SHE shot to fame with that skirt-shedding routine in Eurovision-winning Eighties band Bucks Fizz, who went on to sell 50million records worldwide.
Later, she enjoyed success after making the move into television presenting.
Cheryl Baker has gone from selling 50million records worldwide to working for the minimum wage as a gardenerCredit: Stewart Williams
In 1981, Cheryl and bandmates Jay Aston, Mike Nolan and Bobby G became Eurovision winners as Bucks Fizz
But Cheryl Baker — who went through tough times when Covid forced her to pull the plug on gigs with her band’s reincarnation, The Fizz — has slammed reports she is being forced to sell her Kent home because of money worries.
In fact, she is downsizing as she no longer needs the space offered by the £1.4million mansion near Tonbridge she shares with musician husband Steve Stroud.
She told The Sun: “I’m not ‘poor Cheryl’, I’m just ordinary. I’m the same as everybody.
“I have bills to pay and I need to earn a living to pay the bills.
“Fortunately, I love my work so I want to keep working.”
The 69-year-old singer has just put her stunning pad on the market after previously admitting the cost-of-living crisis has hit her hard.
But Cheryl, who shares the house with Steve and their 29-year-old twin girls Kyla and Natalie, insists the money worries about which she was vocal during the pandemic are not behind the decision to sell up.
That’s because she is always happy to graft, even if the jobs she is doing are a far cry from her showbiz past.
Cheryl said: “I’ve never been out of work in my life. I’ve never been on the dole.
“I’ve never asked for a handout because I work, and I don’t care what job I do. That has been my ethos ever since I left school.”
The star worked as a secretary for five years before joining the band Co-Co, who entered the A Song For Europe pre-selection competition three times, getting through to the final of Eurovision once, in 1978, before disbanding two years later.
In 1981, Cheryl and bandmates Jay Aston, Mike Nolan and Bobby G became Eurovision winners as Bucks Fizz, topping the charts with Making Your Mind Up, following up with a string of hits including The Land Of Make Believe.
But, like many acts in the Eighties, huge hits did not necessarily mean big bucks.
She explained: “We were given five per cent of a 90 per cent of the sales, because they took off ten per cent for breakages and giveaways to radio stations and record firms.
“That five per cent was split four ways, so we got less than a penny for every record we sold.
“I had enough to buy a semi- detached in Eltham, South East London, but I didn’t care. I’m not into material things.
“Money gets me by, money pays for things, but that’s all.”
Cheryl did splash out on a small house for her parents, in Essex, as well as a 32ft Fairline Phantom boat, for £15,000, which she kept in Brighton Marina.
She said: “I loved it but that was a dripping tap as far as money was concerned so I sold it.”
In 1984, the band were involved in a terrifying crash in Newcastle, when their tour bus hit a lorry, with Mike suffering a near-fatal brain injury which left him with impaired vision and epilepsy, prompting Cheryl to set up the charity HeadFirst.
Cheryl broke three vertebrae, which hurt if she is standing up too long, but she made a speedy recovery.
Cheryl and husband Steve have put their stunning Kent home on the market, admitting the cost-of-living crisis has hit them hardCredit: Stewart Williams
She went on to present a cookery show, Eggs And Baker in 1988, and front hit kids’ show Record Breakers for 11 years, quitting Bucks Fizz in 1993, when her twins were born.
After Mike Nolan also left the band, Bobby G teamed up with David Van Day and continued to tour the band but in 2004, with an Eighties revival sweeping the nation, Cheryl reunited with former bandmates Jay and Mike to perform as The Original Bucks Fizz, sparking a legal wrangle over the name.
Bobby won the case, meaning the trio could no longer use the name — nor even say they were “formerly of Bucks Fizz” — and they adopted The Fizz instead.
Cheryl said: “It’s sad because we won Eurovision and we had that terrible crash which almost killed Mike so we had so much history in a short space of time.
“We should all have the right to use the name.
“Bobby doesn’t gig so it’s like he is saying, ‘I don’t want to play with this ball any more but you can’t have it’. ”
Cheryl says the loss of the name cost them a host of gigs, meaning she turned to a business owner pal for work.
