COMIC genius, writer and actress Helen Lederer stars in the UK tour of the comedy romp The Birds and The Bees that opens in Guildford next month.

Helen, best known for her role as the dippy Catriona in Absolutely Fabulous, was part of a group of comedians including Dawn French, Jennifer Saunders, Ben Elton and the late Rik Mayall who made their names at London’s Comedy Store in the early 1980s .

In The Birds and The Bees, she plays Gail, whose honey bees are dying on her East Anglian farm – just like her love life. 

She has not slept with anyone since her husband bolted years ago. Her daughter’s marriage is going bust, just like her turkey farm, and neighbour Earl is fighting a losing battle with his sugar beet yield and his “no strings” relationships. Can bio-student Ben perk up the pollinators?

Helen revealed that she had been waiting for the “right” play to come along and explained what attracted her to take a part in The Birds and the Bees.

“For about the six years now I’ve been very busy doing something completely different which has been to focus on my Comedy Women in Print Literary awards,” she said. “This has been a huge passion of mine but it has taken over my life.

“It’s a passion that enables unpublished witty authors to become published and provide a platform for more witty authors to be seen. I have been hunched over a desk in administration making things happen. 

“Recently, I’ve was asked to do three different plays and I thought I probably need to start to say ‘yes’. I am also welcoming the opportunity to have fun and be with other people and get back to acting. When Birds and Bees came along, I thought ‘this is the one’.

“It’s a play which isn’t trying to be anything it’s not. It’s a lovely light comedy about four people’s lives and I like the simplicity of that, but also the style of the comedy and the way it is written.’’

She said she also liked the subject matter of being an older person discovering dormant passions later on in life. “Many of us would own up to still having desires after a couple of sherries,” she said. “The way it taps into that will, I think, connect with a lot of people. It’s also a lovely comedic role for an older woman which feels important to me.”

Touring with a play is a new experience for Helen. She has toured with her one woman show and has performed in the West End. “I have no idea what it’s going to be like, which is all very exciting,” she said.

The play focuses on the relationship between Gail and her daughter Sarah, who has returned home while going through a marriage breakdown. “I have a 32-year-old daughter and I can easily understand that relationship from my own experience,” said Helen. 

“It’s obviously a very robust, close, very loving relationship and a lot is based on what you don’t say. I really relate to that, but mothers and daughters will always stick together.”

Helen is looking forward to bringing the story to life. “I would just love for people to have a really enjoyable experience at the theatre as they see the journeys unfold of these four beautifully written characters,” she said.

The Birds and The Bees is at the Yvonne Arnaud Theatre from Wednesday to Saturday, 10 to 13 May.