How We Met: Katherine Parkinson & Katy Brand

'I got a call at 11am. She was ringing me from her room to ask me to get her a glass of water'

Interviews,Rhiannon Harries
Sunday 20 December 2009 01:00

Katherine Parkinson, 31,is an actress best known for her role in the Channel 4 series 'The IT Crowd'. She has also appeared in 'Doc Martin' and films 'The Boat That Rocked' and 'How to Lose Friends & Alienate People'. She lives in London

Katy came up to me at a party when I was about 19 and tried to wipe my mole off my face. I was as endeared as I was offended. We were at university, where I was doing Classics and Katy was doing Theology. At my wedding recently I got her to do a reading from the Bible because she was the only friend I knew had read it. But she found the sauciest passage in the Bible and said, from the pulpit, that she chose it because it reminded her of my husband.

We both did a lot of acting at university, but our friendship really came about at the Edinburgh Festival. We were at the pub one night, watching a very drunk elderly couple and finding them very endearing, and from then on we were quite inseparable.

Katy came to visit me during my finals. I had left everything until the last minute so it was a period of intense study. It was as if she were visiting an in-patient – she'd take me for a slow walk around the grounds and make me feel a bit sane again.

Around that time I started going out with a guy who wasn't very nice to me, but I carried on, thinking, "Well, at least I've got a boyfriend." When Katy met him, she said, in front of him, "Why are you going out with him?" We've always looked out for each other. I was quite nervous when she met my husband seven years ago, so now I feel rather proud when I see them flirting.

We still do the same things we've been doing since we were students, though now when we go for a nice meal we can actually afford it. Katy was there when I had to cut up my cards in front of the NatWest staff.

Katy has a proper brain and is very well informed. I pretend to be, so I always launch in, but she knows I don't know what I am talking about. I come away from a debate with her having learnt something, then I use her arguments against her the next time, saying things like, "Now what you must understand about the EU, Katy..."

Two years ago I had a horrible incident where a stranger smashed up my face. I met up with Katy and was expecting the oohs and aahs that would have made me cry. Instead she just said my black eyes looked really sexy, ordered champagne and didn't talk about it. It was perfect because she knew what I wanted so thoroughly.

Katy Brand, 30, is a stand-up comedian, actress and writer best known for her ITV sketch show 'Katy Brand's Big Ass Show', for which she won Best Newcomer at the British Comedy Awards in 2006. She lives in London

I think we met when we were both doing a play called The Libertine at university in autumn 1998. I just found her a fabulous, extraordinary presence. Katherine is very independent – she has her own sense of style and the air of someone going their own way. She seemed like a Nell Gwynne figure, the sort of actress from times gone by who kings would become obsessed with.

It was at the Edinburgh Festival in 1999, where we were staying with 14 others in a flat that slept five, that we really clicked. She was so irreverent and we had the same sense of the ridiculous. We spent the whole month being silly together, going to pubs, entertaining each other.

We lived quite appallingly beyond our means. We behaved as if we had an income of millions, when we were actually very in debt. We went to a very posh hotel and ordered kir royales one evening. When the bill came it was so huge in student terms, the only thing Katherine could think to do to save face, despite the fact we knew we couldn't afford the first lot, was to order two more. We sat there drinking with a mad glint in our eyes and in the end I think we phoned some mutual friend of ours and got him to lend us the money.

We graduated on the same day and have a hilarious set of photos. We had abandoned our official arrangements to spend the day together with our families so we missed the proper photo and went into a high-street photographer. Katherine had this mass of very curly hair under her mortar board and I had just come back from Pakistan where I'd had dysentery so was very pale and covered in a sheen of sweat. We were a bit drunk and started dragging in all these props – a massive throne and a huge old book – that we posed really solemnly with.

We have lived together on two occasions since then. The first was the most chaotic house I have been in. I had a proper job and everyone else was at drama school. Katherine was magnificent in her refusal to cook - not very domestic is a polite way of describing her. But she is such fantastic company that you can't be bothered to care about the banal details of day-to-day life. I remember having a day off at home during that period and getting a phone call at 11am from her mobile. She was ringing me from her room to ask me to get her a glass of water. She's outrageous but she knows it and it's endearing.

There's a mutual pleasure now at seeing each other settled and happy. We've both seen each other through toxic relationships and it's so nice that we never have to meet and have endless discussions about why someone is being such a tosser. Now it feels like we have more time for us.

Katy Brand's Big Ass Tour runs from 18 April-6 June 2010;

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