Why do we all suddenly love Miranda Hart? Slapstick comic Miranda Hart swept the board at Channel 4’s annual British Comedy Awards, her unique brand of humour, self deprecation and physical comedy proving to be an astoundingly popular success for the Devon-born comedienne and proof that women are indeed funny.
So, who is this woman of whom, I think it is safe to say, no one had really heard in mainstream comedy two years ago? Hart is unashamedly honest about her middle class upbringing and, despite studying politics at the University of the West of England, she had always wanted to be a comedienne, crediting Morecambe and Wise as her main inspirations. She is a fabulous example of someone who has battled for their career and persevered, despite multiple knockbacks, before rising to the top. She originally pitched a comedy to the BBC as early as 2002 and has been on the sidelines ever since, until 2008, where she recorded the pilot episode of the self-titled show Miranda. She is quick to claim, however, that the main character is not a direct portrayal of herself.
Her comedy strikes a chord with women of all ages, from socially awkward teenagers to those older who recognise the personal hang-ups and social traumas Miranda finds herself in. Everyone has experienced an aspect of the life she mocks in her sitcom and I believe that to be at the heart of the show’s success. Hart plays a clumsy but intensely loveable thirtysomething, useless with men, intelligent but for some reason running a joke shop with her best friend – the irony presumably intentional. In addition, she is constantly undermined by her ambitious mother, played by the wonderful Patricia Hodge, the deliverer of one of the show’s best known catchphrases: “Such fun!” Refreshingly, Hart does not for one moment take her success for granted. “This is what I’ve been working towards all of my life.” She enthuses in a recent interview.
I was lucky enough to attend two recordings of this award-winning sitcom in December and was shocked by the almost cult-like following it seems to have amassed in such a short space of time. In the queue outside the BBC studios, I met what were, in essence a selection of mini Miranda’s and mini me’s, some fans even going so far as to make their own Heather Small heads on sticks (If you don’t watch, you won’t understand, don’t worry …) It appears everyone can see a little bit of themselves in Miranda, no matter how cool we all try to be.
Hart’s victory at the Comedy Awards, winning the People’s Choice Award, Best New TV Comedy and Best Comedy Actress, signals a significant change in the direction of British comedy. In the past years, the industry has seen it all, from Frankie Boyle pushing the boundaries beyond belief to Miranda’s inoffensive yet still laugh out loud funny slapstick. It may perhaps be worth noting, then, that the former was not even so much as nominated for an award. Hart’s victories are a triumph for female comedy. Maybe soon, we can look forward to a day when women outnumber men on panel shows instead of being asked on as a somewhat token effort.
What’s next for the new Queen of BBC comedy, then? A move to BBC1 primetime has been rumoured and doubtless, series three will have a lot to live up to. I only hope that Hart continues to write to the best of her ability and enjoys her success. She is a genuinely lovely person who, most probably out of pity, high-fived me at a recording of her show because I was so thrilled to see her. She appeared to be equally thrilled by my excitement. If she continues to stay this grounded, she will be unstoppable and a role model for many who aspire to her honestly gained success.