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The marvellously mirthful Miriam Margolyes

Mel O'Drama

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Oh, this brought a grin to my face.


I like the concept as well. It's a bit like a real life Points Of View... except the letters take even longer to arrive.​
 

Mel O'Drama

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Well, I'm now up to date with Miriam's series, having watched the final part of Miriam & Alan: Lost In Scotland last night.

Mixed feelings about having reached the end, as I could happily have continued watching, but I so enjoyed the fond banter between the two of them, and the experiences they enjoyed together over the three weeks. It was lovely to meet Alan's Mum as well. I loved how the energy changed every time they interacted with different people.

It was so interesting to see Miriam and Alan's different outlooks towards different experiences. Case in point, the LGBT cafe they visited, where Miriam was clearly uncomfortable with the idea of ghettoes (or "communities" as they're conveniently - and lazily - called today) based on sexuality and gender identity while at the same time recognising that it might be invaluable for others. I share similarly unfashionable views, and died a little inside each time the twentysomethings running the cafe casually dropped the word "queer" into the conversation, so I found Miriam's pessimistic-but-pragmatic outlook as refreshing as ever.
 

Ome

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Incredibly, I did remember to watch Episode Two and thoroughly enjoyed it.


We watched this the other night, and like episode one, we enjoyed it. I'm not usually interested in witches or their beliefs/magic, but I found the one they met and her fellow witches to be completely fascinating. I wonder how she finds them. I'm sure she has a team working for her, but even so, do they search for witches or people with strange obsessions?
 

Mel O'Drama

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We watched this the other night, and like episode one, we enjoyed it.

Yay!



I'm not usually interested in witches or their beliefs/magic, but I found the one they met and her fellow witches to be completely fascinating.

Same here. The only aspect I'd have found unsettling was the masked attendees standing round the edges. I know there's probably a very good reason for it, but I get a bit creeped out when you don't know who the person is.



I wonder how she finds them. I'm sure she has a team working for her, but even so, do they search for witches or people with strange obsessions?

I've wondered that as well, but I'd imagine they'll probably be only a few clicks away from finding someone if they know what they're looking for (if it works that way round). Witches; preppers; people from alt right groups; transgender aboriginals... Miriam's met them all so her team must have a good nose for these things.
 

Mel O'Drama

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My signed copy has arrived...!

...Now it's willpower time as someone's kindly offered to buy it as a Christmas present, so once I checked the signature was present and correct it was packed away again and I shan't see it again until late December.


It's now mine. All mine!!!!

Now I'm looking forward to delving into Miriam's philosophies on life, love and looks.




 

Willie Oleson

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each time the twentysomethings running the cafe casually dropped the word "queer" into the conversation
Is "queer" supposed to sound 1970s San Francisco "retro" - the kind of self-reinvented artificial retro, like buying vinyl LPs in the 2020s?
(not that currents should be ignored just because they feel/look/sound artificial. Every reason is an interesting reason).

1640529116004.png
 

Mel O'Drama

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Is "queer" supposed to sound 1970s San Francisco "retro" - the kind of self-reinvented artificial retro, like buying vinyl LPs in the 2020s?
(not that currents should be ignored just because they feel/look/sound artificial. Every reason is an interesting reason).

View attachment 33470

I generally perceive it as defiant. Aggressively defiant, even. As in the marches where it was chanted at perplexed naysayers and homophobes (“We’re here. We’re queer...” Etc.).

I don’t know, though. It’s one thing to “reclaim” a term (that was only ever used disparagingly) during 1970s marches, but to be used in general speech by Millennials just feels too politicised and inflammatory.

Many people who use it may be somewhat aware of its history, and so can smugly feel more like proper activists for using it, but I suspect only a small percentage of the people chucking it into conversations will have experienced it being used to cause pain to many and so are blissfully, insensitively oblivious to the impact it may have on those who have.

I suppose it is kind of retro at that, in the sense that it’s more retrogressive than progressive. Now the people using terms that many find unsettling are ones own tribe.

Also, it’s a bit like changing your name to “Fartface” because some random stranger calls it at you from the other side of the street. It doesn’t change the original intent, and you’re simply stuck with a name that embarrasses your family.
 

Willie Oleson

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Now the people using terms that many find unsettling are ones own tribe
Since I haven't watched the episode I feel I can't properly comment on the intonation or context in which the term is being used. It's just that that part of your post made me raise an eyebrow (not the Ben Carrington kind of eyebrow raising, I hasten to add).
It also made me think (and I had deleted that part from my previous post) of black people calling each other nigger.
You're probably right. Regardless of the context or knowledge or the misinterpreted legitimacy thereof, it just doesn't sound nice, even if it's meant to sound pseudo-anarchistically "cool".
 

Mel O'Drama

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(not the Ben Carrington kind of eyebrow raising, I hasten to add).

Oh, that's a bit of a shame. I quite like the visual of you perusing through the posts with a villainously arched eyebrow.


