Miranda Hart on crowning her brilliant year by starring in not one but two festive TV highlights – and bagging Gary Barlow to boot!
22:59 GMT, 21 December 2012
Christmas jumping on and off the sofa. After a year in which she's filmed two series – BBC1's smash hit 50s drama Call The Midwife and her own runaway success Miranda – as well as writing a best-selling book, there's nothing she's looking forward to more than 'watching lots of TV in a onesie' at her parents' home in Hampshire.
The only problem is she hates watching herself. And Miranda will be almost unavoidable this Christmas. Not only does she resume her role as Chummy in Call The Midwife's festive special, but the third series of her own show, Miranda, starts on Boxing Day.
'I love Christmas and it was always about watching BBC1 and the Morecambe & Wise Show when I was growing up,' she says.
Not only does Miranda Hart resume her role as Chummy in Call The Midwife's festive special, but the third series of her own show, Miranda, starts on Boxing Day
'To be on twice this year is quite surreal – a dream come true. But I couldn't sit there and watch it with my family, it would be like, “Look everyone, look at me being marvellous.” I think I'll just have to go somewhere else when my shows are on.'
It really has been an extraordinary year for Miranda. The second series of her self-penned show was so popular it's now been transferred from BBC2 to BBC1, while Call The Midwife was 2012's most watched new drama.
And when we meet in the bowels of Television Centre shortly before she steps out in front of a studio audience to film another episode of Miranda, she's just about to turn 40 and throw her first-ever p arty. 'The whole thing is very nerve-racking,' she admits. She's also lost two stone in time for her birthday with a combination of running and Pilates.
'I'm going to have tea with the girls and then a p arty. In this latest series of Miranda my character has her first dinner p arty and the feelings she has are shared. Is everyone going to turn up How do you present Pringles' she sighs.
'That's why I've never had a birthday p arty before.' Despite p eppering her conversation with the show's catchphrases – '…what I call a…' and 'such fun' – Miranda is adamant it's not autobiographical, saying she's never worked in a joke shop and her p arents have always been very supportive.
But many of the stories and situations are based on her biggest mishaps. 'Some of the things that happen have obviously happened to me, like being called “sir”. That happens a lot.' Her co-star Sarah Hadland, who plays Stevie and has become best friends with 6ft 1in Miranda in real life, can't help laughing as she recount s exactly that situation happening earlier this year when the two were returning from a safari in Uganda.
The show has a large celebrity following and in this series Gary Barlow and Raymond Blanc will both have cameos as love interest
'The woman behind the desk called her Mr Hart and kept on doing it. We were on the floor with laughter.' Miranda, who's actually very pretty in the flesh, adds, 'Normally they finally notice I'm a she and say sorry, but she just carried on.' In the show, Miranda is frequently caught out by her own elaborate stories, and the comic says that's happened to her in real life too.
'I was once doing an audition for a show with a famous comedian and he started on the formal chat before the read-through. He told me, “I've just moved to Wandsworth” and I immediately said, “I live in Wandsworth!”'She shrugs her shoulders and whispers, 'I don't live in Wandsworth.
'And then of course he starts with, “Whereabouts are you” “Erm, near the high street. Erm, in the Wandsworth area. Erm, actually I live in Hammersmith.” He said, “What” So I stammered, “I live in Hammersmith. I live in Hammersmith.” I didn't get the job.' Miranda is from firmly middleclass territory; she grew up in Hampshire, the daughter of Captain DavidHart Dyke, who was the commanding officer of HMS Coventry which was sunk in the Falklands War.
Her uncle is Lord Luce, a royal courtier, and she attended the boarding school Downe House with Clare Balding (Kate Middleton attended a few years later). Growing up, her heroes were Eric Morecambe and John Cleese and her brand of slapstick and gentle humour harks back to their hits. Her rise to success has been a slow one though –holding down a succession of temping jobs while working on her comedy, which finally found a p lace on Radio 2 before being picked up by BBC2.
It was an unexpected hit when it first aired on TV three years ago, but Miranda says the success only made her more confident about writing the third series. 'I just wrote the show I wanted to write and what I found funny and hoped for the best,' she says.
Miranda says the success only made her more confident about writing the third series
'I'm still shocked by its success but writing this third series has given me a sense of confidence that people wanted to see the characters again, which is such a privileged position to be in. 'I like to go with universal themes that people recognise, be it the terror of a dinner party or trying not to be seen naked when you're in a shop changing room.
'It's nice to think there are people who like the show and want to see it – hopefully I won't let them down.' Fans range from early teens to 70- year-olds – and the show is particularly popular with women.
'I think it's nice for teenage girls to have role models who are different to what they're normally bombarded with,' says Sarah. 'We're not perfect. They can see people getting it wrong, but that it's OK.'
This series catches up with the crew as Miranda is still reeling from the fact that on the night she was going on her first date with long-term crush Gary (Tom Ellis) she discovered he was married. That marriage is now annulled, but the p air are still far from together.
The show has a large celebrity following and in this series Gary Barlow and Raymond Blanc will both have cameos as love interests. 'It was very exciting to have Gary and Raymond join us,' smiles Miranda.
'We all tried to act cool when they came on set but I don't think it worked. I can't really tell you anything about the storylines, but you can expect a lot of the same old silliness.
There's a bit of romance, although I'm not going to say how that transpires.' Miranda herself is single but says that as she hits 40 she's never felt happier. 'I think I would have felt this way regardless of any success, but as you get older things definitely get better,' she says.
'You get more confident. That fear of not being cool, that peer pressure about how you should behave has all gone away. You think, “I like doing this and I want to do it.”' It certainly seems to be working.