You are playing the London Palladium this week. What can people expect?
They can expect to be thrilled. It will pay all their bills, make them feel younger, more virile and very saucy. They will also be able to eat food constantly while getting thinner.
Is the show in a similar reflective vein as your autobiography, Unfaithful Music And Disappearing Ink?
Anyone who has read the book will recognise some of the anecdotal material. There are some pictures from the book in the show, so there is a connection. I've been in a reflective frame of mind but that's made the show more lively. Some of the images are just inherently ridiculous but I haven't suddenly turned a stand-up comedian.
Are you enjoying doing tours with no album to promote?
I departed from the album-followed-by-tour route five years ago. It's more interesting because any song from any year can be the stand-out of the night. It doesn't have to be your hit. There are some people in the audience who bought tickets on their acquaintance with some of my best-known songs, so they won't find a way into it if I don't play something they recognise. I use those songs to remind myself why we're all in the room together.
Who was on Top Of The Pops the first time you did it?
I think David Soul was No.1, I was on it once with Hank Marvin and another time with Bucks Fizz and Dollar. When you're first on, it's very exciting. Then you get a bit blasé and a bit entitled and think: 'When can we get to the bar and get drunk on BBC gin and tonic?'
You were in Spice World: The Movie — is it time for a critical reappraisal?
The best thing is I can say I did a movie with Richard E Grant. I've never seen it.
Who was your favorite Spice Girl?
Baby. Wasn't she everyone's favorite? I can't remember what the other ones were called. I seem to recall they were getting a hard time about something — they did an awards show and everyone booed them. I thought: 'Why are you booing them, you boring old f***ers?' So I decided: 'I'll be in their movie, that'll show you! There was a righteousness to my decision. I've been in a few films but I couldn't call any of them acting. I'd like to play a poisoner.
Maybe Midsomer Murders? They get through loads of killers...
Perhaps if Prime Suspect came back. Dame Helen Mirren tracking me down would be good.
What lessons has your career in the music industry taught you?
Don't get into the music business. I've had a good run but I jumped on the ship just before it was setting sail and everyone fell off the quay. It's not an easy thing for people to get into. Lots of people play music for very little reward, sometimes for less than they should, but look what they have to do to get their music heard. I worked hard when I started out but now it seems you need to work even harder. I hope the light stays on long enough for people to be able to make a living from music. I've put what I've earned back into it to keep on doing it.
Are streaming services making it more difficult for musicians to earn a living?
I don't understand how new artists can sustain themselves from streaming operations. All artists have been sold out by corporate interests that own the rights to our recordings. Why 'are they handing it over to middle men who don't have anything other than gadgets or algorithms to deliver the music to us? How does a new artist have a chance of earning a living? They have to play every gig they can to earn some money. It's cheating new artists of the chance of developing at their own speed. And it's cheating the listener because they are being sold an inferior product by record companies who know better. Prince was right about everything. Among his many other talents he saw the business model for what it was way before everyone else. It's very sad to lose someone who had that sort of vision because he challenged how things were.