Soundtrack Of My Life: Eddie Izzard

Transgender hero and dance partner to Judi Dench

The first song I remember hearing

The Beatles – ‘She Loves You’

“I can remember not only hearing it, but singing it with my brother by the coal bunker. This was when we were living at 5 Ashford Drive in Bangor, County Down [in Northern Ireland]. I would only have been about two or three at the time but it’s a very strong memory.”

The first song I fell in love with

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Tom Jones – ‘Delilah’

“After my mum died, me and my brother went to a boarding school near Porthcawl in Wales. I was probably about six at the time. It was kind of a summer place, so out of season there weren’t a lot of people around, just empty sand dunes. I remember Dad gave us this radio and we could dial it in and hear ‘Delilah’ by Tom Jones. I remember it felt like a connection with the outside world because it was almost like we were living on this desert island.”

The first gig I went to

The Boomtown Rats – Sheffield City Hall, 1981

“At school, I taught myself to play ‘I Don’t Like Mondays’. I had saved up all my money and bought myself this electric piano – I remember smuggling it back to school, because my stepmother was against me having it. And then a couple of years later, I get to Sheffield Uni and The Boomtown Rats are in town. And Bob [Geldof] – who I now know, which is weird – is obviously so pissed off with singing ‘I Don’t Like Mondays’ that they don’t do it that night. So tragically, I have still never heard that song live.”

The first album I bought

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Ian Dury – ‘New Boots and Panties!!’

“My music heritage is weird and stunted because film and comedy were my main influences growing up – I broke into Pinewood Studios when I was 15. Punk was such an explosion but I wasn’t really a punk kid, though something about Ian Dury connected with me. I think it’s got something to do with his articulation and everything he went through. He contracted polio at seven, came through it and went on to write music with such wit and whimsy – not just the anger which he had every right to have. He’s a fucking hero.”

The song that reminds me of home

Kate Bush – ‘Wuthering Heights’

“My home was sort of boarding school, and I can remember Tim Ashby walking in and saying: ‘You’ve got to fucking listen to this.’ And he was right because it’s just so unusual and captivating. The sound designer who worked with Kate on her [1978] tour – the one with the hands-free microphone – now works with me on my tour. He’s a really brilliant, inventive guy who does amazing things like making sure we have great outdoor sound at the Hollywood Bowl.”

The song that makes me want to dance

Ray Charles – ‘What I’d Say’

“Judi Dench is in my new film, Six Minutes to Midnight. I also worked with her on Victoria & Abdul, where she played Queen Victoria and I played her son, Bertie. I remember being in the makeup truck at the end of the day, getting everything off, and having a dance to ‘What I’d Say’. So she started dancing too and I suddenly realised I was dancing with a teenage girl, because she’s very much in tune with the younger version of herself.”

The song I can’t get out of my head

Mary Hopkin – ‘Those Were The Days’

“This song is from the late ’60s and it was produced by Paul McCartney. It grabbed me back then and it’s never really gone away. It’s just such a beguiling song: it sounds like something from yesteryear which travelling people might sing to you.”

The song I’d like played at my funeral

Bernard Cribbins – ‘Right Said Fred’

“My brother chose it to be played at the end of Dad’s funeral. We all liked it as a comedy record after Mum died – it’s got a lot of sound effects, and it’s about two builders trying to put something up, but they keep fucking up. It was meant to be played to put a spring in people’s step as they filed out of the funeral, but the celebrant said: ‘Let’s all take a moment to sit and think about this song which obviously meant a lot to Harold.’ I wanted to say: ‘No, this is ridiculous, it’s a comedy record, we’re not supposed to be considering its dulcet tones and chord progressions!’ And because of that, I think I’d want it played at my funeral, too.”

Eddie Izzard stars in ‘Six Minutes to Midnight’, out on Sky Cinema and NOW TV from March 26

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