The Three Degrees are one of the longest-running female vocal groups in history and return to the UK this month for an extensive tour that takes in Millfield Theatre in Edmonton. Rosy Moorhead catches up with Valerie Holiday, who has been a member since 1967, and talks about being banned by the BBC, divas, and the buzz she still gets from performing.

Can you remember the first time you came to the UK on tour?

It was in the early 1970s, I think. I’d only read about England in history books and watched bits and pieces on TV, so it was quite exciting being someplace as old as that!

Hadn’t one of your songs been banned by the BBC at that time?

Yes, Dirty Ol’ Man. Can you believe it? It wasn’t like we were cursing or swearing like they’re doing nowadays, there weren’t any words in there you had to bleep out. Gosh, see how strict the censor boards were in those days? But it did get us more publicity! It went to Number One in Amsterdam in 1973 and England said ’Well OK, fine’!

What’s it like being on the road after all these years?

It’s a bit more difficult and more stressing with all the airport security and the baggage weights, and it’s not as much fun as it used to be, it’s really gruelling now. But we still love performing, and seeing people in the audience that were 14 when you first met them and now they’ve got a 14-year-old of their own with them. I had a couple of very young ladies come up recently and say how much they’d enjoyed the show, they said their mum and their gran told them about us. It still gives us a real buzz.

Who’s the biggest diva of the three of you?

We take turns! We have a different diva of the day!

You joined the group in 1967, when you were just out of high school – tell me about the early days.

It was a lot of work and no play. We used to call ourselves The Three Nuns – you never see none, you never have none, and you ain’t never going to get none! Boyfriends were a no-no – if you weren’t eating or sleeping you were supposed to be rehearsing. But I enjoyed it, working on a craft. And, of course, that’s why the harmonies were what they were – if you were doing unison it had to be seamless, and that required work. It left you with very little time for anything else. It’s a lot easier now!

What advice would you give to your younger self?

Get a lawyer! When you’re young you’re naive, you don’t know anything, you just listen to the people around you, but this business is hateful. Like other artists that came up through that era, we were robbed of royalties. That was a lesson hard learnt.

What’s your favourite song to perform live?

When Will I See You Again? It just fits everything, it’s the perfect line. You’re constantly leaving people – particularly family and friends that are in different countries – and it makes you want to hold on to them just a little tighter. You miss them every time you go away.

The Three Degrees are at Millfield Theatre, Silver Street, Edmonton on Friday, February 6 from 7.45pm. Details: 020 8807 6680,