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The Dudley Questionnaire: Sara Pascoe

Words by Amanda Zuydervelt

“Mouse is a really good boy. He doesn’t chew our shoes or furniture but he does like to destroy and then hump a squeaky octopus once a day.”

Words by Kate Spicer

Sara Pascoe is strikingly beautiful, which should be the very last thing we mention because a) Dudley is a feminist and b) it’s how people’s bottoms smell that we really care about. We say this only because her beauty only serves to make the awkward clumsy comic physicality and bonkers knitwear in her new BBC TV show, Out of Her Mind, all the more delightful and absurd. There she is, spinning lumpily on the floor of an empty roller disco wearing a sparkly unitard and you think, what’s this about then?

A clue fills the screen, a large diamond of the sort found in engagement rings. The Essex born comedian says she, “Was aiming to explore how hard it is to love when you’ve got all brittle from rejection or heart break. And also being a proper grown up without having kids.” Both themes which, let’s be honest, have underpinned some of the greatest female driven comedy telly of the 21st Century, SatC, Girls, Fleabag, Miranda, to name a stratospherically successful few, and now Pascoe’s Out of Her Mind.

Pascoe lives with her boyfriend, the Aussie comedian Steen Raskopoulos, and Mouse the dog. “He’s in his basket under my desk at my feet, which is dreamy and the picture you have of him was taken right now just in case you don’t believe me.”

She named her production company Mouse the Dog and on her website you can buy Mouse the dog T shirts for £18. We hear thrilling rumours she is currently writing material for a show about Mouse, the world needs more comedy about dogs written by people who love their own in a way we at Dudley fully understand: love that starts with a capital I love you so much, I love you soooooo so so so so much…

Mouse The Dog

If Miranda Hart and Phoebe Waller Bridge made a sitcom baby then Out of Her Mind would probably be it. Pascoe has written a sitcoms with a taste of that cringing quality that takes the edge off the slapstick and plants it firmly in far more interesting and offbeat turf.

Yes Pascoe is a funny lady, and a clever one. The best kind. Some of the brainy material found in her two bestselling books, Animal and Sex Power Money, crop up in Out of Her Mind in the form of technically accurate but really goofy cartoons. The first episode includes one about the stew of wholly untrustworthy hormones released when we fall in love, which any right thinking and heartbroken cynic will relate to. It’s not love, it’s just chemicals, right? Right? Unless it’s a dog, obviously.

The Dudley Questionnaire

Listening to me, you’d think I was telling my boyfriend he is the love of my life, but no, it’s just me talking to Mouse.

What is your idea of perfect dog-related happiness?
When he gets on me for a cuddle just before I am supposed to get up and do some work. I love being the pillow to his sleep, just holding him and trying not to move so he’s comfy.

What is/are your greatest fears?
I cry regularly about his inevitable death, usually when we are having a lovely time.

Which historical doggy person do you most identify with?
Charles II. Cavalier King Charles Spaniels were bred to look like him and he was so pleased he changed the law so that they were permitted in all buildings in the land. I would love that kind of power because I’d like to take my dog travelling so we can have adventures. There are far too many annoying rules, like, he can’t run up and down a plane or have a seat on the Eurostar.

Which living person does your dog most admire, after you – obviously?
I live with my boyfriend, and he and the dog are very close. But in terms of admiration Mouse falls instantly in love with everyone he meets on the walk, everyone who knocks on the door, and loses his mind if someone visits more than once. So in a very egalitarian way, I think he admires (and adores) all humanity.

What is the trait you most deplore in yourself that you don’t mind in your dog?
A desperate need to be liked. And smelliness.

What is the trait you most deplore in others but that you don’t mind in your dog?
Never asking questions, making every conversation about them.

What is your greatest dog-related extravagance?
I spend a lot on toys, which Mouse eats through within minutes/hours. I have started to buy non-plastic ones, for the environment but I still feel guilty at the waste. He’s a really good boy. He doesn’t chew our shoes or furniture, but he does like to destroy and then hump a squeaky octopus once a day.

What is your favourite dog walk?
I live near the Parklands walk in North London so we go up and down there twice a day and it’s a great length with lots of squirrels and birds and runny voles to chase. My dog likes it too.

What do you consider the most overrated virtue in mankind?
Oh god, I heard a man on First Dates last night bragging that he “always held open doors” and I think anyone who is patting themselves on the back for such a tiny, inconsequential behaviour is an idiot. Doors are so easy to open, literally designed for it, and people (including women) can easily do it for themselves, they don’t need your gracious support. And if they do need help, how dare you think there is anything extraordinary about your assistance. So yeah, I don’t like people who think they are gallant gentlemen for performing with basic humanity.

