Rev star Olivia Colman: “I’d rather eat my own feet than go on Strictly Come Dancing”

The comedy actress reveals her TV pleasures - but you'll never catch her on the dance floor...


Which TV series would you take to a desert island?


Mad Men. I love the attention to detail: the clothes, the curvy silhouettes which you don’t see any more on telly, how everyone smokes in every scene… It’s so alien now.

What’s your guilty pleasure?

America’s Next Top Model. You couldn’t parody Tyra Banks; she’s already too funny.

What did you last change the channel to avoid?

Sport. My husband will watch anything with a ball in it so occasionally, out of sheer boredom, I cry “Look over there!” and turn over. I do like sport but I enjoy his distress a little bit more.

What was the last thing you recommended?

One Born Every Minute to an emotional friend who likes to cry a lot. My husband and I sat there and bawled; people having babies is a winner every time.

What do you sit down to watch as a family?

Our children are very little so they insist on watching films ad nauseam until we can’t bear them any more. I must have watched WALL-E and Bolt 50 times but had to sneak out for the first 20 minutes of Up because I found it too upsetting. I’m a softie, a filmmaker’s dream – if they’re going for saccharine and sobs then I’m their man.

Could you be tempted onto a reality show like Strictly?

Not for anything in the world. I’d rather eat my own feet. I’m just an actor; there is nothing interesting about me apart from that fact. The very word “celebrity” makes me feel sick.

Who was your first crush?

Michael J Fox in Back to the Future. All my fellow little girls fancied him so I fancied him.

Who’s your ideal dinner guest?

I’m not sure I could cope sitting at the same table as David Attenborough or Stephen Fry or anyone else I’m in awe of. I met Jennifer Saunders once and could barely function. I’d rather keep my heroes at a distance.

How do you while away your time online?

Gawping at luxury mansions. My husband calls it “house porn” but I prefer to think of it as old-fashioned nosiness. I’ve even got a RightMove app on my phone.

Have you ever Googled yourself?

I have and I didn’t enjoy it one bit because I was worried I’d find rude things written about me. I’m not very thick-skinned.

In the first series of Rev you had to dress up as a prostitute – what had you blushing during the filming of series two?

There’s a short burst of dancing during a camping trip. Might not sound like much, but I felt embarrassed. They ended up cutting it short because it was so bad.

When did you realise you wanted to be an actor?

At the age of 16, when I was in my first school play. I liked the smaller, comic parts in plays because you didn’t have to learn as many lines and got people to laugh, so it was instant gratification without much work.

What’s the secret to making people laugh?

You still have to be truthful. Even if it’s heightened comedy, if it doesn’t come from a truthful place it’s not going to be funny.

Is there any sitcom that you like to watch again and again?

I’ve always adored Friends. I was at university when it first came out and now I’m a proud owner of the box sets. It’s still a good old comfort blanket.

You play Carol Thatcher in the forthcoming Iron Lady movie with Meryl Streep and are currently in LA – have we lost you to Hollywood? What’s going to become of the Rev Adam Smallbone without his long-suffering wife Alex?

It’s very nice here, but I’m only here for a week. Couldn’t leave Adam!


Olivia Colman stars in Rev (Thursdays, 9pm, BBC2)