Anneka Harry – The Text I’ll Never Forget

 

Anneka Harry,Photo Credit: ©Richard Davenport 2015

With your latest smartphone attached to your hand are you tweeting, perfecting your latest Instagram Story or going Facebook Live? Well, can we simplify the equation and take you back to the basic functionality of a simple text. The one text that you’ll never forget?!

Verge Magazine got excited when listening to the mini-series on BBC Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour, Hosted by the hilarious yet honest Anneka Harry, we loved the carefully selected guests including Anneka’s own girlfriend and mum and the simplistic approach to looking at more complicated and delicate issues like mental health.

We caught up with Anneka and had a good chat (and laugh) about not only her latest show but her future plans and the stress of achieving them all before breakfast…

Can you tell us a little bit about you and your background, where did the career all start?

My career thus far has been born from a mixture of blood, sweat, tears (and vodka). Apart from learning how to act like a pygmy-three-toed-sloth in animal studies at drama school, the best thing training taught me was to ‘make your own work.’ Working behind the camera taught me more about being in front of it than any amount of acting classes ever could. It gave me the connections and contacts needed to jumpstart the queue and it meant that I could leave a trail of comedy scripts around the commissioner’s corridors. I very quickly discovered if you sat around waiting for the right part, for your agent to call or for something to land on your lap, you would most probably shrivel up and die.

What are future career plans and what is coming up we should look out for?

Recently I’ve been daydreaming about having my own production company so I can pull all of these strings from a swanky office somewhere. In my mind it constantly smells like croissants and success and it would go down in history as the best workplace for women on the planet. There would be glitter walls and beer on tap on the desk and lots of ironic shoulder pad wearing. If anyone wants to fund this little venture, then please do get in touch – I’d have a statue made of you for the reception area. Ideally I’d like to write, act and make a shed load of funny that will forever be cited as outstanding female comedy. Wouldn’t it be great to be able to talk about an amazing, mainstream all female sketch show without only really having Smack the Pony as a point of reference? Or a feature film that broke the box office other than Bridesmaids? Maybe I’ll start a Kickstarter page…

I’m currently working on my own scripts for BBC3 and ITV2. I’m going to have some majorly cool secret sketch stuff online soon and I’ll, of course, make sure that Verge is the first to know! And, yes, I’m very much aware that saying ‘majorly cool’ immediately makes me anything but….

We loved your mini series on BBC Radio 4 Woman’s Hour “The text I’ll never forget,” tell us how this came about? 

Why, thank you very much! What I’ve loved about this series is just how much it’s got people talking. Everyone has a text they will never forget and the stories range from heart warming to heart breaking and everything in between. The issues surrounding the text itself is also only one element, once you start to pick apart the message you discover all sorts of other conversation channels.

The Text I’ll Never Forget was inspired by my own inbox. I have become a little bit obsessive over my texts (fuelled mainly by a fear of a cyber attack wiping us of our online and smartphone lives) and it felt strangely therapeutic to document important messages via another medium. Plus, it would be a real faff to screen grab the poignant texts, print, laminate them and keep them safe in an antique trunk in the loft as keepsakes to show the grandkids. Our texts and online messaging will one day surely be as precious as letters are today. So many of our memories are floating around in a cloud somewhere and our phones are like mini museums of our lives and relationships.

Were you conscious about the guests that appeared on the show? 

There is such a wealth of stories out there (wider global issues, tales surrounding international events and so many huge subjects) and we only had four episodes! Because everyone has a story to tell I started with my nearest and dearest and the research returned such a rich mixture of topics, they sort of chose themselves. My final guests included my partner, two of my best friends and my very own lovely Mum.

Tell us about a text you will never forget?

A day after the Leytonstone tube attack in 2015, my partner text me on route to meet me to say, “I’m going to be late. There’s a crazy man on the platform shooting at everyone.” It was such a frightening message to get I froze on the spot. After much panic and mayhem it transpired that there was a typo in her message and she just meant to say that the man was ‘shouting.’ For obvious reasons, I will never forget it -but it also taught me to switch off predictive text. I’d urge you all to do the same. I’ve suggested someone ‘fondled’ themselves rather than ‘Googled’ themselves before now. It’s out to get us, I swear.

The issue of mental health came up with your guest Sabrina Grant and we found this interview to be very open and honest. Obviously mental health is a big topic in the media of late and public awareness is growing with thanks to shows like yours. Is this an area you feel passionate about?

I am so happy that the conversation is in full swing at the moment and I hope it continues to flourish. Although I haven’t experienced any of the issues discussed myself, mental health (particularly anxiety and depression) is something, which has affected a surprising amount of my close circle of friends. These people, I should add, are some of the most brilliant, dynamic, vivacious and strong people I know. I feel proud to be part of a generation who are not only breaking the taboo but also supporting each other and taking action. I think the more we can talk and not hide behind hash tags, the better.

What was your favourite part of the BBC Radio 4 series? 

I’m a real Woman’s Hour fan girl, so this was a big deal gig for me. I also loved how much I learnt about all my guests, women I thought it was impossible to know much more about. This was special and my favourite part about the process, on a personal level. I hoped that The Text I’ll Never Forget would be a surprising series, emotive but also entertaining and would spark imaginations. Lots of love to my wonder woman of a producer, Abigail Hollick, who made me sound half decent!

On a lighter note you are known for your comedy and writing, where does your comedic inspiration come from? 

I’ve realised more and more lately that I come from a funny family. They might not be Live at the Apollo funny but they are all bonkers-funny (in their own special way). I’m obsessed with people and characters, I find the quirks in everyone and then I steal their souls. I spend most of my time watching people. If you feel someone’s eyes on you from behind a lamppost, they’re probably mine. For this reason, mockumentary style comedies have been a firm favourite of mine for a while. I’m head over heels for This Country on BBC3 at the moment – check it out if you haven’t seen it. It’s everything.

From scrolling your insta we can see how many cool things you get up to and your recurrent message of girl power! So what are your fave things to do on your days off?

Sadly, I am a workaholic so if I have a day off I usually think it’s the perfect time to do more work! But if I’m forced to relax I do love to hang out with said friends (all of whom are excellent specimens of human being), go for a swim, walk my sausage dog, go on adventures and get out of London. Holidays are the one time where I really do wind down.

Describe a day in the life of Anneka Harry??

This is a weirdly impossible question for me because I rarely have two days the same. Some weeks I’ll just be at home in my lounge in my gym kit all day (I’ll never reach the gym) and others I’ll be working on four projects at one time! Whether I’m busy or not I will always get up early, drink strong coffee, walk the sausage and have had at least eight new ‘brilliant’ ideas that I’ll need to action somehow before breakfast. I like to pack my days to the brim and I’ll be really disappointed with myself if I don’t think I’ve achieved enough or learnt enough by the end of it. One things for sure, I never have any trouble sleeping.

You can listen to the series ; The Text I’ll Never Forget at:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p04yh5bd

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