A while ago, I did a second piece taking a look back at the rather remarkable career of Danielle Dax, who did a lot of interesting things in the 80s and 90s, although she was never that successful. I decided to put a list together of all of her TV appearances and releases because I thought this was worth chronicling, and I have been rather surprised by how popular this has been. You might remember that I said one thing that I really wanted to see was when she appeared on BBC2’s Home Front in 1997. Well the good news is that this has finally turned up on YouTube, and I am very pleased about that. But before then, here’s a quick update with a few other things that I have discovered about her since my last piece…
The earliest a picture of Danielle appeared in a music magazine as far as I know was in Sounds when she was still in Lemon Kittens in 1980. Yes, as long ago as that. In 1981, Lemon Kittens had a namecheck in Smash Hits. Well, it was only in a wordsearch puzzle with animal-related band names, but it’s still more than I expected. In 1984 Danielle appeared in horror film The Company Of Wolves, which in recent years has been repeated on London Live and TalkingPictures TV. I was disappointed that she never appeared on the cover of a music weekly, but then I was looking at some old Time Out covers, and is that who I think it is???
I think I neglected to say that in 1985 her debut single was “Yummer Yummer Man”, although there was no video for this, and this was followed in 1986 by “Bad Miss ‘M'” which again had no video. In 1987 she made some appearances on Japanese TV. In 1988 she was interviewed on Channel 4 music show APB by the two women in Voice Of The Beehive. In 1989 her Star Test interview was repeated in a late-night slot. In 1990 she did appear on BBC2’s Juke Box Jury when her single was reviewed. In 1992 her Star Test was repeated yet again. In 1994 her concert (first shown on ITV in 1987 and also released on VHS and DVD) was repeated on Cue The Music. In 1996 “Flashback” (which did have a video) was used as the theme to BBC2’s coverage of Crufts. And in 1997, she appeared in the Evening Standard in an article at her home. I think that’s everything, now on to the main piece…
Home Front (BBC2, 1997)
In the late-90s there was a boom in home makeover shows, with lots filling the schedule, Home Front being one of them. I am particularly interested in the edition shown on 28 May 1997, which featured the final of the Home Front Amateur Decorator Of The Year competition (this was shown at the same time as the Champions League Final was live on ITV, I hope this didn’t affect the ratings). The three finalists were Dax from Aberdeen, Victoria from Bristol… and some woman called Danielle.
Their challenge was to decorate an empty front room in a house on an estate in Nottingham. They have 48 hours, a budget of £300, and four of their favourite items that they can decorate the room with. A panel of judges must determine the winner, including Kevin McCloud and Anne McKevitt, who said “I’ll be looking for someone who is courageous with bold and original designs and ideas”. Well I think I know someone who can do that.
As they all had a teammate to help them, they all wore colour-coded shirts with name badges, and they were all competing against the clock to win a prize, I suppose that this is the closest that we will get to Danielle appearing on a game show! Who will have what it takes? Everyone is also given a sofa that they have to customise. So what is Danielle’s look going to be exactly?
Well of course it’s going to be Gardeners’ World meets outer space. We also get a lot of close-ups of tins of paint of rather garish colours being opened accompanied by some smooth jazz. It’s time to get the sludge green-coloured paint and felt tips out. And you won’t believe what she can do with a tree trunk either. But will there be enough time? With one day gone, there is still a lot to do…
But things eventually take shape. Comments from the judges included “totally different, like nothing I have ever seen before”, “it’s like a mint Aero”, “it’s totally outrageous”, and “I am knocked out by it in many ways”. Who will the trophy? It is a very close decision, but the winner is… Danielle! They were hugely impressed by her originality. She must’ve won more awards for her design work than her music. Two questions, I wonder if she went professional after this, and I wonder if she won the phone vote, where viewers were invited to choose their favourites?
I believe that Danielle has appeared on a few other home makeover shows since. And in more recent years, she has done a few other things. She now seems to have hair like Marge Simpson, and she contributed to a podcast where she spoke about her career, the documentary And You Thought You Were Normal about strange musician Nash The Slash, and she even released her first music for over 25 years. The only radio station where you’d hear any of her songs now is BBC 6 Music. I also had to get the book featuring lots of pictures of her on stage in the 80s. Anybody who has any more information to share is welcome.