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PostPosted: Mon Nov 16, 2009 2:19 am    Post subject: Miranda Reply with quote


How Garry Shandling inspired Miranda
One of the few recent laugh-out-loud sitcoms, Miranda showed a comedic shift away from the neo-naturalism of The Office and The Thick Of It
12th March 2010

It is reassuring to know that television comedy can still spring surprises. Standup comedian Miranda Hart looked destined to be a perpetual sitcom bridesmaid, having had a bit part in Not Going Out and a bigger role in shortlived sci-fi homage Hyperdrive. Then last autumn she struck gold with the self-penned Miranda, in which she brilliantly played a singleton looking for love, dealing with goofy friends and regularly falling over. What made Miranda so memorable, apart from the sublime slapstick tumbles, was the way she constantly acknowledged the viewer, shamelessly mugging to the screen.

For Hart, these exasperated expressions were throwbacks to Frankie Howerd offering the lens one of his distressed camel looks, but it made me think of another long-lost studio audience sitcom starring a standup playing a character with their own name. The last series to deconstruct and subvert the format so exquisitely was It's Garry Shandling's Show, the American hit which aired on BBC2 from 1987 to 1990. IGSS starred bouffant-haired Garry Shandling as an angsty, vain comedian called Garry Shandling grappling with his messy love life and goofy friends, while constantly commenting on the action.

Others have tried this trick. US standup Kelly Monteith deconstructed the narrative in his eponymous BBC show from 1979 to 1984. But IGSS did not just break the fourth wall, it obliterated it. One could constantly see the crew (presumably being filmed by another unseen crew). Other actors often referred to the fact that they were in a sitcom – the Philip Seymour Hoffman lookalike playing the manager of the condo kept turning up at Shandling's door just so he could appear in a sitcom – and Shandling drove from set to set in a golf buggy. In one episode he memorably invited the audience into his living room while he was filming next door – a furore ensued when he claimed someone had stolen some loose change.

Looking back at those episodes, finally released on DVD, the high hair, tight trousers and references to Vanna White might date it, but the knowing confidence of the writing – mainly by Shandling and Alan Zweibel – shines through. The series, originally made for the nascent network Showtime, was picked up by Fox and cemented Shandling's reputation. He went on to make the formidable showbiz-skewering The Larry Sanders Show and was last seen over here being interviewed by Ricky Gervais in a very odd is-it-real-or-set-up? C4 documentary.

The playful postmodernism of IGSS lived on in Sean Hughes' 90s C4 sitcom Sean's Show. And Shandling's awkward narcissism paved the way for Seinfeld and Curb Your Enthusiasm. But the shift to the neo-naturalism of The Office and The Thick Of It suggested that the style had fallen out of favour among homegrown broadcasters. The success of Miranda – one of the few recent sitcoms that is truly laugh-out-loud funny – demonstrates that whether one describes it as mugging to the camera like a demented vaudevillian or gets all structuralist and calls it the apotheosis of self-referential po-mo dislocation, pulling a face onscreen will always be a hit.

Miranda Hart – TV's queen of uncool
Critics may have branded her sitcom amateurish and old-fashioned, but Miranda Hart has become a comedy hero
Kira Cochrane
The Guardian,
2 December 2010

Miranda: the sitcom you love or loathe
In the 1980s, as the alternative comedy scene blossomed in basement clubs all over Britain, Miranda Hart was holed up on a hill, in a pine forest, at an all-girls' boarding school in Berkshire, watching and re-watching her videos of Morecambe and Wise. She loved the campness and eccentricity of Eric Morecambe, and the style and wit of the other comedy legends she had grown up with: Tony Hancock, Joyce Grenfell, Tommy Cooper. When it came to sitcoms, her favourites included Are You Being Served? and Fawlty Towers – emerging from her boarding-school bubble in the early 1990s, she found new sitcoms speaking that same silly, slapstick language. "There was Ab Fab and Gimme Gimme Gimme," says Hart, in her cluttered office at BBC Television Centre, "and so I remained in this buffoony, clowny era, and just thought nothing had changed. Alternative comedy passed me by. I was like: 'Who is Alexei Sayle?'"

The fruit of that comic education has recently attracted rapturous enthusiasm; Hart has emerged, aged 37, as a comedy hero with her eponymous sitcom, Miranda. Women particularly love her – every woman I have told about this interview has almost swooned, before wondering aloud how much Hart resembles the character she plays. I wonder too, and in the early minutes of our interview it seems simple. Hart is warm, friendly, quietly funny – like a much lower key, much more grown-up version of her screen persona. But as the interview continues, a different, darker picture starts forming.

Miranda is now halfway through its second series and Hart says that, having once had people sidle up to her on the street and announce it as their guilty pleasure, "It now feels like people are allowed to openly like an uncool show." The series is a reminder of an earlier, gentler age, a time when a sitcom wasn't a sitcom unless its cast waved daffily, unselfconsciously to the audience over the closing credits, as hers does. "I just thought, that's the kind of comedy I love, so why not embrace the genre wholly and go, guys, this is what I'm doing, and you really will have to like it or lump it."

The strapline of the series is "Miranda can't fit in", and Hart plays an awkward, 6ft 1in woman who has blown her inheritance on a joke shop, which she runs with her diminutive friend, Stevie. Miranda is single – as Hart is in real life – and her mother, played with fruity, farcical mania by Patricia Hodge, is desperate to find her a man (in the very first episode, she suggests Miranda should marry her cousin because: "This is Surrey. No one minds"). Miranda is also tormented by her old boarding-school friends, who call her not just Queen Kong, but "The Empress of Kong". So far, so single girl as saddo.

