For the past year Australian shopping superstar Sheila Simmonds has been playing with balls in Soho every Tuesday night. Busy Lady Bingo at the Duke of Wellington has been a runaway hit from the off and this Tuesday Shelia will be blowing out the candles and welcoming some special guests. Dave Cross found out more.
G’day Sheila, congrats on a whole year of Busy Lady Bingo – does it feel like 12 months already?
G’day Boyz, and thanks! It feels more like a year… I can’t believe I’ve been calling balls for that long! Time does fly when you’re having fun.
Did you ever doubt it would be anything but a huge success?
Bingo and Sheila is like chicken and stuffing – they just go together, so we always thought it would work, but it’s just fabulous at how well it’s been received and how busy it’s becoming.
If there are any poor souls out there who haven’t been yet, how would you describe a ‘typical’ Tuesday upstairs at the Welly?
Nothing’s typical on a Tuesday upstairs in the Sky Lounge (I renamed it after the refurb) – that’s why people love it and keep coming back, and let’s face it, who could resist a game of bingo on a Tuesday night after a hard day at the office with some of the best views of Soho from the Sky Lounge viewing platform? It’s like cheese and pickle – a perfect match.
What do people need to know to join in the fun?
Most importantly you’ll need to learn the lyrics to my song Busy Lady Bingo and my hit single Disco as we always have a sing-along – both songs are on iTunes and very reasonably priced… Apart from that it’s 99p to play, which includes four games, the rental of your dobber, a Busy Lady badge and a complimentary Werther’s Original.
Talk us through the prizes on offer each week.
The prizes are part of why people come – we’re partially sponsored by Poundland, so variety and quality are always first and foremost. We’ve had everything from washing powder to disposable BBQs. There’s also a bottle of my own wine, Chateaux de Shite, up for grabs as well as a guaranteed cash jackpot each week. And if that’s not enough we also give away shots from whichever liquor company we’re in favour with that particular week.
What is it like working at the Duke of Welly with Oliver and his award-winning team?
It’s an absolute pleasure. Sheila, Oliver and the Welly are like brie, grape and cranberry – it just works. I usually work with Beverley and Brenda in the Sky Lounge, who are an absolute hoot, and I must say Oliver the manageress has been so supportive of the night – he always pops into the ‘dressing room’ before the show and we shoot the breeze over a miniature bottle of Chateaux de Shite and some pink wafers.
Do you have anything extra special planned for the anniversary on Tuesday?
Yes, that evening we’ll be filming the video for my new single Busy Lady Bingo, and we also have some special guests: the two Julies from the hit TV show Bad Girls! They’ll be dropping by to call some numbers and providing some contraband to give away. We’ve also got a huge cash jackpot, the biggest bottle of my Chateaux de Shite to give away as well as merchandise from my brand new online shop. There’s even a pair of Busy Lady flip flops up for grabs and the brand new Duke of Wellington Sheila Simmonds T-shirt!
What else are you up to?
Starting in October I’m doing a monthly show called The Sheila Simmonds Show upstairs at The Arts Club in Soho – more details to follow. And in November I’m off to LA for a week to do some filming on a new project, as well as flying back and forth to Australia. I’m the truly original #busylady.