There are things you expect in a Miriam Margolyes interview that wouldn’t normally come up in polite conversation. Which is part of her charm, I guess.

Flatulence is one of them. Yes, you heard right.

I try to get it out of the way early in the piece. Her response?

“I’m just farting now,” Margolyes says. This is a phone interview but I’m assuming she’s joking. Or is she?

This British-Australian actor is a raconteur who is known to say things that shock us with the sweetest smile on her face. She has a new book out and is about to embark on a tour with a new show too. Miriam Margolyes: Oh Miriam! Live kicks off in New Zealand on March 11 before heading to Perth, Adelaide, Melbourne, Brisbane, Canberra and Newcastle.

What should we expect in her show?

“Oh, I don’t know if I would call it a show,” Margolyes says. “It’s a conversation between me and the interlocutor and the audience. Don’t expect any singing or dancing. There might be some clips of things I’ve done. I just come on, sometimes with the aid of a wheelchair, and I talk and hopefully the people will buy my book.”

It’s all about the book, Oh Miriam! Stories from an Extraordinary Life (Hachette Australia: $34.99).

“I don’t read the reviews but I read the balance sheets and a lot of people have already bought it,” she says. “I’m not a writer though, I’m just a lucky old lady who people have seen on television. I’m potty mouthed, I tell salacious and honest stories about what I’m like. It’s a window into Miriam Margolyes, a slightly dirty window.”

How would you describe her? Well, in her own words … “I’m lesbian, I’m short, I’m fat, I’m Jewish, I’m Dickensian.”

Which brings up the subject of Dickens, something she loves to talk about.  Her 1989 one-woman show Dickens Women was a huge hit.

I mention I have recently re-read A Christmas Carol and she agrees that it is a superb book. “Did you see the movie about Dickens, The Man Who Invented Christmas?” I ask.

“See it? Darling, I was in it,” she says.

How embarrassing. I quickly Google it and, yes, of course, she plays Mrs Fisk. I had forgotten it was her because she has been in so many things one forgets the last time one saw her. She’s rather ubiquitous and has been on the Graham Norton Show so many times even she has lost count.

Now 82, she has had a rich and varied career. After studies at Cambridge University, she started out in theatre, making her film debut in the British comedy A Nice Girl Like Me in 1969. She has appeared in numerous other films including  Little Shop of Horrors, Romeo + Juliet and a string of other films and is known for her voice work in films such as Babe and Happy Feet.

On television she has appeared in Blackadder (she was hilarious playing several roles in that series) and has also starred in Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries, Call the Midwife and other programs.

Margolyes has charmed audiences across TV and film for more than 60 years, including in her adopted Australia. (Her partner, academic Heather Sutherland is Australian, they have a house here and Margolyes became an Australian citizen in 2013.)

Her popular ABC-TV documentary series’ Miriam Margolyes: Almost Australian and Australia Unmasked introduced her to a wider audience.

You may have seen her more recently on ABC-TV in two series of Miriam and Alan: Lost in Scotland, a series of hilarious road trips featuring Margolyes and Scottish comic Alan Cumming.

Cumming is constantly amused and bemused by his companion. It’s worth watching the clip-on YouTube to see Margolyes eating a whole raw onion as they motor along. The look of shock and incomprehension on Cumming’s face is the sort of response many have to Margolyes.

You never quite know what to expect. I guess it’s a case of expect the unexpected.

There will, she promises, be another of her Australian TV series soon with her exploring several regions including an episode where she ranges through the Byron Bay region.

“I loved it there,” she says. “In Byron Bay I steamed my yoni.”

I am not about to explain exactly what she means by that but will leave you, dear reader, to look it up.

Miriam Margolyes: Oh Miriam! Live is touring nationally, with dates including the Festival Theatre in Adelaide (March 20) and the Concert Hall, QPAC, Brisbane (March 24).

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