Three things with Natalie Bassingthwaighte: ‘I thought oh, surely I won’t burn myself again’

The Guardian
The Guardian

Natalie Bassingthwaighte’s latest TV project is, by her own description, a “heartwarming experiment”. The new ABC series Space 22 , which screens Tuesdays at 8pm from 17 May, follows seven strangers who take part in an experiment to see if increased creativity can help their mental health.

“People come in and they’re very vulnerable,” host Bassingthwaighte says. “It’s really impactful and powerful and to be honest, it’s one of the best things I’ve ever done.”

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And Bassingthwaighte has done a lot. Over the past two decades she has fronted the band Rogue Traders, launched a solo music career, and played the role of Izzy Hoyland on Neighbours.

Despite her years on stage, Bassingthwaighte didn’t grow up in a musical household – or so she thought. It wasn’t until she unearthed an old keyboard from her parent’s home that she learned her dad had once played music. Here, she tells us why she’d rush to save that “crusty” old instrument in a fire, as well as the story of two other important personal belongings.

What I’d save from my house in a fire

After I left high school I went back home and cleared out some things from underneath the house. I found this old keyboard – it was super retro. It’s called a Mustang.
The ‘super retro’ keyboard that belonged to Natalie Bassingthwaighte’s father Photograph: Natalie Bassingthwaighte

It was my dad’s, but I didn’t know until then that he used to play. He’d never once mentioned that he’d ever played piano or that he was musical. Dad turned 70 this year and he got it for his 21st, so it’s exciting to have had it for this long. I’m thinking of getting it all revamped so it can actually work, because it sounds horrific at the moment. It’s pretty old and crusty but it’d be amazing to get it going again.

When I did the show Who Do You Think You Are? I found out that my three times great-grandmother married a guy who was a comedian and a performer when she came out to Australia. They travelled around the country with their nine children in a band called The E Street Family. Between that and my dad, there’s been this slow process of figuring out there was an actual thread to why I do what I do.

My most useful object

A tiny little steamer that I carry with me wherever I go. It’s called an Esteam and it’s so portable that I can just chuck it into my suitcase. I have a lot of delicate clothes, stuff that really needs to be steamed and not ironed, so it’s a game changer.

But one word of warning: never steam your clothes while they’re on you. I’ve done it twice. The second time I thought, “Oh, surely I won’t burn myself again.” I burned myself again.

The item I most regret losing

Twelve years ago my husband and I were trying for a baby and waiting to find out whether we were pregnant. I did a couple of tests that came back negative. Then all of a sudden, it was New Year’s Eve and I was performing at Crown Casino. All my friends came down for the show; we got the penthouse to stay in overnight and it was going to be a really big party. And that morning, I woke up, did a test and found I was pregnant. Obviously I was excited. But then I was devastated because we were about to have this big party in the penthouse!

So I did the show, we went up to the penthouse, they all had a party and I went to bed early. I got up the next morning, went to Versace and I bought myself the nicest, most expensive jacket that I’ve ever owned as a consolation prize for missing the fun. I still have it to this day, but I’ve lost a button from the jacket that you cannot get replaced – like, it just doesn’t exist. Those Versace buttons aren’t made anymore. It’s a good story and a good jacket, but forever missing a button.

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