Fast Show star Arabella Weir is latest Ham&High Podcast interviewee

Arabella Weir with a photo of herself with mum Alison

Arabella Weir with a photo of herself with mum Alison - Credit: Archant

The Fast Show star talks politics, gardening, sexism and toxic parenting with editor André Langlois.

Crouch End comic Arabella Weir is the latest interviewee for our Ham&High podcast.

The Fast Show star talks politics, gardening, sexism and toxic parenting with editor Andre Langlois.

Explaining why “Camden is where my heart is,” she said it was the first place her globetrotting family settled down.

“My dad was a diplomat so we didn’t live in Britain until I was eight and when he bought this beautiful house in Camden Square at auction, I went to Camden School for Girls.

“Not only did I love my school years but it was where I made my best friendships.

“Two life-changing things happened in the first week, I realised this was the first school I wasn’t going to leave, and that I was funny. I could be funny or swotty and I went for funny - at the cost of quite a few teachers’ sanity - I would probably have been kicked out of another school.”

Amid the “turmoil” of her parents’ divorce and a toxic relationship with her critical mother, she found a “surrogate family in Chalcot Gardens” through her friendship with the sons of film director Karel Reisz.

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“I consider myself very rooted in Belsize park and Camden Town. I go past those houses now and think ‘billionaires live there’. Like most people I couldn’t afford my house in Crouch End now.”

Confessing to being “very badly behaved at school” she rejected her “unbelievably competitive” Oxbridge-educated parents’ interest in academia.

“I remember I was fearless. I wasn’t afraid of being suspended. What mattered was that I was popular and that I could hold court. I wanted to be an actress but looking back I just wanted to show be on stage and for people to notice me.”

From singing in a band with a pre Adam Ant Stuart Goddard, to touring with Barry Humphries, to a film with Richard E Grant, her acting career was

“utter and complete desperation to be cast”.

“Like my approach to boys if they liked me I would say yes. I would be rejected nine times out of 10.”

She started doing sketches for the likes of Alexei Sayle and Harry Enfield, and says the comedy scene relied on being liked and asked onto their shows.

“I knew I had a natural wit but there were barely any women in comedy and my career is mainly thanks to men unfortunately. I fell in with comedy types who would say ‘you are funny, come and work with us’.”

It was when Paul Whitehouse and Charlie Higson invited her to write for The Fast Show that she realised her wit could pay off.

“Something clicked ‘this feels the rightest anything has felt’ and I started working hard.”

But even then self-doubt and sexism got the better of her.

“It was blokey and gladiatorial, not best suited to insecure me. It was hard to fight my corner. I’d think ‘maybe they are right and this isn’t funny’.

“I wish I had been more ambitious. I was hungry more than ambitious.”

The pandemic halted her return to stand up comedy in March. Does My Mum Loom Big In This? is stalled until at least February so she’s enthusiastically embraced gardening while volunteering for local Crouch End groups.

“The thing about the pandemic is everyone (in comedy) is in the same boat. There’s a sense of solidarity, we are all here.

“But it’s going to be the end for some theatres, this government is single-handedly ruining this country. It will take years to come back.

“Covid has exposed them in a way nothing else would have done.”

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