“I remember when Miranda said she wanted to push me off the stool. I was thinking, ‘What? Is this going to be funny?’” Where Wood had Walters, and French and Saunders had each other, Miranda Hart had Sarah Hadland. Hart’s hugely popular sitcom about a gawky giantess would have been a very different beast without little Stevie, the pocket blonde dynamo she treated like a rag doll. But Hadland doubted the comedic potential of Miranda, which became famous for its pratfalls (as well as its farcical plots and its old-fashioned looks to camera), until the cast came to record the first episode.
“I thought the audience must be rigged,” she recalls. “They were going nuts for it.” They went nuts for five years, three series and two specials, turning Hart into a megastar and giving Hadland the career as a comic actress she had aspired to for 20 years.
She was in her late 30s by the time Miranda happened in 2009. Not all the critics embraced it. “If 12 million people think it’s funny and watch and the critics don’t like it, that’s OK,” she says. “I was shocked that teenage girls loved it. Stevie and Miranda are not cool. We’re 40-year-old women acting like kids. It turned out that they were desperate to see someone on TV that was as awkward as they felt.”
She and Hart hit it off instantly. “We’d never met before the show. I feel really lucky to have done a job where you come away with a really good friend for the rest of your life.” Hadland is also proud of the female-dominated crew, which, she says, illustrates the great strides women have made in the previously male-dominated realm of comedy.
“There are women in comedy everywhere,” she says. “In Miranda we had a female director, producer, exec, floor manager. I can’t imagine it would have worked as well any other way.”
They are rumoured to be reuniting for a Miranda movie. “I can say there will be something,” she says, but she can’t or won’t say what.
There may be no more pushing off the stool, or no more fruit friends, but I’ll always gallop with gay abandon, and I’ll always find a euphemism in anything. I’ll always sing if someone inadvertently speaks song lyrics and I’ll always love the word “plunge”. And that is not being a child, but sometimes the world needs to be jollied.