Yet Hart's performance takes the show into different, delirious territory. Her style has been compared to the Two Ronnies, Frankie Howerd and Morecambe – all raised eyebrows and knowing glances to camera, pratfalls and puns, double entendres, off-tune singing at inopportune moments. She segues into Sorry Seems to Be the Hardest Word at a funeral, for instance, while giving an impromptu eulogy for a dead relative whose identity she is not entirely sure of. Then she falls headlong into an open grave.

In fact, Miranda falls over a lot. She is constantly trying to sweep out of rooms – and inevitably tumbling into a coat rack. Does she find the slapstick difficult? "Not at all! I love it. Usually you have a crash mat, but when you're doing a little faint or tripping over the boxes in the shop, you just have to go for it." I ask why she thinks women enjoy the show so much, and she ums and ahs, before deciding it is like "having a friend who does things you fear you might do, or have done". It's true. Her comic creation is a knowing, uproarious embodiment of women's everyday neuroses: the fear of skirts tucked in knickers, of inappropriate drunken exchanges, those social failures that make your shoulders hunch, eyes smart, just remembering them.

It is also a world away from all the competitive, male-dominated comedy on TV right now – panel shows such as QI, and particularly Mock the Week. "I think there are different kinds of comedians," says Hart, "and I prefer the clowns who are going: 'I'm an idiot, aren't we all a bit like this, laugh at me.' Whereas a lot of other comedians are saying: 'Aren't I clever? You want to be me, aren't I cool? Revere me.' Which is fine. But that's not my bag."

While the character is awkward, she is made admirable, even heroic, by her essential happiness. Miranda is one of the few single women in pop culture ever to truly enjoy their own company, constantly breaking into song while alone in her flat, or drawing faces on items of fruit. And in the series, that happiness seems to make her irresistible to men. The object of her desire, sexy chef Gary, is clearly attracted to her too, and the most recent episode saw three men fighting over her (albeit one with the not entirely flattering gambit: "Sometimes a man needs a meat feast.")

As writer and creator, Hart commands the show, and often gives notes to the cast under a persona she's taken to calling "Anal McPartlin". I'd expected her to be hugely confident – how else could she do scenes that involve her wrap dress getting stuck in a taxi door and ripped off to reveal big pants and bra? But Hart actually takes self- deprecation to a whole new level, and genuinely doesn't seem to understand that people love her show, and find her attractive. I tell her she was named Crush of the Week in one newspaper and she says: "Shut up! That's very worrying. But I can guess what they would say – something like, not the obvious choice, not the conventional choice, but for some reason Crush of the Week."

We talk about how women spend so much time in their 20s thinking of themselves as hideous, and she says: "It's such a waste of energy, I know. And I still do it now. I'm an idiot." You don't! I say. "I do, yeah. I've got to get over it."

Does she enjoy her height? "Sort of yes and no, I suppose. I'd like to be 5ft 10in. That would be very nice, because then you can wear a heel and not look like a transvestite." She pauses. "I hate talking about my height, because I don't feel like a tall person . . . When I see a tall woman, I'm always slightly like, woah, it looks weird, but that could be because of my complex about it, my worry over whether it's womanly to be that tall." One of the few situations in the show that comes directly from life, she says, is being called Sir in shops and restaurants. "That happens a lot, because of being tall, and having short hair."

I had imagined her comedy came from a simple desire to "fun it up", as her character says, and when we first talk about what inspires her, this seems about right. "I think if I was to psychobabble myself, I would say it's probably just – indeed, for comedians full stop – a desire to stay in a childlike state. It's just the boredom of adulthood." But later, her explanation changes. She says that some of her comedy has "definitely come from dark times. That feeling of generally not quite being at one with the world, of not fitting in."

Hart grew up in Petersfield, Hampshire, with her younger sister, her father, a naval captain, and her mother – who is apparently nothing like the Hodge character. "My mum gets upset if people think it's her, because it's really not. The only thing that's the same is that she does say 'such fun', but then so do I, and so do a lot of people." ("I don't know what I'm going to buy for such an ugly baby," says Hodge in the series. "Your father's suggested a balaclava. Such fun!")

Hart always knew she wanted to be a comedian, but was too shy to tell anyone. At 11, her parents went off to the US for three years, and she went to the boarding school, Downe House, which she loved. The future TV presenter Clare Balding was the head girl, and while Hart was never in a gang – "I flitted between gangs, it was a deliberate choice" – she was always popular. "If you were good at sport, then you were popular, and I was very good at lacrosse, if I say so myself," she gives the head bob and mock-arrogant smirk that crops up so often in the show. "I played for Berkshire. I'm a lean, sporty woman trapped in a fat body."

It was on leaving school that she ran into problems. She had applied to do stage management courses, but felt under pressure to study politics at Bristol instead, and found the experience a culture shock. "I think, for a shy person – and I was very shy until my mid-20s – having been to an all-girls' school is not brilliant on the boyfriend front later. Because when I went to university, it was definitely like meeting a new species of people. Suddenly, at age 19, I was thinking: can you speak to these people? I was very, very nervous.

"I was very worried about not being attractive to men," she continues, "of not feeling like your stereotypical girl. Looking back, I was God knows how many stones lighter, and a couple of friends have since said: 'You know, I thought you were really, really sexy, and I would have,'" she trails off, apparently not able to form the words "made a play for you" or whatever else she was thinking. "I was like, 'no way!' when they told me. It's just that it took me a lot longer to feel comfortable in my body, and in myself, than others."

In her early 20s, she returned to live with her parents and experienced what she now calls a "blip". She suffered from agoraphobia and anxiety – she had panic attacks when she went on public transport – and the anti-depressants she took led her to put on five stone. "I won't bore you with it," she says, "because it wasn't very nice, but I think I'll always be a slightly anxious person. It's just bad genes, bad luck, really. I'll always have to force myself to see the positive, because I'm wired badly, I'd say. I'm just naturally a bit under, a bit depressed."

