Shazia Mirza’s Weekend Column

I was filming this week, in my first comedy drama – it’s a very camp affair, which is great news because I’ve been a friend of the homosexual for a very long time. I play an exercise teacher, which sent my body into shock because I haven’t done any exercise since I auditioned for the netball team in 1981.

The choreographer was a lovely 50-year-old woman who, in between telling me how much she loved Michael Jackson, taught me a few moves. She then said, “Look, I know this is not in the script, but do you want me to show you how to do the moonwalk?”

I said, “Yes, you never know when that’s going to come in handy, do you?” So I slid across the floor like Ann Widdecombe on ice, and then a shrill young boy in tight jeans barged in and screamed, “Elaine Paige is next door!”

I said, “Elaine Paige from Chess?”

He said, “No! Elaine Paige who Susan Boyle wants to be like.” I’m not sure that’s how she’d like to be described in the programme of her next show. We hear Paige singing, followed by a silence, and then she walks in, wearing a beautiful, pink, sequined dress. I am wearing black Lycra with a stocking on my head.

She says, “Hello, I’m Elaine. Aren’t you hot in that?”

I said, “Yes, I’d rather be wearing what you’re wearing” to which she flashed her teeth as if to say, “If you work harder, this could be you.”

Then I did what you do when you meet really famous people: I just stared at her face. Because the one thing women always ask you afterwards is, “Do you think she’s had surgery?” They never ask that about men. So I just stood there in my sweaty leotard, staring at Elaine Paige’s forehead as if it were some long-lost treasure map. I don’t think she was impressed. I actually wanted to do the moonwalk for her.

I didn’t tell my mum about my foray into the world of TV this week, because it doesn’t interest her if it doesn’t involve reproduction. Everyone says their parents are mental, but my parents are Priory mental. When I go home, it’s like visiting the cast of One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest, or having dinner with Prince Philip and Su Pollard.

They come from a generation where they measure success by whether or not you are married. I called my mum on the night Michael Jackson died, and said, “Mum, Michael Jackson is dead!”

She said, “Well, at least he’s got three children. What have you got? At least his children will enjoy his wealth. Who’s going to enjoy your wealth?” It is her greatest fear that I will leave my wealth – all £250 of it – to a cats’ home. She has a talent for bringing all world events and tragedies, including death, airline disasters and famine, back to this concern. I asked if she watched his funeral service. She said, “Yes. Did you see his lovely children? They’re obviously not his, but at least he’s got some. I think he must use the same agency as Madonna.” So now she doesn’t care where the children come from, just as long as I get some – they could come from Lidl for all she cares.

Traditionally, funerals were solemn and dignified ceremonies. Now they’re a big day out. You apply for tickets online. Queue up outside a stadium, buy souvenirs, bring the kids. Everyone crowds in, buys popcorn and hotdogs. Then what do they expect to happen? Michael Jackson moonwalks out of his coffin and sings Thriller to Macaulay Culkin? It was going to be anti-climactic whatever happened.

The O2 is now stuck with having to fill 50 nights when Michael should have been performing. There are rumours that La Toya and Janet Jackson are going to do the shows instead, but I don’t want to see that. That’s like saying to a bride on her wedding day, sorry, your jewel-encrusted, horse-drawn carriage isn’t turning up, but we’ve replaced it with a skateboard.

Then they want to turn Neverland into a memorial that people can visit. So Elvis has Gracelands, and Michael has Neverland.

Where will I be buried? Neverhadahusbandandkidsland.