Off the Shelf: An evening with Miriam Margolyes

Off the Shelf is one of the largest literary festivals in the UK. An annual affair which brings the biggest names in literature, media and the arts to Sheffield, it’s a fantastic addition to the South Yorkshire events calendar.


Here, MK Consultant Director Caroline gives us the low down on just one of the many shows she attended this year.




It was a fitting finale that the BAFTA-winning actor, Miriam Margolyes, OBE, one of the nation’s favourite – and naughtiest – treasures closed this year’s Off the Shelf: a celebration of books, words and ideas.


This year marked the festival’s 30th anniversary, with reading and conversations still very much at the heart of the events, alongside the line-up of brilliant, uplifting and thought-provoking speakers.


And no more so than Miriam – a fun, witty, outspoken yet side-splittingly-funny and hugely talented octogenarian.


From Blackadder to Harry Potter, The Real Marigold Hotel to Family Guy, Miriam has quite simply had an extraordinary life as told in her first autobiography, This Much Is True, which she was there to discuss at the OTS event.


The self-acclaimed naughtiest girl Oxford High School has ‘ever’ had – and the first woman to say f**k on television – she recalled the time she was once told to be quiet by the Queen (honestly! Yet hilarious – in every sense!).


Needless to say, no one was telling her to be quiet at the Crucible for the closing conversation at this Festival of Words as the (sell out) audience lapped up everything she said to BBC Radio Sheffield’s Paulette Edwards, who skilfully navigated her through her lifetime highlights…. and the occasional lowlight.


As in the book, Miriam is full of surprises – from declaring love to Vanessa Redgrave – to openly farting twice while in full flow (to howls of laughter from the audience, I might add).


The cast list in her autobiography won’t disappoint either. I concluded that who she doesn’t reference is possibly not worth knowing about… (but don’t mention Arnie… she well and truly terminated the Terminator…).


It was nothing short of a Halloween treat to listen to such a leading lady (Graham Norton pays £10K for such a privilege, don’t you know…?) who didn’t fail to deliver in terms of a first-class performance. As poignant and emotional as she was amusing and memorising at times, Miriam’s memoirs are a must. And as she delighted in telling us, the book’s currently half price on Amazon.


Thank you, Miriam – and to the team at Off the Shelf for another unforgettable festival. While you take a bow, I’m off to Amazon.