Approaching Doon Mackichan’s doorstep, busy with its flower-filled plant pots, I am brandishing a bunch of roses and a packet of Dead Fly biscuits (AKA Garibaldi). From the doorstep, I hear her on the phone, to her agent as it turns out – how showbiz! She opens the door and I’m greeted by two large, very friendly grins: one from Doon, and the other from her elegant Staffordshire bull terrier, Stella, who wants to show me her ball. I’m led to the kitchen and I advise Doon that she can reuse the tea bag after making my cup of weak tea and then we proceed to a bright and cosy living room followed by Stella and her ball.

Doon likes to say that she was born in the cocktail bar of the Lanesborough Hotel, London. The hotel’s cocktail bar is what used to be the maternity ward of St George’s hospital. “I like to say that, it sounds posh” she explains. At the age of 12 she tells me that she was “brutally moved to the middle of nowhere in Scotland so that my father could get back to his roots. I attended a rough school there and quickly developed a Scottish accent, as well as a love for the sea and cold water swimming.”Following her A Levels, Doon travelled to Canada to become an au pair. “It was for a posh, really awful family in Toronto. They had six daughters and I had to pick up their knickers and I used to sob in the bath thinking I’ve got to make this work! This is my year off!”.

We thought that life isn’t like that, life just kind of drifts off. Lots of men I know absolutely love it now, maybe the barriers of male and female are coming down a little bit, so women being clownish or lap dancing a lamppost or having giant pubes is something that men should and will enjoy, whereas before it was just gay men who would like it. It’s quite threatening to be funny, intelligent, sexy and ugly and all of those things because women don’t have a history of that”

I remind her of one of my favourite sketches from the show consisting of two warehouse workers, competitively singing Can’t Live if Living is Without You during their tea break.

You’ve got a good singing voice actually!” I tell her. As it turns out, Doon was part of a close harmony jazz group and enjoys singing around a piano after a glass of wine. I asked if she was partial to a bit of karaoke. “Oh my god, I did the worst karaoke in Barbados and Olly Murs was watching. My kids were like, ‘Mum, don’t, Olly Murs is over there!’ I sang I’ll Be There by the Jacksons, it’s very high, I humiliated myself and had to go home in disgrace.”

‘We’ve all been there’, I thought. Just minus the bloke from The Voice, judging us, not turning.

Two Doors Down is Doon’s latest TV hit. The much-loved Scottish-set comedy features a set of neighbours and their often uneventful interactions with one another. Doon plays Cathy, a heavy drinker who seems to believe she’s the cool sexy one out of the suburban gang. I ask if Cathy is based on anyone she knows. “She’s cherry-picked from myself plus about

By the end of the shoot we were convinced that it
was a massive failure because no one laughed!” she explains. “The all-male crew didn’t laugh, and we’d decided not to have punchlines because men have punchlines… they ejaculate!

Doon and Stella at Bottle Alley
Doon enjoying a coffee at Goat Ledge

five other people. I like to channel people I know into characters.” Doon has recently left the cast of Two Doors Down to spend more time with her family and at the time of speaking to her she was writing her memoir entitled My Lady Parts, to be published by Canongate this summer. She is also set to star in the Neil Gaiman written Amazon series Good Omens, also starring David Tennant and Michael Sheen.

When it comes to celebrity shows such as the jungle, Dancing on Ice, Strictly Come Dancing and the Masked Singer, it’s a definite ‘No’ from Doon. “I can’t think of anything worse. I’ve been offered so much money to go into the jungle for the last four years in a row.” I asked her how much, but she didn’t spill the beans. “Let’s just say that it was a hell of a lot and it wasn’t an easy decision. You don’t get many actors doing these things, it’s people wanting to be a celebrity and people who love being in the papers.”

When I asked Doon what she did want to do next, she replied “Oooh! I’d love to do more theatre and I’d like to play Lady Macbeth. Or I’d like to do a really good dark TV comedy. Although I hate putting labels on these things; Drama is funny when it’s at its best and comedy is tragic. There are so many channels now and so much content but I’m very fussy about what I say yes to because I have an absolute hatred of what I call ‘crime porn’ and I won’t get involved in any of that.”

Back in 2016, Doon created a BBC Radio 4 documentary entitled Body Count Rising in which she examines the trend for

female corpses being paraded on our TV screens and labelled as entertainment. In it, she asks why writers create these shows and why viewers can’t seem to get enough of them. This is the ‘crime porn’ that she refers to. I asked her if anything specifically led her to create the documentary (she also wrote an article for The New Statesman entitled Enough is Enough).

“The initial thing was my speaking to two young actresses when I was working on Plebs, they had both done rape scenes and they were like, 26. One had done two rape scenes and I thought ‘my god, what story are we telling?’ I was staying in a hotel in Bulgaria and in the bottom of the hotel was this place called The Candy Bar. I was seeing lots of young girls there going off with much older men. It was very depressing. It was quite a macho show, quite boysy, the girls didn’t get great storylines and I’d been thinking about it a lot.

