“Great LezBritian” is a fortnightly stroll through the very best of British lesbo-centric entertainment and culture. Plus there will be some jolly good interviews with the top ladies who are waving the flag for gay UK.
If AfterEllen.com was a British site, it would be called AfterSandi.com. We grew up watching Sandi Toksvig on children’s TV show Number 73 in the 80s, felt her pain as she sailed around Britain with John McCarthy in the 1990s and today we are entertained weekly by her Radio 4 panel show, The News Quiz.
She recently flew into Glasgow for the city’s book festival, Aye Write, and we had the privilege of spending a funny, informative and inspiring 40 minutes with her before her performance inside one of Glasgow’s grandest buildings, The Mitchell Library.
She arrived in the green room, a very short lady, with a massive presence and immediately told us a hilarious story about being seated next to a rather boring woman on the plane who was bemoaning New Zealand (the entire country) for of its lack of shopping opportunities.
The woman, it turns out, was Strictly Come Dancing host Tess Daly, who Sandi had never heard of. “She does a programme called Strictly Come Dancing? Well that’s why I’ve never heard of her. I’m not interested in watching a reality TV programme about dancing. And certainly not one that does it strictly.”
AfterEllen.com: You have had such a varied career, how much could you of envisaged yourself doing when you first started out and how much has just been a nice surprise?
Every job since then has been by chance, people phone me up and I say alright then. It’s maybe hard for you to understand because you are lovely and young but the notion of being a stand-up comic or alternative comedienne or a smart arse on panel shows just didn’t exist, so I couldn’t possibly have planned it. And now I keep thinking I should do something sensible, but I haven’t.
AE: So did you think throughout your career that one day you would go into law?
I am very interested in the V-Day campaign to stop violence against women, particularly in the Democratic Republic of Congo. So although I am not a lawyer, I am very lucky that people take my calls and therefore I can maybe, hopefully, add to these campaigns and get things done. So this is still my passion — oh this is going to be a very boring interview isn’t it?
AE: No not at all! You mentioned your time at Cambridge Footlights. You actually wrote and performed in their first all-woman show?
AE: Who were the other women in the show?
AE: It must have felt really satisfying and important for you to create that space for women for the first time?
AE: So why do you still think that this hasn’t altered?
So you have to have balls to survive and a lot of women would rather be at home. Many programmes are also slanted towards the type of male humour where they try and top each other all the time and women’s humour doesn’t really work that way. On The News Quiz I try very hard to try to ensure that everyone gets a chance to talk and it’s not just fast gags.