Sandi Toksvig is one of the nation’s much-loved presenters – for many, becoming a household name through the cult-classic show The Great British Bake Off. Yet there’s much more to this comedian, writer and political activist, as we discover…
This year, so far, has been a busy one for Danish born Sandi Toksvig, with a second series of Extraordinary Escapes and her new series of The Great Big Tiny Design Challenge, both on Channel 4.
In April she hit the road with a new tour, titled Next Slide Please, which saw her perform 42 dates across the country. Ahead of the tour, Sandi said in a Channel 4 interview: “Part of the reason that I’m going on tour is that in the last two years, I think we have all missed having a big conversation, being able to be in a room with a lot of people. I engage with the audience, ask them lots of questions and there are prizes to be won. You can win a pencil with Next Slide Please on it, which is very exciting..!”
Similar to the late Victoria Wood, Sandi – who was brought up around the world in Europe, Africa and the United States, and was bullied at school in England for having an American accent – appeals to people of all backgrounds. “When I look out at the audience for my stand-up shows, there isn’t one type. We are all so diverse,” says the QI, The News Quiz and The Great British Bake Off co-presenter, who starred alongside Prue Leith, Paul Hollywood and Noel Fielding for three years.
Once referred to as the ‘female equivalent of Stephen Fry, with a brain the size of a small planet’, both Sandi and Fry began their show-business careers in the Footlights club at Cambridge University (alongside Hugh Laurie and Emma Thompson), where Sandi achieve a first-class degree.
Sandi, 64 and 4ft 11in, lives on a houseboat moored in South West London with her psychotherapist wife Debbie – with whom she shares three children, Jesse, Megan and Theo with her ex-partner, Peta Stewart – and their dog Mildred. No one could be a prouder mother than Sandi. “They call me Mummy, and I earned it,” she said in 2011. “We love each other, and you can’t do better than that. Many families don’t.”
Alongside the houseboat, Sandi also has a house in Kent “for all my books”. Much of her time is devoted to writing, with more than twenty fiction and non-fiction books for children and adults to her credit. Other accolades include being made an OBE, and as an activist for gender equality, Sandi co-founded the Women’s Equality Party (WEP) in 2015.
Although rarely away from our small screens for long, does she ever switch off? “I’m ashamed to say I don’t watch very much television as I’m usually working through a massive stack of books… I must have something to do. I must be building something like a shed, embroidering something or reading a book that is unputdownable. I cannot just sit – the poor family, they love to just sit but then I say listen it’s fine, I’m just going to rebuild the garage! And then I’m happy. I like to achieve something every day.”
To catch up on Sandi’s Channel 4 series online, visit www.channel4.com
Images Sandi Channel 4 © LeonFoggitt/Channel 4