It was while working as a PA in the charity sector, aged 26, that she finally braved telling her parents that she wanted to be a comedian. "They weren't discouraging," she says, "but they weren't fully encouraging – which they are now – and that helped in a way. They just said, why don't you stick with being a PA, you're good at it, and that made me, in a teenage way go," she gives a loose two-fingered salute, "you just wait then, I'll try and prove you all wrong."

What followed were years of taking shows to the Edinburgh festival, trawling the comedy circuit, getting a break with a part in an Alpen ad, another with some sketches on Smack the Pony, and then a lead on a sitcom with Nick Frost called Hyperdrive. In 2005 she gave up temping, and around the same time Jennifer Saunders rocked with laughter through an early reading of a script for Miranda. That went on to become the Radio 2 show, Miranda Hart's Joke Shop, before finally moving to television.

Hart is one of friendliest people I've ever interviewed – instantly engaged and engaging – but she's so hard on herself it makes me wince. She talks about some of the male actors cast opposite her on screen, and says that "someone might say to me – so, you've got the confidence to think that Michael Landes and Tom Ellis would go after you, and I go, no, that's not how I see it. I just think: what do people want this character to find? They want her to win, and it's also funny. And sometimes you do see that, a confident man going – Oh, she's quite interesting, I've not had one of those before, I might try it, that'll be an interesting notch . . ."

It's when she talks about what she might do next – both personally and professionally – that she really lights up, that the opportunities ahead seem to hit her. She's been single for three years now, and says that while she's happy, "I'm getting to the point when I'd like a bit of affirmation, or someone to chat to, or go on holiday with." In terms of work, she'd "love to be in a play in the West End, to write my own farce. I'd like to be in a period drama, be in Downton Abbey, do a standup show. Loads!" She pauses. "I'd love to do more acting, where I'm not playing me. That would be lovely." I hope she gets exactly what she wants. Women want Miranda to win – both on screen, and off.
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PostPosted: Wed Nov 18, 2009 5:07 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi Face
Just watched it and found it hilarious! Are there any more shows going to be added?
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Location: North Carolina

PostPosted: Fri Nov 20, 2009 8:04 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

faceless wrote:
episode 2 should be available later today - then the rest weekly.

I'm sure most people would enjoy it if they gave it a try...

OK, you got me. She's funny in a geeky kind of way. Love the other characters, too, especially Tom Ellis as Gary. He's quite scrumptious. hug Looking forward to the next one.

Thanks for putting this up.
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PostPosted: Tue Dec 15, 2009 6:50 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I've enjoyed the show... not really my cup of tea but it got me at least smirking most weeks.
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PostPosted: Thu Dec 17, 2009 1:12 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

"Miranda" is absolutely bloody brilliant. Episode 6 had me really laughing, esp where she said she's hanging out with her Homies.

Looking forward to series 2. Will look at Hyperspace next.

Thanks Mr "Fantastic" Face.
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PostPosted: Thu Dec 17, 2009 1:30 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

i totally enjoyed this series and found myself waiting in anticipation for each episode.... roll on series 2...
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PostPosted: Sat Mar 13, 2010 4:43 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

She is in that Infidel film with Omid Djalili, Matt Lucas and Richard Schiff. Looks very funny.

Written by David Baddiel.
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PostPosted: Sun Dec 26, 2010 9:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Miranda: 'I’m the friend you can laugh at’
Miranda Hart tells Dominic Cavendish how she struck upon the formula for the sitcom of the year.
21 Dec 2010

'I love Christmas,” Miranda Hart says, nestling into a chair in the production offices of her utterly charming sitcom, Miranda, deep in the labyrinth of BBC Television Centre. “I always have this idea it’s going to be brilliant. I will go ice-skating – that will be lovely – and it will snow on Christmas Day. Of course what happens is that we’re all running temperatures and it’s 11 degrees outside.”

The same doomed-to-disappointment optimism accompanies her New Year’s resolutions. “It’s always the same,” she confides. “I’ve put on weight so 2011 is going to be the Year of Fitness. This has been going on for 10 years now. Nothing changes. I get to the end of January and nothing has happened.”

I half expect her to round off with her series-defining catchphrase – itself originated in real life by her mother and an encapsulation of a very British make-do-and-mend determination that’s just perfect for the festive season: “Such fun!” But she doesn’t. Actually, it’s quite an achievement for her even to think beyond the sixth and final Christmas episode of her second series, which goes out on Monday, and will have the added allure of Tom Conti playing her character’s father.

When we meet her head is still firmly in the business of editing the fifth instalment. The gap between recording and airing the programme is alarmingly narrow. Although the success of Miranda – great word of mouth; a glowing media response – confirms that Hart, 37, has arrived as the statuesque darling of BBC light entertainment, arguably even its saviour having plugged the gap for comedy of a cosier, friendly, more old-fashioned sort, the star herself is more weary than elated. The walls of her office, papered with Post-it Notes and huge lists of brainstormed possible scenarios, attest to just how much hard graft goes into concocting this breezy and most personable of sitcoms. You get the impression that every silly aside to camera and every knowing glance is meticulously planned.

Her favoured method of structuring the show is to plot graphs so the gag count neither drops nor falls into a predictable pattern. “I’ve cried a lot in here,” she reveals. Those who assume that because she plays an exaggerated, more galumphing version of herself, she’s simply drawing on her own experiences should know that it took her six months of solitary writing at home – with moral support from her dog Peggy, “a fluffy cross between a shih-tzu and a bichon frise” – to get three hours of material.

