Queen of Comedy Sarah Millican is on the road with her third UK tour, Home Bird. The no-nonsense Geordie chatted to What’s On about cats, gardening and the joy of new socks.
Since making her award-winning debut at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in 2008, Sarah Millican has fast established herself as a household name.
She has notched up countless appearances on shows including QI, Mock the Week and Have I Got News For You, along with starring in her own BBC2 series, The Sarah Millican Television Programme.
Sarah has also completed two sell-out national tours, playing to over 200,000 people, and is now on the road again with new show Home Bird.
Newly married to fellow comedian Gary Delaney, it focuses on her newfound ‘domestic bliss’ at their home in Cheshire.
The 38-year-old laughs: “Now I’ve got a house I think I can’t be away too long because I’ve got two cats and a lot of tomatoes that need looking after.
“Oh my God, if I’m away for a couple of days it makes me so happy to go into my little greenhouse and see if the plants have changed. I’m also learning to cook, at last, and my attempts are making their way into my comedy.”
Sarah says her first cat, Chief Brody (named after Roy Scheider’s character in Jaws), who has his own page on her website, was only recently joined by Lieutenant Ripley (named after Sigourney Weaver’s character in Alien).
She says: “For my other half’s birthday, he chose to go to a secret but alarmingly well signposted nuclear bunker (don’t ask).
“There was a beautiful and affectionate cat there that I stroked and cuddled while he sat in the air raid shelter. That day, we decided to get another cat.
“We rang our vet who said they had a cat who needed rehoming. She had been abandoned outside the vet’s two-and-a-half months earlier and when we visited her, was the purriest cat in the world.
“A week later she was at our house. Three weeks after that she stopped shouting at her new brother and started spooning him instead.”
In addition to her home life, Sarah takes inspiration from a variety of other sources, including her fellow comedians.
She says: “I love Frank Skinner. He’s so naturally funny. I did a few episodes of Frank Skinner’s Opinionated, and you know you’ve really made him laugh when he slaps his leg. When he does that, I’m thinking, ‘I’ve got him!’ I also think Jo Brand is wonderful – I did a gig with her in December last year, and the audience was so excited she was there. There’s a lot of love for her.”
Sarah reveals that one of her biggest influences was fellow Northern comedian Victoria Wood, who she grew up watching on TV.
“Whenever she was together with Julie Walters, it was wondrous. And people didn’t watch Victoria Wood and go, ‘Oh, she’s a woman’ – they just watched her because she’s hilarious. I love her.”
Although Sarah describes her move into comedy as an instinctive, natural thing.
“It was circumstances – my divorce in 2004 – that got me on stage, rather than other comedians. I just got up and had a go. I didn’t really know it was stand-up at the beginning. I was just talking to people about my divorce.”
Indeed, despite her success, Sarah remains as down-to-earth as ever – one of the factors she feels is key to her popularity.
“I think it’s that I could be sitting beside you in the audience,” she says.
“So many people go, ‘Oh my God, my auntie’s just like you’ or, ‘My neighbour’s just like you,’ and I take that as a real compliment. I’m a kind of Everywoman – I don’t look like a star or behave like a star, so there’s not that big chasm or moat between us.
"I’m talking about things that have happened to me, and it’s stuff they can relate to, because I’m not Elton John – although I did once buy a seven-pack of socks and wear a new pair of socks every day for a week and felt a little bit like Elton John. I can see why he does it, because they just slide on.”
Sarah Millican’s Home Bird tour will be at Tunbridge Wells’ Assembly Hall Theatre on Wednesday, January 29. It starts at 7.30pm and tickets are £25. Call 01892 530613.
She will also be at Canterbury’s Marlowe Theatre on Sunday, February 9 (01227 787787); back at Tunbridge Wells’ Assembly Hall Theatre on Saturday, April 19 (01892 530613); and at Margate’s Winter Gardens on Thursday, April 24 (01843 292795).