| Mel Giedroyc

Mel Giedroyc

With a little over a week to go before their West End show, their first full-on theatre performances for three years, you might expect Mel and Sue to be putting the finishing touches to the script, just making small tweaks the final draft.

Not a bit of it. "We still haven't fully decided what we're going to do," admits Mel Giedroyc. "These gigs are going to be rough and ready, don't expect them to be gliding on oiled wheels."

Not that they are daunted by the idea of busking it to some extent - years of live performance, a weekly slot on BBC's London radio station and two years fronting a live Channel 4 show has given them a certain confidence in their ability.

"We've done live stuff for so long, we'll be able to banter and ad-lib," said Mel.

But despite the blase attitude, the duo do have something to draw on - their Radio 4 series now being broadcast every Thursday.

"Recording it was such a good laugh, it renewed our enthusiasm," Mel added. "We introduced lots of characters, which has given us three hours of material - six half-hour shows.

"Some of it is useable live, but it seems a bit of a cheat to go 'sketch, blackout, sketch, blackout.' We need a bit of narrative.

As well as radio characters such as the ham actors from the Foxgrave dynasty, Mel and Sue will be unveiling some new ones at the month of Sunday gigs at the Arts Theatre, characters including Anna Dyne and Bo Ring, "desperate TV presenter types, who won a reality show".

These dates - plus a couple at the Brighton Comedy Festival - will be their first full-length live shows since their 1999 tour. A national run last autumn was cancelled when 33-year-old Mel became pregnant with Florence, now seven months old.

"She wakes up in the night, so it makes me a bit spongy," said mum. "It masks out the reality and fear of the new gigs."

But generally, Mel isn't too stressed out by the new shows.

"I do believe that now we're older we're less careful about what we say and what people think and just go out and have a laugh. When we were in out 20s, we were much more concerned with how we would be perceived.

"Having a laugh is generally what it's all about. We're not trying to change the world with some political statement, it's just bantering and taking the piss out of each other."

For a comedy act, Mel and Sue had an unique journey into the public's conscience. After all, a daily, daytime cookery programme is not the usual career path for up-and-coming comics.

"Before Late Lunch we'd been grafting away for years, since 1992, going to Edinburgh, doing bits and bobs," said Mel.

"It was a massive deal. We were in debt by about £15,000 to our banks, family, agents and boyfriends. We had no choice, but to accept it, though we were surprised we got it.

"We got a lot of exposure and got to do an hour's live TV every day. It was all-consuming for two years. It was pretty damn intensive."

Depsite all that, Mel admits: "It'd be good to do more live TV."

In the meantime though, she's writing a book - "an hilarious take on pregnancy, with hilarious anecdotes", she stresses the adjectives in a typically self-deprecating way - while continuing the BBC London shows and waiting to hear about a second Radio 4 series.

And the Arts Theatre gigs are likely to be a precursor to a national tour next year - replacing the one cancelled by young Florence. "I might take my daughter with me," says Mel. "She is marvellous, so deadpan. She is exceptional, but then I am her mother."

Published: 27 Jul 2006

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