Set in an improbable joke shop where the humour is mainly at the expense of her hapless alter-ego, her female chums and her fearsome mother (Patricia Hodge), the last label Hart wants for her baby is “a female show”. “I hate being called 'a woman in comedy’,” she says. “I understand that men may possibly only watch it because they’re persuaded to do so by their partners but I want to make sure it’s for everyone. I don’t want to write a show for women. Everyone feels they’ve been a bit of an idiot in social situations but no one likes to admit to it.

“No one goes, 'You won’t believe what I did yesterday’ but I think that happens to everyone. I see my role as being the friend you can laugh at and think, 'Well, at least I’m not as bad as her!’”
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 25, 2011 2:41 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

A very courageous clown: The surprising past of the 'female Eric Morecambe' Comedy Award winner Miranda Hart
Paul Scott
25 January 2011

Clutching her gongs for Best New TV Comedy Show, Best Comic Actress and the People’s Choice Award at the British Comedy Awards this weekend, Miranda Hart looked elated, if a little bemused. Perhaps her puzzlement can be put down to the fact that until that moment — and that hat-trick of gongs — she wasn’t fully aware of just how popular she is with the public, and how respected by her peers. After all, despite garnering increasingly rave reviews for her self-titled BBC2 show, Miranda, she had been too fearful to read the glowing coverage.

The reason? She knows any review will inevitably mention her appearance. For those who haven’t seen her eponymous show, Miranda is a truly brilliant comic performer, who can say more with one of her trademark looks to camera than most comedians can in half-an-hour of script.

Not for nothing has she been described as a female incarnation of Eric Morecambe — blending his same gift for comic timing with irresistibly funny slapstick pratfalls and glorious one-liners. Yet no matter how brilliant her humour, it’s her physical appearance that people can’t help commenting on (Miranda stands 6ft 1in tall with what might best be termed a ‘statuesque’ figure). And it hurts. ‘I don’t read reviews any more because they always mention my looks,’ she says. ‘One of those comments is OK, you can deal with it, but if you read 60, even the strongest person would start feeling low.’ Which makes it all the more courageous and poignant that Miranda’s humour relies so ­heavily on sending herself up.

Fans of her part-autobiographical BBC sitcom, about a gauche but terribly nice single woman who runs a gift shop, have become used to cringing behind the sofa at Miranda’s constant and unflinching self-mockery — much of it revolving around er size and clumsiness. There is, for example, the running gag that her character is perennially addressed as ‘Sir’ by people mistaking her for a man. Then there are her horrible on-screen friends who still insist on calling her by her boarding school nickname of ‘Queen Kong’.

Quite where the boundary lies between Miranda, the sitcom character, and Miranda, the woman who plays her, is a moot point. For while audiences are revelling in her on-screen antics, behind the scenes there is a very vulnerable woman who has experienced a number of profound traumas in her life. The daughter of high-ranking naval officer Captain David Hart-Dyke and his wife Diana, she enjoyed a comfortable middle-class background in Petersfield, Hampshire, until the Falklands war intruded on her childhood in the most dramatic way possible. In 1982 her father was the commanding officer of Royal Navy destroyer HMS Coventry when it was sunk by the Argentinians.

After the incident, Capt Hart-Dyke was stationed in the U.S., while Miranda was sent to the £28,000-a-year Downe House boarding school in Berkshire, where the head girl was Clare Balding — now a BBC sports presenter, with whom Miranda remains friends. From there, she went on to study politics at the University of the West of England, but it was after graduating that Miranda’s life once again strayed off course when she ­suffered from a mental breakdown so severe that for two years she was ­unable to leave the house. ‘It all happened after university,’ she says. ‘I think I was just very anxious. I thought the world was a bit scary. Some people get depressed for six months and then pull themselves together. I just hid in a room and didn’t go out for two years.’ To make matters worse, the anti-depressants she was prescribed led her to put on five stone, which ­contributed to a lifelong insecurity about her appearance.

‘It’s just bad genes, bad luck, really,’ she has said of her depressive condition. ‘I’ll always have to force myself to see the positive, because I’m wired badly. I’m naturally a bit depressed.’ Which, of course, makes it all the more brave and remarkable that she chose the nerve-shredding world of stand-up comedy as a means of ­confronting her demons, moving to Edinburgh for a year in a bid to launch a career on the city’s gruelling ­comedy circuit.

Though she proved a naturally gifted performer, as is so often the way with supposed ‘overnight’ TV successes, she struggled to make a breakthrough. For years, her only ­forays on screen were a string of bit parts in the likes of The Vicar Of ­Dibley, French And Saunders and breakfast cereal adverts. A supporting role in the spoof sci-fi series Hyperdrive proved that she had greater potential, but it was her own show, Miranda, which first aired in 2008, that has given her the showcase she deserves.

While the success has not made her any less insecure about her looks, it has at least given her a means to turn her private anxiety into public appreciation. ‘I’m happy socially and I’ve got good friends, but everyone has got their thing, haven’t they? And mine is I don’t like looking in the mirror,’ she has said. ‘The only approval I ­ultimately want is from the audience.’ Away from the cameras, Hart leads a resolutely ‘un-showbiz’ life at her small flat in Hammersmith, West ­London, which she shares with her Shih Tzu dog, Peggy, and (like her TV alter ego) she admits she has struggled to find love. ‘I can’t imagine that anyone would find me attractive. I don’t think anyone does,’ she told an interviewer last year. How delicious, then, that she is fast becoming the hottest woman on the comedy circuit.

