Published: 00:53, 27 March 2019
She was a formidable force in the world of politics for more than 30 years, inspiring respect and just a little bit of fear at times.
But since closing the door on her political career, outspoken Ann Widdecombe - who served as MP for Maidstone for 23 years - has found renewed fame and love for life in a very different field.
Ann was the Conservative MP for Maidstone from 1987 to 1997 and for Maidstone and the Weald from 1997 to 2010 but when she hung up her MP’s hat she took what many might have considered an unexpected turn, taking on Strictly Come Dancing in 2010 and embraced the show wholeheartedly.
She partnered Anton du Beke and made it through to week nine, despite being constantly at the bottom of the leaderboard and returned for a Christmas special last year.
She also appeared in Celebrity Big Brother last year and won over the nation with her innocent attempts at using hair straighteners, early nights, heading into the jacuzzi fully-clothed and rocking the Scary Spice look in leopard print. She went on to be crowned runner-up, losing out to Australian drag queen Courtney Act.
She has also become a sought-after speaker and author, having written her autobiography as well as four other novels.
She returns to the county this weekend with two shows at Deal and Tenterden. Combining a talk about her political and showbiz experiences with a question and answer session, Ann is excited to see what the public will ask her.
She said: “One of the things I enjoy the most about going on stage in a show like this is that you never really know who your audience will be, and what you’re going to be asked next.
“I’ve never said that any topic is off limits in terms of questions, and I’ve been asked just about everything in my time, from the ins and outs of my time in politics and showbusiness, to more personal things like whether I’d ever envisage marrying, or regret not having children.
“But probably one of the most bizarre questions I have ever been asked was whether I could understand why anyone might want to have an extra-marital affair with former deputy prime minister John Prescott - what are you supposed to say to that? “I’m not struggling to come up with an answer very often, but that was certainly one of those occasions!”
Mixing Margaret Thatcher with Craig Revel Horwood, the evening is sure to give audiences a glimpse into a variety of worlds.
Ann said: “I don’t want people to think that this show is some sort of party political broadcast. First and foremost it’s a night of comedy - it’s entertainment.
“Ever since I signed up to do Strictly Come Dancing I’ve discovered just how much I like making people laugh.”
She is also happy to talk – as she does in her autobiography which she will be signing on the tour – about the roots of her conversion to Catholicism in 1993, or her deeply held views on abortion and gay marriage.
An Evening with Ann Widdecombe is sold out at the Astor Theatre, Deal on Friday, March 29, but there are some tickets left for the evening at the Sinden Theatre, Tenterden, on Saturday,
March 30. Book at sindentheatre.com
More by this authorCharlie Harman