American fans of Call the Midwife, the British drama that returns to PBS on March 30, know her as Chummy — and the actress Miranda Hart expertly plays the awkwardly posh element of the troop of mid-century midwives who make up the show’s heart. But to Hart’s British fans, she’s just Miranda, a star for whom one name will suffice.
That’s also the name of her popular sitcom, Miranda, on which she plays a character she describes as a teenager trapped in an adult’s body. The show is currently between its third and fourth seasons — because she’s reportedly just too busy to write more sooner. She’s currently on a U.K. stand-up tour, much of which is sold out. She told TIME during a visit to New York, a few months ago as Season 2 of Midwife was making news, that it was weird to go out to a restaurant and not be recognized.
“I started out in comedy and that’s how I made my name,” she said. “In the U.K. it’s more like, ‘Oh right, you do acting as well.'”
In the meantime, she’s happy being known in the U.S. as a slightly more serious historical character. “I read the book [of Call the Midwife] before the script and I loved the way she was described. I wanted her to win and do well. I thought, I’ve got to be Chummy,” she says. “Women have to work that bit harder to justify us being in the room.”
But Hart also says she thinks that, while British humor has a reputation as being slightly bizarre to American audiences, Miranda‘s themes are universal. “I’d love my sitcom to be more widely known out here. I worked really hard on it. It’s like my baby, that show,” she says. “But I’m so proud to be part of Call the Midwife. I’m proud to be known for that. I’d also like the American public to know that I’m available for any kind of dating.”
And there’s no reason Miranda’s humor couldn’t cross the pond. After all, while Chummy may stand for something, Miranda involves a huge amount of falling down — which is funny with any accent.
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