Sandi Toksvig talks to Freetime about her return to stand-up

Sandi Toksvig

Sandi Toksvig

First published in Interviews Ealing Times: Photograph of the Author by , Reporter

WHEN I heard Sandi Toksvig pick up at the other end of the phone and say hello, I instantly felt nervous. There is something about her recognisable voice, which makes me quake in my boots but there really was no need to worry. Her easy charm and wit brought me back to my senses, as she spoke to me about her upcoming show, Edinburgh festival and her new role as Portsmouth University’s Chancellor.

There is no doubt about it- Sandi Toksvig is a woman to be admired. Is there anything she hasn’t done? From writing her own plays, hosting a quiz show, having her own radio show, her own stand-up and her own novels she really must have very little spare time. To coincide with the release of her latest book, Valentine Grey, she is returning to the stage to do stand-up after a very long break.

She said although it has been "some time" since she has done stand-up she "remembers it well."

And she said having wrote her latest novel: "Having done that I thought I might as well give them an evening of entertainment while I am doing it."

The book focuses on a Victorian woman who disguises herself as a man so she can go to the Boer War. And I was fascinated to hear, that this actually happened and quite often too. Sandi said she became "very obsessed" with the theme. She also wanted to explore the idea that there is a book inside every one.

So does she think there is? "I suppose so. The question is whether people bring it out."

So how did her first book come out? It was when she saw the late well known literary agent Pat Kavanagh.

Sandi said: "She said you are going to write me a novel. I said ok then because I am good like that, I am a good girl.

"I absolutely love it. What a nice way to spend your time. I have a wonderful office which overlooks the sea."

Sandi splits her time between her house in Kent and her house boat in London (she loves water, she explained).

But does she feel nervous about getting back on stage to promote the book. No, she said, and she never really has.

She said: "I have been doing this a long time. For 30 years- you couldn’t live in a state of anxiety."

She is a long-standing host of Radio Four’s News Quiz and Excess Baggage and regular QI panellist.

And to add to this a new quiz show is coming out on Channel 4 called 1001 Things You Should Know. And if that wasn’t enough in October she started as the chancellor for Portsmouth University.

She said: "My intention is not just to speak on behalf of Portsmouth but all young people and people who want to go to uni."

She clearly wants to make an impact and make sure university is as accessible as possible- she does not believe it is just for people with money who can afford to go.

And she is not on Twitter or Facebook.

She said: "I think there is too much of people finding their own lives so interesting they must broadcast every single detail."

She said a few people may be that interesting such as Stephen Fry or possibly Lady Gaga but few others.

And I have been careful not to call Sandi a comedienne throughout this article, because as she said there is then the expectation of constantly saying something funny. She added: "Broadcaster. That’ll do fine."

Sandi Toksvig Live! is at the Wycombe Swan on September 26 at 7.30pm. Tickets are £19. Call 01494 512000 or go to www.wycombeswan.co.uk .

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