It also made me think (and I had deleted that part from my previous post) of black people calling each other nigger.

Absolutely, and again I'm sure this causes distress for many.

Even more bizarre, the "Q" also seems to be viewed by some as acceptable language for non-gay people to describe LGB people.
 

Mel O'Drama

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I was thinking yes! Fantastic! You have the book and realised we still have the last episode to watch with Miriam and Alan. :oops:

Oh - fantastic. That's like finding an extra, forgotten little present under the tree a few days after Christmas.

Hope you'll let me know what you think of it.
 

Mel O'Drama

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I've ordered a copy of her memoir and I'm looking forward to reading it as I'm sure it will be filled with her usual pithy frankness. It will also be good to learn more about her as from the few titbits I know it seems she's led a fascinating life.

My signed copy has arrived...!

Well, a couple of nights of insomnia have presented me with the opportunity to finally begin reading Miriam’s book and it’s wonderful.

She paints a very clear picture of her family and their dynamics, and she’s very descriptive with places as well. It’s given me a yen to visit Oxford and Cambridge (one of which I’ve visited only a handful of times, the other perhaps once or twice). She also helpfully gives addresses which has got me on Street View to help enhance the experience.

Like many good biographies do, it’s got me thinking of my own history and finding similarities in feelings as much as facts.

I’m around a third of the way through, and she’s not long left Cambridge (she was the first woman to swear on British TV when she blanked on a University Challenge answer and said “f*** it” in annoyance. And she says her Footlights cohorts - including John Cleese, Graham Chapman, Bill Oddie and Tim-Brooke Taylor resented her comic talents and mutually sent her to Coventry at all times they weren’t onstage). She’s recently been accepted for the Beeb’s dramatic rep company and has completed her first voiceover... Sexy Sonia: Leaves From My Schoolgirl Diary - a porn audiobook for Ann Summers.
 

Mel O'Drama

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This Much Is True continues to be a great read. I'm smiling a lot when reading it and also learning a great deal about Miriam's career. In the last chapter I read she was playing Madame Morrible in Wicked on Broadway, taking over from Carol Kane who originated the role. Miriam balked at the singing and went the "Rex Harrison" route of speaking the lyrics in time with the music. Her Miss Prism was also very well-received.

The voiceover section is fun. By the middle of the Eighties Miriam was the highest-earning female voiceover artist in the country. There are so many adverts I know so well without realising it was her. She was Dolly in the PG Tips adverts, playing opposite Stanley Baxter.


I had no idea she was the Cadbury's Caramel bunny until @Angela Channing mentioned it recently. She says she was channelling Sexy Sonia (from her pornographic audiobook) "to which I added an Oxfordshire spin and a hint of creamy Westcountry sumptuousness for good measure":


Miriam Margolyes said:
Although I don't have a sexy voice normally, I can imbue it - to me, a sexy voice is an exhausted voice, of somebody who's had so many orgasms they've hardly got the strength to speak. So, I would breathe through my lines and I got known for being sexy. Although, of course, as a person, sex is not the thing I project. I project energy. I don't project c*nt, but exhausted c*nt I can offer, vocally, when required.

This, she says, is how she got the Manikin cigar adverts, dubbing Carole Augustine:


Quite a contrast to Dolly the chimp!


Miriam tells a great story about the first voiceover session she did at [sound engineer] John Wood Studios:
Miriam Margolyes said:
I was running through the script in my little sound booth and he heard a big bang. 'What was that noise, Miriam?', he asked. 'Sorry, John', I said. 'I just put my tits on the table.' Well... it broke the ice, if not the table!
 

Mel O'Drama

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That was a stellar piece of casting which I imagine was lost on most viewers didn't realise whose voices they were hearing.

Definitely. Count me as one of the ones who didn't know whose voices were behind it (and their names and real faces probably wouldn't have meant anything to me back then either).

It is fun to picture the two of them in the recording studio working on this.
 

Mel O'Drama

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Last night I watched Miriam Margolyes: Up For Grabs, part of Alan Yentob's Imagine... series.

It's the perfect accompaniment to This Much Is True, and felt like an enjoyable whistle-stop tour that took many of the same stops covered in the book. In fact it felt a little like a drastically condensed film adaption of the book.

Miriam was as reliable as ever and it was wonderful to hear some of the funny and touching stories from the horse's mouth. Like the book, the episode felt rather definitive, like a time capsule containing so much of Miriam's life and career so that even someone unfamiliar with her would come away feeling as though they knew her quite well. On quite a morbid note, it's quite easy to imagine this being shown as an "in place of our scheduled programming..." tribute after the News At Ten in years to come, if you get my drift.

It really was a lovely show. It was fascinating to watch Alan preparing liver for Miriam because it's her favourite comfort food from childhood and she hates to cook. It was also very deeply personal. Miriam told a heartbreaking story about hitting her paralysed mother during a moment of frustration when she was caring for her. It's clearly something that affected her very deeply, and I admire her honesty and her capacity for soul searching, as well as her bravery in sharing herself so openly.
 

