Let me take you back to the early 1980s (which is before I was born if you believe my Facebook age).
My first job was playing the piano and singing in the old-school lounge act style, at Langan’s Brasserie in Mayfair. I had previously done some tiny bits in a couple of my late father Lionel Jeffries’ movies (The Water Babies and What Changed Charley Farthing?) but that was about it.
My landlady, Lyn, was, at the time, married to the singer Barry Stephenson, who had a residency at the venue with the West Indian jazz pianist Russ Henderson. They were taking a break for a few weeks and when Barry heard me playing and singing my songs on Lyn’s grand piano one day, he offered me the job of ‘dep-ing’ for them.
I’d been writing songs since I was a kid and was signed as a composer and lyricist to Elton John’s company Rocket Music, so this was an exciting foray into the world of live performance.
Langan’s, at the time, was super-glamorous. George Michael would be there, Michael Caine, Donald Sutherland, Stefanie Powers, and Richard Gere a few times. Peter Langan (the proprietor) was a real character.
When I started out, agents would say: “You’re very talented… but I don’t know what to do with you.” Well, I knew what to do with me
I learned to go with the flow. With Peter, anything could happen – and usually did. I went on to perform at the Ritz, the Roof Gardens in Kensington and many other nightspots around town.
I take what I do very seriously (but I also have a lot of fun doing it). I make sure I am always on time and well prepared. I rehearse a lot. My hands have to know what they are doing on the piano without thinking about it, so I can sing and act at the same time. It’s all about muscle memory.
I’ve never fitted into any of the usual boxes. When I started out, agents would say: “You are very talented… but I wouldn’t know what to do with you.” Well, I knew what to do with me, and I think I’ve proved that much.
As for advice? I would say, eat your greens, remember that what makes you different is what makes you beautiful, believe in yourself, work hard and stick at it.
Training: Purcell School of Music and Middlesex University
Theatre includes: Miss Hope Springs: Recovering Showgirl, Je M’appelle Hope, Latin Ala Springs, Blood Sweat and Sequins
TV includes: Spike Milligan’s Q5, When Comedy Goes Horribly Wrong
Other credits: Composer and lyricist for Wanderlust: The Songs of Ty Jeffries at Live at Zedel and Komedia Brighton
Agent: Vaudelesque Productions
Ty Jeffries’ show It’s Miss Hope Springs is at the Assembly Rooms, Edinburgh, from August 1-24. He was talking to John Byrne