The marvellously mirthful Miriam Margolyes

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Following on from this, I've moved on to Miriam's Big Fat Adventure which is proving predictably entertaining in covering another taboo subject.



A couple of interviews where she discusses the series:


(When asked what drew her to making the series):
Miriam Margolyes said:
Well, principally the money, I think. That was a big draw.... And I know about being fat because I've been fat all my life.

Miriam Margolyes said:
I think it's absolutely ridiculous to be seventy eight and fat... I was very stupid... But I'm battling on and I'm not hating myself. I hated myself for a long time, and now I rather love myself actually.

Miriam Margolyes said:
If you can try to be healthy, that is the great thing. Especially these days when... well, I don't know how long we're going to have a National Health Service, do I? Coming from the political spectrum that I come from.





Miriam Margolyes said:
I know what I look like, and I hate it.

Miriam Margolyes said:
[Food is] advertised all the time. I know I'm on ITV and that's how we all make our money, but it's wrong. People don't need to be persuaded to eat. We eat. We have to eat to stay alive. So why are we having advertisements pushing food at us? (*calls offstage*) And save the chicken kiev, please.

Miriam Margolyes said:
We should be kind, but everybody should be able to use the word "fat" and not die when they use it. It is a real word. It's what I am. Look at me... It's awful.

Miriam Margolyes said:
People are always laughing and making silly jokes... It's not kind... We wouldn't do it to blacks and Jews and cripples. We don't make fun of them. So don't make fun of fat people. Understand - we know we're fat, and it hurts.
 

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Miriam briefly mentions the series I have lined up next at the end of this interview:




And there's a lot of other ground covered...

On Maggie Smith:
Miriam Margolyes said:
I think my Scottish accent is better than hers... But I know what she was trying for. Not that I'm rubbishing Maggie Smith because she's a great lady. I'm f'kin' scared of her actually... Don't tell her what I said for goodness' sake. [*when reminded she's just said it on telly*] Oh yeah. I forget that.


On Hallowe'en:
Miriam Margolyes said:
I can't stand the whole thing. I can't bear it.... American invention. I loathe it.


On other celebrations:
Miriam Margolyes said:
Christmas is fun. Food. And Doolally... Do- Dowa... Diwali. Diwali. Doolally's the other thing... That's not politically correct... I'll have my sari snapped.
 
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They also have:
  • Miriam's Dead Good Adventure (where she explores our relationship with death)
  • Miriam's Big Fat Adventure (where she investigates why obesity is on the rise)
  • Almost Australian (looking at what it means to be Australian)
Thanks, Mel, for mentioning these; I found them all on Sky and downloaded them. I hadn't seen these before; I thought the American Adventure was a one-off. We watched the Fat Adventure the other night, and it was every bit as wonderful, sad and insightful as her American Adventure. I don't know how she does it, but Miriam can say it as it is without being offensive.

I'm looking forward to doing the other two in the next week or so.
 

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I hadn't seen these before; I thought the American Adventure was a one-off.

The most recent one - Almost Australian - is from just last year, so I'm hoping there may be plans for more of these series. There are so many possibilities and avenues to explore. I'd love to see her do a series on faiths, for example. That would be a really interesting adventure.


We watched the Fat Adventure the other night, and it was every bit as wonderful, sad and insightful as her American Adventure.

Wasn't it? I'm surprised by how touching I've found some of these. I was really expecting to laugh a lot, and I have. But I had no idea I'd end up so moved by some moments.


I don't know how she does it, but Miriam can say it as it is without being offensive.

I really admire that in her. And I'm a little envious, too.


I'm looking forward to doing the other two in the next week or so.

Great. You're in for a treat.

I've now watched three of the four series, and started the final one last night. It's sad to think I've already watched 80% of them as I could watch her all day long.
 
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I'd love to see her do a series on faiths, for example.
Ooh, that would be fascinating, and another that springs to mind would be something around plastic surgery. I know Miriam covered a little bit about operating on our bodies in the Fat Adventure, but there is another world out there with so many people choosing to change the way their body looks.

There are so many possibilities and avenues to explore.
Just look at the two options we picked up on. If we were in a pub taking on the world, I'm sure we would have enough to keep Miriam working for another 30 years.

I've now watched three of the four series,
I've skipped your post on what I haven't watched yet; I'll be checking in later with that one. You have a natural talent for highlighting so many bits and pieces from the shows you watch, so I'm looking forward to more of your thoughts later.
 

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Ooh, that would be fascinating,

Yes. Without going into specifics, Miriam mentioned her relationship with her Jewish faith more than once in the Dead Good Adventure. At the very beginning of the series she mentioned one Jewish custom that I wasn't aware of, but as soon as I heard it it made sense to me. That's the kind of stuff I'd be interested in seeing. Finding out about the little things that are meaningful to people who follow certain faiths.

