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Interview: Helen Lederer

The Absolutely Fabulous star tells us about her new show Why The Fuss? and why she needs your help...


Part debate, part stand up, part philosophical exploration, part ultilizing the power of the crowd, Helen is here to ask the big questions of life with her new show Why The Fuss?: ‘Is there a point?’, ‘what’s better: laughter or sex?’ and ‘Does anyone use side-plates anymore? and she's gathered together some special guests to help her do it...

Hey Helen! So tell us more about Why the Fuss? This is the third show isn't it?
Yes, this one's at the St. James Theatre. I did two as an experiment after I did the reality show Splash and decided that if I could fucking dive off a three metre board, which is quite high, then I could do more frightening things! So I decided to see if, in my middle age, I could do the stand up which I began with in this whole mad world. You know, that's what I started doing. I had Mark Lawson, who I've got a secret crush on, and Michael Crick, a political journalist, who I just wanted to interview because I find him so amazingly interesting. There's a lot of fear with this, but you have to do things that really terrify you; life is too short, just do it! It's like that Richard Branson book Screw It Do It!

What can we expect from the show?
Well, I was in Horrid Henry, the children's film with Kimberly Walsh [from Girls Aloud]. I bumped into her at some event which I didn't stay very long at - circled the room and left - but she was so nice to me, so I asked her to be on the show. To my amazement she agreed! Then we have my sisters, Suzanne Moore and Yasmin Alibhai-Brown, very controversial, opinion-based people. So I just thought "Oh, fuck it" - it's Loose Women, it's Mel and Sue. Debate and stand up for lovers of laughter, people of political, journalistic and intellectual propriety or anyone who adds sparkle and fun.

You're asking for people to help raise funds for the show too, aren't you?
Yes, this project harnesses the powers of the crowd and hitting my target of £10,000 allows me to produce two live performances of Why the Fuss with the ultimate goal of doing a TV pilot. If people click on it I will be transported - I'm offering Ab Fab nights and everything! For those of you who don't know what crowdfunding is, I didn't until now, it's the new way to get projects up on their feet using the power of the crowd. I want it to be a friendly occasion.

Why did you decide to do this now?
All I've ever wanted to do is performing. I can't do those big places. It doesn't suit me. I'm full of admiration for the modern women - Sarah Millican, you know. It's normal for her to just face the world, the universe. That's not me. I did do a big crowd in the summer at the Albert Hall and Joan Rivers practically knocked me over to meet Prince Charles at the end.

She didn't want to meet you?
Oh, God no! She needed to get into the pew next to Miranda.

Would you have Joan Rivers on your show?
I would but she can barely see, bless her. I'd have her. I like her product, but I was disappointed that she had to be so bullish to get to HRH.

We have to talk about Absolutely Fabulous because, obviously, we love it! What are your favourite memories of your time on it?
I love people who love Ab Fab so a mutual love in and enthusiasm between us is guaranteed. I loved the first rehearsal, when we were just trying out the characters and people kept laughing, really laughing at the absurdity of these new beings.

Jennifer Saunders keeps talking about an Ab Fab movie, would you do it?
Oh my God, I'd pay her with cheese wine and family heirlooms to get a line in it!

Where did you find inspiration for your character Catriona? You must have met people like her?
These were the days of Sloane Rangers. Where people really did do lunch in Chelsea and pop into posh shops and mooch about in an earnest sort of way and then talk about chairs a lot [laughs].

Find out more about the show, which features Kimberley Walsh, Justin Lee Collins and more here and click here to donate.

Words Lee Dalloway (@Leeroydalvin
Photo: Matt Crockett

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