Education: Passed/failed: Arabella Weir

Arabella Weir, 40, is "Insecure Woman" and "No Offence" in `The Fast Show' on BBC2. She had a very small part in the film of `The French Lieutenant's Woman' and a very big part with Alexei Sayle as a lesbian double act running a bike shop named Menstrual Cycle, and later as a chummette in `Harry Enfield & Chums'. The paperback of her novel `Does My Bum Look Big in This?' will be published in March and `The Fast Show Live' opens at Labatt's Apollo, Hammersmith, on Saturday.

Does my heart beat fast in this? My father was a rising star in the diplomatic corps in Washington - he was eventually an ambassador - and I got into a nursery school in Washington. Then the family moved to Cairo where I went to the Sacre Coeur convent. This was run by nuns and we had to recite, in French, "My little heart beats so fast for Jesus Christ." As a family we weren't Catholic or religious but I have happy memories of Cairo.

Does my knuckle look hurt in this? I don't have happy memories of the French Lycee, which I went to when we came to London. It was a very strict school. I was drawing graphs one day; my hand got tired and I stopped drawing the line and began shading underneath. The teacher whacked me across the knuckles and said, "We always draw in the same direction."

Hut enough for you? When I was nine and a half my parents had split up and my brothers were at prep school, so I went alone with my father to Bahrain. I went to a school 15 miles away from our house in RAF Muharraq where there were 30 of us in a hut made of bits of wood. It was boiling hot, like 120 in the shade, and we worked from eight to 12 and then loafed around for the rest of the day. The teaching was not bad at all. I got my 11-plus there and came back to England.

Ant misbehavin'? Camden School for Girls was very high-achieving but it didn't nag. If you were a pain in the arse like I was, they didn't force you to do otherwise. These were the best school years of my life - but I was overweight and a lot of attention was focused on this, which added to the need to be the class clown. Through the older brother of a boy who fancied me, I became the singer in a band called Bazooka Joe; one member was Stuart Goddard, who became Adam Ant.

Does my mother look cross in this? My mother was a teacher at Camden and the proudest moment of my naughtiness was when she said to me, "I can't hold my head up in the staff room!" I thought, "Great!" I was putting time and effort into doing badly. I was suspended twice, once for smoking dope and once for swearing at a teacher or something. I prided myself on my ability to upset teachers. At a reunion 20 years later, I went up to Miss Peak, the music teacher, and she said, "You were the naughtiest girl I ever taught!"

Cashier point? I set out to spectacularly low-achieve - and I did. I only got three O-levels but they let me do three A-levels, which I enjoyed, and made me retake one of the O-levels, I think French. I then did a year at the Cafe Royal as a cashier and various odd jobs. I didn't do anything I should have done because I was in love with someone; I should have gone abroad. I did a diploma in dramatic arts for two years at [the then] Middlesex Polytechnic, which was more or less a complete waste of time. It's not like an English degree; you really need to work in the business, in the theatre. You can't teach someone to be funny.

Does my cheek look big in this? I'm working on my next novel, about three women and their friendships formed at Camden. I told the head that the title is "Onwards and Upwards", the school motto, and he said, "Cheeky!"

Interview by Jonathan Sale

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

Recruitment Genius: HR Manager

£36000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Ashdown Group: HR Manager Shared Services - Uxbridge, - 1 Year contract

£50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: HR Manager Shared Services - Uxbridge, Stock...

Recruitment Genius: Graduate Human Resource Officer and Executive Assistant

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity to join one of...

Ashdown Group: HR Assistant (Events business) - Central Manchester - £20K

£18000 - £20000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: HR Assistant (Events busi...

Day In a Page

Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before