I’m a Celebrity star Emily Atack’s mum heads to Sheffield, not the jungle!

Kate Robbins and Joe McElderry in Club Tropicana the Musical
Kate Robbins and Joe McElderry in Club Tropicana the Musical

The mother of I’m a Celebrity runner-up Emily Atack has her own exotic journey next year  – but in the theatre, not the jungle.

Emily’s mum Kate Robbins, who flew over to Australia to support actress Emily, said: ”God yeah, I’m up for anything like that, me.”

However, it’s a trip back to the 1980s that beckons for actress and singer Kate.  

The Eighties were good to Kate. She represented the UK in the Eurovision Song Contest, scored a Top 10 single, landed a role in Crossroads, starred in her own TV series, married and gave birth to her first child.

She also provided many of the voices for ITV’s satirical puppet show, Spitting Image.

“The 1980s was most important decade of my life,” she said.

So she feels at home in the musical, in which she plays Consuela, the grumpy Spanish hotel chambermaid.

Set to a soundtrack of some of the most iconic hits of the 80s, the story unfolds in the vibrant Club Tropicana Hotel.

When a bride and groom get cold feet, they decide to jet off to sunnier climes anyway - but little do they realise they’ve checked into the same hotel, which is also about to get a visit from the hotel inspectors. Can Consuela help save the day?

Kate is part of a cast that includes X Factor winner Joe McElderry, ex-EastEnder Neil McDermott and former Sugababe Amelle Berrabah, making her musical theatre debut.

“When they said I could do some impressions as Consuela I thought, ‘What a great opportunity to do a sort of Mrs Overall meets Manuel from Fawlty Towers, so that’s what I did. I thought, ‘I’ll just be very silly with it,” she said.

“It’s exciting creating a new role and they gave me a free rein which is very special because I don’t really like to step into somebody else’s boots. I like to do my own thing.”

She has had a holiday home in Spain for the last 20 years. Kate said: “I know the way the Spanish people speak and I decided to make her bad-tempered, based on a lady I know in Spain who always tells me ‘...grand pantalones para mi papa’.” That means ’I have to buy big trousers for my father’!

The impressions Kate does in the show include Cilla Black, and although Conseula doesn’t sing it, Cilla’s theme song from Surprise Surprise features. Kate wrote it for the Liverpool singer.

“I’m thrilled my song is being used,” she said, recalling: “Cilla had been to my house with Paul McCartney, who is my cousin, when I was a tiny little girl, but I only really met her when I got commissioned to do that song.

“Paul had written a theme tune for her earlier series, Step Inside Love. “When Paul wrote that for her they asked for a similar song for Surprise Surprise so that Cilla could walk towards the camera and start sing to everyone at home. So I sang the demo slightly in her voice. I think that’s why I got the job.”

Kate spoke of another 80s highlight: “1980 was very important to me because it was the year I did my first television. I represented the UK in the Eurovision Song Contest. I was in a group called Prima Donna, there were six of us, and we went to The Hague and came third.

“Then, we though ‘Huh, third!’ but these days I think we’d be pleased if the UK  came ninth.”

Club Tropicana the Musical is at Sheffield’s Lyceum Theatre from March 4 to 9. Box office: www.sheffieldtheatres.co.uk