Lady Steel to auction dress Dame Edna mocked

Lady Steel hopes her dress will raise money for charity. Picture: Jane Barlow
Lady Steel hopes her dress will raise money for charity. Picture: Jane Barlow
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The wife of Lord David Steel is to auction off a dress that Dame Edna Everage mocked 30 years ago.

Lady Judy Steel attended a Dame Edna show 30 years ago wearing a floral frock that saw her singled out in the audience and ribbed by the flamboyant Australian comedy matriarch.

The bespectacled housewife told Lady Steel back in the 1980s: “Tell me the history of that frock, Judy. It’s obviously an old favourite. You were wise to remove the curtain rings.”

Undaunted by the embarrassing episode the 73-year-old – accompanied by her Scottish peer husband, 75 – last night returned to see Barry Humphries perform on stage at the Festival Theatre . . . wearing the same frock.

Now Lady Steel, who was preparing to be reunited with the legendary entertainer at the show, hopes to auction off the brown, patterned number for good causes.

She said: “About 30 years ago we went to a invited audience with Dame Edna, it was back when David was leader of the Liberal Party. Dame Edna made this joke that my dress looked like it had been made out of old curtains – well, I just giggled. Then it became one of those celebrated moments of British comedy.

“People kept saying to me, ‘I saw you on Dame Edna’, but all these years later I still haven’t seen the clip myself.”

Lady Steel hopes to raise money for Open Arms International, a children’s charity in Kenya, which provides homes for children who have been orphaned.

The couple recently returned from the United States where they had been fundraising for the cause.

She also hopes to raise money for Borders Youth Theatre, of which she was a founder.

She said: “I kept the dress – it wasn’t made out of curtains, it was given to me by a friend and it was very expensive!

“I always thought it would be a good thing to auction it off for a good cause. Tonight is the first time we have been to seen Dame Edna since that evening.”

Humphries plans to retire Dame Edna the end of his Eat, Pray, Laugh! farewell tour. The Edinburgh run of his curtain call performance finishes tonight.

In March, Dame Edna paid a whirlwind visit to the Evening News’ Holyrood Road office.

A theatre source said: “I’m sure Dame Edna will be delighted to hear she still has the same dress.”