Friday Hoyden: Miriam Margolyes

“I am rather an opinionated person I suppose,”

Nothing I could write could do justice to Margolyes the way this transcript from the interview she did on Enough Rope does, although the simple transcript doesn’t give you the sense of immense warmth and engaging facial and hand expressions that coloured the interview. In particular, in nearly every situation where the simple sense of the transcript might indicate self-pity about being fat and unglamorous, what she actually showed is razor-sharp satirising of others attitudes towards her. She starts out as the eminently quotable outrageous funny fat woman and under Andrew Denton’s skilful shaping of the interview we end with the poignancy of her caring for her elderly parents in their declining years, and much much more.

On the Monty Python crew, whom she performed with in the Cambridge Footlights society:

ANDREW DENTON: Well, they were, they’re known to us as as comic geniuses. How did you see them?

MIRIAM MARGOLYES: Shitty. I didn’t like them. They were anti-Semites and they didn’t like women and they didn’t like me, because I was a, at that time probably a pushy little broad. And they weren’t interested in people like me.

She doesn’t hide, she unapologetically takes up space. And she doesn’t do dainty.

ANDREW DENTON: Yes. I want to throw another quote at you now “” “I enjoy picking my nose in the car, and noticing that other people do it too.”

MIRIAM MARGOLYES: Don’t you do that?

ANDREW DENTON: I may have. Not regularly though, no.

MIRIAM MARGOLYES: I think there are some rather horrid habits, that I do have. One of them is farting, which I, eh allowed your producer to share in today. Um.


ANDREW DENTON: So few guests bring something that we can keep. Thank you.

MIRIAM MARGOLYES: And picking my nose is something I know I do a lot and and enjoy, you know.

ANDREW DENTON: What is it about nose picking that’s so enjoyable?



There’s some video excerpts of that interview on the transcript page as well. I recommend them.

Most people know her for a fairly minor role in the Harry Potter movies, as Professor Sprout.I never knew that she did so many of the voices on the English voiceover of Monkey! Totally must-see after-school TV for me, that was. I think I must go and see her Dickens’ Women one-woman show: it just sounds utterly fascinating.

The one performance that didn’t get a mention with Denton, that I particularly love, was her turn as Lady Whiteadder in Blackadder Series 2, “Beer” episode.

Lady Whiteadder berating Blackadder

Categories: arts & entertainment

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11 replies

  1. You’re right, it was such a great interview.

  2. My claim to near-fame is that I’ve stayed in her partner’s house in Amsterdam. A good friend of mine is friendly with MM via a mutual friend. I’ve met MM a couple of times socially.
    The Amsterdam house is beautiful. Yes it was a good interview.

  3. That was a great interview. I’ve admired her work for years and it was great to find out something more about her.
    “Luck! Sounds almost the same as f-“

  4. I absolutely adore her. She has a bright naughty spark and a sheer stunning talent for creating characters that I admire so much. Can’t believe she’s 66!

  5. PS the whole interview is available as a podcast from iTunes.

  6. She is wonderful. Everyones favourite Spanish Infanta. I just want to sit down for the arvo with a pot of tea and crap on with her. What a hoot it would be.
    Both Rob and I had a tear in our eye with the story of her mother dealing with the stroke.
    The Robson ‘spunkrat’ Green interview video excerpts were far too short. Hopefully it will get YouTubed.

  7. Coz, I’d forgotten the Spanish Infanta role in Blackadder the 1st. Twenty strokes with a wet noodle for me!

  8. OMG…I mustn’t have been reading at H.A.T when this was posted. I saw that interview and for the first time in my life was moved to write to someone I did not know – she was just so absolutely and vibrantly ALIVE!!!!
    She made me laugh so much, and that voice! When she did her mother’s voice wailing “Jaaaaaaaaaaaammmmm” I just sobbed! The anguish she managed to convey…the honesty with which she spoke…
    Ok. Better go, getting all teary again just thinking about it. She’s definately top of my list when people ask who you’d invite to a dinner party if you could have anyone living or dead.

  9. The flexibility and artistry of her voice stylings are absolutely marvellous. No wonder that voice artist work is her bread and butter, and will continue to be so for many decades yet, we hope!

    For those who are Pratchett fans, could anybody else be a more perfect Nanny Ogg?

  10. What a woman! She is my kind of girl. Brought joy to this old womans heart! Fabulous, fabulous interview! She has an effect on everyone. My 40yr old son called me immediately following the interview to ask if i had seen miriam with denton, he thought she was fantastic!

  11. Oh, oh, the Whiteadders!
    Lady Whiteadder: At our house Nathaneal sits on a spike!
    Blackadder: And yourself?
    Lady Whiteadder: I sit on Nathaneal. Two spikes would be an extravagance.

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