A night for Lethal Lisa, big momma of the Brits

Plummy voice, size 18 and a match for Michael Jackson's choreographers. David Lister meets the woman who brought the awards global recognition

When Jonathan King sends round robins to key figures in the music industry complaining about vote-rigging at the Brit awards, a constant target of the barbs in his highly entertaining missives is a woman he calls Lethal Anderson.

For Lethal read Lisa. She can be lethal and had to be last year when Jarvis Cocker took the michael out of Michael Jackson. Jacko's choreographers, far more burly than choreographers have a right to be, tried in choreographic parlance to land him one. Cocker attempted to flee the building. Choreographers gave chase. Lisa Anderson weighed in and kept the warring artistes apart.

The Brit awards tonight will not just celebrate the best of British pop. They will also make pounds 300,000 profit for the Brit School for young musicians and be televised across Britain and America. Anderson can take a lot of the credit for that success, yet outside the record industry she is almost unknown.

She was the first woman to head a record company when she became managing director of RCA in 1989. When she was sacked after some internal politicking, the major record labels asked her to replace the ubiquitous Jonathan King and become executive producer of The Brits.

After six years of Anderson, the Brits is now an internationally known brand name, the voting structure has been democratised, it brings in pounds 300,000 a year, compared with the pounds 10,000 it made in 1990, is televised across the UK and America, and is the rock event of the year. She switched the television contract from the BBC which didn't pay, to independent television, which did, and had the brochure magazine sold in 2,500 shops.

Last year's Jarvis v Jackson spectacle was probably one of its greatest moments. How did she deal with it? "I'm a big woman with an imposing voice," she explains. Which is probably more than enough to frighten Michael Jackson.

Actually, while she does harp on about her size rather, Anderson does not come across as big at all, more like the elegant but perky 45-year- old mother that she is. "Oh, come on," she chortles, shaking her black curls, "how can you be elegant and a size 18? And I'm wearing a vest."

The vest can be put down to living in a 15th century Kent mansion with David Campbell, former manager of UB40, currently house-husband, and their children Hereward ("yes, he loves the name") and Hannah.

The children are deprived of only one adolescent prerequisite. Mum tends to rave about the latest bands even before they do. "It's a bit of a problem for me. Your first rebellion is finding a piece of music and you hope your parents don't like it. But I like the same music as my kids."

With a plummy voice and hearty, infectious laugh, she does not always sound like a music industry person. She certainly does not talk like the woman whose duties have included marketing the Sex Pistols.

"I know," she acknowledges, "when I came in to the industry 20 years or so ago everyone still found it necessary to speak like David Bailey. But I just couldn't be bothered with all that. I talk posh. I'm middle class. That's the way I am. I'm not going to disguise it."

She did make one pledge. "I made a decision not to suffer from guilt about leaving the children or from jet lag."

Is it a sexist business, I wondered? She rolled back in her chair with a characteristic guffaw and waved her hands aloft. "Oh, yes, oh yes, oh yes", affirmations delivered as a crescendo.

Perhaps she was thinking of the sales conferences she had to attend preceded by the statutory soft porn videos. "They would say to me, `Where's your sense of humour?' I said, `Evidently not in my cock.' It's like a club. It's all geared to going into a clan, into a posse. And generally speaking women don't do posse. Someone said that in the music biz either you are a babe or an ersatz boy, unless you're over 35 in which case you're an old dog. It's so true.

"During my record company years it was going on all around, lots of bonking on sofas and other extra-curricular activities. But I never got involved in all that. When Richard Branson tried to throw me in the swimming pool, I simply glared at him and said, `No, Richard. I've been to public school. I've done all that, been there. Don't.'"

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Life and Style
love + sex
Arts and Entertainment
Victoria Wood, Kayvan Novak, Alexa Chung, Chris Moyles
tvReview: No soggy bottoms, but plenty of other baking disasters on The Great Comic Relief Bake Off
Sport
Ashley Young celebrates the winner for Manchester United against Newcastle
footballNewcastle 0 Man United 1: Last minute strike seals precious victory
Life and Style
Tikka Masala has been overtaken by Jalfrezi as the nation's most popular curry
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
Seth Rogan is one of America’s most famous pot smokers
filmAmy Pascal resigned after her personal emails were leaked following a cyber-attack sparked by the actor's film The Interview
News
Benjamin Netanyahu and his cartoon bomb – the Israeli PM shows his ‘evidence’
people
Arts and Entertainment
80s trailblazer: comedian Tracey Ullman
tv
News
i100
Life and Style
A statue of the Flemish geographer Gerard Kremer, Geradus Mercator (1512 - 1594) which was unveiled at the Geographical Congree at Anvers. He was the first person to use the word atlas to describe a book of maps.
techThe 16th century cartographer created the atlas
Arts and Entertainment
Stephen Tompkinson is back as DCI Banks
tvReview: Episode one of the new series played it safe, but at least this drama has a winning formula
News
i100
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Media

Recruitment Genius: Sales Ledger & Credit Control Assistant

£14000 - £17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Sales Ledger & Credit Control...

Recruitment Genius: Junior PHP Web Developer

£16000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Guru Careers: Front End Web Developer

£35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: Our client help leading creative agencies ...

Christine McCleave: FP&A Analyst

£36,000 - £40,000: Christine McCleave: Are you looking for a new opportunity a...

Day In a Page

War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable
Living with Alzheimer's: What is it really like to be diagnosed with early-onset dementia?

What is it like to live with Alzheimer's?

Depicting early-onset Alzheimer's, the film 'Still Alice' had a profound effect on Joy Watson, who lives with the illness. She tells Kate Hilpern how she's coped with the diagnosis
The Internet of Things: Meet the British salesman who gave real-world items a virtual life

Setting in motion the Internet of Things

British salesman Kevin Ashton gave real-world items a virtual life
Election 2015: Latest polling reveals Tories and Labour on course to win the same number of seats - with the SNP holding the balance of power

Election 2015: A dead heat between Mr Bean and Dick Dastardly!

Lord Ashcroft reveals latest polling – and which character voters associate with each leader
Audiences queue up for 'true stories told live' as cult competition The Moth goes global

Cult competition The Moth goes global

The non-profit 'slam storytelling' competition was founded in 1997 by the novelist George Dawes Green and has seen Malcolm Gladwell, Salman Rushdie and Molly Ringwald all take their turn at the mic
Pakistani women come out fighting: A hard-hitting play focuses on female Muslim boxers

Pakistani women come out fighting

Hard-hitting new play 'No Guts, No Heart, No Glory' focuses on female Muslim boxers
Leonora Carrington transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star

Surreal deal: Leonora Carrington

The artist transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star
LGBT History Month: Pupils discuss topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage

Education: LGBT History Month

Pupils have been discussing topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage
11 best gel eyeliners

Go bold this season: 11 best gel eyeliners

Use an ink pot eyeliner to go bold on the eyes with this season's feline flicked winged liner
Cricket World Cup 2015: Tournament runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

Cricket World Cup runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

The tournament has reached its halfway mark and scores of 300 and amazing catches abound. One thing never changes, though – everyone loves beating England
Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Heptathlete ready to jump at first major title

Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Ready to jump at first major title

After her 2014 was ruined by injury, 21-year-old Briton is leading pentathlete going into this week’s European Indoors. Now she intends to turn form into gold
Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot