The great porcine muppet star Miss Piggy takes her place proudly in the pantheon of divas, alongside Barbra, Cher, Celine, and Madonna, to name a few. But in many ways she is more akin to Bette, for like that grand dame, and unlike some of those others, Miss Piggy is plump and proud of it. "I see myself as a role model for bigger girls," Miss Piggy says. "You don't have to be thin to be beautiful. I'm living proof of that."

The lovely lady coyly refuses to give her age ("Don't be rude, dear", she replies in answer to my query, with a sniff and a toss of her boa), but she looks fantastic as always. Her big blue eyes are sparkling and perfectly made up, her naturally blonde hair freshly arranged, and she lounges prettily in pink silk pajamas during our interview. All I can get out of her is that she was born in Hog Springs, Iowa and raised on a farm. She adored her father but didn't get along so well with her mother. (Miss Piggy, though she would stoutly deny it, isn't known for getting along well with members of her own sex. Behind her back, people say she views other females as competition. Don't tell her that to her face, though; she knows a martial art, and isn't afraid to use it.) In spite of her differences with her mother, she says she enjoyed a happy rustic rural childhood until, at age six, her beloved father was tragically killed in a tractor accident. With tears in her eyes, which well up prettily once again as she relates her story, the brave young piglet resolved to find solace one day in the realization of her fondest dream, becoming a star.

After graduating from charm school, the teenage pig took to the road, finding work in "the big city - little ol' moi, all alone", she relates pathetically - selling gloves in a department store. Unable to support herself in the style to which she hoped to become accustomed, and intent on pursuing the road to stardom, Miss Piggy sought work in modelling and fashion. The naive young pig occaisionally found herself taken advantage of by unscrupulous shysters, and though she is emphatic that she has never taken her clothes off for a job, she once posed for a bacon ad, a memory so painful she refuses to talk of it to this day.

Eventually the Divine Miss P became a popular actress in commercials, and was able to quit her day job. (When I refer to her as an actor, she scolds me indignantly. "Moi is an actress, " she emphasizes, "and don't you forget it!" I don't.) As her fans' adoration began to grow, she completed "Karate by Cassette" in order to be able to protect herself. Finally, she entered a beauty contest which changed her life forever. There, she met Kermit; the two fell in love, and Miss Piggy moved to London, joining The Muppet Show, first as a chorus girl, but soon as lead chanteuse. Her first motion picture role was in the box office hit The Muppet Movie (1979) and her first published book was the invaluable self-help volume, Miss Piggy's Guide To Life (1981). She had her own variety special, "The Fantastic Miss Piggy Show" in 1982, as well as a regular role as First Mate of the starship "Swinetrek" on the series "Pigs in Space". She has since appeared in several movies, CDs, videos, and computer games, and her wildly popular pin up calendar sells out year after year.

In 1983 Miss Piggy married her longtime sweetheart, that frog among princes, Kermit, but sadly the union did not last. The public was not surprised that the marriage failed in 2000, for who could forget Kermit's legendary reluctance to become involved with Miss P, or their volatile and very public quarrels? But as late as 1999 Miss Piggy was referring in public to their relationship as "an inferno", and at the time of the breakup professed herself devastated and heartbroken. This too she now declines to discuss, but magazines of the time are testament to the sordid details of the split and Miss Piggy's very public grief over the same.

Today the plump pink superstar lives alone with her poodle Foo-Foo, and declares herself satisfied with her life, except for "one teensy weensy thing". She was more than disappointed at finding herself disqualified because of her species from her chosen profession's highest honour: an Academy Award. The rules on Oscar's bestowal relate, quite clearly, if in fine print, that pigs, frogs, bears, and chickens are barred from the competition. "Moi was upset," Miss Piggy admits. "But moi got over it."

Miss Piggy claims not to know one of her staunchest admirers and supporters, the late Jim Henson - "Who?" she asks vaguely - but counts Frank Oz as one of her closest friends. "No one understands me like Frank," she gushes. "It's like he can get right inside me and know just what I'll say!"

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