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 and Payroll Manager

£35000 - £38000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This dynamic outsourced contact...

Recruitment Genius: Production & Quality Control Assistant

£19000 - £21000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An excellent opportunity for a ...

Ashdown Group: Group HR Advisor - Kettering - £32,000

£28000 - £32000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Group HR Advisor with an established...

Guru Careers: HR Manager / HR Generalist

£40 - 50k (DOE) + Bonus: Guru Careers: We are seeking a HR Manager / HR Genera...

Day In a Page

No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor