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Millican's naughty but nice comedy

Comic Sarah Millican tells Paul Byrne about her show

How to describe Sarah Millican? Well, her comedy is somewhere between Peter Kay and Mrs Merton, with just a dash of Miranda Hart. Visually, it's Harry Hill in a dress. Or maybe Harry Worth's long-lost daughter.

"Well, that all sounds about right," chuckles the 37-year-old comedian when she hears my list. "There are one or two of me heroes in there, so, I'm happy enough. The fact that I manage to make that strange combination look stunning is yet another wonder of Sarah Millican."

When Millican first flirted with comedy 10 years ago, her inspiration wasn't all that far removed from America's former queen of comedy, Roseanne Barr -- man trouble.

A messy divorce had left Millican battling depression, which inspired her stand-up show Sarah Millican's Not Nice, winner of the if.comedy award for Best Newcomer at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in 2008. Some pain, some gain, then?

"I think comedy does come from a place of pain," nods Millican. "Well, it doesn't have to be, you know, deep, dark tragedy, but out of a dark place, or even a dark thought or two, comedy springs eternal. It's a survival technique, just a way of taking the sting out of something that might just seem cruel and unusual otherwise.

"It's certainly worked for me. For now. I'm sure as my life gets better and better, my comedy will only suffer. I'll just become too darn content, and too damn nice."

Anyone who has caught Sarah Millican in action knows this Newcastle lass is always nice. There may be the odd naughty sexual innuendo along with a wink to the camera, but she is just about as nice as a young Newcastle lass can get.

Which may explain how this essentially frumpy young woman has come to dominate the airwaves over the past four years, popping up in everything from 9 Out Of 10 Cats to Loose Women.

"Well, I don't see any reason to bring any more anger and cool into the world," states Millican. "I've never enjoyed humour that's purely confrontational and hate-filled. You rarely get your argument across when you're saying the audience are a bunch of eejits.


"I like to find the little embarrassing secrets we all share, those home truths and guilty pleasures that we don't normally admit to. We're all the same, deep down, everyone needing a warm bed, someone to cuddle, some chocolate to chomp down, a bit of fun on the TV ... "

If it's the latter you're looking for, you might just find it in The Sarah Millican Television Show. But has she lowered the tone for TV?

"Oh, I don't know if people should be all that surprised," says Millican. "We British have always loved our sexual innuendos, whether it's on stage or on a saucy seaside postcard. I don't think I'd ever step over into taboo Frankie Boyle territory, but I'm not about to shy away from what I think is a genuinely funny joke."

The Sarah Millican Television Show is on BBC2 Thursdays, 10pm