Unlikely teen icon Sarah Hadland disbelief ‘kids think Miranda and I are cool’

‘I’m on the cover? This is ridiculously exciting,’ squeals Sarah Hadland as we meet her in a West End theatre in between rehearsals for her new play.

And she means it, she ever did the excited hand flapping to match the beaming face.

Tiny at just 5ft 1, she’s dressed in a cute pink jumper adorned with hearts, a rainbow coloured scarf and a green fur coat.

But her personality is even brighter.

She’s animated, funny, gesticulating wildly and regularly bounding up from her chair mid interview to do us a comedy reenactment of the story she’s telling, grabbing whatever she can as a prop.

Perhaps most well known as Miranda Hart’s sidekick, Stevie, in the series Miranda, she’s also known for Horrible Histories, The Job Lot, That Mitchell and Webb Look and a very short yet very important scene in a James Bond film, (Quantum of Solace) amongst others.

Fiercely private, (‘If I put my private life out there then I’m encouraging people to have opinions on me,’) she lives a relatively no-nonsense life involving walks, pubs, (albeit with some famous mates) and pictures of her cat dressed up on Instagram .

Proving she’s just as good at the comedy as she is the serious stuff, she’s starring in a new politically charged play ‘Admissions’ alongside Alex Kingston, and in the summer is voicing the character of Donald Trumps dog in The Queen’s Corgi animation film.

Sarah talks showbiz, fans and her best mate Miranda…

Do you get recognised every time you go out?

Only a couple of times a day.

I have friends who get mobbed – I’ve experienced it when with them and it is quite frightening.

But I’ve never had anything unpleasant said to me.

Do you still get a lot of fan mail from Miranda?

So much, and it’s lovely.

Generally from teenage girls who identified with me and Miranda.

We didn’t fit in, we got everything wrong, we weren’t cool or good with guys.

Admittedly we were women in our 40s playing someone younger, God knows how young we were supposed to be.

But what is heartening is girls who say they’re badly bullied because they aren’t glam and haven’t got a boyfriend, but what they do have is a really great friendship with another girl.

That’s what the show is about.

We had a laugh and had a great friendship.

It made people realise that everyone is messing up in some way.

And it’s fine.

Teenage girls are often tricky to impress too…

I know.

I was doing this appalling 38-point turn when I was stuck in a car park and there was a group of really cool teenage girls laughing and I was mortified.

Teenagers mocking you cuts deep, doesn’t it?

I opened the window to shout, ‘Oh, you just wait until you start driving!’

One of them shouted, ‘Oh my God, it’s Stevie!’ and they mobbed the car.

It takes you back a bit sometimes. It’s just a sitcom, but it did have a big effect on so many people.

But that’s the power of showing a great friendship.

And you made a friend for life too…

People get very confused when they see Miranda and me out together.

Young kids come running over and say we’re cool and we say, ‘Do you know how old we are? We’re ancient! We could be your grandmas.’

But to be honest I get excited when I see people off the telly in the street. I act the same.

Do you run over and ask for a picture?

Worse.

I saw Morgan Freeman once and ran up to him and just shouted his name in his face.

He said, ‘Who are you?’ I told him I was Sarah and ran away.

I also saw Frances McDormand in a coffee shop eating some soup.

I just couldn’t believe she was eating soup.

I stopped breathing.

You must know you can still be on the telly and eat soup?

Yes, and I’m quite lucky that I have a normal life.

And I’d never want to be ungrateful for any attention.

I remember when I first moved to London aged 16, I saw somebody who I won’t name but who was a big star at a cash point.

It took a lot of courage to go over and they were really dismissive and rude.

I was so humiliated.

It had such an effect on me.

I thought, ‘If I ever make it, I can’t be like that.’

But to be fair, I was dressing up as a chicken reading stories in the shopping centre at the time, so I was getting a bit ahead of myself.

You found fame quite late…

Not until my mid 30s.

My experience was working so hard for it.

It makes you appreciate it so much more.

That’s why I’ve gone so far the other way.