Already, there is talk of moving her show from BBC2 to a more prominent slot on BBC1. A BBC source told me: ‘The powers-that-be see Miranda as a very big deal for the future and want to build other shows around her. Her humour is a bit old-fashioned, like Morecambe and Wise or The Two Ronnies, but it’s struck a chord with viewers.’. Who knows, she may even find the courage to start reading her own reviews.
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PostPosted: Sun Jan 30, 2011 4:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Profile: Miranda Hart
By Gillian Harris
30 January 2011

COLLECTING the award for best female comedy actress from Simon Le Bon at last week's British Comedy Awards, Miranda Hart displayed the endearing social awkwardness for which her eponymous character is famous. "Yes, I will go back to your hotel. Thank you very much, wow," she told the startled Duran Duran star. "Actually, not really, you're okay."

Hart was the biggest winner at this year's comedy awards, taking home three trophies for best female comedy actress, best new TV comedy show and the people's choice award. Yet even as the public, critics and fellow comedians line up to sing her praises, Hart remains refreshingly self-effacing. When she heard that her sitcom, Miranda, might make the leap from BBC2 to BBC1 she said: "That's very nice to know that they think there might be an audience."

Since its debut in 2009, Miranda has become a word-of-mouth phenomenon. Hart, 38, doesn't like the show to be pigeonholed as women's comedy, but it is undeniable that many of its most devout fans are women who can relate to the cheerfully uncool lead character. Thirtysomething Miranda runs a shop with her controlling best friend, is constantly rebuked for not being married by her overbearing mother and seeks approval from two snooty school friends.

At 6ft 1in, Hart has been variously described as "Joyce Grenfell, with even more pratfalling" and "the statuesque darling of BBC light entertainment". She is happy to be compared to Grenfell, who is one of her comedy idols, and delighted that her sitcom falls squarely into an old-school genre that more edgy comics might eschew. It was also her choice to be "big and silly and not ashamed about falling over".

"I knew, before the first series went out, that the phrase 'old-fashioned' would be levelled at me," she has said. "But I regard that as a positive rather than a negative. The mainstream's where I'm at."

Miranda Katharine Hart-Dyke comes from a solidly middle-class background. Born in Torquay in 1972, she grew up in Petersfield, Hampshire, with her parents and younger sister Alice. Her earliest glimpse of a career in comedy came when her impersonation of her primary school teacher made her mother and sister crack up. She decided she wanted to be like Tommy Cooper and Morecambe and Wise.

At the age of 11 she was sent to Downe House, a public school in Berkshire, while her father, a naval officer, was stationed in the United States. A year earlier, Captain David Hart-Dyke had been the commanding officer of the Royal Navy destroyer HMS Coventry when it was sunk by the Argentines during the Falklands conflict, with the loss of 19 lives. Hart was just ten at the time and didn't fully understand what had happened. She recalls coming home from school to find reporters camped outside the family home.

"When mum told us, apparently I said, 'That's all very sad. Can I have a flapjack?'"

Hart says the years that followed were probably the happiest of her life. She loved school and relished being the class clown. At the age of 15, she shot up in height to more than 6ft. "I used to be thin and then I was getting used to being tall. Friends and family were very sweet about it, but actually ended up creating a slight problem," she said. "They were worried that I was worried. But the trouble was I kept being told that I was tall. It still doesn't feel right."

Despite a hidden yearning for a stage career, Hart studied politics at Bristol Polytechnic, now the University of the West of England. She got a 2:1, "pretty much by winging it with what amounted to a photographic memory". She then did a year's training at the Academy of Live and Recorded Arts in London.

After graduating, Hart grew depressed. She developed agoraphobia and moved back in with her parents. "I was very anxious when I was outside. I think I was just very anxious post-university. I thought the world was a bit scary. A sort of anxiety runs in the family. Some people get depressed for six months and then pull themselves together. I just hid in a room in the house and didn't really go out. It was my blip," she said.

Hart was prescribed anti-depressants and put on weight. "I ballooned in size in my mid-twenties. I was tall and big and I found that difficult." A move to Scotland helped get her back on track. She lived in Edinburgh for a year, writing comedy, and made her first appearance at the Festival Fringe in 2001 as part of a double act called the Orange Girls. The following year she made her solo debut as Miranda Hart-Throbs.

Back in London, Hart kept writing but paid the bills by working as a temp. She got a job as PA to the grants director at Comic Relief, where she says her outlook was changed completely by the passion and commitment to a good cause. In 2003, Abigail Wilson, who worked for French and Saunders, saw Hart on stage and suggested she pitch a show to the BBC. When Hart did a read-through of her script a year later, Jennifer Saunders was in the audience, crying with laughter. It was enough to win Hart her first commission.

Lee Mack, who created the role of Barbara the cleaner for Hart in his series Not Going Out, says the actress is naturally funny. With Miranda, he said: "She plays an extension of herself. She's a true comedian, putting herself into the part, rather than an actor changing to fit it."

In the past five years Hart has acted in three series, written two radio series and two television series. She says her heavy workload is why she is single. When she is not performing, Hart is holed up in her terraced house in Hammersmith, west London, developing ideas and honing scripts. It takes her six months to create three hours of television. "I don't enjoy writing at all," she said. "I sit in a horrible weird Mastermind-style chair and bask in my mediocrity."

The results, however, are far from mediocre. Hart's work has earned her millions of fans, a slew of awards and a promising future. Fame might make her appear more sophisticated, but she insists she hasn't changed. "I am still a bit of an idiot," she said. "But then I'm hoping: aren't we all?"
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PostPosted: Sun Aug 14, 2011 8:30 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Miranda: Queen of comedy
Marc Baker,
The People
Aug 14 2011

TV comedy star Miranda Harts parents took her to the theatre as a child hardly suspecting she was secretly chuckling at Morecambe and Wise. Her well-to-do family, who sent her to private school, must be staggered to see her become a hilarious sitcom queen ready to break wind for a laugh. Miranda's dad is former Royal Navy officer Captain David Hart Dyke and her uncle is Lord Luce, one-time Lord Chamberlain to the Queen and Governor of Gibraltar.

