A big ask: Sally Phillips

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Phil Harrison talks frogs, Kevin Eldon and 'Smack the Pony' with the 'Parents' star

Sally Phillips in 'Parents' Sally Phillips in 'Parents'

How would you fare if you had to move back in with your parents?

‘I’m halfway there already. We moved near my parents when we had kids. They’re all right. My Dad’s a bit naggy about how I need to learn to drive.’

First memorable piece of TV?

‘I grew up in the Middle East. And they used to show ’60s “Batman and Robin”. And just before they resolved an episode, the call to prayer would begin and they’d cut it off. But in terms of comedy, the first thing that really got me was “Five Go Mad in Dorset”. It was just the best thing I’d ever seen. Although at that time, I think I still wanted to be a serious actress.’

Piece of work you’re most proud of?

‘I’m obviously proud of “Smack the Pony” because of the effect it’s had. People tell me it changed the landscape and that there are so many funny girls doing things now who wouldn’t have before. Morgana Robinson said to me that she wouldn’t be doing comedy if it wasn’t for “Smack the Pony”. It makes me feel incredibly old but at the same time, it’s really flattering.’

And least proud of…?

‘“Holding the Baby”. An ITV sitcom from the mid-’90s. I brought my first home with the proceeds! I did it with Nick Hancock, who is a wonderful individual. At the time, he had a plan of doing as many unsuccessful pilots as he could. Because he was getting 10 grand a pop for each one and if they didn’t go on, he wouldn’t have to do the rest of it. The thing was, there were a few too many jokes in it so we had to do a series!’

Who would you interview on your own chat show?

‘I’ve got some really interesting friends. I’d pick Lucy Cooke. She’s a zoologist and documentary maker and obsessed with frogs. Apparently, if frogs die out then, as a world, we’re in really big trouble. She pays her way by making documentaries about sloths. But she hates them. She hates all the really cute animals like pandas.’

Worst thing a critic’s said about you?

‘I did “Pinter’s People” in the West End, which was hated by the weekday critics and liked by the weekend ones. But I have happy memories of it, because Kevin Eldon was genuinely elated to have been insulted by the critics because he had no respect for them. I remember him dancing around backstage doing impressions of [Times theatre critic] Benedict Nightingale. So for me it’s a happy memory.’

‘Parents’ starts Friday July 6, 8.30pm, Sky1


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