What do you consider the most overrated virtue in in dogs?
Loyalty. Because we actually don’t deserve it, and sometimes dogs are loyal to awful, awful people who hurt them and mistreat them and I wish dogs would run away from those people.

What do you dislike most about your appearance?
All of it really. Not because I think I’m a ghastly monster who should live in a belltower, but because it’s not how I look in my head. So I get cognitive dissonance when I watch myself, or see pictures, it is always very unenjoyable. I just made a sitcom and have had to watch hours and hours of myself and I’m ready to be invisible now please.

What do you most love about your dog’s appearance?
He is incredibly handsome with a sculpted little jawline and I am hugely in love with his whole face, but especially his chin and mouth when he is asleep. He always looks so free and happy.

Which words or phrases do you most overuse when talking to your dog?
I’m too romantic. Listening to me, you’d think I was telling my boyfriend he is the love of my life, but no, it’s just me talking to Mouse.

If your dog could talk, what would he/she sound like?
I can’t imagine it! I am thinking now, he’s not too posh and not too common. So he is London-y but almost accent-less. Excitable, like a TV presenter who’s presenting a show about the squirrels on next door’s roof.

What does your special talking to the dog voice sound like?
Normal, like I’m talking to my boyfriend most of the time, but if he is running to say hello after a nap there is more patronising enthusiasm as I congratulate his clever scampering and wagging.

What is your greatest regret when it comes to dogs?
That they don’t live forever. They come with inbuilt heartbreak. Also that I can’t adopt more, that I don’t have a big farm full of fields where all the unwanted fellows can roam and safely live.

What or who is the greatest canine love of your life?
Mouse. I did have a dog at university called Rusty, a little Spaniel, and I also think about him every day.

Which talent would you most like to have?
Gymnastics. One of the flippy bouncy ones who can tumble into the splits and stuff. Yes please.

Which talent would you most like your dog to have?
If he could stay calmer around people I could take him to more places. I love to take him to work with me, but he wants to say hello to everyone in the crowd and some people are scared of dogs and it always causes problems.

If you could change one thing about your dog, what would it be?
Nothing. Except the never dying thing.

What is your earliest memory of a dog?
I was given a teddy, of a poodle, quite big. My Mum’s Dad brought it for me, I was three. Mum’s twin had a Jack Russell called Charlie, and he fought the poodle toy. Was biting it on the snout and shaking it, so it looked like the poodle had come alive! For a minute there, I thought I had a real dog. It was an exciting minute.

What do you consider your greatest achievement?
Being so much happier now than I used to be. I have worked very, very hard to stop being sad, to enjoy my life, and make caring choices for myself.

What kind of dog do you look like?
One of those long eared blonde ones, the Jerry Hall ones, Afghan Hound. I had a dog lookalike brought out on Last Leg on New Years Eve and I loved meeting her.

What is your most treasured possession?
My books. I bought a flat last year and for the first time my books are all in one place and they make me feel so rooted. It’s like they are who I am, all my little plagiarisms in coloured covers.

What is your dog’s most treasured possession?
He destroys everything he loves, so the exact opposite of treasured. He likes his lead I guess because he knows we are going out, and that inspires great celebration. He runs around the house squeaking and leaping as soon as it comes out.

What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery?
The flatness when you don’t feel anything. At least with pain and grief there is an aliveness inside it, its awful but you’re breathing, crying and being. But there is something lower than that and when you’re in it, it’s everything and forever and every memory and all of your future kind of dies. There is no hope and there is no coping.

Where would you like to live?
I’m in love with London, and really love where I live now. It’s important to live in an area that accommodates a wide range of people, and I love Finsbury Park.

What do you most value in your friends?
Not expecting me to come to their birthday parties. I am a flakey friend. I love people who make arrangements and then don’t mention it ever again or expect you to turn up, but then spontaneously text ‘you out?’ and then magically you hang out when the timing is perfect. I hate obligation, I hate planned fun.

What is it that you most dislike?
My personality with PMT.

What is it that your dog most dislikes?
He hates being shut out of a room, any limitation on his personal exploration. He sleeps in our bed and we both work from home so there is a co-dependency between us which means that he hates if I’m even just quickly shutting him in so I can take the recycling downstairs.

Out of Her Mind is on BBC Two at 10pm

Photo Credit: Main image by Matt Crockett

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