Now preparing to launch the third series of hit show Miranda, she recalled: "Apparently I was quite a serious child. My parents would often take me to the theatre or I'd be watching telly completely glum faced. Then theyd say, What do you think of that? and I'd say, I thought it was hilarious. So I think I sort of took everything quite seriously."

While growing up she discovered the joy of watching TV shows featuring comedy giants Eric and Ernie plus the Two Ronnies, Joyce Grenfell, and Tommy Cooper. Miranda, 38, said: "I kept those videos with me and just watched them, really to keep me going. I do remember from an early age sort of understanding and feeling the {importance of laughter. I loved being silly." It has paid off in the form of Royal Television Society awards for best comedy performance and comedy writing plus two British Comedy Awards and Bafta nominations.

At girls boarding school Downe House, in Berkshire, where Miranda was a friend of BBC sports presenter Clare Balding, she recalled: "I think, I tried to be popular, whether I was or not. And yeah, I was striving to be the class clown, yeah."

But making hit comedy is a serious game and she works with diagrams to develop episodes of BBC2s Miranda, in which she plays a woman running a joke shop beside her old school pal. The scientific-looking charts help her gauge the expected flow of laughs from the jokes so episodes have the best balance of plot and chuckles.

Even the effect of breaking wind is carefully measured. She said: "For me, farting is always funny. Some people might find it puerile and ridiculous. You couldnt do it in every episode but I think it is funny. Yeah, I draw all sorts of graphs. I dont flip scenes back and forward, I just draw lots of graphs. Each graph of each episode will look slightly different."

After school Miranda read a politics degree in Bristol. All sorts of careers looked possible but her love of those old videos plus memories of laughs at school pushed her into comic performing. Success as a stand-up did not come overnight and 6ft 1in Miranda spent 10 years as a struggling comedian.

"It took me ages to get noticed. I struggled for years on end. Going to the Edinburgh Festival every year for about 10 years and writing and performing my own shows and then bringing them to London pubs and just writing to every producer that exists in the world to come and see my show eventually worked."

Her 2002 show in the Scottish capital was a breakthrough and got her talked about. In 2004 she pitched a comedy programme to the BBC. At her read-through for executives, Absolutely Fabulous star Jennifer Saunders was there and loved it. The result was appearances on comedy shows such as French and Saunders, My Family and Other Animals, Nighty Night, Absolutely Fabulous, The Vicar of Dibley and Smack the Pony. The first series of her own show aired on BBC2 in 2008.

Miranda said: "I thought, I cant believe it. This is brilliant. My dream has come true I've got a sitcom on BBC. I took my time over writing it and it probably took me 18 months. I wanted to look to the camera like Eric Morecambe did. I thought, I'll just write what my dream job would be. It would be a sitcom in what I am the lead. That'd be nice. And you know, lets be really bold with this."

"But when the first series went out I didnt expect it to go well. I always thought I would have to hang my head in the BBC corridors fearing my peers would not like the show. I thought studio-based shows just dont get the kind of response that we had. Apparently I freaked some of my producers out because I never thought people would watch it."

The doubts were misplaced and the show was given a second series, which aired last November. By the end of the run it was picking up 4.1 million viewers and Miranda was hailed Britains new comedy queen. BBC bosses ordered a third and even a fourth series. The Financial Times, called her the most original and farcically hilarious female clown since Dawn French and Jennifer Saunders.

Miranda, who said: "I dont read reviews", is now convinced a big part of the shows success is that it is filmed in front of a studio audience. She told us: "I have had journalists say to me, I liked your show but its a shame that you put the laughter on at the end. But its not. Its totally live. As a writer and performer I work best in front of a live audience. In my head it was always a studio audience show. And yes it is always filmed in front of a live audience. Canned laughter does not exist."

Although a fan of Morecambe and Wise and the two Ronnies Corbett and Barker Miranda has never been tempted into a double act. She said: "I've never worked in a team. I come up with the ideas then I suppose for about a month I put the storylines together before putting all the drafts together. I write all the drafts on my own and then just at the very end of the process I have a couple of guys who maybe put some gags in. I'm not very good at actual one liners so sometimes I come to the end of a scene and I use other people."

Miranda was last seen on TV in March, in a Red Nose Day edition of the BBC1 cookery show MasterChef, which she won. She also helped Comic Relief by starring as a judge for the finale of a special Let's Dance, with comedian Rufus Hound. She donated a signed Miranda script to be auctioned in aid of the appeal. Now Miranda is at home putting the finishing touches to her third series.

Born in Torquay, Devon, and brought up in the village of Petersfield, Hants, she finds home is the best place to find the inspiration to write. She said: "I work at home. I have not got an office. I've got a laptop and I write like that. Occasionally I work at the BBC. If I'm getting lonely I'll come in. Sometimes you need to see some world and some people and have lunch with someone, but home is where I generally do my writing."

"As for series three, its early days. It's the sort of wandering round the street stage at the moment thinking, you know, Whats funny? I have a big blank page at the moment and absolutely no ideas. We will have to see what happens."
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 16, 2012 1:31 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

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PostPosted: Fri Jan 20, 2012 2:07 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Interview: Miranda Hart, actress and comedian
James Rampton
17 January 2012

Miranda Hart has always felt like an outsider, though her ability to laugh at her own insecurities has endeared her to the nation. Now she’s playing a straight role – but can she deliver?

M IRANDA HART is only 39 years old, yet she has already taken on the status of a national treasure.Miranda, her eponymous BBC1 sitcom in which she plays a klutzy, heightened version of herself, has made her a bona fide star. She has already acquired one of the must-have accoutrements of all residents of the celebrity stratosphere: she is referred to by her first name only.

