Andrew Dipper

Sarah Millican on Desert Island Discs

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"For two years I didn't write as I didn't have the urge. It came back hell for leather when I divorced…"

Sarah Millican says comedy helped her cope with her bitter divorce – but says she wouldn’t advocate stand-up as a psychological cure.

The South Shields star appeared on Radio 4’s Desert Island Discs this morning and told host Kirsty Young: “I didn’t just do the comedy. I wouldn’t advocate, ‘Just do comedy that’ll make you better’. I’m very vocal about how useful counselling can be.”

Millican said she was “sort of broken” after her seven-year marriage fell to pieces, but got the comedy bug after attending a course for comedy writers in Newcastle.

Even before her divorce, Millican wanted to be a writer. She worked for free as a film reviewer for her local paper, but put her writing ambitions on hold during her marriage.

“I used to write as a way out of things. And for two years I didn’t write as I didn’t have the urge. It came back hell for leather when I divorced…

“I’m slightly ashamed that I used to be a critic given how not very fond of them I am now. I went to the cinema for four years for free and it appeared in the free paper – the one the people put down for their cat to poo on.”

Millican also spoke about being bullied as a child – “I was 12 and my maths teacher came to my birthday party. That says a lot, doesn’t it?” – and how she was recently targeted online for the dress she wore at last year’s Baftas.

“I was thrilled to be there… [It] was so flattering. And then to be pulled apart for something so unimportant seems really odd,” she said.

“If I saw somebody wearing something and I thought, ‘Oh that’s brave’, I wouldn’t go up and tell her. And that’s what Twitter and Facebook are. It’s tapping somebody on the shoulder and saying, ‘Oh you look rubbish, you shouldn’t be wearing that, you’re too fat for that, you’re too ugly for that’. Of course it hurts.”

On growing up during the miners’ strike, she said: “I remember waking up and my bed was covered in blood because my shoes were too tight and I hadn’t told my family because I knew they couldn’t afford new ones.”

And on female quotas on panel shows, Millican diplomatically said: “‘If that’s the only way, I suppose that’s the way it has to be.”

Millican’s record choices were the Thelma and Louise theme tune, We All Stand Together by Paul McCartney, the Superman theme, Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go by Wham, Happy by Pharrell Williams, and the Frog Chorus – a first for Desert Island Discs.

Listen to Sarah Millican‘s Desert Island Discs here.