I’ll ask people if they want selfies and they’ll say, ‘Erm no, I was trying to read the bus timetable, move you mad woman.’

Do you read your reviews?

I wish I was strong enough not to, but I do.

If you read something that’s positive about yourself you really believe it and you should, but then does the same go for if you read something negative?

For Miranda, A.A Gill called me an ‘infantalised version of a woman’.

I was so thrilled he wrote something about me.

I told everyone.

My sister said, ‘Should you be going round telling people he slagged you off?’ I couldn’t stop.

Were you ever tempted to give up before your big break?

God, yeah.

I always doubt myself.

I think every job I get is my last and I’ll never work again.

I ring my mum and she says, ‘Oh, not this again, we have this every time!’ She is great, though.

When I say I’m nervous about a job and worry what people will think she always says, ‘People have bigger things to worry about than you in a programme, I can assure you. There’s wars happening, Sarah!’

What would you have done otherwise?

Cleaner.

I love cleaning.

When I arrive at a new set I go straight to the shops and buy rubber gloves, bleach, start mopping everywhere, get some plants in.

It ends up looking like Kew Gardens. Miranda and I are so different in that way.

I march straight through the door to her kitchen and start declaring it an absolute disgrace.

I wipe all the surfaces down, she just lifts her feet up while I hoover, concussed by the fumes of the bleach.

What did you buy with your first big pay cheque?

Christian Louboutin shoes.

Only because I was nominated for an award.

I sort of crept in really shadily announcing that I was a legitimate customer.

I told the shop assistant 100 times, ‘The thing is, they’ll pay for themselves wear for wear,’ and he’s thinking, ‘I don’t care, I serve really rich people every day, just buy the shoes.’

Have you worn them?

I wear them for awards do’s and they’re beautiful.

So they have paid for themselves if you’re reading this, Mum.

Do you enjoy the glamorous side of the job?

I love the dressing up, but the Miranda cast had a reputation for being the dullest bunch on the planet.

We used to go, do the red carpet, then go back to hers for tea and Creme Eggs.

But you like the red carpet part?

Sometimes.

But I’m useless.

I do a keen smile my sister calls my ‘abroad smile’.

It’s upsetting at best for all who see it.

It’s what I do on holiday when I can’t speak the language and people are trying to communicate with me.

It frightens people, they think something’s wrong with me.

Biggest ‘pinch yourself’ moment so far?

I was ‘Ocean Sky Receptionist’ in Quantum Of Solace.

I never thought I’d get it as the audition room was full of eastern European-looking models.

Then one, who was the most gorgeous creature, said, ‘I hope I don’t have to speak,’ in the broadest Essex accent I’ve ever heard!

I was thinking, God, so do I.

Her voice didn’t match her face.

But I got it, and obviously Daniel Craig was obsessed with me and wouldn’t leave me alone.

I had three lines, but trust me, I lingered with him as much as I could.

Admissions – Sarah’s new play

 

Admissions delves into white privilege, white power, white guilt, all while being funny.

Do you worry about making light of controversial topics?

I think that’s what theatre is for.

The point of the play is thinking you’re saying the right thing when really you’re being patronising.

Nobody wants to offend, but that’s why we need to discuss what’s OK to say and what isn’t.

Plus, it’s good when people laugh, but they’re also horrified.

What’s been the biggest on-stage mishap?

Always with props.

I eat a piece of pepper and although it’s a huge piece on the table in front of me and I have 20/20 vision, I just never see it.

There’s a huge voice in my head going, ‘WHERE’S THE PEPPER, SARAH?’

I got told off once because I’d put it in my pocket and forgot and put my hand in and there was a damp, half-chewed piece that felt like a bit of dismembered ear.

How is it working with Alex Kingston?

I was a massive ER fan, so sometimes when I say rude things to her in the script I think, ‘You’re being horrible to Dr Corday, this is really not on’.

NB: Admissions runs at Trafalgar Studios until 25 May, followed by a UK tour until 22 June. Visit Admissionsplay.com

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