News, Culture & Society

Inside the head of… Suggs

Suggs, 56, born Graham McPherson, has been the lead singer of Madness for 30 years. He is married to singer Bette Bright and they have two daughters, Scarlett and Viva.

What is your earliest memory?

Being in the Colony Room in Soho with my mum when I was about six. I was sitting at the piano and someone gave me a five bob note, which looked the size of a bed sheet. Then we went to the pictures to see a James Bond film.

What’s the worst thing anyone has ever said to me? You’re a national institution

What sort of a child were you?

Naughty. We used to borrow things and not give them back. From shops. Stuff like records. There were shops in Camden where the manager couldn’t be bothered to take the vinyl out of the sleeves. A big mistake.

What’s the worst thing anyone has ever said to you?

You’re a national institution. Should have been institutionalised, more like.

Which living person do you dislike the most and why?

People who wear backpacks or rucksacks. Barging and bunking you round. Totally oblivious of your face.

What is your most cherished possession?

I’ve got the Evening Standard billboard with the cover announcing John Lennon had been shot. I should get it framed, but I don’t want to be confronted with that headline every day.

Describe the best night of your life

My 50th birthday party at Wilton’s Music Hall. My wife and friend had organised a whole show and got all these old acts together. It was brilliant. Madness were there, and about 200 people came in all.

What has been your most embarrassing moment?

Falling off the stage while supporting David Bowie in the early Eighties. I ran for the mic and slipped and fell a long way down. David was standing at the side of the stage laughing. He thought I’d done it on purpose.

Tell us a secret about yourself

I make pasta from scratch when I’m staying at my house in Italy. They’re very particular, these Italians, but I made some tortellini with some fried pine kernels for some native friends and they enjoyed it.

Which law would you change?

There should be more affordable social housing in London. Right now. They’re destroying this flipping place. Property has become its most valuable asset rather than people.

Who would play you in a film of your life?

Stan Laurel. I like his face, and he wears a bowler hat as well.

What is your guilty pleasure?

Watching videos of myself on YouTube. Being caught at it by the family is almost as bad as being caught watching porn. To be fair, I never get to see what the audience sees so it’s an interesting experience.

If you could go back in time, where would you go?

Medieval London would be fascinating.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever had?

Always go to the toilet before you leave a pub.

What are you scared of?

I’m slightly scared of heights. When I climbed up the Duomo in Florence, I was like a cat in one of those cartoons trying to cling to the floor.

What is the worst pain you’ve known?

Fracturing my elbow falling off a car bonnet in Paris.

What is the best kiss you’ve ever had?

Two nights ago. I’m not saying any more.

What skill should everyone have?

To be able to look one another in the eyes and proffer a firm hand shake.

What phrase do you most overuse?

Are you sure those potatoes are done?

When was the last time you cried?

When Chelsea sold Matić to United.

What song do you want at your funeral?

Is That All There Is? by Peggy Lee. 

Suggs presents ‘WW2 Treasure Hunters’ on History, Mondays at 9pm, as part of the channel’s World War True season


Last film you saw? 

Dunkirk. I was hiding under my seat every five minutes but it’s a great film. 

Last book you read?

Feasting And Fasting, by Adam Federman – it’s a biography about the food writer Patience Gray, who lived near my house in Italy. She was the editor of a newspaper’s women’s page, but left it all to live in the middle of nowhere, without any running water or electricity. 

Last TV show you loved? 

The Killing. I like Nordic noir. And Match Of The Day, of course.