BOX CLEVER: Famous-to-be?

Morwenna Banks is happy to own up to the fact that she's suffered from the "Who's she?" problem in the past. "I've been approached by the BBC, ITV and Channel 4 to do a series before," she says. "It would all be going really well, then suddenly they'd say, 'Ah well, you're actually not famous enough. We can't do it'."

Eventually, she took the project to Channel 5, who were not so fazed. "They say that's just the point," she maintains. "Look at Jack Docherty - he was undoubtedly a good interviewer, but he wasn't high-profile."

Channel 5 may well be rewarded for their scant regard for the fame-ometer, because Banks is certainly a talented performer. She plays with consummate ease everything from a superannuated Russian prima ballerina to a Barbie Doll-esque American shopping channel presenter.

Her most celebrated creation, however, remains the little girl with the warped sense of wisdom she first developed on the superior Channel 4 sketch show, Absolutely, a few years ago. She appears in every episode of the new 13-part series. In one, she delivers her considered opinion of Liam Gallagher - "He just wants to do drinking beer, buying houses and smelling talcum powder".

Banks reckons the little girl is popular because she's direct. People ask me, 'Do you watch children a lot?' The answer is no, it's just what I remember from my own childhood. I often think, 'Does anybody share this view?', but by the response I get to the little girl, people must think a bit the same as me."

If there's a theme running through the characters, Banks muses, it's that "they're all messed-up women. The show is all about my fears - the women are all different aspects of people I could turn out to be. I don't use a lot of devices and I don't believe in plundering other people's lives - only my own."

The show bustles along at a fair old pace. "In a sketch show, you've just got to keep on moving," Banks observes. "Sketch comedy is better shorter, like The Fast Show - they're really smart."

Another similarity with the Paul Whitehouse/Charlie Higson vehicle is Banks's reliance on verbal and visual catchphrases. "It's like playground humour," she explains. "Shared humour is a good point of contact."

Although by her own admission not in the first division of fame, Banks has still managed to clock up a pretty impressive CV. Her best-known work has been Absolutely, which she worked on between 1989 and 1993 with comedians such as Docherty and Gordon Kennedy (who also appears in the new series). "We were similar to The Fast Show, but very untrendy," Banks recalls. "Sketch comedy was then seen as a post-Oxbridge domain. Then Vic and Bob came along and put a different spin on it. They made soundbite comedy acceptable."

Absolutely was absolutely terminated when "Channel 4 demanded a higher profile for its performers," Banks recounts. "They wanted to elect one of us to be the star and appear on the front cover of magazines. We were pleased to have got to that stage without doing any publicity. So it was a sticky moment."

Banks has also appeared for several months in the West End run of An Evening With Gary Lineker opposite Caroline Quentin, and on Saturday Night Live and Dream On in the States. She had offers to stay on in LA, but wisely turned them down. "I'm not young or beautiful or any of the things you need to be in Hollywood," she smiles. Instead, she returned home where she has built up a healthy second career as a producer on such programmes as The Jack Docherty Show and Armstrong and Miller.

In between times, the Cambridge-educated Banks somehow managed to fit in co-writing, with Amanda Swift, The Joke's On Us, a book about women in comedy. She is uncomfortable, however, about being saddled with the role of spokesperson for female comics. "The book is a bit of a crusty read," she concedes, "and inadvertently it has become ghettoising. All I wanted to do was just be funny, and all the time I was being asked to give historical analyses of why there are so few women comedians. That's not an issue I want to discuss. The proof of it is in what you see. French and Saunders, Caroline Aherne and Victoria Wood are all proving it by doing it. I'd rather be doing that."

Bearing in mind the unhappy experiences of Emma Thompson and Josie Lawrence with their one-woman TV shows, Banks is wary of making bold predictions. "I'm not looking for a big break," she claims. "I know I'm not prime-time. I just hope it doesn't bomb. If it does, I'm looking down the barrel of a lot of producing work in the coming years."

