Regular QI panelist and Radio Four's News Quiz host Sandi Toksvig returns to her stand-up roots with My Valentine at Swansea Grand Theatre next week. MARK REES reports.
HILE it might be apparent to anyone who has watched, read or listened to Sandi Toksvig that she clearly has an insatiable lust for life, what is less well known is the source of her enthusiasm.
"When I was 21, I was seriously ill," she explains.
"I don't want this to sound too dramatic, but it was touch and go for a while. I'm not a religious person. But that whole experience changed everything for me. I'm determined to be cheerful… determined to seek out all the interesting stuff that the world's got to offer."
Next week, the popular comedian, novelist, actor, and broadcaster brings her cheerfulness to the Swansea Grand Theatre with her critically acclaimed one-woman-show My Valentine .
"I decided to call the tour My Valentine because it's my valentine to life," says the QI panellist.
"I have a passion for life and honestly feel that we should all just bloody well get out there and enjoy it. Spike Milligan once said that jokes should be available on the NHS and there's something in that. My intention is that people will come and see the show, have a laugh, enjoy themselves and, hopefully, walk out of the theatre feeling a little bit better than when they arrived."
While many people might be more familiar with seeing or hearing Sandi on TV and radio, she is relishing her return to stand-up, where it all began for her.
"Performing live was where it all started for me. I can't believe it was 32 years ago. In this age of tabloid headlines, it's very easy to get cynical about the job I do, but there's a wonderful simplicity to being on stage. If the audience is enjoying what you're doing, they will laugh. If they're not, they'll tell you to push off."
It has also given her a chance to interact with her audience, and to answer some of their more unusual queries.
"Some of the questions are hilarious. A woman in Bradford wanted to know my bra size. I couldn't actually remember, so she had to come up and have a look."
Outside of touring, Sandi also has a new novel out, Valentine Grey, which she will be signing copies of after the show.
"I don't always like the process of writing, but I like seeing the end result. My father was a journalist, so he was always writing and, rather bizarrely, he compared the process to eating fish. He said: 'First you must land the fish. Then, you fillet out the rubbish and enjoy the tasty bits'. There's a section of the show where I talk about why I write and encourage the audience to write… we've all got a story to tell. No matter how many Kindles there are out there, people will always love books. Books can change lives. If George Bush had just read one book about Afghanistan, the world might be different place. Actually, the world might be a different place if George Bush had just read one book."
AT: Swansea Grand Theatre
ON: Tuesday, October 29, 7.30pm