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4 March 2020updated 10 Mar 2020 12:41pm

Miranda Hart Q&A: “My earliest memory? Standing face-to-face with a goose“

The comedian talks The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron, swimming with wild dolphins and Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

By New Statesman

Miranda Hart was born in Devon in 1972 and is best known for her BBC sitcom “Miranda”, as well as roles in “Not Going Out” and “Call the Midwife”. She is a fourth cousin, twice removed, of Princess Diana.

What’s your earliest memory?

I have several: making my mother laugh with an impression of a teacher; diving into a muddy puddle; standing face-to-face with both a sheepdog and a goose.

Who are your heroes?

I have many, but Eric Morecambe comes top. As a child he made me laugh. As an adult, I appreciate his hard work, commitment and passion to bring joy despite the pressure he was under.  

What book last changed your thinking?

Teresa of Ávila’s The Interior Castle – I bet you weren’t expecting me to say a book by a 16th-century Catholic mystic, were you?! For something more palatable, The Choice by Edith Eger. 

Which political figure do you look up to?

If it’s too dull and obvious to say Winston Churchill, then Ruth Bader Ginsburg. 

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What would be your Mastermind specialist subject?

I am more of a dabbler than a specialist. If the technicalities of performing or directing comedy could be a special subject, I would choose that. Otherwise I would prefer to be in the audience.

In which time and place, other than your own, would you like to live?

It would be a toss-up between hanging out at BBC Television Centre with my comedy heroes in the 1960s, celebrating more freedom for women (with much Charleston-ing) in the 1920s, and having a chat with Jesus in AD30.

What TV show could you not live without?

At the moment I am watching less television because the amount of choice is decreasing and disabling my desire. I wonder if others are finding that. If I had to choose: Morecambe and Wise. 

Who would paint your portrait?

Someone who liked me and wanted to get to know me to paint as real a version as possible. 

What’s your theme tune?

I would steal the theme from Black Beauty.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?

I read The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron in my twenties and highlighted every other sentence. One quote stood out: “Whatever you think you can do or believe you can do, begin it. Action has magic, grace and power in it.” And yes, I followed it. 

What’s currently bugging you?

What isn’t bugging me, more to the point!  

What single thing would make your life better?

Trusting for the future while living with acceptance in the present. 

When were you happiest?

January 2013 on Kangaroo Island in Australia, having just swum with wild dolphins (a dream come true) and seen koalas and kangaroos. The island has recently been devastated in the fires so it’s even dearer to my heart now. 

In another life, what job might you have chosen?

Something in animal conservation. In fact, I hope that still happens in my current life. 
 
Are we all doomed?

Not even remotely. The opposite. It’s all gone so very wrong, which means we are slowly waking up to and relearning what we need to do to avoid doom. 

“Emma”, based on Jane Austen’s novel and starring Miranda Hart, is in cinemas now

This article appears in the 04 Mar 2020 issue of the New Statesman, Inside No 10