You may be in an uber trying to sneak the last of your pasty, or just at your desk scrolling - whatever your activity - welcome to me. And now I’m going to pretend I’m someone in authority describing me.
Helen first tapped into the public’s funny bone with her Sloaney girl at the bar in the BBC comedy ‘Naked Video’. Then came Saturday Night Live, The Young Ones, French and Saunders and Bottom with Rik Mayal and she’s best known as Catriona - the dippy journo in the TV series of Absolutely Fabulous and more recently the movie. Younger people may know her as Rich Aunt Ruby in the Horrid Henry movie and very possibly from Celebrity Big Brother where she almost appeared normal. To stay limber, she presents BBC Radio 4’s ‘Pick of the week’, does panel games and writes for newspapers. She has also written a comedy novel ‘Losing it’ that was nominated for the PG Wodehouse comedy literary award. Last year Helen set up the Comedy Women in Print prize.
Me: When I began writing and performing comedy it was 1983 and unless you were a male performer - the audience tended to glaze over or throw things. Oddly enough I cracked on despite begin asked to reveal a certain body part at The Comedy Store (luckily, I hadn’t brought it with me that night, so I was let off the hook). Over to my biographer...
In 2018, Helen made her return to the Edinburgh Festival with her sell-out and highly acclaimed confessional stand-up performance called ‘I might as well say it’, a searingly candid biographical journey with the kind of irony that reminded everyone she is still the third funniest women in England.
TV appearances span such shows as ‘The Young Ones’, ‘French and Saunders’, ‘Happy Families’, ‘One Foot in the Grave’, ‘Bottom’, ‘Love Soup’, ‘Miss Marple’ and ‘Hollyoaks’. Children’s TV includes the much-loved children's favourite 'Miss Bowline-Hitch' along with Bernard Cribbins for CBeebies' ‘Old Jacks Boat’. She starred as Rich Aunt Ruby in ‘Horrid Henry: The Movie’.
Helen's published books include ‘COPING with HELEN LEDERER’ (Angus and Robertson), ‘SINGLE MINDING’ (Hodder and Stoughton), 'FINGER FOOD' (Quick Reads), as well as short stories in ‘GIRLS NIGHT OUT’ and ‘GIRLS NIGHT IN’ (Harper Collins).
Her first comedy Novel ‘LOSING IT’ published by Pan Macmillan was nominated for the Bollinger Everyman Wodehouse Prize in 2015.
Five years ago when I finished my comedy novel 'Losing it', I rather hopefully looked around for a female comedy literary prize to win and discovered there weren't any - which is why I set up the Comedy Women In Print Prize (CWIP).
Harper Fiction publishes the winning witty unpublished novel, huge support emerged on social media and everyone got to have lots of drinks at the winners event. Read all about it and find out how to enter for 2020 at the official website www.comedywomeninprint.co.uk.
Helen's first radio job was a live comedy series for BBC Radio called 'In One Ear' winning the Sony award for radio comedy where she wrote her infamous 'pen pal' letters to politicians.
Since then she's been a mainstay on the radio with her most recent podcast series 'Knock Knock' where she talks to other comedians to see if they share the same head space. 'Knock Knock' is available on the BBC website.
radio and podcasts
Helen: For some reason I like to stand up in front of people and get their attention and tell them important things after they've had dinner. I also love MC’ing events - even when things go wrong.
‘Organizing and mingling with guests while making sure the winners get photographed - all the while keeping the focus in the room is an art form. Helen does this to perfection every time’
~Annie Lycett, The Prince's Trust
I Am A Selfish And Wheezy Traveller...
A recent trip to Falmouth offered some challenges. I took a plane (I’d like to do a Prince Harry and say this choice of flying was to keep my family safe, but it was just me, and it was free). I was told a taxi driver would be there to meet me at Newquay Airport (a small airport and totally unafraid of somewhat thorough pelvic area body searching, as I discovered on my return) but on arrival, I couldn’t see any taxi driver with my name on a board. There were several other taxi drivers boasting other names, but none of them were mine. I was vexed. Possibly caused by a childhood trauma of being left in my pram unattended – and then I noticed one driver holding a board with the name ‘Browne’ on it which caught my eye. I asked him if he was there to collect me...