Fiona Allen: ‘Comedians have always been untouchable because they’re seen as mavericks’

Fiona Allen
Fiona Allen

How do famous names spend their precious downtime? In our weekly My Saturday column, celebrities reveal their weekend virtues and vices. This week: Fiona Allen


I have no problem with lying in. Even then, I need two coffee pods in my coffee to wake me up. I eat some granola and blueberries. I can’t do that intermittent fasting thing, I’m a textbook human who needs feeding regularly throughout the day.


Joggers on and out to walk my cockapoo Herbert. It’s pure happiness to me to have nature around me [in Berkshire, where she lives] and hear the leaves crunching and trees swaying. I shut out day-to-day life – no phone calls or social media.


I potter about the house with a TV cooking show in the background. I’m currently working Saturday evenings on my new stand-up comedy tour On The Run [until 6 December,], so I keep the daytime low-key. People say I’m brave trying out stand-up in my 50s, I guess so. I’m older, I’m a mum of three teenagers and I’ve been an actress starring in everything from Smack The Pony to EastEnders and Poirot, and a voice artist for years and years. But as my kids have got older, my evenings are more free and I want to have some fun. I deserve it.


I feed the family. My mum is Spanish so I grew up eating Spanish food like paella and chorizo and lentil stews with chunks of bread. I make a huge tortilla, which my kids adore. I serve it up on a plate and it disappears within 10 minutes. I don’t do long lunches out if I’m working, but I do enjoy going to the nearby Hinds Head in Bray – I love the oldy-worldy atmosphere and their Scotch eggs. I also like the Butcher’s Tap in Marlow. I’ll meet Sally Phillips or Doon Mackichan [Smack the Pony co-stars] for lunch occasionally. We laugh and laugh together. It’s the best. Sally came to see me at my sold-out show at Edinburgh Festival Fringe, which was lovely.

Smack the Pony
Smack The Pony is available to stream on Channel 4


My last chance to relax before I start getting ready for my gig. I catch up on emails or some writing on my laptop, give the dog a walk in some muddy puddles or taxi the kids somewhere.


I always make an effort to get ready for work – I don’t like to look like I’ve just come from the supermarket. I don’t have any insecurities about putting myself out there. I couldn’t give a s—t about getting older. I’m not desperate, I have had a brilliant career. Who says you can’t do stand-up after 25?


During long car journeys to gigs, I create my own dance party in the car with some Pete Tong. I’ll pick up fish ’n’ chips and chat to locals.


Arrive at the venue. I love the buzz of a live comedy night, it’s great fun. The industry has changed a lot over the years. I don’t worry about reactions to my jokes because I was never that person making cringey gags in the ’80s. I remember doing an open-mic spot in my 20s and being introduced to the stage as ‘not bad for a girl’ which was pathetic, but I suppose I’m lucky that I never faced any sexual harassment. I also never had any issues with working while pregnant. I’ve had male bosses who have been cool with it. But I am horrified to hear what some women in the industry have been through and it’s admirable that they can speak out about certain comedians’ awful behaviour now. Comedians have always been untouchable in a sense, because they’re seen as mavericks. Things have gone under the radar, but you know what? Tough. You did it. Deal with it.


Leave the gig, baseball cap on and in the car. I don’t stick around for drinks as I usually have a two-hour drive home.


I hide away from the kids in the kitchen, watch TV and drink a camomile tea to unwind. Although it’s wall-to-wall murders at that time of night so it’s hardly relaxing.