Danish-born comedian Sandi Toksvig tells Danny Scott stories of her 33-year gap in the entertainment business.
I can remember…my Dad is famous
My birthplace and my childhood days in Denmark It did not take me long to realize that my father’s name, Claus Toksvig was well-known. At the time, Danish TV started at around 7 pm.
It was a long time of news reading by my father. It was followed by a show about the Queen’s collection of spoons. That was all it took.
The name was Richard Dimbleby and the whole nation seemed to know who the man was. He had met my mother in London. The woman was the studio director at the BBC and, if you’re not lying, women employed by the BBC in the past were required to quit their jobs when they got married.
Moving to the US
Dad was offered a job working as an international correspondent. when I was seven we moved into the US. It was a thrilling experience however, I had a difficult time navigating the system of education in the US.
Because of my father’s influence I was a keen reader, and I enjoyed arguing over the stories I read in the paper. The teachers, however, were not happy to hear the little Danish girl not agreeing with their assessment about The Second World War.
I was eventually dismissed and thrown out of school, but it wasn’t because of being rebellious or something like that. Dad’s job meant that we moved frequently, which meant I would be absent from time to stretch… as I became bored! There wasn’t enough for me to accomplish.
At the age of 14, we relocated from the United States to England where I got placed in a school near Guildford. I was a snob! The worst experience of the last four years. I often say that the boarding colleges are run by psychotherapists in order to create future clients.
I had no idea why I could send my kids to such a location. I enjoy spending time with them. So why would I ever consider sending my children away? I took a look at some of the schools in my area [and Sandi is in Kentand attended a fantastic all-inclusive.
There’s plenty of discussion about the educational system in this country, however If you’re worried about your child’s education take action. Be a proactive parent and provide them with extra support at home.
Getting into Girton College, Cambridge
Sure I was happy however, I believe it was more meaningful than that to the parents of my. My dad was not capable of going to university and was thrilled. It was a very tough environment and some students went by the sidelines, but I enjoyed the challenging environment.
I was also acting in plays and performing shows during my time at school so I was thrilled when I came across the Footlights that was the revue-show at the University.
There was quite a crowd that was formed during my visit, including people such as Stephen Fry and Hugh Laurie. Of course I didn’t know about who these people were back then. They were “those funny blokes”.
Are you interested in becoming a lawyer?
Despite all the comedy and acting at Cambridge I didn’t even have the slightest curiosity about it as a profession. I always wanted to be an attorney. In the middle of nowhere I was approached by a person about the possibility of working at the Nottingham Playhouse and I thought”Ok, let rid of this and then dive in law.
It was 33 years ago. Surely something of a record for the longest gap year in history!
At the beginning of the Eighties In the early Eighties, I started doing Saturday morning children’s television, and I joined Comedy Store Players [with Josie Lawrence and Paul Merton], then Whose Line is It What’s the Matter? happened and, fast without my being aware I was a comedian.
Law is one of the things I’d like to pursue. Perhaps one day, I’ll have the chance to free this world from soaring levels in the courtroom.
Engaging in a lengthy discussion on having children
My ex-partner [Peta Stewardand I had been talking for years about whether we wanted to have children. Naturally, our circumstances were quite different from most family members, yet I truly believe that anyone who is thinking about having children should have long and lengthy discussions about what they’re planning to accomplish. We tried to tackle every possibility and issue and issue, but the truth is that you can only are aware of how things are going to change once you’ve got the little one inside your body and think, “Wow!”
Do the biological connections affect the outcome? Sandi’s children were conceived with Peta who was fathered her close friend, Christopher Lloyd-Pack, by artificial insemination.It doesn’t. For me, that’s not true. I would not have been concerned to have them if we’d bought children from Tesco. The whole point of being a parent lies in giving love towards your children. I had dinner with my kids recently and felt so full of affection for them that I thought I would explode!
Being threatened with death
Then, in the mid Nineties I was warned that I was likely to be exposed by a tabloid. So I took it upon myself to be outed. In the time of my disclosure I don’t believe that there was a single singular “out” gay woman in the British media as well as I received a warning that that my career was probably ended.
The choice to disclose the information to people about our plans was not easy, and it was very stressful. We received death threats. People wanted to murder me! It’s hard to comprehend the extent of psychological harm that has been caused over time, simply because people have to keep this vital aspect of their lives secret.
See how poor Alan Turing [the mathematician who helped to crack the Enigma code] — he was chemically shackled to save his life! In his death the country lost one of its most brilliant minds.
Thankfully, the times have changed and it’s hard to find someone with no acquaintance, family member or coworker who is gay. In fact, the Tory party has passed a law that allows equal marriage!
My first novel Stories From the mouth of Norsein 1994
As with most things throughout my entire life, the writing kind of came up. There was never a time when I have to think about my work and hoping to get a publishing contract. I was approached by a person who asked me, “Do you fancy writing a book?”
The father of my family was journalist. My brother Nick has a job as a reporter. My sister Jenifer writes. Writing is in our blood. Dad often compared writing with eating fish. “First you must catch the fish. Then , you’ll fillet the top pieces.”
I write until something appears on the paper, and then I write out the best things. Are I suffering from writer’s block? I’m a mom of three and one stepdaughter. I’m not able to spare time!
Thinking about whether I should create an account on Twitter.
Interviews aren’t my thing I’ll take them on occasion however, I don’t feel the desire to see my thoughts printed on every paper in the world. So when someone spoke about Twitter for me, I considered the subject for a moment and then said, “Not interested.” If you’re into it then go for it. You’re done. Have fun with tweeting.
Personally, I think it’s a bunch of sad and depressing nonsense that reveals the worst aspects of human nature. Trolling! You know, just a minute. This is like shouting at the drivers around you from the safest of your car.
There’s a Twitter page with my name on it but it’s not mine.
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