Follow the Lederer...
PUBLISHED: 17:12 23 October 2008 | UPDATED: 17:30 16 August 2010
HAVING worked with some of Britain s best loved comedy favourites including French and Saunders, Rik Mayall and Harry Enfield, comedian Helen Lederer is looking forward to treading the boards with a Hollywood legend this Christmas. The Absolutely Fabulo
HAVING worked with some of Britain's best loved comedy favourites including French and Saunders, Rik Mayall and Harry Enfield, comedian Helen Lederer is looking forward to treading the boards with a Hollywood legend this Christmas.
The Absolutely Fabulous star is appearing in Cindrerella at Bromley's Churchill Theatre, working alongside movie star Steve Guttenburg, best known for his roles in the Police Academy series and Three Men and a Baby. Guttenburg is due to arrive in the UK in November to play Baron Hardup while Lederer, 54, is fairy godmother. It's a role she became familiar with last year when she appeared in Cinderella at the Cambridge Arts Centre.
She said: "I lost my panto virginity. I was deflowered. Panto was never something I'd thought of doing back when I was starting out. It wasn't something I could fit into. It was all 'Bruce Forsyth-type people', but now it's more modern."
Confiding with the Times that she was looking forward to meeting '80s heartthrob Guttenburg, she said: "Steve is very handsome. He looks young and fit and tanned. I've seen Three Men and a Baby many times, it's one of those family films that everyone watches. I've never seen Police Academy, I'll have to do my homework."
In an industry which is notoriously ageist towards middle-aged women, Lederer has definitely still got it.
With the most startlingly round blue eyes, long blonde hair and full lips, you can see almost sympathise with the men who used to heckle her to strip while doing stand-up comedy in the 1980s.
It was during that time that she became friends with Rik Mayall, who she later joined in the BBC's cult hit The Young Ones, and the pair have just been reunited in a new television dramatisation of Miss Marple.
She said: "It was great to see him again, he's very nice. He's magnetic and very sexy for an older man."
Lederer is twice married with one daughter, Hannah, 18, whose godmother is Dawn French.
She said: "Oh god, doesn't it sound like I'm name-dropping. Dawn is a wonderful godmother, she always remembers Hannah's birthday and I couldn't ask for more. I don't see her very often but she is a very good person. Dawn has lots of godchildren, Hannah is one of hundreds."
This Sunday, Lederer will be dropping Hannah off at Bristol University to begin an English and Drama degree.
Her daughter won a part in ITV's series Echo Beach last year, but Lederer is not keen on her becoming an actress.
She said: "What mother would be? I know how much rejection there is out there and I know how hard it is. I could only just bear it for myself but I can't bear it for my child. When you have children you just want them to be happy, you want to protect them."
Lederer is currently working on a BBC Radio 2 spoof series about an agony aunt and is hoping to dip her finger in yet another pie - quite literally - by appearing on Celebrity Masterchef for a second time.
She said: "I was on it in 2006 and was a very bad loser. I was robbed so it looks like I'll have to have another go."
But the burning question on everyone's lips is will there be another Ab Fab series? Lederer becomes excited about the prospect. "Bring it on!", she says. "It was great fun. I'd be at the front of the queue."
Cinderella runs from December 5 to January 18 at the Churchill Theatre. For tickets, see www.theambassadors.
com or call 0870 060 6620