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“F**k all the way off! I’ve never been so jealous of someone in my entire life,” is how my queer female friend responded when I told her that I would be interviewing Hannah Waddingham.

The Emmy and Olivier-winning actress has cultivated a passionate LGBTQIA+ following over the course of her career, particularly amongst women, thanks to acclaimed roles in Game of Thrones, Sex Education and Ted Lasso. Additionally, Waddingham was “engulfed by this gorgeous wave of support” from non-heteros earlier this year when she slayed as the host of the Eurovision Song Contest. ‘Queer icon’ applies here, definitely.

“Because I’ve been so much part of the theatre community for so many years, the larger part of my friend group is gay. I love the fact that my daughter is awash with the gays. I love it! They are devoted to her. I’m devoted to them,” Waddingham tells GAY TIMES. This holiday season, the acclaimed actress and theatre legend is continuing to have the ‘community’s back’ with Home for Christmas, her new Apple TV+ special premiering on 22 November.

With Waddingham flexing her powerhouse vocals for new renditions of holiday classics, as well as guest performers like Luke Evans, her Ted Lasso co-stars and the London Gay Men’s Chorus, Home for Christmas is a joyous and camp-as-tits extravaganza that is destined to become a festive staple.

Here, we speak with Hannah Waddingham about making the special quintessentially “Wadders”, her “massive soft spot” for the LGBTQIA+ community and why there’s room for more than one “Queen of Christmas”.

Hannah, you look absolutely transcedent, as usual.

Thanks, I made a gentle effort for you.

I tried to also wear a bit of colour…

A festive red.

Is that a background, behind you? Or is it real?

No, it’s an actual… There’s a tree. Apple TV+ don’t muck about, my friend. It’s all tangible things, I could take a bauble off and throw it at you, if you want.

Honestly, I wouldn’t mind Hannah Waddingham throwing a bauble at me. So, I had the absolute pleasure of being in the audience when this Christmas special was filmed. Thank you for gifting the world with this holiday extravaganza. It’s going to be a staple!

I hope so. I really hope so!

Hannah, have you got a good attorney?


Do you have a good relationship with them?

I do, by the way.

Phil Dunster said in a statement that you’re now the “Queen of Christmas”, so are you prepared to go through the litigation process with Mariah Carey?

[Laughs] I would rather be just in the mix, in the pack. People are feeling a bit Mariah one day. They can feel a bit Wadders the next.

A bit Wadders? I like that. ‘I’m feeling Wadders today.’

I’ll have to tell Dunster off.

You’ll have to settle this out of court.

Isn’t he gorgeous in it, though? Wasn’t he gorgeous?

I was the one screaming from the top of my lungs when he lay down on the floor, winking at the crowd.

Can I just say: you’re welcome. I said to him, ‘Why don’t you slide across the floor in front of me?’ So, you’re welcome.

Thank you, Hannah! Home for Christmas feels quintessentially you, which I can imagine is quite hard to do with Christmas because the genre has been rinsed to death. When creating this special, how did you make sure that it would scream Hannah Waddingham? Or rather, Wadders?

Because I think when you’re just off 50, you know who you are, and you know who you’re not. So, Apple were very kind listening to me and my manager and we wanted it to be exactly what we wanted it to be. They were totally along for the ride and really facilitated that. When we would have meetings, even in the first pitch I said, ‘It’s very important to me to have the London Gay Men’s Chorus because I’m a patron of theirs.’ I love the idea of them flooding the stage. I said, ‘It’s important that I acknowledge my mum and why we’re there. If I could have the English National Opera chorus, who have been uncles and aunties to me all my life, that would be an amazing privilege. And my guests have to be people that I have a connection with, regardless of whether they’re known or not. And I have to have a live, beautiful big band and I don’t want anyone on that stage who can’t cut it live. I want everything to be done so that we go back to a bygone era of live performances.’

Christmas is ruled by pop divas. We love the men, but not as much. Did you take any inspiration from any pop divas when doing this special?

No, basically! I really didn’t. I would never. That’s why I contest the whole “Queen of Christmas” thing because I think I’m a very different beast. I come from the acting world, the theatre world. And I think there’s room for all of us. I was very clear in my pitch that I wanted it to be, at its heart, a theatrical production because that’s in my bones. That’s all I’ve ever known. So, for my television audience to meet the theatre audience that I’ve come from and for it to be encapsulated on Apple TV+ as a platform to, hopefully be a hearty perennial, that’s all I really wanted. I wanted people to just forget their troubles, come in and feel like they’ve been absorbed into this glamorous, opulent environment.

I was absorbed. And you’re right, there can be multiple queens. Why does there have to be one?

Yeah, we’re all very different. I would never say that Mariah Carey was any more important than Kelly Clarkson or Michael Bublé. There’s room for all of us. All the food groups are represented.

I’m glad you said Kelly Clarkson because she’s my Christmas go-to.

That woman… I was on her show two days ago. She is the most magnificent singer and the most glorious person. I would contest all of that in the first place. She is just really something else.

Did you sing together?

No, we didn’t sing together.


Watch this space. We’ve talked about it. We’re busy ladies, for god’s sake Sam!

Yeah, you’re right. Okay fine, I’ll have to manifest a future collaboration. You are a queer icon, and Christmas is camp-as-tits. So when creating this special, were you aware that it would be totally, absolutely, 100 per cent tailored towards the LGBTQIA+ community?

Do you know what, it’s never really been my intention to be anything in any one way for anyone. But, I think because I’ve been so much part of the theatre community for so many years, the larger part of my friend group is gay. I love the fact that my daughter is awash with the gays. I love it! They are devoted to her. I’m devoted to them. In all seriousness, I wanted to show the LGBTQ+ community that I have their backs and that I wanted to show that, particularly with the London Gay Men’s Chorus, they are the most magnificent, disciplined, glorious musicians – first. I don’t like the pigeon-holing people do about the gay community. I know we all joke about the whole ‘woo-hoo!’ and all that business, the high campery of it, but it’s another reason why I wanted to be on RuPaul’s Drag Race. I wanted to show that they’re a very hard-working, loving, supportive and passionate community and are given a hard time. I don’t want that. I want them to be celebrated.

You were one of the best guest judges in Drag Race history and I’ve seen every bloody episode, Hannah. I’ve seen US, UK, Australia – all of them.

Thank you. I loved it. I really did. And I hope I get to go back. I have a massive soft spot for the LGBTQ+ community because I appreciate the struggles that have gone through in most people’s lives in that community.

When did you first notice the LGBTQ+ community’s support? You are huge with queer women, when I told my best friend who’s a lesbian, and my sister who’s a lesbian, that I was interviewing you… They went nuts.

I don’t know why I am! I really don’t know why I am. I mean, I’m here for it. I think probably in musical theatre, I would get a lot of letters back in the day, which is just so lovely and why I was so thrilled to do Eurovision as well. It was so lovely coming out on the stage and being engulfed by this gorgeous wave of support from the gay community.

The queers will always be here for you, Hannah. Honestly, I can’t wait to watch this special at Christmas.

Thank you for being there that night.

Thank you! I will be waiting for that Kelly duet…

Thanks Sam, Merry Christmas lovely.

Hannah Waddingham: Home for Christmas premieres 22 November on Apple TV. 

You can watch our interview in full here or below.