After a brief career in medicine, and an even briefer one in stand-up, Lissa Evans became a comedy producer, first in radio and then in television. She co-created Room 101 with Nick Hancock, produced Father Ted and co-produced and directed The Kumars at Number 42. Novels include Spencer’s List and Odd One Out. Lissa Evans lives in north London.
Lissa Evans answers our probing questions and speaks to us on everything from her hatred of losing things to the annual 'We miss Lissa Evans' parade she's planning for after her death.
Who or what always puts a smile on your face?
Any single by ‘Madness’, milk chocolate especially Green and Blacks because it makes me feel virtuous, nurseries (ones with plants).
What are you reading at the moment?
Elizabeth Bowen – The Heat of the Day, and The Penguin Book of Ghost Stories.
Which author do you most admire?
What’s your earliest memory?
Getting stuck in the mud while on a boat trip off the coast at Cromer. We had to walk back to the hotel across the mudflats, holding our shoes, and when we arrived, my mother threw open the door of the dining room and proclaimed ‘We got stuck in the mud!’ to the assembled guests. So, actually, my first memory is of my mother embarrassing me. She’s been doing it ever since.
How would you like to be remembered?
By the annual ‘We miss Lissa Evans’ parade, held on the anniversary of my death, and marked by the release of thousands of doves, and dawn-to-dusk recitals of my complete works.
How do you spoil yourself?
Chocolate and lowbrow films
What’s your favourite word/book?
Favourite word: ‘fantastic’ - well, it’s the word I use most, anyway.
Favourite book: The Egg and I Betty MacDonald - in the 1950s Betty McDonald wrote a series of wildly successful books about her largely undistinguished life – this one is about running a chicken farm in Washington State, others were about trying to get (and keep) a job during the depression, contracting TB and living on an island off the coast of Seattle. Her prose hurtles along at breakneck speed - vivid, stylistically unique and always, always funny; she writes (one imagines) in exactly the way that she spoke, and the result is like being buttonholed by a matchless stand-up.
What makes you angry?
Losing things. I like to think that I’m tremendously organised, so a lost object is a personal insult.
Have you ever had any other jobs apart from writing?
Bread counter at Woolworths, office at Woolworths (to which I was moved after breaking the till on the bread counter), junior doctor, stand-up comedian, radio producer, TV producer and director.
Are you in love?
Yes (she says, blushing).
What’s your worst vice?
Biting my nails.
Where do you write?
The London Library, in two-minute bursts, interspersed with coffee drinking, newspaper reading and vast amounts of emailing.
Where’s your favourite city?
Newcastle-upon-Tyne. I was a student there, and then stayed on for several years after qualifying as a doctor. Most of my best friends are still there and it’s the place that feels most like home to me. Though it’s a bit cold.
When was the last time you cried?
Watching the men’s 800m at the Athens Olympics when El Garrouj won. I’m a bit soppy.
Did you enjoy school?