When it comes to violence against women, I’ve always gone on marches or sent letters off to the Advertising Standards Authority about poster ads I thought were sexist, and I’d write letters into newspapers if I thought a story was being reported in quite a misogynistic way.”

During Body Count Rising, Doon speaks to a young actress who recounts just how harrowing it was for her, filming a particular rape scene. She was pinned down and physically could not move and even if she’d have wanted to shout ‘cut’, she couldn’t. Her constant screaming had left her voiceless. She finished the scene feeling like she had experienced rape.

It’s our duty to get rid of it, to look at why it’s happening and not consistently replay it, because that is titillating, profoundly deflating and exhausting for women to watch. It just makes us feel more vulnerable and more afraid.

“There was another story” she continues, “of a girl who had to go through two days of simulated rape for National Treasure. In the read-through I said I wouldn’t be involved with that. Can you ask why this has to be shown?’ In the end they cut it. There’s just no need to ever see it. Michael Winterbottom said ‘It’s our duty to show violent crime’. It’s not really our duty to show it though, it’s our duty to get rid of it, to look at why it’s happening and not consistently replay it, because that is titillating, profoundly deflating and exhausting for women to watch. It just makes us feel more vulnerable and more afraid.”

After listening to Body Rise Counting myself, I was looking around for something to watch, and determined not to watch any ‘crime porn’, I had slim pickings. I ended up watching a documentary about squirrels and all was going well until the baby squirrels… look, I’ll stop there but let’s just say that it got quite traumatising when a crow entered, scene right.

In 2005, when Doon’s son was nine years old, he was diagnosed with leukaemia. I asked how that affected her family. “It blew our world apart” she replied, “everything became about Louis and keeping him alive. Neither of us could work, I had a baby and my other child was 10. But it was actually the years after that were really tough because we divorced; we had two rental homes and no money. Those were the dark years; I had to do a farce in the West End. He’s totally in remission now though, he’s great!”

To put a positive spin on traumatic events, Doon did some fundraising and provided The Royal Marsden hospital with abeautiful garden for the kids there to enjoy, Doon also

kept a diary of her experiences and wrote a play about it.

“When I showed it in Edinburgh followed by a run in London, my son was able to come and see it and take a curtain call. Everyone was sobbing. I really wanted people to know what he’d been through and of his bravery. Afterwards I was so furious with people moaning about stupid things, I’d be like ‘Has your son almost died? Do you know seven kids who have died? I don’t care about your loft conversion!’ Doing the show really helped me put that to bed but let’s all be grateful and get a grip.”

I told Doon that I wanted to chat about aging (as someone who is struggling with it a bit myself currently). Her face lit up “Oooh! Go on then!” she enthused with a face that said ‘don’t get me started’.

For women in the public eye, aging must be even more difficult I suggest, Doon takes a deep breath. “I’ve chosen not to have any surgery or Botox or anything and I feel very passionately about it. I think making ourselves all look the same is really bad for the younger generation. People are getting younger and younger when they, as I put it, start self-harming with surgery and needles.

I know the big question is ‘I’m a feminist why can’t I do what I want?’ Even the great Caitlin Moran said she had Botox as a treat because ‘her face looked sad’ and I think it’s not about whether you do it, it’s about what it’s saying to younger girls so that when they’re 24 and they get their first crowsfoot, they’re going to put something in their face. And it’s not fair!

People are getting younger and younger when they, as I put it, start self-harming with surgery and needles. I know the big question is, ‘I’m a feminist, why can’t I do what I want?

So because I haven’t had work, I look a lot older on screen, next to someone who’s had a lot of work. They have a pillow-face whereas I (she cackles) look like the wicked witch of the North! I come back from filming and I have to have a word with myself. It’s because of the culture we’re in. We’re literally still in the chains of the patriarchy and we need to take them off. Be grateful for your face because the minute you do something to it, you’re going to look different. It’s heartbreaking and it’s not good for young girls who are already in crisis and I’m furious about it. They’re not doing it for themselves or for other

women, it’s because we live in a culture where we have to be seen as still sexy and still young. So, fuck the patriarchy!” We both laugh and I’m glad that I did get her started.

To wind-up our conversation, I wanted to talk about Hastings and I asked Doon who she felt was more ‘Hastings famous’, her or her musician brother, Blair. She laughed before answering “I am known as Blair’s sister and I think that says it all!” ⚫

Favourite hangout: Galleria is my favourite: the best food, the nicest people and the best pink fizz I’ve ever had. I love The Crown also.

Favourite shop: I really like Flot and Jetsam who do great jumpers and I bought this vase from there she says pointing at the mantelpiece, I like that whole little Trinity Triangle bit.

Hastings is… Vibrant, eccentric, full of artists, fishermen and crazy cold-water swimmers.