I’m thrilled to announce that I’m judging the 2020 Women’s Prize for Fiction. I have SO MUCH READING to do… This is the third prize in a row I’ve judged after the Wellcome Prize and the David Cohen Prize so I am now well drilled in the art of getting through a massive reading list. Good job I like sitting still.
When the dog bites, when the bee stings, don’t feel bad, just listen to Julie Andrews on the How to Own the Room podcast! This was an extraordinary encounter with a woman whose iconic voice has not changed in seventy years… I loved meeting her and was thrilled by her humility and resilience. Listen to the podcast on iTunes and all podcast platforms: “Have you done your homework? Actress, singer and writer Julie Andrews tells Viv Groskop that you never know when something quite wonderful might happen – so be prepared. She talks being inspired by the excellence of others, being flattened by a helicopter – and how discipline is the foundation that leaves her free to fly.”
How to Own the Room just hit 100+ reviews on Amazon! A huge thank you to everyone who has bought the book and taken the time to review or give feedback of any kind. This kind of reader interaction makes a massive difference to the life of a book: it prolongs the book’s significance and it really makes sure that the book falls into the right hands. I am so grateful and a bit weepy.
Please do not be alarmed by this enormous picture. What can I say? It’s a big show with big dreams.
My new Edinburgh show Vivalicious is currently previewing all over the place and booking at Underbelly Med Quad for Edinburgh Fringe 1-26 August (13 Aug off) at 4.10pm opens this weekend here: http://www.underbellyedinburgh.co.uk.
The theme? Being your best self in preparation for the coming era of President Oprah Winfrey. Is there ever really a point to self-improvement or is it time for us (ie. me) to accept that we are all a bit rubbish and we (ie. I) quite like it that way?
BRIGHTON FRINGE: 11, 12, 25, 26 May, 1, 2 June 8pm, The Claremont Hove. Tickets here.
TWICKENHAM: 23 MAY at The Exchange. Tickets here.
BRISTOL: 30 MAY at White Rabbit Bristol. See here.
CATFORD FRINGE FESTIVAL: 5 JUNE at Broadway Theatre. Tickets here.
BIRMINGHAM: 7 JUNE at The Hexagon. Tickets here.
KINGSTON: 29 JUNE at Crack Comedy. Tickets here.
BARNES: 5 JULY at OSO Arts. Tickets here.
CENTRAL LONDON: Museum of Comedy: 9, 10, 24, 25 JULY. Press preview 10 July. (Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for press tickets.) All at 7pm except 24 July at 8.30pm. Tickets here.
GUILDFORD: 17 JULY at The Star Inn. Tickets here.
TEDDINGTON: 12 JULY at The Anglers. Tickets here.
FROME, SOMERSET: 14 JULY at The Merlin Theatre. Tickets here.
So thrilled to get this interview with Kseniya Sobchak, Russia’s female presidential candidate, for today’s G2 in the Guardian. Did I work out whether she’s a stooge or the real deal? I wish. Thanks to Pushkin House (where I’m a trustee) and to Owen Matthews of The Spectator who made this interview happen.
“When your country’s leader is both very similar to an oligarch and used to be a member of the security services, it’s easy to see people might get confused. But Vladimir Putin is not Russia and Russia is not Putin. As Mikhail Zygar, formerly the editor of Russia’s only independent TV channel, Dozhd, wrote last week, Putin is part of a state-sponsored project to establish him as “a unique historical leader of Russia – able to unite fervent advocates of the Communist-era Soviet Union with those who dream of Russia’s pre-revolutionary empire, built on Orthodox Christianity”. That is a mission that involves extreme cognitive dissonance. And that kind of rewriting of history depends on finding as many common causes and common enemies as possible.”
Writing in today’s i newspaper. (With a teeny tiny i that stands for: “I’m not sure why it’s not called The Independent anymore.”) Not a popular view and it’s not because I don’t love the acting and the writing — both are excellent. But I hate The Crown on principle. I don’t want to know that the Royal family are nice people, thanks very much. And without them being sympathetic, rounded characters, this series would never work…
The nice people at BBC1’s This Week had the crazyass idea of making me be WONDERWOMAN to mark International Women’s Day. Personally I think this was an insult to Lynda Carter and hotpant fans everywhere but I embraced the challenge. After a great deal of wrangling and BBC protocol it was finally decreed that I was allowed to keep the costume afterwards. Result.
The Anna Karenina Fix is coming out in paperback in the UK on June 7. Click here to pre-order. There’s an event at Waterstones Gower Street on Friday 8 June at 6.30pm. Details soon. Here’s the Guardian’s review of the book: “This is the first time I’ve seen Tolstoy described as ‘Oprah Winfrey with a beard.'”
The good people at This Week (presented by Andrew Neil, on after Question Time, watched by people who have just got back from the pub and are too tired to go to bed) decided that it would be a good idea to get me to present the week’s news dressed as Cinderella, whilst performing household chores. Hashtag: feminism. You can decide for yourself whether it was in fact an actual good idea by watching it here. On the plus side, there are cartoon birdies.