Alyce Platt claims she is shy. Very shy.
Despite starring on long-running soap Sons and Daughters and enjoying a five-year stint co-hosting top-rating game show Sale of the Century, the attractive Melburnian never felt comfortable being recognised at the shops. People may have known her, but they didn’t know her.
Platt’s passion is music. She grew up playing guitar and singing songs for her parents’ “bored” friends, spending hours in her bedroom coming up with material.
“At one stage, I would only perform in front of people with the lights off. I was really shy,” the 56-year-old reveals to AAA from New York City, where she spent Christmas and New Year’s with close friends Hugh Jackman and Deborra-Lee Furness.
Platt, who arrives in Perth this week for three Fringe World gigs, is godmother to the power couple’s son Oscar.
After studying music and drama, Platt was forced out of the darkness and into the spotlight when she landed a role playing Amanda Morrell on Sons and Daughters. Her first scene on the Logie-winning serial was a baptism of fire. She had to smooch TV heart-throb Peter Phelps while wearing a skimpy black bra and knickers.
“That was a very memorable debut,” Platt winces. “I was incredibly nervous and embarrassed — it was horrible.
“Now if you google it, that’s the one that comes up.”
Things could only get easier from there, and Platt lasted three seasons before deciding to pull the pin in 1985 so she could focus on music and “serious acting”. However, Sons and Daughters producer Reg Grundy was looking for someone to star opposite Tony Barber on a new game show.
Despite not taking her audition for Sale of the Century seriously, Platt soon found herself in taffeta dresses with enormous hair and even bigger shoulder pads flogging homewares, jetskis and Vanuatu holidays in the Gift Shop.
She says she was playing a role — that dolled-up Sheila on TV was not her.
“They modelled me into looking like a Delvene Delaney, and I look nothing like Delvene Delaney,” Platt laughs. “She’s a sex bomb and I’m just a girl-next-door.
“It was very high profile and (I was) not always comfortable with it.”
Platt left Sale of the Century in 1991 and found herself back in soap-land with roles on Neighbours and A Country Practice.
In 2000, she finally launched a music career, releasing the Cowboys in the Attic EP under the pseudonym Bakers Daughter to avoid being written off as just another Neighbours star trying to launch a pop career.
The Shakespearean subterfuge worked so well that the then pop-fearing Triple J played her songs.
“It’s just perception, isn’t it,” she laughs. “But it’s liberating for me because I’m putting all that (TV stardom) aside.”
Anyway, Platt’s style of music is far removed from the prefab pop typical of ex-soap stars, instead drawing on sophisticated European 60s pop a la Jacques Brel, 70s Americana such as Linda Ronstadt and edgy rock via the Velvet Underground.
Covers of those artists sit alongside “100 per cent Alyce Platt” originals on latest album Funny Little World, which was released in 2015.
Funny Little World is only her second studio album following debut Beautiful Death, which was released in 2004 — the same year she married Black Sorrows guitarist Claude Carranza two decades after they met on the set of Hey Hey It’s Saturday.
Songs from both albums pop up on the soundtrack of Journey Beyond Fear, a recent documentary told through the eyes of an orphaned Afghan teenager seeking refuge in Malaysia.
From Friday, the entertainment all-rounder plays Fringe World shows at the Duke of George, East Fremantle, and The Sewing Room in the city with the Bakers Daughter Band, featuring Funny Little World producer Stephen Hadley on bass, Vika and Linda Bull/Debra Byrne guitarist Dion Hirini and Dave Graney’s partner Clare Moore on drums.
“Don’t worry,” she laughs. “I’ll keep the lights on for the audience.”