Joined once again by Luke Kempner, she's celebrating "midlife madness", tackling bank holiday bin collection schedules, video doorbell footage and being a member of the "sandwich generation", as well as reflecting on caravanning, lower back pain and the irresistible allure of Ken Bruce.
She spoke to British Comedy Guide about the upsides of appearing on breakfast television in pyjamas, not writing her novel, losing her marbles and hitting rock bottom.
How much crossover is there between Lucky Dip and your current touring show, Wake Up Call?
There is crossover between my tour show and the radio show. So much so that I'm rewriting the tour show in order not to repeat myself too much to anyone who enjoys both Radio 4 comedy and going to see comedians at local theatres and arts centres. The Venn diagram of those two groups has a big crossover. There are physical gags in the live show that could never work on the radio though. That's why the initial Radio 4 series of You've Been Framed never got recommissioned but the TV remake was such a hit - hearing a dog smack into a patio door is never as much fun as seeing it.
What's Luke Kempner's role in Lucky Dip and why do you enjoy working with him?
This is the fourth show I've done with him, and I can't imagine doing a radio special without him now. Luke is the Yan to my Ying, the Dean to my Torvill, The Pips to my Gladys Knight. He's a brilliant actor, impressionist and comic, and he can sing like an angel (he was in Les Mis as he never tires of telling me. For him, being in Les Mis is like me winning Celebrity Mastermind - we always find a way to work it into the conversation). Plus, he can dance, although that is less useful for Radio 4. He's a quintuple threat basically. Singing, dancing, comedy, impressions. If he could also do a Rubik's Cube he'd be unstoppable.
If the Dip is generally a bad thing, what's Lucky about it?
When you hit rock bottom, the only way is up right? I read some research which claimed that middle-aged people are the unhappiest age group of all. So in this show I reflect on how crap middle age is - your eyes go, your teeth go, your hair either turns the colour of old cutlery or falls out altogether. You can't get up or down without making the sound of a dying walrus.
But the research shows that your happiness is pretty high aged 18, then it curves downward, and the worst time of your life is between 49 and 54, and after that you start to get happier again. Apparently, by the time you're in your mid-sixties, you're as happy again as you were when you were 18. Whether that's because you've just stopped caring or you're losing your marbles, I do feel pretty lucky that this is probably the hardest my life is going to get.
What reaction did you get to going on BBC Breakfast in your pyjamas?
People are very funny about the whole leisure wear/ sleep wear/ work wear crossover, and I was worried that I'd be lambasted for going on national TV in my PJs. It turns out though that people who are up early in the morning are so busy and stressed that they don't really care what you're wearing. The main thing that the pandemic taught me (apart from that I'll never be a decent hairdresser, baker or teacher) is that there's no job that can't be done in pyjamas. I used to do Zoom gigs during lockdown wearing PJs and it was fine, so I decided to just keep on doing it. After nearly 30 years in the business I'm so relaxed on stage that I think it suits me.
I'm sure that the young me would be disgusted with the old me. But I think that's quite healthy. I started out with the likes of Peter Kay and Johnny Vegas, but I was never as bullet-proof as Peter or as interesting as Johnny. I think I always had a slightly middle-aged outlook and I was just waiting to grow into it. I definitely feel that my shows have got funnier as my life has got more challenging.
I have it in my head you're writing a novel. If so, what's it about?
I am writing a novel. I have started and failed to finish four novels in my life, so I'm hoping this will be the one I finally complete. Even if it doesn't sell a single copy, at least that will give me a sense of achievement. I got diagnosed with ADHD last year at the age of 49 and one of the psychiatrist's questions was: Do you start lots of projects but never finish them? That would be a resounding yes. So I'm slightly wary of saying 2024 will be the year my first novel comes out. But if it's before 2030 I'll be delighted.
Are you returning to the Edinburgh Fringe this year?
No. I think I've only missed two or three since my first experience of the Fringe in 1992. I took a year off when I was having babies, but other than that I've been pretty constant. I adore the Fringe, but it's hard to balance with the demands of family life, as it occupies pretty much the whole holiday if your kids are at school in England. This year I'm going to concentrate on having a proper summer with my kids while they're still interested in being with me. I'm hoping to come back next year or maybe the year after, as by then I think my children will be more interested in seeing shows and bringing their mates.