The Plebs actress, 58, talks panto pain, not-so joyous festive songs and tight trousers in Two Doors Down.
What are your Christmas plans?
I won’t have any of my children with me, which is a disaster. My eldest is in Thailand teaching so I’m sending her a stocking, my son’s locked down in Manchester and has to shield, and my youngest is with her dad on Christmas Day. But I’m with sisters and brothers so it’ll be OK.
Will you be imposing any traditions on them?
A big walk, lots of eating and we do ska carols around the piano every year. I hate the Mariah Carey, Slade thing year after year.
Two weeks ago the guy on the scaffolding next door had Magic FM on all day, which was as grim as it gets. Leonard Cohen would have cheered me up more.
Boozy Cathy spends the Two Doors Down Christmas special at a posh Highlands lodge. Are you a townie or country type at heart?
Oh, the lodge was beautiful – sitting and looking out at the fields and these lovely black-faced sheep was joyful. I’ve lived in Hastings for a while but I’m moving back to London because if I’m away for too long I get discombobulated.
I was born in London but we moved to Fife when I was 12. There was nothing to do apart from walks and the sea – I got my love of cold-water swimming from Largo Bay and my love of nature from growing up there, although I didn’t appreciate that at the time, when a fag in a phone box or feeding a horse was the highlight.
What’s the secret to drunk acting in heels?
Ha! It’s awful, I have to drink so much apple juice as Cathy that I’m constantly running to the loo and having to get someone to take my shoes off, like Dame Doon, because my trousers are so tight that I can’t bend over.
And I didn’t have heels in the Christmas special for the first time in nearly five years. It was probably just to shut me and my complaining up but I wore flat boots and it was wonderful.
Have you had any nightmare neighbours over the years?
I’ve had some of those busybody women going, ‘The children were quite noisy last night.’
That loathsome thing where people are slightly disappointed in you as a family. I think I’m the noisy one now – we’ve a few sing-songs but no one’s reported me to the police. Yet.
After playing the Wicked Queen in Snow White at the Glasgow SEC last year, do you wish you were doing panto this Christmas?
The Wicked Queen is obviously the best part ever but it was a 3,000-seater venue so it took a superhuman effort to just reach the audience.
Two shows a day was exhausting, then at the end my daughter came up with a friend and they brought the norovirus, so for the last three performances I was puking offstage…
But thank God I did it, so I could eke that money out over lockdown.
What got you interested in performance in the first place?
My English teacher got me to join the drama group in Scotland when I was 13 – playing English bitches enabled me to be accepted as the only English person in this massive school.
Then I went to Manchester Uni to do drama, started doing a bit of stand-up – monologues and characters – and it took off from there.
Are you relieved to have left stand-up behind?
I was doing rep and thinking actors are weird, then going back to stand-up and thinking comedians are lunatics.
But after the Reading Festival, with the tent blowing away and a load of Hell’s Angels heckling, I didn’t want to do it any more. It gave me the nerve to do some big stuff in theatre, though, so I’m grateful for that.
Is there any chance of Smack The Pony being revived?
Someone asks me this every week. Why the hell has it not been recommissioned? It’s a joke. It was so great for us to write and play such a range of roles after playing straight women to men’s careers for so many years – we could be all the characters: bomb disposal experts, milkmen, car mechanics, secretaries…
I’m bored of going, ‘Oh, we might do another series, we’ve got some ideas brewing…’ We’ve had ideas for ten years!
There’s no reason not to do Smack again. It’d be very funny: your nan coming to pick you up at the school gates, older mothers, dating… it’s all still relevant and funny to both sexes.
Another series of Two Doors Down and a book I’m writing that’s sort of about me but also about the roles we play in life and the roles we’re asked to play – casting like ‘surprisingly attractive for such a strong woman’ or ‘desperate old cougar with a curvature of the spine and palsied hand’.
We’re slightly pigeonholed into the roles we’re asked to play, compared to what we really play in life.
The Two Doors Down Christmas special airs on BBC2 at 9pm on December 28.
Credit: Original article published here.