The Morwenna Banks Show is on Tuesdays at 9.55pm on C5

Sport
Alexis Sanchez has completed a £35m move to Arsenal, the club have confirmed
sportGunners complete £35m signing of Barcelona forward
Voices
Poor teachers should be fearful of not getting pay rises or losing their job if they fail to perform, Steve Fairclough, headteacher of Abbotsholme School, suggested
voicesChris Sloggett explains why it has become an impossible career path
Sport
world cup 2014
Sport
Ray Whelan was arrested earlier this week
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
ebookA wonderful selection of salads, starters and mains featuring venison, grouse and other game
Arts and Entertainment
In a minor key: Keira Knightley in the lightweight 'Begin Again'
film
Arts and Entertainment
Celebrated children’s author Allan Ahlberg, best known for Each Peach Pear Plum
books
News
peopleIndian actress known as the 'Grand Old Lady of Bollywood' was 102
News
Wayne’s estate faces a claim for alleged copyright breaches
newsJohn Wayne's heirs duke it out with university over use of the late film star's nickname
Life and Style
It beggars belief: the homeless and hungry are weary, tortured, ghosts of people – with bodies contorted by imperceptible pain
lifeRough sleepers exist in every city. Hear the stories of those whose luck has run out
News
Mick Jagger performing at Glastonbury
people
Life and Style
fashionJ Crew introduces triple zero size to meet the Asia market demand
Sport
Santi Cazorla, Mikel Arteta and Mathieu Flamini of Arsenal launch the new Puma Arsenal kits at the Puma Store on Carnaby Street
sportMassive deal worth £150m over the next five years
Arts and Entertainment
Welsh opera singer Katherine Jenkins
musicHolyrood MPs 'staggered' at lack of Scottish artists performing
Life and Style
beautyBelgian fan lands L'Oreal campaign after being spotted at World Cup
Arts and Entertainment
Currently there is nothing to prevent all-male or all-female couples from competing against mixed sex partners at any of the country’s ballroom dancing events
Potential ban on same-sex partners in ballroom dancing competitions amounts to 'illegal discrimination'
News
business
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Business Analyst Consultant (Financial Services)

    £60000 - £75000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Business Analyst Consultant (Fina...

    Systems Administrator - Linux / Unix / Windows / TCP/IP / SAN

    £60000 per annum: Harrington Starr: A leading provider in investment managemen...

    AVS, JVS Openlink Endur Developer

    £600 - £700 per day: Harrington Starr: AVS, JVS Openlink Endur Developer JVS, ...

    E-Commerce Developer

    £45000 - £60000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: Exciting opp...

    Day In a Page

    A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting

    A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

    Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting
    Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

    Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

    In the final part of our series, Chris Green arrives in Glasgow - a host city struggling to keep the politics out of its celebration of sport
    Out in the cold: A writer spends a night on the streets and hears the stories of the homeless

    A writer spends a night on the streets

    Rough sleepers - the homeless, the destitute and the drunk - exist in every city. Will Nicoll meets those whose luck has run out
    Striking new stations, high-speed links and (whisper it) better services - the UK's railways are entering a new golden age

    UK's railways are entering a new golden age

    New stations are opening across the country and our railways appear to be entering an era not seen in Britain since the early 1950s
    Conchita Wurst becomes a 'bride' on the Paris catwalk - and proves there is life after Eurovision

    Conchita becomes a 'bride' on Paris catwalk

    Alexander Fury salutes the Eurovision Song Contest winner's latest triumph
    Pétanque World Championship in Marseilles hit by

    Pétanque 'world cup' hit by death threats

    This year's most acrimonious sporting event took place in France, not Brazil. How did pétanque get so passionate?
    Whelks are healthy, versatile and sustainable - so why did we stop eating them in the UK?

    Why did we stop eating whelks?

    Whelks were the Victorian equivalent of the donor kebab and our stocks are abundant. So why do we now export them all to the Far East?
    10 best women's sunglasses

    In the shade: 10 best women's sunglasses

    From luxury bespoke eyewear to fun festival sunnies, we round up the shades to be seen in this summer
    Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014: Lionel Messi? Javier Mascherano is key for Argentina...

    World Cup final: Messi? Mascherano is key for Argentina...

    No 10 is always centre of attention but Barça team-mate is just as crucial to finalists’ hopes
    Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer knows she needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

    Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

    18-year-old says this month’s Commonwealth Games are a key staging post in her career before time slips away
    The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

    The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

    A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
    A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

    A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

    The German people demand an end to the fighting
    New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

    New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

    For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
    Can scientists save the world's sea life from

    Can scientists save our sea life?

    By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
    Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

    Richard III review

    Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice