Actress Miriam Margolyes, 80, on not liking kids, writing a book to pay for her carers and going to a house party with Prince Charles .
You're a busy woman!
I've got so many things in my life, I don't know whether I'm Arthur or Martha. I've written a book, I've done a series with Alan Cumming and I'm on Call The Midwife 's Christmas special. So I'm slightly gaga.
You say The Graham Norton Show did wonders for you…
Oh, without question. Appearing on it brought me to an entirely new audience of foul-mouthed people.
He's incredibly gifted at putting celebrities together, most of whom I don't know, which makes me look very rude because I should be more aware of the world I live in.
People all over the world watch it and I'm always trending on Twitter when I've been on. People talk of me as a national treasure. It's nonsense. I'm just a very lucky old lady.
Many might dispute that…
I think I'm a wonderful human being, don't make any mistake. I'm not selling myself short. But I didn't expect everybody would know that.
It's the same on This Morning , I get a lot of fans from that. I'm very grateful and surprised.
You did an appeal to be on Call The Midwife on This Morning…
And it actually happened! I'm the Mother Superior. I love everything about it except the children. In an ordinary life, I wouldn't have much to do with children.
I don't want to hurt them or anything, I just prefer to separate myself from them. But you can't do that in Midwife or Harry Potter [she's in two of the films].
Why did you and Alan Cumming go to Scotland for your Channel 4 TV series?
Alan is Scottish and my father was born in the Gorbals in Glasgow in 1899 so I've always had a very strong link with Scotland. I couldn't think of anything I'd rather do because I love Scotland.
Our families were so different — my parents adored me, spoiled me, and his father abused him. I can't think of anything more shocking than that. So when we went to the house together, I could see that he was deeply troubled.
You tell Alan at one point not to be scared of Madonna…
I know, it just came out completely spontaneously and it's become a sort of catchphrase.
I don't really know much about Madonna because I don't think I've ever heard her sing. I just don't like her style particularly.
Have you ever been scared of anyone? You've said you were scared of Maggie Smith…
She is a little bit alarming. You have to be watchful with Maggie because if she's cross, she doesn't mind sharing it. She's actually a very sweet lady and if you don't irritate her she's absolutely gorgeous.
If you say something stupid, she will come back at you quite fiercely. But she hates it when people say they're scared of her. I'd quite like people to be scared of me but they never are.
Everybody loves you…
Well, they only love me because I'm small and round. But I can be quite tart, I've got a temper.
I tell it how it is and if I think someone's talking nonsense, I'll say so. I've always been like this.
Was your autobiography a lockdown project?
It wasn't a project I envisaged. It was simply because I was offered a very large sum of money to do it and I know I'm going to need carers as I get older and they cost money.
And it was possible to do it because I was holed up at my house in Italy so I was able to concentrate.
Did you enjoy the experience?
Once I got over the terror of actually writing I did. Until my publisher said, 'We're publishing on September 16th.' I nearly had a bowel movement.
So it became a bit of a strain and then I kept thinking of all the things I'd left out. I wanted to call it Dyke Overflowing but my publishers did not agree. And now they've asked me to do another one.
Looking back, what can't you believe you've done?
I find it very hard to believe I was invited to Sandringham by Prince Charles and I stayed there for a house party. He had heard one of my audiobooks reading Dickens and he wrote me a fan letter.
I find it difficult to believe that I won a Bafta for Martin Scorsese's The Age Of Innocence.
I can't believe I know Barbra Streisand and worked with her twice. And also that I went to Cambridge at a time when it was hard for women.
What did playing Professor Sprout in Harry Potter do for your profile?
That is probably what I'll be best known for. It did a great deal for me because it made me very well known to millions of people. It's not my kind of film at all because I'm not interested in fantasy.
I prefer searing human dramas and espionage so Harry Potter is a bit anodyne for me. But it's brought me an awful lot of friends.
When I go to King's Cross, I always go to the platform and say I'm Professor Sprout if you want to take a photograph. They're very excited when they finally believe me.
Miriam And Alan: Lost In Scotland concludes tonight at 9pm on Channel 4. Her book, This Much Is True, is out now
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