THE Eighties were good to Kate Robbins. She represented the UK in the Eurovision Song Contest, had a Top 10 single, landed a role in Crossroads, starred in her own TV series and provided many of the voices for TV’s Spitting Image.

“The 1980s was most important decade of my life," says the actress and singer, who also worked with Victoria Wood, appearing in her sketch shows and sitcom dinnerladies.

It was also the decade that Kate got married and had her first child - comedy actress Emily Atack who this week came second on ITV's I'm a Celebrity...Get Me Out of Here. Kate took a break from rehearsals to fly out to Australia to spend time with Emily after the final.

With the Eighties having a place in Kate's heart, she feels very much at home in Club Tropicana The Musical, in which she gives a show-stealing performance as Consuela, a grumpy hotel chamber maid.

The lively show goes back to the electric 80s for a summer of love and pop classics. Set to a soundtrack of some of the decade's best loved chart-toppers, the action unfolds in the Club Tropicana Hotel, where a bride and groom-to-be have arrived - separately - after getting cold feet and jetting off to the sun. Little do they realise they’ve checked into the same place, which is about to have an unwelcome visit from hotel inspectors. Can Consuela help save the day?

Kate is joined by former X Factor winner Joe McElderry, ex-EastEnders actor Neil McDermott and former Sugababe Amelle Berrabah.

“When they said I could do some impressions as Consuela I thought: ‘What a great opportunity to do a sort of Mrs Overall meets Manuel from Fawlty Towers'..." says Kate. “It’s exciting creating a new role and they gave me a free reign which is special because I don’t really like to step into somebody else’s boots. I like to do my own thing.”

Having a holiday home in Spain helped Kate prepare for the role. “I know the way Spanish people speak and I decided to make her bad-tempered, based on a lady I know in Spain who always tells me ‘...grand pantalones para mi papa’.

'I have to buy big trousers for my father (who's fat)',” she explains. “I based the gruff voice on her but also bring all those years going to Spain to the character.”

Kate's impressions include the late Cilla Black, and although Conseula doesn’t sing it, Cilla’s theme song from her TV show Surprise Surprise - which Kate wrote - is in the show. “I’m thrilled,” she says. “Cilla came to my house with Paul McCartney, who's my cousin, when I was a little girl, but I only really met her when I got commissioned to do that song. I did a pretty good impression of her on the demo. When she heard it she must have thought: ‘Oh, I could sing that’. I do miss her, she went too soon really, didn’t she?”

The'80s were particularly significant for Kate because of her first TV appearance. "I was in the Eurovision Song Contest in 1980s, in a group called Prima Donna, there were six of us, we came third. We thought: ‘Huh, third!’ but these days we’d be pleased if the UK came ninth."

A year later, playing Kate Loring in Crossroads, she released the single More Than In Love which reached No 2. “Michael Jackson beat me to No 1 with One Day In Your Life and although I sold half a million records I was a one hit wonder so I went back to backing vocals," she says. “You know, the Eighties were everything to me."

* Club Tropicana the Musical is at the Alhambra from February 4 - 9. Call (01274) 432000.