Clare Grogan

An Interview from The Daily Mail

(Interview by Mandy Francis)
© Copyright Associated Newspapers, January 1995.

Clare Grogan circa 1986, by Les Johnstone
Image of Clare reproduced with the kind permission of Les Johnstone.
These, and other images, can be found on his pages

Petite actress Clare Grogan, (born 17 March 1962), was discovered by director Bill Forsythe when she was waitressing in a Glasgow restaurant. She shot to fame at 19 as Susan, the girl who finally got her man in the hit film Gregory's Girl. Clare went on to front the hugely-successful pop group Altered Images, who had three hit singles, including Happy Birthday, and two best-selling albums. The band split in 1984 and Clare returned to her acting career. She has since starred in another Bill Forsythe film, Comfort and Joy, and appeared in popular television series such as Taggart and Blott on the Landscape. Clare lives in London with her husband, record producer Stephen Lironi. They married last year (1994) in Glasgow.

Your Favourite Item Of Clothing?

It has to be my black PVC Rifat Ozbek trousers, which I bought a couple of years ago. They cost a fortune, but I've hardly taken them off since. None of my friends believe me when I tell them how comfortable they are. I wear them at least once a week during the daytime, usually with a big chunky jumper. I avoid wearing them on the London Underground though as they always draw unwanted male attention.

Sexiest Clothes On A Man?

I'm not attracted to men who are overly concerned with their appearance. The more understated the better, in my opinion. Stephen is incredibly scruffy. He has that "I've just put on whatever I found at the end of the bed" look and I find it very sexy. I do like the way a kilt looks on a man, however.

Your Favourite Shoes?

I don't have a favourite pair, but I do have a major shoe fetish. I have hundreds of pairs. I'm a hoarder and can't bear to throw any of them away. My collection includes everything from original 1920s flapper girl shoes bought second-hand, to weird and wonderful modern styles from Red or Dead. If I had my way I would buy a new pair every day of the week. Having size three feet might seem a problem for may women, but I don't care what size the shoes are - if I fall in love with them I make them fit by stuffing the toes with tissue paper. The ones I'm wearing today are size five's.

How Many Outfits In Your Wardrobe?

Lots and lots but I tend to wear the same things all the time. I shop all over the place, from Joseph and Katherine Hamnett to Top Shop and Miss Selfridge. I just buy what I like. I tend to keep my clothes for ages, even if I stop wearing them. I always remember getting very frustrated with my mother, when some of the outfits she used to wear when she was younger came back into fashion, because she hadn't kept her old clothes for me. I intend to keep a trunk of some of my favourites for my children.

What's On Your Dressing Table?

A photograph of my goddaughter Ava, a plaque of Our Lady, a photograph of myself and my two sisters Katy and Margaret and my 'duck box' which is a trinket box with a picture of ducks on the lid. My duck box contains lonely earrings that I can't bear to throw away - isn't it strange how you only ever lose one earring? - buttons, ribbons and that kind of thing. All my make up is in the top drawer because Stephen is exceptionally tidy, so I have had become and expert at hiding my clutter.

What Make-Up Do You Wear?

I don't wear much make up on a day-to-day basis because I'm not very good at applying it. But what little I do wear is usually expensive. Like most Scottish girls, I wear bright red lipstick (for some reason red lipstick is a very Scottish thing) and although I don't carry my make up bag around with me, I always have a lipstick with me - just in case. It's a constant source of annoyance to me that whenever I go to sleep with make up on after a late night, it always looks better in the morning than when I put it on the night before.

Who Does Your Hair?

I come from a family of hairdressers. My Mum was a hairdresser as was her father, her uncles and her sisters. I really care about the way my looks and have it cut every six weeks and highlighted at my cousins' salon, Hely Hair in Glasgow. If I can't get up there, then I go to Denise McAdam in London. Mum used to cut my hair when I was younger, which caused many a family row.

What Do You Spend Most Money On?

Travelling. I've been all over Europe and I love America. Last year, Stephen and I spent two months visiting Colorado, Arizona and California for our honeymoon. Unfortunately, on a trip to Morocco a few years ago I contracted hepatitis. I was very ill and had to be flown back to Charing Cross Hospital. I could have died - it was that serious. One of my biggest regrets is that experience has really put me off going anywhere too adventurous.

How Did You Meet Your Husband?

When I was singing with Altered Images, Stephen, who is a musician, was brought in by our manager to join the band. We had to have a photograph taken of the new line-up, so the manager took me round to Stephen's house to pick him up. Stephen says the first thing he remembers about me is that when I sat on his settee with my legs curled up he could see my white knickers. We had to do some really silly cheesecake photographs, and I remember the photographer asking me to kiss Stephen. I didn't mind at all. We became good friends and when the band split up and I went solo, Stephen played on some of my records. Some six years after our first meeting, Stephen and I found ourselves drinking cocktails one evening in a hotel in New York. We both got a bit drunk and he gave me a long, lingering kiss. I went to bed that night thinking it was all a dream. Soon after that we started going out together. We got married last August - 12 years after we first met. I'm crazy about him.

