Saturday, 5 November 2011, 9:40PM – 10:40PM
For the last eight decades 81-year-old Rolf has achieved acclaim for his art which has featured in the National Gallery, has topped the music charts, appeared with animals and wowed audiences with his singing quirky assortment of instruments. He has become a multi-talented entertainer and a national treasure.
A poll in Time magazine ranked him as one of the top five entertainers of the twentieth century ahead of The Beatles and Walt Disney. And he was once voted the world’s most famous living artist.
Now, in this revealing interview with Piers Morgan, Rolf lifts the lid on his life and how he has kept generations of viewers entertained throughout his amazing sixty year career.
He tells Piers about when he met The Queen, what it was like moving to England from his native Australia and why he thinks he makes people smile.
He says: “I try to be real, I try to be the same person off stage and off screen as I am on stage and on screen.”
After playing Glastonbury six times, Rolf talks Piers through a series of photographs which show him at various stages during his career, and admits to using eye-liner in some of them.
He says: “I used to use eyeliner to darken up my beard when it started going grey. And all of I sudden I thought, ‘What am I doing? I pride myself on being real if it’s gonna go grey, let it go grey.’”
Rolf, who has lived in England for 60 years and whose parents were born in the UK and then emigrated to Australia tells Piers: “I regard myself as a very lucky Australian to be accepted in this country. I have duel nationality, because my parents were born here, and I feel very lucky to be accepted in this country.”
And talking about meeting The Queen, Rolf adds: “She was lovely. I talked about the corgis and she said one of them bit one of the fellas marching up and down once!”
He continued, “They said, ‘What would you like the Queen to wear?’ I said, ‘What would I like The Queen to wear?’ And she said, ‘Yes, the artists always chooses what the Queen wears.’ I said, ‘I haven’t the faintest idea. It would need to be something bright, probably a shocking pink or turquoise or some purplely pink colour, something really bright.’ She said, ‘I’ll bring about eight of the Queen’s costumes to Buckingham Palace, can you come on Monday and have a look and decide.’
“Well the shocking pink one didn’t work for me as a painting, I couldn’t see myself doing it, but the turquoise one just jumped out I loved that colour.
“The Queen said, ‘It’s a very friendly painting,’ which I took as a huge pat on the back because she has never said, ‘I like that or I hate that,’ ever, she never makes a comment about a painting after the event.”
Piers Morgan’s Life Stories is an ITV Studios production for ITV1. The series producer is Yvonne Alexander and the executive producer is Jeremy Phillips.