Having had the privilege, and I definitely see it as a privilege, of interviewing Dolly Parton, the one question that everyone here at QVC and indeed all of my friends have been asking is, "What's she really like?"
All I can say in response to this is that she really is an amazing woman. I'm not sure I've ever met a person who exudes so much positivity and energy. She is an absolute firecracker.
Setting the scene…
We were backstage at the Liverpool Echo Arena, in a dressing room setting up with our cameras and lights getting ready for the interview itself. I was busy checking over my notes and my questions (This was a legend I was going to interview and I really didn't want to mess it up!) and there were a lot of people running around; her management, representatives from her record label, our camera, lighting and sound guys… you get the idea, people were nervous, hoping it would all go ok.
In the midst of this I heard someone say, "She’s here" (gulp!)
'Here we go', I thought.
Now, I have interviewed a few celebrities in my time, and I don't get star-struck at all, which is fortunate, but you do often wonder how receptive or responsive the guest is going to be. Something you never really know until you are in the midst of the interview, which unfortunately is when it is too late to do anything about it!
So this was it, she was about to come into the room. Final checks to do: Have I been to the loo? Check. Do I have my questions? Check. Are my flies done up? Double Check!
Just at this moment I hear a voice that is truly unmistakeable, "Hi y’all, how y’all doin' today".
It was Dolly, but I couldn't see her as yet. She was at the doorway of the dressing room, but there was a wall between the door and the rest of the room. 'Please let her be friendly', I thought to myself.
She suddenly appeared in the room, and my first thought was, 'My word she is tiny!' Now many of you I'm sure are aware that I am not the tallest of men, so when I say Dolly was tiny, I really mean it, even with her 6 inch heels!
As the person standing closest to her, Caroline, my co-ordinating producer introduced herself to Dolly and explained who she was and as she did Dolly took her by the hand, looked her straight in the eye and said, "Well hello Caroline, it’s lovely to meet you today."
Caroline then proceeded to introduce Dolly to the rest of our production team and she took the time to take everyone by the hand and warmly greet them by name and thank them all for being there.
My big moment…
All this time I am standing by my seat waiting. I wasn't sure what was the best thing to do (should I remain standing, should I sit?), but then Dolly turned and looked at me and I said, "Hello Dolly (that's a cue for a song was my first thought, followed quickly by my second thought – do not do anything stupid in front of Dolly Parton, like singing!), I am Miceal, I will be the presenter doing the interview with you today", and just as with everyone else, she took me by the hand and said, "Well hello there, and thank you so much for giving me the time today to come and talk about my new album!",
I was floored, she thanked me for giving her my time. This was Dolly Parton, Dolly the singer, the songwriter, the legend, and she was thanking me for giving her my time, I couldn't believe it.
After that it was all so easy. Dolly is one of those lucky people who have that innate ability to make anyone in her company feel at ease, and she really loves to chat up a storm. Right there and then I knew I was going to enjoy every minute of my interview with her!
Dolly was in town on her Better Day World Tour and was promoting her new album to accompany the tour, and you can find the new album here. We have it accompanied by the "Dolly Live in London CD and DVD set. Which having seen it is amazing!
If you missed the interview then have a look below…