Sarah Millican: “I bet if she were allowed, Lady Mary would be sitting in a fleece”

The comedian on why the Downton Abbey is the ideal cosy show for a chilly season


I’m back! I’m back! Oooohooo! I’ve had some lovely time off during which I had no one to witter on to about what I’ve been watching on telly. The husband isn’t bothered as I’m usually sitting beside him. So, I’ve missed you. That’s what I’m trying to say. Let the wittering commence!


So, autumn has turned quickly hasn’t it? Almost overnight, I went from salads to soup, cardigans to thicker cardigans, socks in the day to socks in the night. I like the autumn. It suits me. I look good with a pink cheek and a nice boot. Plus I’m rarely happier than when on the sofa in pyjamas, curtains drawn, dark outside, fire’s on with cats wandering past ignoring my pleas. Maybe even an opened box of After Eights nestled between us on the sofa like a favourite cat.

I’m getting autumn mixed up with Christmas again, aren’t I? Time off, big tree, too
 many roast potatoes and five people napping in one room while the telly blares out the one thing we all like, a Morecambe and Wise Christmas Special from before I was born. So if Christmas is the wedding, autumn is the court-ship. If Christmas is the Sunday roast with all the trimmings, autumn is the looking through the glass oven door at a browning chicken. 

And the telly people know we will happily shun nights out with friends for nights on the sofa. They know and they put all the good stuff on. Strictly is back and will dance us up to our own horrific parties. And so to Downton Abbey. Downton, that I shunned mid-series last time because of a controversial rape storyline that I didn’t think was necessary. But. But. Please. But. 

I haven’t sneaked back to a telly programme like this since I used to sleepwalk as a child and end up sitting cross-legged on the living room floor, while my parents watched on, unsure of the right thing to do. Mind you, I did also try to perch on a shelf in the big cupboard and do a wee on all of the neatly folded bedspreads. My mam figured out sharp what to do then. Downton is made for autumnal telly ‘cos it’s really dark in that big house. and cold, I bet it’s cold. I bet if she was allowed, Lady Mary would be sitting in a fleece with her feet under a cat. So I’m back to Downton.


Break open that slightly premature tin of mostly nice sweets, snuggle under that blanket, shout at the cat for its ability to open dors, but not close them, and pop on Downton. I can’t do autumn without it.