“I simply wouldn’t go to a house that was dirty,” she admits right off the bat. “I’d make every excuse under the sun.”
“I don’t go to many people’s houses — I’m quite a homey person. If it was a dear friend, if I went round and thought, ‘Oh, this house is dirty’, I would probably see them outside — but I wouldn’t go to the house again. I couldn’t bear it really, to be honest with you.”
Former housekeeper Kim unexpectedly found fame at 61 as television’s most glamorous grime-buster alongside Aggie Mackenzie on Channel 4 reality series
How Clean is Your House? in 2003.
The surprise hit ran for six seasons as the forensic duo transformed some of Britain’s grubbiest homes from grot to not, even sharing their old-fashioned cleaning hacks with Oprah Winfrey at the peak of their success.
But the late-blooming television star insists she’s not as unforgiving of “mucky pups”, as she memorably branded the show’s participants, as fans may think.
“I’m a fanatical cleaner,” says Kim, who turned 80 in March. “I’ve always been like that. I think I got it from my grandmother — she cleaned and cleaned.
“I think a clean house is a happy house, but we all live in different circumstances. If you’re a mum with a few children, I don’t think there ever comes a time when you can say, ‘Every part of my house is spotless’ — you’ve got children, and children are entitled to play and mess things up.
How Clean is Your House? was a wonderful show and I tried to make it funny, because I said to the bosses when I got the job, ‘Look, I can’t go into these people’s houses and say ‘you’re dirty’ — I’ve got to camp it up and get my point across, but be nice’. So I’d say, ‘My love, you’re a bit mucky, dear, aren’t you? Have you got a boyfriend?’ I found if you joked it through they were very open, and you got a good show out of them.”
No such love is lost between the two stars, who reportedly haven’t spoken since the cult show ended in 2009, with Kim pouring cold water on the idea of a reboot.
“I’ve not been offered it,” she answers honestly. “But would I do another one? Oh, I don’t know — I’m 80.
“Of all the stuff I’ve done on telly, I say this not being big-headed, but I think it was one of the best cleaning shows ever. It was a rip-roaring success. It sold to 30 countries and I believe it’s on in some countries now. I know if I go on holiday to Spain or America, [it’s] ‘Hello, Kim – I still watch your show’. So it’s on somewhere.
“Everybody remembers it; it’s ‘When’s it coming back?’ I don’t know. I’ve made a few bob, happily married, I’ve got some smashing people that write me lovely letters — I’m quite happy as I am’.”
Gay icon Kim is, in any case, busy after joining forces with Dealz to launch a pocket-friendly range of cleaning products including a kitchen cleaner, window and glass cleaner and, of course, flamboyant rubber gloves.
Recalling a time before robot vacuum cleaners and steam mops, she reckons today’s fellow domestic goddesses and gods have never had it easier.
“People make such a fuss about housework and look at what we’ve got at our fingertips,” says the Hampshire native, who recounted the tale of her harsh upbringing in 2011 autobiography
Unbeaten. “With all these mod cons we have it so easy.
“When I was a kid, we never owned a vacuum cleaner, we had no washing machine. We had a large bar of Fairy green soap; we’d be over the kitchen sink scrubbing everything, wringing it out my hand.
“I have always thought if you clean as you go, and you throw as you go, it doesn’t half keep the muck down. What I do is before I go to bed I’ll plump the cushions on the sofa, I’ll throw the newspapers that I’ve read in the bin. Generally it’s three minutes — flip here, flip there.
“If you let it build up you’re your own worst enemy because it’s not going away.”
Even the doyenne of dusting has a household chore she hates though, she admits: “I don’t like making beds.
“When I change my sheets, I go, ‘Oh, here we go!’ I hate doing the duvet cover, but we all have a pet hate.”
As well as keeping pristine the home she shares with husband of 43 years, Peter, Kim is famed for being just as fastidious about her appearance.
But she laughs off any mystery surrounding her lasting elegant looks.“Oh, of course I’ve had [work] done,” shrugs Kim. “I had a neck lift, my lovely, I’ve had my eyes done.
"You couldn’t look this young at 80. You see famous people on television that say, ‘Oh, I’ve never had anything done’ and you think, ‘Don’t be so ridiculous’.
"Don’t insult the public — just be honest."
“And I think once you say, ‘Of course, I get work done’, people leave you alone.”
The no-nonsense attitude memorably saw her temporarily removed from the Celebrity Big Brother house in 2017 after a furious row with housemates, before going on to come third in the contest, after Jedward.
“I had the most miserable time of my life in there,” recalls Kim, who also braved the jungle on I’m a Celebrity... in 2015.
“It was extremely good money. But to go back in again if they asked me? I don’t think I could, but if the money was good enough... I may have a good experience.”
“There’s two sides to me,” the part-Irish reality TV dynamo, whose grandmother was from Cork, goes on. “I joke a lot, ‘Oh, I love the Chippendales’ and all that. I don’t look for trouble, but if you want to bring me trouble, you’ll get it back in truckloads.
“I had a brutal childhood, a very cruel mother, a cruel father. I was beaten senseless. My mother used to say, ‘You effing ugly little bitch’. It was always putting up with everything. I’ve grown up and thought, ‘No, I don’t have to put up it with it anymore’.
“I’m a nice person, but if you are trying it on with me or you are telling me lies, I’m going to tell you straight. And I don’t feel proud, but I’m just not going to have it, dear — I’m not having it.”