Mel O'Drama

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Nothing particularly new in this, but Miriam's hugely entertaining as always:


It seems to be in order to promote This Much Is True which is now out in paperback. Hopefully this means a few more chat show appearances in coming weeks.

I am excited to see she's doing another couple of documentaries, including another with Alan where they visit not only Scotland but America. Should be great - I loved their banter.

Because she uttered the word "shit", newspapers have got clickbait headlines out of Miriam "swearing" during this appearance (most of them not even saying what the offending word was, either through prissiness or a desire to suggest it was a worse four letter word). Anyway, it's bleeped out in the video above, so should be pretty prude-proof.

As in the book, she does take a bit of a swipe at a number of high profile people. Not least when she covers how badly she was treated by her male peers in Cambridge Footlights during the Sixties:
Miriam Margolyes said:
They were so horrible to me, those boys. They didn't like me. They didn't like women getting attention... And it was John Cleese and Graham Chapman - who's dead now, so I'm not supposed to say anything against him, but he was horrid. When he was alive he was horrid to me.... And they were minor public schoolboys, and I think... that gives a certain attitude. You know, like Boris Johnson has the same thing. He thinks women are there for him. He doesn't realise it's the other way round.
 

Mel O'Drama

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The actor Miriam Margolyes shocked listeners by saying “f*** you, bastard” about the new chancellor, Jeremy Hunt, live on air on Saturday.

The 81-year-old British-Australian act[ress] said she wanted to tell Jeremy Hunt “f*** you, bastard” after his appearance on BBC Radio 4 just one day after he was announced as the replacement for Kwasi Kwarteng.

Speaking on the Today programme at the end of an interview about the death of Robbie Coltrane, she told presenters Martha Kearney and Justin Webb that she had greeted Hunt, who had been interviewed on Saturday morning’s programme before her.

“When I saw him [Hunt] there, I just said: ‘What a hell of a job, the best of luck.’

And what I really wanted to say was 'f*** you, bastard,' but you can’t say that.”

Webb quickly apologised for the language, adding: “Oh, no, no, no, you mustn’t say that. No, you can’t say that! We’ll have to have you out of the studio now.”

“We will, with many apologies,” Kearney added.

The moment was shared widely on Twitter, including by Dino Sofos, the creator of the BBC’s Brexitcast, who described Margolyes’ comments as “possibly the greatest moment in the Today programme’s history”.

Margolyes has attracted controversy on a number of occasions throughout her career, including during a virtual appearance on Channel 4’s The Last Leg in 2020, after admitting she “had difficulty not wanting Boris Johnson to die” while the then prime minister was fighting Covid-19.

This is also not the first time broadcasters have had to scramble to avoid embarrassment when discussing Jeremy Hunt.

During a debate in 2019 over who should be the next Tory leader and prime minister, journalist Victoria Derbyshire added herself to a long list of presenters who have inadvertently referred to him as “Jeremy Cunt”.

Previous victims of the slip-up include BBC Radio 5 Live host Nicky Campbell, Sky News political correspondent Tom Rayner and BBC newsreader Carrie Gracie.

Former health secretary Hunt was making headlines on Saturday after conducting his first round of media interviews since he replaced Kwasi Kwarteng as chancellor.

Kwarteng had been in the post for just 38 days. This made him the second shortest-serving postwar chancellor after Iain Macleod, who died in office.

This morning, Hunt gave a series of interviews in which he indicated he will not be going with PM Liz Truss’s plan for Britain as presented by her first chancellor, Kwarteng.

Hunt has said he will meet with Treasury officials later on Saturday and with Truss on Sunday.

He admitted Truss made “mistakes” and said “difficult decisions” would need to be taken to calm markets and restore stability.


 

Mel O'Drama

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Last evening I took a peek at the first episode of Miriam and Alan: Lost In Scotland. It was wonderful.

Last night I saw a trailer for a Miriam and Alan series that I think was new. It said it was on All 4, but having looked I can find a series called Miriam and Alan: Lost In Scotland And Beyond which looks rather like the one I've watched (three episodes with an original air date of November 2021).

I wonder if I'm too quick and it's not on there yet because it's still to be shown on TV. If so, it must be coming any day now.
 

Mel O'Drama

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Miriam and Alan: Lost In Scotland And Beyond

I caught up with Series Two, Episode One a few days ago. It's so good to see the pair reunited for this sequel series as they clearly have great fun together and there's such a lovely warm energy.

There were some nice memorable moments. I especially enjoyed Alan's childlike enthusiasm at revisiting Luss on Loch Lomond, where he'd filmed episodes of Take The High Road back in the 1980s. He whipped out his phone to show Miriam some of his scenes, and waltzed along the street singing the theme tune. It was good to see them pay a visit to Brian Cox as well.

Is it me, or is Miriam mellowing just a little? I barely noticed any swearing in this episode. Still, at least she didn't disappoint on the farting front.
 
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