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Madonna Interview : The Scotsman

Madonna - The Scotsman / May 20 2003

Six minutes with the most famous icon in the world

Meeting Madonna is a strange experience. She is now so far beyond fame and notoriety that it’s hard to know what to expect.

Will she be the material girl I grew up with? Will she be the cool cowgirl of more recent years, or will she just be plain old Mrs Ritchie?

Plain and old are, of course, two words never to be associated with the most famous woman on the planet. Which, let’s face it, is what she is. Kylie maybe hitting the headlines and Britney may grab a share of the limelight but there’s no getting away from the fact that Madonna is top of the music showbiz tree.

And at 44 she’s far from being plain and old. She’s had her blonde locks dyed brunette recently and is in terrific shape as her latest film, Swept Away, more than proved, thanks to those beach scenes.

So, as I’m picked up from Heathrow in a black people carrier with blacked-out windows and taken to the Dorchester Hotel in London, I feel more than just a little panic fluttering inside.

It’s probably worse than being told you have to interview the Queen.

So many people have told me how she can be aloof, rude, and not a little snappish. But then I do have a secret weapon with which I hope to disarm her if that proves to be the case.

On arrival at the Dorchester, I’m shown into one suite where I wait, anxiety increasing, for an hour. Then two men, who could only be described as minders given the burliness of their physiques, take me to a lift and up two floors.

I’m shown into another suite and this time have to wait an hour and a half. Frantically I write and rewrite my questions to try to sound more intelligent – after all she’s been known not to answer queries she thinks are phrased stupidly. Additionally I’ve been told no questions about her Sex book or her “erotica”phase, no questions about Swept Away or her acting career, and only at a push can I ask questions about her children.

Talk about pressure. Then as the clock strikes 6.30pm, I hear the words: “Is Vicky ready?”in an American accent and I know I’m up.

Shown into a third suite – each one progressively more luxurious – I clap eyes on this icon of our time in the flesh.

And is she small. Obviously fit to the nth degree, she looks healthy and alert, her new brown hair, curled into a 50s style, while she’s dressed from head to foot in black, parachute silk jacket, cropped trousers and trainers so trendy I have no idea which future season they belong to.

But no-one should be fooled by her size. She may be petite but there’s an alert intelligence about her even when she smiles, which makes you feel she’s sized you up and pigeon-holed you before you can even say hello. Madonna is a force of nature.

Sitting opposite her on another couch, I’m told that the interview has been cut to six minutes. No time for chit-chat then, or those long-winded intellectual questions I had painstaking written out.

So, then, let’s break the ice. “You got married in Scotland – what were your first impressions of the place?”

“I was amazed at how beautiful it was,”she says in a voice which is so familiar. “I mean, it was my husband’s idea to get married up there. But I said: ‘Don’t you think you should take me there first?’ So we went up there and I just thought it was gorgeous, wild and there is a lot of rough, natural beauty.