And I remember times when I've heard about things like bricks being thrown through mosque windows and find myself wondering how that really affects the people who visit them. I can almost visualise Miriam chatting to people to find out the human story behind the big picture.


another that springs to mind would be something around plastic surgery. I know Miriam covered a little bit about operating on our bodies in the Fat Adventure, but there is another world out there with so many people choosing to change the way their body looks.

Oh yes. That's a topic that could take so many angles, and I think it's something Miriam - who's very open about her body image issues - would really be able to get a grip on.


If we were in a pub taking on the world, I'm sure we would have enough to keep Miriam working for another 30 years.

Oh definitely. Now that you've mentioned plastic surgery, it's got me thinking about social media pressures, and I then thought it might be fun to see Eighty-something Miriam do a documentary about social media, or even the internet in general.



You have a natural talent for highlighting so many bits and pieces from the shows you watch, so I'm looking forward to more of your thoughts later.

Thanks. I've quickly run out of steam with the Miriam ones and found myself writing less and less as I watched. Not because there's nothing to say, but more because I ended up so absorbed in it. In many ways it's the kind of series you just have to watch. Not that it'll stop me commenting on the final series.
 

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With two out of three watched, I've been thoroughly enjoying Miriam Margolyes: Almost Australian.


Once again, Miriam feels very fearless in her exploration. From outback pubs to driving into the middle of nowhere to meeting remote indigenous Australian communities. And her bluntness gets to the heart of things in a very short space of time. Politically Correct she isn't. "Why are you that size?", she asks an obese man, despite their conversation having nothing to do with weight. And on meeting a group of transgender Aboriginals, she asks "Have you have your cocks sliced off?"

But it's her lack of filter that allows her to form meaningful connections very quickly. And in turn we go deep and blow away any preconceptions or assumptions. The rugged bloke running the outback watering hole banters away with Miriam but is hiding something. Miriam is later told (off camera) that his wife is seriously ill with cancer and he is facing the prospect of selling up and moving. The woman living as a free spirit in her winnebago is doing so because like many older people she could no longer afford to run a house. The happy farming family she meets are facing ruin due to the cruel drought that has been going on for several years, with the man of the house on the verge of suicide the previous year. The men openly talk about feelings, and the Aboriginal children recognise Miriam as Professor Sprout.

Miriam recognises the treatment of the indigenous population as a source of great shame to Australia and it is very eye-opening to see how far below the poverty line many live because they are not given opportunities. It really feels as though they have been pushed down and kept down. One woman described Australia Day as an annual day of mourning. It's shocking to see that this is happening in a First World country in the 2020s.







These connections of Miriam's can happen anywhere it seems. She pops into a shop for a Pyrex dish and ends up having a heart to heart with an employee who is a refugee from Afghanistan whose parents were killed when he was young (he doesn't even know his actual age or birthday) and is now facing the prospect of deportation. It's an unexpectedly touching moment:

 
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I was expecting quirk and I certainly got it. I wasn't sure where it would be based, but it makes sense Miriam would travel to America where there's an abundance of alternative practices.
We finished this two-parter last night, and at first, I wasn't sure how it would span over two-hourly episodes, and here I feel like I want more.

Like you, I found it quirky, emotional and completely fascinating. From meeting various people in America who believe they will live to 500 years to meeting organisers promoting how they will live forever, don't forget to drop a cheque off by the door before you leave. I felt some of them were preying on vulnerable people into making them believe they could live for twice as long and even longer.

One of the promoters came across truly horrible, even saying she would be happy if a couple of them did die to get away from them.

The sex magic class! What was that all about? Apart from laughing at Miriam's reaction as she watched them, I was lost by how they interpreted an orgasm. It was pure nonsense, nothing else, well, unless I've got it all wrong about what an orgasm is. Not that I want to dig into that any more than what I watched.

The second part of Miriam's Dead Good Adventures continued the trend of moistening my eyes.
Wasn't it just? I was moved so much by the friendships she made, from the lovely Tracey leaving her two daughters behind to the young lad diagnosed with terminal. As well as the wonderful husband spending as much time as possible with his wife in the care home with Altzheimer's.


I can never make up my mind if it's better to know when you're going to die or not. Tracey's story was heartbreaking, but as she mentioned, she gets to say all her goodbyes and make plans.

I love how much detail her exploration is and how she finds stories across the globe and not just in one place. The idea of building your coffin shocked me, and then I thought it could be therapeutic to go through that process and to decide what would go in the coffin with you. I liked how one guy took photos and concert tickets with him. That said, I'm not sure where one would store that homemade coffin until one was to pass away.

Miriam's idea of using stones instead of flowers when visiting a grave made sense seeing how flowers die after a short time.

I had a big grin on my face when I watched Miriam in the sidecar. Nothing phases her.
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We finished this two-parter last night, and at first, I wasn't sure how it would span over two-hourly episodes, and here I feel like I want more.

