Miranda’s Sarah Hadland on silliness, female friendship and flawed role models

"We’ve given them an alternative to all the perfect women that they see on television"

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Miranda Hart’s hit BBC1 sitcom takes its final bow tonight as the comedy actress calls time on her alter-ego’s search for happiness, love and silliness.

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Announcing her decision to retire the character, Hart implied it was time she grew up, saying, “As she gets older I don’t want her to keep falling over and make a fool of herself, I want her to be happy.” Her co-star Sarah Hadland feels the same way.

“Stevie and Miranda are very infantile characters,” she tells RadioTimes.com. “We are always showing the funny, jolly side of a friendship and how we all enjoy being a bit immature sometimes. Probably we’ve kind of taken that quite far – as far as we can!”

Hadland says bidding farewell to her co-stars was easy – “We know each other’s families. We socialise a lot together. I think we’ll all be friends for life and we’ll always be the Miranda family” – but saying goodbye to the characters themselves was a lot harder.

“We were very sad at the end of the actual filming because that relationship between Stevie and Miranda is really unique and special – it was always her goal to find a relationship that reflected everything that was good in a female friendship.

“From the letters and messages we get, I know for teenage girls in particular, those two characters are role models,” adds Hadland. “I think that’s something we’re both really, really proud of. We’ve given them an alternative to all the perfect women that they see on television, who look perfect and do everything perfectly. If you don’t look like a model and you haven’t got all the men crawling at your feet you’re a disaster. We sort of show that we get everything wrong but we have a brilliant laugh.”

Is that what makes her most proud? 

“Absolutely. I never in a million years thought teenage girls would even like it. I thought, ‘This isn’t cool. Surely they’re not going to watch two sort-of adult women behaving like a pair of idiots and getting pushed off stools.’ But they love it. I have to say I write back to every letter I get, and the letters you get are really touching.”

These alternative, albeit slightly silly, role models are desperately needed, says Hadland. “It’s so tough for teenage girls growing up younger and younger now. I’m really, really proud that our show can kind of give them an alternative and make girls who don’t feel like they fit in think that that’s okay because we don’t fit in and we look like we’re having a pretty good time. I’m really, really proud of that.”

She also believes there’s a need for more truthful representations of female friendship on TV and the big screen.

“Women tend to be portrayed as either perfect or a disaster, and the reality is we’re neither of those things. We sometimes get it right but most of the time we get it wrong – and friendships and having fun when you can are what make it all bearable, especially when times are tough.”

Hadland names the episodes “where you really get to see Miranda and Stevie’s friendship under the microscope” as her favourites. But while the world mourns the end of Miranda, Hadland assures us Hart has “made the right choice.”

“She wanted to leave it on a high rather than keep going and keep going with the quality being watered down,” says Hadland. “She wanted to maintain that standard – it’s a show that she cares about so much that she could never not give it 100%. So I think she’s done the right thing and brought everything together at the end. She’s finished the story.”

Above all, Hadland is pleased that the doubters – including herself – have been proved wrong.

“There were a lot of non-believers that were like, ‘What? You’re going to do a traditional comedy in a shop? You’re going to have slapstick and she’s going to talk to camera?’ I mean, including the cast. I was a bit like, ‘Gosh, really?’

“Something I have definitely learned firsthand from Miranda is that you have to stick to what you think is funny. It’s what I’ve watched her do always, never to be bullied into making a comedy by committee. You’ve got to do what you think is funny – and that takes a lot of courage.” 

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Miranda concludes tonight at 8:00pm on BBC1