My Week: Helen Lederer

The comedian and actress braves the stage as the Fairy Godmother, and nurses a hangover in the aftermath of a Christmas party
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The Independent Online


Cinderella's my second panto, but the one I did before wasn't quite so traditional. So far I've done 20 out of 60 performances, and I'm just getting the hang of it. I find myself doing quite a few rhyming couplets, which is a first. But there's still lively debate over how dignified I should be as a fairy. I don't think I should be dignified at all. I think a lot of people are afraid I might use a rude word. I've tried to reassure them. Today I manage to slip a few jokes in, and as the thing wears on people really start to laugh.


I manage to get away to a meeting with my new literary agent and her media person. I'm trying to sort out a couple of projects, and the meeting goes well – but the main thing is that the media person has brought her baby. I have never had a meeting with a baby before. The child seems quite interested in what we have to say.

Then it's a rush back to the theatre. During our vocal warm-up, a BBC team turns up to film us. The BBC person is dressed as a peasant girl, bizarrely. They shove a camera in my face just as I am about to go on. They ask if I am enjoying it. I say I am doing it for the children.


I have a dressing room next door to Steve Guttenberg, who is very nice to work with, and also very liberated, happy to walk around without a shirt or other things on, which he does today. Naturally I avert my gaze, but still, it is lovely working with someone quite handsome. It cheers me up no end that he's next door. Besides anything else, he has lots of sweets in his dressing room. We've got the big ones. I have furnished mine from Primark.


It's our day off, and so this is when I've scheduled my Christmas party. I invite my new friends from the cast. Some people don't come because of colds or flu, which I don't accept as an excuse at all, but in fact lots of people turn up and it's great. Irritatingly I know very few famous people and none of them come – except for Steve, of course. I spend most of my time showing off about being on Just a Minute in January, and practising talking non-stop.


I hired 100 glasses last night and I can find only 30; also, a speaker fell off the wall during the dancing. I do remember a thud, but I didn't investigate. One person has phoned because he is missing a mobile, and someone else is missing a wallet. I hope we didn't have a pickpocket in attendance. I am rather hungover, and unfortunately the voice has gone. I go to the chemist and she says she knows exactly what I need but she can't remember what it was called or suggest an alternative. Oh well. I hope it will be all right before I don my fairy wings again for the evening's show.

Helen Lederer plays the Fairy Godmother in Cinderella at the Churchill Theatre, Bromley, until 18 January