To emphasise her profile, total strangers approach her in the street to sing her praises. The actress and comedian smiles. “People come up to me and say, ‘Can I just thank you for writing my life?’ And I reply, ‘I’m glad someone else is as idiotic as I am.’” If you are still in any doubt about Hart’s stature, just take a look at the recent Christmas TV schedules. Over the festive season, it seemed to be the law that the much-loved comedian should be on TV every single night.

Over the festive period, she appeared in The British Comedy Awards (at which she won two gongs, Best Comedy Actress and People’s Choice Award for the King or Queen of Comedy), a repeat of the Christmas special of Miranda, Michael McIntyre’s Christmas Comedy Roadshow, Bear’s Wild Weekend with Miranda, Have I Got News for You and The Big Fat Quiz of the Year. Not even Father Christmas appeared that often over the Yuletide period.

Critics have been queuing up to pay tribute to the comedian, who has an inherent gift for slapstick. The Financial Times, for instance, called Hart “the most original and farcically hilarious female clown since Dawn French and Jennifer Saunders”. It would be very easy for all this praise to have gone to Hart’s head. But I’ve now met her several times, and I’m very glad to report that she remains as down to earth as ever. She once asserted that “I was never in the cool gang”, and she still feels as if she is on the outside looking in.

We are meeting in her trailer on the set of her latest project, BBC1’s Call the Midwife, an engaging Sunday-night family drama that begins tonight. It is based on the memoirs of Jennifer Worth, a real-life midwife who worked amid conditions of extreme deprivation in the East End of London during the 1950s.

At the derelict Catholic seminary in north London, which is doubling as the clinic in the series, Hart is dressed as Chummy, the gauche but committed midwife she plays. She is teaming a starchy light blue uniform with a white nurse’s cap and sensible brown shoes. Again, this is hardly the uniform you would wear to gain entry to the cool gang.

In person, Hart possesses the effortless sense of humour of a natural-born comedian. For example, she smiles when asked if she went to a hospital to research the role. “No. I would probably have fainted.” She goes on to joke that she insisted the vast amount of cake the midwives eat in the drama was written into her contract. And, later, she laughs about the potential perils of going on a backpacking holiday. “My rucksack might make me fall over backwards – with hilarious consequences.”

The actress still cannot credit how her fortunes have been transformed over the past couple of years. Born in Devon, where her father was a Royal Navy officer, she takes a moment to reflect on this giddy period in her life. “I still can't believe this has happened to me,” sighs the comedian, the continuing bafflement evident in her voice. “It’s literally a dream come true. I can’t believe I was on the red carpet at the Baftas. And when I won at the Royal Television Society Awards, I just ran away.

“For all that, my day-to-day life hasn’t changed at all. I suppose you want me to say I’m at parties all the time and am secretly going out with Tom Cruise, but I am afraid that is not the case. I’m still in my pyjamas at nine o’clock each night, watching ITV2 without telling anyone. No, I watched that very worthy documentary on Channel 4 last night,” while whispering to the camera, “actually it was ITV2.”

This innate sense of self-effacement lies at the centre of Hart’s popularity. Modesty is, after all, the quality we Britons prize above all others. She takes the rise out of herself before anyone else can – and that is why so many viewers have connected with her. “I am self-deprecating,” she admits, self-deprecatingly.

Hart, who read politics at the University of the West of England before studying at the Academy of Live and Recorded Arts in south London, goes on to analyse why viewers relate to her fictional alter ego. “People recognise the sitcom Miranda in themselves. She has that awkwardness and that sense of always being the odd one out, which everyone feels. Even people who apparently have everything feel it. There’s always this pressure to look and act right, and we can never match up to that, however confident we seem. My sitcom is about not fitting in. If I’m home alone at the weekend watching telly, I always assume that everyone else is having the best fun of their lives.”

She continues, “There's an element of believability about the fictional Miranda, but we’re raising it to the level where people think, ‘Phew, I’ve never taken it that far.’ We like misfits because they reassure us that we’re not the only ones who feel out of place. They make us feel better about ourselves. We identify with someone who is honest enough to say, ‘I’m an idiot.’

“We’ve all done things like lying to impress or laughing at a joke we don’t get or pretending to know about politics. I’d like to think everyone has done that, because I certainly have. We've all been there and are relieved that these terrible things are happening to someone else. Everyone likes to have a friend who is in a worse position than they are because it makes them feel superior. I’m happy to be the nation’s most accident-prone friend. I’ll take a bullet for the nation.”

The sitcom boasts an infectious playfulness and childlike sense of innocence. In an era when so much comedy majors in cruelty and cynicism, such an optimistic approach strikes a chord. Hart, who has also appeared in French and Saunders and the space-station sitcom Hyperdrive, says, “I recently saw an old interview with Spike Milligan, where he said that he was bored of adulthood. At a certain age, you hit a whole mass of rules. Comedians tap into a childishness we would all like to go back to, an era before we had to obey all those rules. I think that’s a big part of the sitcom’s appeal.”

The actress, who is 6ft 1in and was a champion lacrosse player at school in Berkshire, has brilliantly parlayed her own sense of awkwardness into a winning sitcom. She has made a great success of her own failure. She muses, “I’ve always felt a bit of an outsider. It used to worry me that in terms of TV I did not look like ‘the girlfriend’ or ‘the daughter’. That pushed me to write my own stuff, as I thought no one else was going to write me a lead in the sitcom. At drama school, people would say to me, ‘You’ll be fine when you’re older.’ Because I looked different, that made me feel like a freak.

“If I thought about it, it would get me down, but comedically I bounced it the other way. I brushed it off by being funny about it. For example, in the sitcom someone calls me Sir’ Because I'm so tall, that has actually happened to me. It doesn’t help me feel feminine, but it is good for my comedy.”

