Did Valerie Singleton shack up with Joan Armatrading?
THE SUNDAY TIMES, 2009
It is perhaps the very unlikelihood of this story that has kept it circulating for nearly 50 years. Countless people have now heard “from a reliable source” that the broadcaster Valerie Singleton had a love affair with, and co-habited with, the singer Joan Armatrading. The idea that the most venerated of all Blue Peter presenters was romantically involved with the deep-voiced St Kitts-born singer, known for UK hits such as ‘Love and Affection’ and ‘Drop the Pilot’, is so tantalising that it has stuck in the popular consciousness as firmly as the sticky-backed plastic that was once Val’s stock in trade.
At first I thought the rumour was so ludicrous it would die a natural death. The opposite happened, though
But the story is completely untrue. Singleton did once interview Armatrading – on a late-1970s BBC TV show called Tonight in Town – and she spent some time socialising with the singer and her backing band, as the presenter and the band were all staying at the same London hotel. There was actually a little bit of love and affection between Singleton and a male member of Armatrading’s entourage, and that was the end of it. But then tongues started wagging about Val and Joan.
“At first I thought the rumour was so ludicrous it would die a natural death,” said Singleton in 2008. “The opposite happened, though, and it gained such a foothold that many people see it as the truth.”
She became so weary of the myth that she later avoided contact with Joan Armatrading. Many years after their first meeting, when she encountered the singer in the reception area of BBC Broadcasting House in London, Singleton barely acknowledged her and rushed off, for fear of someone saying: “Here’s one you made earlier.”
Singleton has had affairs with Albert Finney and Peter Purves
Armatrading has an armour-plated private life and is tight-lipped about her sexuality. Singleton, who has had genuine affairs with the actor Albert Finney and her fellow Blue Peter presenter Peter Purves, is more forthright: “The truth is that I have always been the very opposite of gay,” she has declared. ♦
© 2014 Tony Barrell
Tony Barrell’s acclaimed new book, Beatlemania, is available across the world.