Friday, 02 March 2012

First impressions: Arabella Weir

THE ACTRESS AND WRITER Arabella Weir is best known for her roles in the TV comedy series, The Fast Show and for the bestseller Does My Bum Look Big In This? She is also well known for her books Onwards And Upwards and Stupid Cupid.

Written by Melonie

What are you working on at the moment?

I am cowriting two separate things with two friends who are also writer/performers, like me. One with Jan Ravens, a send-up of those country-house makeover shows, and a sitcom with a young woman, Eleanor Lawrence (one to watch), based on my years of experience as the chair of the PTA at my kids’ primary school – it’s called Mum’s Army. I’m also rehearsing for my, erm, shameful display on Let’s Dance For Sport Relief – my children have begged me not to do it. I’ve also just recorded a Radio 4 series with Richard Wilson and David Tennant – Believe It, a spoof ‘radioautobiography’ of Richard’s.

When were you at your happiest?

I was in a state ofeuphoria at the birth of both my kids but otherwise i'd  say contentment is where it’s at and I’m there most of the time. Half a bottle of nice wine helps.

What is your greatest fear?

That my children won’t fulfil their potential. I don’t care what they do so long as they make a contribution and feel that they ‘count’.

What is your earliest memory?

Crying, looking out of a window into the Cairo night and then realising that when my eyes were filled with tears the street lights refracted to look like stars. I liked that. I was five.

Who has been your greatest influence?

My close friends and my beloved stepmother, Hilary, who came into my life when I was 18 – her huge courage enabled our fractured family, including my mother, to come back together and be a big, happy family.

What do you most dislike about yourself?

I can be lazy and so-what-ish, a bit like a sulky teenager, which I was… and probably still am.

What is your most treasured possession?

The ruby ring my granny left me and photos of people I love who’ve died – my parents and stepmother. And the drawings and cards my kids did when they were little and thought I was the centre of the universe.

What trait do you most deplore in others?

Lack of self-awareness. I don’t care how much of a plonker someone is, as long as they know it.

Do you have a fantasy address?

I wouldn’t mind a villa outside Florence but the post is terrible in rural Italy. There’s no point in owning a villa in San Casciano Val di Pesa unless everyone knows about it, now is there?

What do you most dislike about your appearance?

My eye bags. I’ve given up worrying about the bum. 

What is your favourite book?

A toss up between Middlemarch and A Suitable Boy.

What is your favourite film?

It’s A Wonderful Life – sentimental, but with a good socialist message.

Your favourite record or piece of music?

Any Schubert piano concerto because my dad used to play them, or I Say A Little Prayer by Aretha Franklin.

Your favourite meal?

Anything edible and, crucially, cooked by someone else. No wobbly things: tripe, triffles, oysters, possets etc, and nothing with tentacles. 

Who would you most like to come to dinner? 

My friends. I'm not intrested in meeting famoue people I don't already know- well, I guess i could slip George Clooney in there. 

What is the nastiest thing anyone has ever said to you?

That I was only in The Fast Show because I must have slept wih one of the producers. Little did they (a man) know about men- if I'd slpet with one of the producers (both married) neither of them would have let me anywhere near the show. 

Do you believe in aliens?

Does anyone intelligent?

What is your secret vice?

I drink about twice the recommended amount of wine a week – have you seen how small a ‘unit’ of wine is? They are joking, surely.

Do you write thank-you notes?

Always, and almost always written rather than email. Being thanked for something means a great deal to people, me included.

Which phrase do you most overuse?

‘To be fair’. Sometimes I can go too far in seeing the other person’s point of view, to the extent of not including my own.

What single thing would improve the quality of your life?

A mute chauffeur.

What would you like your epitaph to say?

A greatmother and the best of friends – quite a laugh, too.

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