Born in Liverpool on the 13th October 1946, Edwina Currie’s early life bares similarities with musicians, entertainers and comedians who grew up in northern England during this time. A regular at the Cavern Club, she found herself at the centre of a musical revolution but instead of attempting to follow this new tradition, Edwina became much more interested in social and political issues which would ultimately influence the rest of her life. Growing up surrounded by the Jewish religion instilled a sense of social awareness and taught her vital lessons in how we can learn from the errors of history. Meeting survivors of the Nazi concentration camps and witnessing the physical and mental scars which they had to live with, brought it home that the war wasn’t too long ago and these barbaric attitudes had to be a thing of the past.
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Her interest in the world of science was cultivated by her heroine Marie Curie and was to inform Edwina’s decision to study Economics at St Anne’s College, Oxford. These were the days where you could change parts of your degree while you were working and Edwina switched to more of the political side. Yet this didn’t halt her love for science and over half a century later, she is entirely at home in the confines of a lab. Moving to more of a politics degree, she met many like minded folk who felt passionate about the world around them and wanted to make it a better place. Surrounded by figures who would go on to leave an indelible mark on the future of our country including Anne Widdecombe, Mary Archer and Gyles Brandreth’s wife Michelle Brown, Edwina was in the perfect place to obtain a unique grounding in public service politics.
Winning her seat in the 1983 general election for the constituency of South Derbyshire, Edwina was quick to learn the role of an MP within the community. As a MP one has to relinquish their own views and listen to the concerns of their constituency. In order to do this successfully, Edwina was forced to get an accurate representation of her community and this meant frequenting places which she wouldn’t otherwise go to. Social clubs, local pubs and community centres all housed working class people whose voices needed to be heard and Edwina realised the only way to do this was to meet them in person. This was to give her the perfect opportunity to learn the issues which really mattered to them and brought her closer to her electorate. This was something which she enjoyed immensely and it was only doing this that Edwina really understood the true meaning of public service.
In 1986 Edwina was appointed Health Minister as part of Margaret Thatcher’s second winning term and saw Britain through probably the most turbulent period of the 1980’s. The Salmonella outbreak of 1988 would ultimately signify the end of Edwina’s tenure as health secretary. Yet the legislation she put in place to improve the standards of egg production in the UK which is still used today is her real legacy and one that she is extremely proud of. Fresh produce is still something which she feels passionate about and is one of her concerns regarding brexit negotiations. For Edwina, she doesn’t care where her groceries come from as long as they’re fresh and taste good.
In light of the current situation in government, Edwina is really glad that she’s no longer in politics and doesn’t envy any of the cabinet going through this sticky period at the moment. There was always going to be these periods and many more bumps in the road are likely to come which is a blow for the senior MPs already at the centre of this controversy. Irrespective of whether we eventually secure the right deal with the European Union, Britain will always prevail and government will unite once again to get on with serving our country. Yet as merely a member of the public, Edwina is just concerned about what Brexit will mean for her and if that just means knowing where her produce comes from then she is more than ok with that.
After leaving parliament in 1997 Edwina was surprised by the interest in former politicians reaching a level of fame and her adventurous attitude made the perfect booking for television programmes of the day. Having been the first serving member of parliament to appear on the BBC’s satirical juggernaut Have I Got News For You in 1991, she became very comfortable with the television world and was something that she rather enjoyed. This spurred her on to take on more television challenges and her gutsy character encouraged her to give anything a go. In 2004 Edwina was a finalist on the ITV reality series Hell’s Kitchen in which eleven famous faces swapped their lavish lifestyles for the kitchen of Gordon Ramsay’s Michelin star restaurant. Edwina insists that while on screen the notorious sharped tongued chef is just that, as soon as the cameras were switched off, Ramsay was a gentleman who was nothing like his on screen persona.
If she could cope with Gordon Ramsay’s kitchen then surely the former politician could do anything and even battled the Australian jungle in I’m a Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here in 2014 entering the jungle on Day 5 of the competition,and finishing in fourth place. In September 2011, Currie took part in the ninth series of Strictly Come Dancing and was paired with professional dancer Vincent Simone. Unafraid to move with the times and embrace the many opportunities open to her, Edwina’s attitude makes her an asset to any programme maker. It seems that she approaches any new challenge in the same way as she treated her political career; with the utmost respect and enthusiasm.
Edwina’s other love is literature and following the successful publication of her political diaries in 2003, she began life as an author writing political skulduggery thrillers. This fulfils the inner political analyst in her and combines two of Edwina’s greatest loves; politics and prose. Spanning three decades, Edwina has written over twenty best selling novels and shows no signs of slowing down and remains hopeful that she will one day achieve her ambition to space travel. Yet for the moment she is proud of her many achievements and has reached her plight to make a difference. It was a great pleasure to interview Edwina Currie and looking forward to that moment when we see her in space.