People's Poet Pam Ayres talks finding courage

People's Poet Pam Ayres talks finding courage

At 69, Pam Ayres is far from ready to pack up and retire. In fact, she's raring to go.

“Now I feel like rolling up my sleeves and getting cracking as time is going fast and I have to do things while I’ve still got my faculties.”

Right now, she's in the middle of a UK tour, busy appearing on Countdown and, she teases, may even be writing another book and a play, following the success of her autobiography, A Necessary Aptitude: A Memoir. 

But wherever she is, she's usually found with a pen in her hand. 

“Everyday things inspire me to write poems. I’m in the middle of one called Pitiful, which is about the fact my husband, although marvellous in many respects, is not very good at DIY. And we recently had a bit of an incident where he was a hanging a picture and managed to chop the ear off a lovely sculpture of a horse. So I wrote about that as I was mad about the whole thing.”

These funny little moments brought to life with witty words are what Pam’s come to be known and loved for, but recently she has taken the risk of publishing some of her more serious poems that she’s worried about revealing before.

“I plucked up the courage to publish a poem called Woodland Burial which is about my wish to be buried in a wood, rather than in some old dusty graveyard. I didn’t know whether to publish it or not, but it’s been very well received. Many woodland burial grounds have adopted it and put it on show in their chapels, which is lovely.”

This newfound courage has even extended to her personal life as recently she and theatre producer husband and agent Dudley Russell, made the difficult decision to downsize from their family home where their two boys had grown up and Pam kept a menagerie of cattle, sheep and bees, to a house where she’s just got room for the dog and a handful of chickens. 

“We moved house, which was a massive trauma as I didn’t want to go, but now I’m here I like it. I also had a bad knee from when I fell off a ski lift and had to have a knee replacement. So that was long and painful but I’m fine now and I can tap dance again,” she jokes.

But courageous moves aside, Pam's adamant that she will remain a poet of the people, true to her heart-warming sense of fun that won the public round 40 years ago on Opportunity Knocks. 

“My poetry is mainly about making people smile and I greatly value the fact I can come up with things that make people laugh. It never ceases to amaze me that audiences are so loyal and affectionate and will come out to see me, so I just want to do a good job.

“I’m very lucky because I’m 69 and feel in really good nick. I can go out on the stage energised and put over what I want to say with attack and a sense of fun. And I’d be sad if I couldn’t do the job anymore as it’s always been such a joy.”
And so say all of us.  

  • Pam’s new touring show is on now, booking at venues around the UK until March 2017. Contact your local theatre or visit
  • There's more real life stories in every issue of Yours magazine, out every fortnight on a Tuesday.