Katherine Parkinson: ‘I bought a Chanel dress with my first proper paycheck. It’s hideous’ | Life and style


Born in London, Katherine Parkinson, 42, studied at Oxford University and the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art. From 2006, she appeared in the Channel 4 comedy The IT Crowd, and won a Bafta in 2014. Her other television work includes Doc Martin, Humans and Defending The Guilty. In 2019, she starred in the West End play Home, I’m Darling. She is married, has two daughters and lives in London.

What is your greatest fear?
I’m pathetically scared of dogs.

What is your earliest memory?
Being bitten by a girl called Denise in a wendy house.

What was your most embarrassing moment?
I once tried to lead a pub in a rendition of Oom-Pah-Pah from Oliver!. No one joined in, but I sang through to the end to prove that I wasn’t mortified.

Aside from a property, what’s the most expensive thing you’ve ever bought?
A Chanel dress. I bought it with my first proper paycheck and it was ridiculously expensive. It is also hideous.

What do you most dislike about your appearance?
My broken nose. I was assaulted in my 20s, and my nose is a constant reminder.

What is your most unappealing habit?
I change the subject without warning, which makes my conversation difficult to follow, apparently.

What is your favourite smell?
Coffee made to my exact specifications.

What is your favourite word?
I use the word visceral as much as possible in rehearsal.

What did you want to be when you were growing up?
An astronaut. I still do.

Which book changed your life?
I met my husband doing a workshop based on the book Heart Of A Dog by Mikhail Bulgakov. He was the dog.

What is the worst thing anyone’s ever said to you?
Is that a wig?

What does love feel like?
Relief. (Not like that.)

What was the best kiss of your life?
Apart from my husband Harry, the director Rufus Norris, [when he was an emergency understudy] on stage at the National Theatre.

Which living person do you most despise, and why?
Despise is a strong word, but I have always felt I wouldn’t click with Gwyneth Paltrow.

Which words or phrases do you most overuse?
Don’t touch me.

What has been your biggest disappointment?
Not getting into MI5.

If you could edit your past, what would you change?
I wish I hadn’t been a heavy smoker for so many years.

What single thing would improve the quality of your life?
A driving licence.

What do you consider your greatest achievement?
I went to a state school, so had to learn ancient Greek from scratch at Oxford.

What has been your closest brush with the law?
I’ve never been caught.

What is the most important lesson life has taught you?
It’s not a race.

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