The Most You Have Spent On Another Person?

About ten years ago my sister Katy - who was never able to make up her mind about what she wanted to do - decided she wanted to take a course in stage management at the Royal Academy of Drama in Glasgow. She was broke, so I paid her fees. She works in advertising now. I think I should as for my money back.

Your Most Embarrassing Moment?

At the height of our fame in the 1980's, Altered Images appeared in a Royal Variety Performance. I was wearing a gorgeous pair of second-hand Twenties shoes that were, as usual, a couple of sizes too big for me. Unfortunately, half-way through our set the toilet paper that I had used to stuff them with worked loose. I have a video of at home of me prancing across the stage, completely oblivious to the fact that there is a long trail of white loo roll following me around throughout the performance. I only notices it when we came off the stage.

What's In Your Handbag?

I always have a huge bag with me, crammed full with all kinds of things. I have lots of photographs in there of my family and friends, a hat in case I have a hair anxiety attack while I'm out, a small bottle of water, a tatty old purse that is well past its best, but is the only one I have managed to hang on to for any length of time so I'm loathe to trade it in for a new one, some food - biscuits or yoghurt, and sometimes a pair of pyjamas, just in case I end up staying over at a friend's house.

What Do You Wear In Bed?

Let me put it this way: I tend to put my pyjamas on when I get up.

Your Worst Evening Out?

My sisters and I went to the restaurant L'Esgargot in Soho in London for a girlie, chatty evening out. Katy had just started going out with a man Margaret and I disapproved of. Unfortunately Katy didn't want to listen to our sisterly warnings and we all ended up having a monumental row about him in the restaurant - which culminated in Katy tipping the table over and storming out. The waiters were very sweet and cleared up the mess, and Margaret and I stayed to finish our meal. We asked for extra chocolate snails (a speciality of the house) at the end of dinner, then spend about £90 between us taxiing from house to house apologising to each other. Katy is now happily married to the object of our disapproval and we all love him dearly.

Ideal Dining Companion?

Nelson Mandela. I'd love to meet him, although I'm not sure that dinner would be an entirely suitable setting. After everything he has been through, he's just so incredibly forgiving and dignified. He's my hero.

Your Favourite Food?

Chocolate. I simply could not live without it. I don't trust people who don't like chocolate - there must be something wrong with them.

Any Regrets?

Absolutely loads, but I think my biggest regret is that I wish I had been more assertive during my recording career. I really enjoyed the whole experience, but I think I was far too trusting of people. I was manipulated more than I would allow to happen now.

Your Epitaph?

Deranged but delightful.

An Interview from The Guardian

(Interview by Annie Taylor)
© Copyright The Guardian, March 1996.

The difference a day made

A Picture Of Clare by Les Johnstone
Image of Clare reproduced with the kind permission of Les Johnstone.
These, and other images, can be found on his pages.

In the eighties Clare Grogan, now 34, sang with the band Altered Images and starred in the film Gregory's Girl; she is currently a presenter for VH-1 and is appearing in Channel 4's Father Ted. She lives in north London with her husband.
On Halloween 1979, I was working as a waitress in the Spaghetti Factory in Glasgow, dressed as a Latin American ballroom dancer. I was 17 and still at school. I was in Altered Images, for fun, but didn't really have any plans for my future. I wanted to act; from the age of four, mum used to take me to ABC cinema in Sauchiehall Street and I pretty much grew up on a diet of Doris Day and Audrey Hepburn. I loved it and naively thought: "That's what I want to do." I'd sit watching Barry Norman and think about how I'd love to be on his show. But I never discussed it with the careers teacher - I didn't go to that kind of school!
So there I was on Halloween, looking fabulous (I thought), when one of the customers said: "By the way, I'm making a film, Would you like to be in it?" I was deeply suspicious. I imagined this "film" would probably involve me, him and a video camera. But being a bit of an adventurous type, I thought, well, OK, it might eventually mean me running away at high speed, but you never know. So I decided to show some interest.
I didn't hear anything for six months, then suddenly he got in touch. He was Bill Forsyth and he told me about this film he wanted to make called Gregory's Girl. We made the film in the summer and by the end of 1980, I'd been on TV and the band had been signed. I got to fulfil a huge ambition just through meeting one person.
It's important to have dreams, you just don't know when one day something will happen and your dream will become a reality. I think everyone has their own Bill Forsyth out there waiting to make things happen.