Sarah Solemani on Him & Her, small screen sexism and her aversion to Keith Lemon

Ever wondered what makes the ubiquitous comic actress guffaw? Us too...

Sarah Solemani has had more gags than hot dinners this autumn: as a hippy teacher in Bad Education, a long-suffering ex-girlfriend/boss in The Wrong Mans and now in the third and final series of cult sitcom Him & Her. But what does the comic actress tune into in her downtime? RadioTimes.com asks the all-important questions…

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What’s your guilty pleasure?

Keeping Up with the Kardashians. People are snobby about reality TV but people were snobby when Ibsen put the kitchen sink in the theatre – “we haven’t paid to see people washing up.” In fact, there are good storylines and it can be really gripping television.

What makes you blush?

I saw one episode of Geordie Shore and that was too much. I’m known amongst my friends as having a brash sense of humour but that was beyond even what I could tolerate.

What’s brought a tear to your eye?

When I saw the Bangladeshi factory collapse on the news because it was an avoidable tragedy. It really makes me sad that we have a hand in people’s working conditions and lives being so atrocious.

What makes you laugh?

Louis CK [Louie], which is an American show. I love the originality of his voice and the surrealism that he sometimes incorporates.

What lulls you to sleep?

At the moment I’m finally catching up on Broadchurch. Don’t tell me what happens!

Who makes you throw the remote control across the room?

I can’t stand Keith Lemon. I just don’t get it and I find it upsetting that I share a country with people that allowed that to happen.

Childhood favourite?

My mum and I were into Brookside. I did a scene with Anna Friel in a Michael Winterbottom film, The Look of Love, and I had to stop myself from badgering her about Beth Jordache and her domestic violence storyline – it really moved me as a little girl.

Does your boyfriend share your tastes?

We both like good comedy and good films. We watched More last weekend – a French film about addiction – and we both agreed that if either of us got like the other one had to put a pillow over their head, which was romantic.

Favourite film?

I could watch Muriel’s Wedding over and over again. It was so original, funny and moving. I’d be forever happy if I could write or be in a film as good.

Him and Her has been described as the anti rom-com. How do you see it?

They’re not your typical rom-com heroine and hero. They’re rough round the edges: unemployed, no money, filthy habits. But they love each other and there are various obstacles in the way, which is the rom-com formula. It’s definitely not a feel-good romp; it’s done in a very unique, very British, very dark way.

Recently we’ve also seen you in Jack Whitehall’s Bad Education and James Corden’s The Wrong Mans. Is it true you’re also stepping behind the camera…

Yes, I’m writing a drama for BBC1 called Secrets, which will be directed by Dominic Savage; and I’ve just sold a show to FX in the States, who make Louis CK’s show. It’s such an exciting time for comics at the moment. TV shows, big budget Hollywood films: whatever you want to make, there is space for you if you’ve got a good, strong comic voice. The sky is the limit.

Yet female comics are still a minority. Do you see that changing?

In terms of gender progression, it’s going in the right direction and it’s an exciting time to be a part of it. It’s more of a struggle to get women on colour on screen.

If you were controller for the day…

I’d take Anna Crilly and Katy Wix – who had a great sketch show on Channel 4 – and I’d put the second series on BBC1 because they’re brilliant comics: they’re our female Vic and Bob.

Series three of Him & Her begins on Thursday 21st November, 10.00pm, BBC3


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