my kids, do what mummy says not as mummy does.

Terry Wogan always promised that would be his last song on BBC Radio 2 when he left, so I don’t know if he stuck to that promise or not, it would have been a good, final song to go off to.

Tell us how The South came about.

Paul had been doing that band for a long time and he wanted to try new music, he called a full stop under the band, but I had only been in the band five years and it was so much fun.

I tried years and years to make it in the music industry and fortunately dropped into The Beautiful South – it was wonderful I got to do all the things I’d always dreamt of like Top of the Pops, Glastonbury Festival and travelling round America and they couldn’t throw enough at me, I was willing to do it all.

I was really sad when it finished. For a year or two I was wondering what to do, where to start from scratch again. But Dave Stead, who was the drummer in The Beautiful South, called me and he was at a loss really, because that was all he knew, all he had ever done and he felt that he wanted to continue and that’s why he suggested he’d ask around the rest of the band to see if anybody else wanted to continue.

That’s how The South came into being and it was a lifeline for me because I had enjoyed it so much and it had been a great opportunity to continue singing the great songs.

How does it make you feel knowing The South has been going for ten years?

It’s longer than I was in The Beautiful South – it’s very surreal, I don’t know where the time goes.

It still feels like we have only just started, although we’ve got one album out, Sweet Refrains but we’re definitely keen to get more material out, but the whole music climate has changed since I started and the whole concept of recording and getting stuff out there has changed so much.

We’ve been working on a couple of songs that we might air on this tour and it will be nice to show we’re progressing rather than just stagnating and people are asking for new material, but obviously everyone wants to come along a hear all the hits as well so if we do perform any of our original songs it’s only one or two and the rest are celebrating the back catalogue.

Have you got another album in the pipeline?

We’re working on a few songs and it’s just whether or not they are ready to be performed live.

Logistically were all over the country so it can be quite a challenge to get everybody together, so yes, we do have more material and if it’s not an album then in the near future it will be an EP.

Are your children big fans of The Beautiful South?

They have picked up all the songs and they know all the originals but I haven’t actually asked them if they like it or not, but they sing along to all the songs and obviously coming to see the band in action helps them with their appreciation of what mum does.

Do you have a career highlight?

I suppose there is two or three. Top of the Pops was always benchmarked for me and I am sad that it’s gone now. Doing Top of the Pops was phenomenal, but it was a double-sided coin really, yes it was Top of the Pops, but they messed up the invite system for some reason or other and no invites had gone out for an audience, so they had to go and sum up an audience from within the BBC building.

Normally they have an age restriction for the employees that if they were over a certain age they wouldn’t be invited to attend, but they threw that out the window, so we had loads of accounts and human resources people, past the Top of the Pops listening age in the audience – which was a bit surreal.

Glastonbury was also amazing, playing at Glastonbury was a real moment for me and touring in America is also up there, something I have always wanted to do and singing San Francisco Bay from ‘Don’t Marry Her’ while in San Francisco was quite special.

Who would you class as your musical inspirations?

Its always been female vocalists. I started off with the big, big voices like Streisand and anyone with a big belting voice.

Beyonce obviously is inspirational, I have seen her many times and the way she has changed over the years but maintained her fanbase.

Obviously, Madonna just for the sheer force and power she is – the woman power she is in the industry.

Through my husband I was introduced to jazz, so I love Julie London, Billie Holiday and Ella Fitzgerald, so all the real classic singers.

I’m a bit of a musical fan so I follow people like Doris Day, I am massively into my musicals, so anything where the technical skill is quite apparent or the sheer business element of Madonna, the way she has continued to thrive and be successful, I am very admirable.

Have you ever performed in Lyme Regis or Dorset before?

I don’t think we have done Lyme Regis before, which is what were really looking forward to, it should be a nice time.

Anytime we get to go down to that neck of the woods is wonderful, living in London you just don’t get that kind of openness.

Last time I was down that neck of the woods touring I remember doing yoga on the beach because the sun was shining and I was in my own so I thought ‘why not’ and you don’t get the opportunity for that kind of solitude when you’re out in London.

I’m really looking forward to it, it will be lovely if we can get some fresh air and discover Lyme Regis.

The show at Marine Theatre in Lyme Regis on March 22 is now sold out, but tickets are still available for their show in Barnstaple on March 23. Tickets are available at