So what other similarities are there between the fictional and the real Mirandas? Hart replies, “Inevitably there is an overlap, but I’m pleased to say that I’m not quite as socially remedial as the sitcom Miranda is. Somebody recently said I was more poised in real life, and I couldn’t have been more delighted. However, like her, I’ve always felt slightly unusual physically and in what I’ve wanted to do with my life. I’ve exaggerated that and taken it to an extreme – that helps in comedy. I play a person who, in trying to fit in, is unable to be herself.

“Some stories in the sitcom are based on what actually happened to me. For instance, I did once get locked in the park and had to lift my jumper to get through the gate. But unlike the sitcom character, I did not get my bra stuck on the gate as the man I fancied walked past. It’s always funny to use your own life story. It’s easier and quite cathartic. I now know there is a reason why my teens and 20s were hell. It was so in my 30s I could be on the telly.”

Admirably well-balanced, Hart is not concerned about putting her own life on the screen for our amusement. She says, “I suppose some therapist might say, ‘You’re only being a clown to avoid reality’ or some such psychobabble. But in real life, I’m not constantly being a clown. However, I’m very happy to place myself up there to be laughed at because I’m inherently a big show-off. The minute I see the red light, I’m off.”

Hart had to tone down those show-off tendencies for Call the Midwife. Otherwise, though, she did not find acting in drama so far removed from comedy. “A lot of people said to me, ‘Ooo, are you doing the acting now?’ But for me it was not that different. I see myself much more as a comedy actress than a stand-up. The sitcom is heightened, but it’s not that different from straight acting. All the same, it was weird saying to the director of Call the Midwife at the end of every take, ‘That wasn’t funny, was it?’ Normally, it’s the reverse.”

She adds, “Call the Midwife is the first time I haven't needed to get laughs. In fact, I deliberately avoided them. I simply go for the truth of who I think Chummy is. Is it still a temptation to speak to the camera, as I do in the sitcom? Sometimes I think, ‘It would be fun to do a cheeky grin here,’ but I have to resist. In rehearsals, I did make the director laugh. But then she said, ‘Don’t do that in the take.’”

Hart gives a convincing performance as the devout and loyal Chummy, and is hopeful that viewers will see her in a new light. “But I’m just doing my own thing and hoping people like the show. In the end, you can’t worry about what people will think – otherwise you would never get out of bed. But I do hope people buy into Chummy and forget about the sitcom. Comedy is my first passion, but it would be amazing if I had the luck to do both comedy and drama".

Chummy was a part she was desperate to play. She recalls, “Jennifer Worth sent me the book, which was amazing. She said, ‘When I first saw you on TV, I thought of Chummy.’ When I received the script, I went straight to Chummy’s scenes – well, you would, wouldn’t you? I loved the script. I thought, ‘I really hope I get to play this brilliant, eccentric woman. I don’t want anyone else to play her.’ In terms of characters I’ve played before, there are similarities. Chummy is a fish out of water. She is plunged into a world she doesn’t fit into.”

Hart found the scenes where she had to deliver babies particularly affecting. “Yesterday I had to deliver a baby. At the beginning of the scene they used a prosthetic baby, and then towards the end they brought in a real baby, which was just five days old. It made me understand why Chummy had that calling. In the 1950s, midwives saved thousands of lives. Playing those scenes, you understand the intensity of what they went through. You also realise they had this amazing sense of duty and honour. It was much more than simply a case of, ‘Pass the forceps.’ I’ve never had children, but when you see a newborn baby, you see the beginning of life. It’s really moving,” she says. “This drama is about the human spirit, and that doesn’t really change. I hope people will relate to it because it is so universal.”

The actress emerged with a tremendous admiration for what midwives in the 1950s achieved. “People rightly saw them as saviours, and I have such respect for them. In this drama, you understand how much these midwives were revered. Up close, you realise what an ordeal childbirth can be and how a good midwife can make such a difference.

“We live in such comfort nowadays compared to what they endured in the 1950s. They were these young women cycling around the East End alone. They were called to do a job on their own, which now requires several doctors. They were heroines, angels. In fact, I think it would be very appropriate if Robbie Williams’ ‘Angels’ struck up every time I came on screen, or perhaps ‘She’s the One’. That would only be for my appearances, you understand.”

Starring in Call the Midwife has not made Hart long to be a mother herself. “Did I feel broody making this drama? No, I was too in the moment and too busy thinking about the technical side. Then one baby peed on my glove and I thought, ‘No thanks.’”

Hart is a rare example of a woman who has made it in the notoriously male-dominated world of comedy. But that does not mean she wants to shoulder the burden of representing all female comics. She says, “I never feel like a standard-bearer for women in comedy. It has never worried me that there are fewer women in comedy, although I’m sure some people could write a thesis about why that is.

“Maybe I should be more interested. But I think it would be awful to be employed just because I’m a woman. I see myself as a comedian rather than a female comedian. I happen to be a woman, but I am a comedian by trade.”

As you can see, playing an insecure character has made Hart much more secure. She is a truly independent-minded spirit. She says, “I used to get that ‘Ah, bless’ from women who wanted to make themselves feel better. I think some women find me unusual in that I don’t need men to find me attractive or to play society’s games. I don’t need to follow a list of ‘Oh dear, you really should do this’.

“What I love about getting older is that you don’t have to care any more.”
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PostPosted: Sun Sep 16, 2012 6:06 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Are ya doing series 3?

How the heck are ya? Lots to catch up on.... gotta get an email out to ya. FF and IE keeps crashing
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PostPosted: Sun Sep 16, 2012 7:50 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hey, I was wondering where you'd been

Series 3 hasn't started yet, but I'll post it for sure. I don't think there's a confirmed date for it, but it can't be long now
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