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Sky News presenter Gillian Joseph relives time performing with ABBA at Wembley ahead of documentary | Ents & Arts News

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It was 1979. I was 10 years old and gripped in the ABBA mania that was sweeping the country.

I had a dream, but little did I know that it would be turned into reality, as I not only got to meet my heroes but sing with them on stage at Wembley as well.

To honour UNICEF’s year of the child ABBA were on the hunt for children’s choirs to perform with them.

I remember television presenters Keith Chegwin and Maggie Philbin coming to my school, Wembley Manor, and interviewing us. While I can’t recall all the details I do remember being sworn to secrecy.

We were only told days before, and I think we only practised once or twice.

Our very strict choir mistress Mrs Spiers thought she had won the lottery. We weren’t the best school choir but she was determined that we grabbed the opportunity with both hands and didn’t bring shame on the school.

Gillian Joseph (centre right behind microphone) performing with ABBA at Wembley. Pic: Wise Owl Films/BBC
Image:
Gillian Joseph (centre right behind microphone) performing with ABBA at Wembley. Pic: Wise Owl Films/BBC

The Sky News presenter spent three nights performing with ABBA at Wembley. Pic: Wise Owl Films/BBC
Image:
The Sky News presenter spent three nights performing with ABBA. Pic: Wise Owl Films/BBC

Our first proper, full dress rehearsal was on the afternoon of our first performance. After arriving at the arena we were taken to a green room where we were briefed as to what would happen when we went out on stage.

We were told to smile and not be intimidated by the bright lights or the roar of the crowd.

The excitement was through the roof. I couldn’t believe that I was about to meet the Swedish sensation that was ABBA.

ABBA in 1974 - Benny Andersson, Anni-Frid Lyngstad, Agnetha Faltskog and Bjorn Ulvaeus. Pic: Reuters
Image:
ABBA in 1974 – Benny Andersson, Anni-Frid Lyngstad, Agnetha Faltskog and Bjorn Ulvaeus. Pic: Reuters

As we walked out on stage I felt I was in a dream. There they were all sparkling and perfect. We walked to our positions, they greeted us and we proceeded to practise the song.

As I sang I Have A Dream – it was almost like an out-of-body moment. Was I really on stage with ABBA?

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We wrapped up the rehearsal so that we would have some time to rest before the evening performance and on the way out the most remarkable event occurred.

As we were leaving, Agnetha kissed me on my right cheek. Fireworks exploded and trumpets sounded, in my head at least, and I promised never to wash my face again.

I have since relented on that oath.

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So for three nights I performed at Wembley Stadium to a jam packed arena. We were allocated family tickets and my sisters and mum came along to see us perform and enjoy the concert.

Each night was as thrilling as the first. I remember buying an electric blue ABBA poster which adorned my bedroom wall for many years. I still get sad as I have no idea what happened to it.

Anyone who knows me knows that performing with ABBA is my true claim to fame. I mention it at the drop of a hat and have bored many a colleague with tales of my childhood stardom.

I have even mentioned it in Sky broadcasts, that’s how the documentary makers for the BBC’s When ABBA Came To Britain found me.

It may have been 45 years ago, but Mamma Mia, ABBA still have my heart.



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