She added: “Even if I’m broke I don’t worry about money.
“If I look at the bank account and there’s nothing coming in for a while, I’ll find something to do.
“I’ve worked for a neighbour who runs a gardening company, for £10 an hour, and it was lovely.
“I was out in the fresh air and we’d have a good old chinwag while we worked.
“I also recorded personal messages for fans which brought in some money.”
Cheryl has raised further cash selling household bits and bobs, although she points out that was more about decluttering than bringing in funds — and she has even flogged items at boot fairs.
She said with a laugh: “People come up and say, ‘You look like that Bucks Fizz girl, Cheryl Baker’, then someone else would go, ‘Shut up! As if she’d do a boot sale!’.
“One even said, ‘It can’t be you. She’s fatter than you.’ What a backhanded compliment!”
Cheryl’s resourceful nature came in useful during the pandemic, when Covid restrictions meant gigging was out, and she was also landed with a huge tax bill from a bumper year in 2018, following her stint on Dancing On Ice.
Husband Steve — a bass player in Cliff Richard’s band who now has his own Earth, Wind And Fire tribute act and a supergroup called the SAS Band — was also unable to work.
Cheryl recalled: “Performing arts were the first to be kicked into touch in the pandemic . . . and the last to be reinstated.
“Unfortunately, because I’d had a good year a couple of years before, and Dancing On Ice paid very well, I couldn’t get any help from the Government and I also had a large tax bill, which I managed to defer, but that’s all sorted now.”
She has also been doing a few online gigs.
But while she cut back on luxuries at the time, lockdown also meant singer-songwriter Kyla and choreographer Natalie moved back home and she feels fortunate that it was a happy point for the family.
Cheryl said: “It was tough financially, but for me it’s all about happiness and I was really lucky because we live in the middle of nowhere, we had the girls back and friends living in the flat we have in the garden, so it was like a party house.
“We grew all our own veg in our vegetable patch and, as long as I could pay the mortgage every month, which I did, we were fine.
“Money was tight, but that wasn’t the important thing.”
Now the house is on the market but Cheryl insists: “I want to downsize because Steve and I are getting on a bit and we don’t need such a big house, plus I don’t want a mortgage any more.
“It’s a six-bedroom house, which is stupid.
“Steve’s 71 and I’m 70 next year and I’m the same as any other woman of a certain age who thinks ‘I don’t need all these bedrooms.’
“The garden is too big and Steve’s had enough of mowing it.
“But then I get, ‘Poor old Cheryl, she’s having to sell her house.’ Get off my case!”
With her 70th birthday in March, she admits most of her friends have retired but, characteristically, it seems Cheryl is just getting started on another chapter.
A Saturday night slot on Great British Radio was so popular she was given a two-hour daily show, which has been extended to three hours by popular demand.
The Fizz, who are produced by Mike Stock of Stock, Aitken and Waterman fame, released their fourth album last year and are set to perform at an Eighties weekend at Butlin’s in Minehead, alongside Boney M, ABC and Wet Wet Wet.
She is also posting cooking videos on YouTube.
Having had a ball on Dancing On Ice, Cheryl would also be up for doing more reality TV but says her dream show, Strictly, has passed.
She said: “If you want to keep your name in the frame, you have to do reality TV.
“I wouldn’t do Big Brother because I can get a bit ‘shop steward’ and I think they’d edit it so I’d look like the bitch, but I’d love to do I’m A Celebrity.
“My dream job would be Strictly. I love dancing but they’ve never been interested in me.
“I’m put up for it every year but they say I don’t fit their ‘criteria’.”
Now on a house hunt, Cheryl and Steve are set to appear on Escape To The Country, which they are filming later this month.
She added: “Just because you’re famous or a familiar face doesn’t mean suddenly you wake up and you’re loaded. It doesn’t work like that.”
“But I’m not a glass half-full person. My glass is overflowing.”
Cheryl and Steve are set to appear on Escape To The Country, which they are filming later this monthCredit: Stewart Williams