The Sofa of Sin­cer­ity

The Daily Telegraph - Saturday - - Front Page -

Dear Gra­ham, This is go­ing to be an un­usual ses­sion for you, as some­one so used to ei­ther ask­ing your own ques­tions (and hav­ing ap­peared more than once on The Gra­ham Norton Show I have to ad­mit you’re a mas­ter of the art of in­ter­view), or an­swer­ing queries about other peo­ple’s lives in your role as the Tele­graph’s agony un­cle.

Now it is time for a taste of your own medicine. Take a seat on Mi­randa Hart’s Sofa of Sin­cer­ity, and pre­pare to share. Your Per­rier-nom­i­nated com­edy show in 1997 was the one that re­ally in­spired me to try stand-up com­edy. I loved the fact that you were so char­ac­ter­ful and the­atri­cal. Do you miss stand-up? I never felt like a proper standup. I just felt like some­one get­ting away with it.

I’m in awe of great standups, and look­ing at the com­edy cir­cuit feel guilty that I’m the one who had the telly break. So many great head­line acts rip­ping rooms apart night af­ter night never seem to get the recog­ni­tion they de­serve. I was never a closer, just the mid­dle act or – my favourite – the com­père. Hav­ing said all that I would quite like to go back and work with live au­di­ences be­cause it is ex­hil­a­rat­ing, but, hap­pily for all fans of live com­edy, I’m far too lazy to ac­tu­ally do any­thing about that de­sire. How do you feel about fame, and your firm po­si­tion as a bit of a “na­tional trea­sure”? It seems to me that the phrase “na­tional trea­sure” is much overused, a bit like the phrase “gay icon” was a few years ago. Now an un­em­ployed weather girl is re­ferred to as a na­tional trea­sure. For my money I can only name two – June Whit­field and Ron­nie Cor­bett.

As for fame, it is mostly a bless­ing but when it is a curse it is a very bleak one in­deed. I don’t of­ten want to sit on a park bench and weep but it would be nice to have the op­tion. On bal­ance, though, I would say the queue-jump­ing and free stuff more than make up for the lack of pri­vacy. I am re­ally pas­sion­ate about tele­vi­sion as a cul­tural medium. Do you love it too? And do you pre­fer mak­ing it or con­sum­ing it? I LOVE TELE­VI­SION. It was more than en­ter­tain­ment for me when I was grow­ing up in south­ern Ire­land, it was my win­dow on the world. If I had to choose I’d say I prob­a­bly pre­fer watch­ing it, but at the same time I adore my job. This year, when I first re­turned from hol­i­day and sat in the stu­dio look­ing out at my au­di­ence of 600, I did get a lit­tle misty eyed. I felt like I’d come home. I was also quite drunk. What are your favourite re­cent tele­vi­sion shows? Dif­fi­cult one. Th­ese are off the top of my head: Veep is bril­liantly funny and sort of Bri­tish. Dam­ages was stun­ning – Glenn Close is flaw­less. Broad­church was great, but then I love all crime shows. At the mo­ment I’m en­joy­ing Gog­gle­box on Chan­nel 4, but I know I’ll get bored of it soon. Who would you most like on your show that you haven’t yet pinned down? Oddly enough there is a per­son I in­ter­viewed briefly for a doc­u­men­tary years ago that I would love to do a full-length show with, and that is Larry Flynt, the founder of Hustler.

At-home Gra­ham: the talk show host en­joys noth­ing more than spend­ing a Satur­day night in front of the box with a glass of wine, as mak­ing plans is a has­sle

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