Yes indeed, I felt that way to some degree about all four series, but especially the two-parters.



The sex magic class! What was that all about? Apart from laughing at Miriam's reaction as she watched them, I was lost by how they interpreted an orgasm. It was pure nonsense, nothing else, well, unless I've got it all wrong about what an orgasm is. Not that I want to dig into that any more than what I watched.

I'd have reacted the same way as Miriam. In fact I don't think I'd even have stayed in the room.

It made sense to me on some level in the same way as something like reiki which uses the bodies' external energies. Or chanting. Or laughter therapy, which takes something that makes you feel good and uses it. But watching it take place, shooting the "orgasm" out of the top of the head seemed plain silly. I did wonder if this is genuinely how the class is run when the cameras aren't there, or if it's actually something quite dodgy.



I was moved so much by the friendships she made, from the lovely Tracey leaving her two daughters behind to the young lad diagnosed with terminal. As well as the wonderful husband spending as much time as possible with his wife in the care home with Altzheimer's.

Same here. It was beautiful to watch. I was so glad when she made her second visit to Tracey after being unsure if she'd ever see her again. And her return to visit the husband and wife in the care home is one of those images that will stay with me for a long time.




I can never make up my mind if it's better to know when you're going to die or not. Tracey's story was heartbreaking, but as she mentioned, she gets to say all her goodbyes and make plans.

From my experiences of bereavement to date, I feel not knowing is probably better for the person who dies but knowing is probably better for loved ones.

At some point soon, I'm hoping to start getting my "affairs being in order" (as they say on the telly) so at least I can feel a little prepared. Just in case.



I love how much detail her exploration is and how she finds stories across the globe and not just in one place.

Yes, and it makes sense for her to do that. She grew up in the UK, lived in America during the Seventies and is now also an official Australian citizen, so she has a good understanding of different cultures in the English-speaking world.



The idea of building your coffin shocked me, and then I thought it could be therapeutic to go through that process and to decide what would go in the coffin with you. I liked how one guy took photos and concert tickets with him. That said, I'm not sure where one would store that homemade coffin until one was to pass away.

Yes, like you, I thought it seemed a very therapeutic process. But I had similar practical concerns like the storage you mentioned. Like Miriam asked about what happens if she puts on weight and no longer fits. And I'd worry about my tastes changing and wanting a different design on it or something.



Miriam's idea of using stones instead of flowers when visiting a grave made sense seeing how flowers die after a short time.

To me, too. In fact that's the Jewish tradition I vaguely mentioned earlier on in the thread when I was trying not to give spoilers about this series.



I had a big grin on my face when I watched Miriam in the sidecar. Nothing phases her.

She's really fearless, and I adore her for it.
 
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I'd have reacted the same way as Miriam. In fact I don't think I'd even have stayed in the room.
I'm with you; I wouldn't want to be in the room either. It was bad enough watching it on the screen, and I think it was Miriam's facial expressions that carried me through.


From my experiences of bereavement to date, I feel not knowing is probably better for the person who dies but knowing is probably better for loved ones.
That makes sense, I get it, but I'm still undecided :lol:


she has a good understanding of different cultures in the English-speaking world.
She certainly does, and even though she can be blunt, it never comes across that way.


I'm not a fan of profanity, but in Miriam's case, I find it kind of endearing if that is possible. She's not afraid to use the F word when reacting to something that blows her away.



We only have the Australian series left and I'm already starting to feel like its' over and done.


Have you watched any of the Louis Theroux documentaries? We have only done the 'America's Most Hated Family', which I think is three episodes, and it was alarming. I also got a vibe from the way Louis conducts his interest in others that while he can be very blunt, it doesn't appear to upset whoever he is chatting with.
 

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I think it was Miriam's facial expressions that carried me through.

Same here. She didn't even have to say anything as it was very clear what she was thinking.



but I'm still undecided :lol:

Definitely understandable. There are pros and cons to both (though it is death, so I suppose the "con" list is always going to be a bit longer).


I'm not a fan of profanity, but in Miriam's case, I find it kind of endearing if that is possible. She's not afraid to use the F word when reacting to something that blows her away.

I love that she doesn't change the way she speaks for anyone. Some love it and some hate it, but people often seem to find it unexpected or even shocking, which I enjoy.


We only have the Australian series left and I'm already starting to feel like its' over and done.

I know that feeling. At least Almost Australian is a three-parter.


Have you watched any of the Louis Theroux documentaries? We have only done the 'America's Most Hated Family', which I think is three episodes, and it was alarming.

I've seen some clips of America's Most Hated Family (partly because I couldn't believe anyone would want to talk to that mob) and found him an interesting interviewer. Looking at a list of his documentaries, I'm sure I'd enjoy watching them if they show up on the old iPlayer.
 
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