YOU will know her, of course, as the dotty, overbearing Penny in current TV comedy favourite Miranda – but Patricia Hodge had a long and illustrious acting career before she became Miranda Hart’s mum.
The role bagged her a Best Actress nomination award at the Monte Carlo Television Awards and it’s due back on our screens this autumn.
However, while Patricia clearly has great affection for the show – “What’s not to enjoy? It’s a lovely thing to be a part of” – she’s much more keen to talk about her current job, playing Georgiana in the Pinero comedy Dandy Dick.
She’s glad to be in a comedy to raise the spirits at a time when it’s badly needed.
“Do they need a tonic to cheer them up? Yes, unquestionably,” says Patricia. “People want to be taken out of themselves. It’s not a time for self-examination – we get enough of that in the papers – no, they either want to have a laugh or be ravished with music and this play does both.”
Written 125 years ago in Brighton, Dandy Dick tells the story of the Very Reverend Augustin Jedd, a pillar of Victorian respectability, who preaches regularly against the evils of horseracing and gambling.
But a visit from his tearaway sister Georgiana leads him to risk all at the races, much against his better judgement.
Mayhem ensues, with romantic intrigue, mistaken identity and a runaway horse.
Georgina sounds like a bit of a minx, but Patricia says firmly: “A minx is a trouble maker and she’s not.
No, she’s a woman that brings a totally and utterly different set of values into a very establishment household, and the fact that she and the Dean are brother and sister is the rub – they’ve come from the same family but could not bemore different.
“The Dean has sought solace in the church and has led a very moral and upright life. The sister has just had a totally different experience and has been in the whole world of horseracing and gambling that he considers immoral and preaches against.
“But there’s nothing subversive about Georgina. She’s so strong and up front and has such freshness – she’s sort of a woman who behaves like a man.
“She breaks all the rules but it’s never for unkind reasons. She’s one of those people who are full of joy and spirit and it causes mayhem in this particular household.”
She certainly makes Georgiana sound like an impressive character, but then Ms Hodge is pretty darn impressive herself.
She has enjoyed television success in shows such as Behind Enemy Lines, Rumpole Of The Bailey and The Lives And Loves Of A She-Devil, and was nominated for a BAFTA for Hotel Du Lac in 2010.
But she’s currently immersed in theatres rather than television studios as the play continues its tour.
Patricia Hodge stars in Dandy Dick at the New Victoria Theatre, Woking, until Saturday (August 4), and she adds: “I have played Woking several times and always enjoy playing there.”