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Mel Giedroyc: “Hopefully my daughters won’t do what I did!”

Mel Giedroyc, 44, on meeting comedy partner Sue, The Great British Bake Off, and the 'incredible moment' that changed her life

Picture the scene. It’s 1984. I’m 16. I was obsessed with surplus military shops so I was in monkey boots and these huge white Guantanamo-style overalls with the crotch swinging at your knees and a massive baggy arse. And I had very short spiky hair, a T-bar of spots on my face and wore very, very pale foundation. Not attractive. But my best friend, Sid, was gorgeous. I didn’t have a bloody chance with boys, being her best friend, so I was there to provide a bit of entertainment. I did cop a few snogs but I was more interested in being with my mates.

I had such a good time as a teenager but now I’m in total fear my own daughters will do all the things I did. I was the last of four kids and I had pretty much total freedom. There’s tons of stuff my parents don’t know about. It’s only now I’m in my mid-40s that I’m starting to tell them things, and they’re sort of laughing but their eyes are twitching. I think, hopefully, my daughters are more mature than I am – even now, and they’re eight and 10. I just piss about for a living. I’m in a pantomime, for God’s sake.


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If I met my 16-year-old self now, with my older cynical head on, I’d say, ‘Why are you trying to be friends with everyone? Calm down.’ But I’d love to tell her about this great friend she’ll meet at university [Mel’s comedy partner, Sue Perkins]. In the middle of this male-dominated comedy scene she’ll meet this kindred spirit who laughs at all the same things as her. And five years later they’ll make their debut at the Edinburgh Fringe, in a 10am comedy show called The Naked Brunch, and though their average audience will be around one person they will love every minute.

During my 20s I got very angsty and broody. My brothers and sisters started having loads of babies and I got into my late 20s and started panicking – ‘Oh my God, it’s never going to happen to me!’ I’d take my younger self aside and say, ‘You’re going to be a bit of an old bird when you have your first child – you’ll be 33 – but don’t ruddy worry about it. And don’t worry about meeting someone. You get to meet him when you’re 31, he’s really nice, he’s called Ben, it’s all cool’.

My kids are the best thing that ever happened to me. I know that sounds cheesy but it’s totally true

My kids are the best thing that ever happened to me. I know that sounds flipping cheesy but it’s totally true. They just blew me away. They make everything worthwhile. They’re so much fun and so interesting. It’s such a bloody privilege. I remember looking at my first baby, just a few days old in her little basket, and I was suddenly very aware of my own mortality. I’d never thought about dying before. It’s a weird one. It signalled my sudden going back to church – that fear of death, it made me go back to praying.

If you’d told me I’d get a Bafta for The Great British Bake Off I would literally have laughed in your face. Sue and I took that gig thinking, here we go, another cooking show among thousands of cookery shows. We enjoyed making it, nice people, loved the bakers, blah, blah… But, oh my God, it’s been amazing. It’s ridiculous that we get paid to do it because Sue and I just have a laugh and eat loads of delicious cakes.

I’d love to go back to being 16, when my mum bought me and my sister tickets for this sketch comedy show. I remember sitting there – it was like the sun breaking through the clouds, a real road to Damascus moment, choirs in my head. I just thought, this is it, what I’ve been searching for. An incredible moment.