Mel Giedroyc and Sue Perkins might have forged a friendship at Cambridge University, but their joint path to success only really began post-graduation.
Like many people, after leaving uni, they drifted apart. But Giedroyc missed her old pal, so decided to put pen to paper and write her a letter.
‘Dear Sue’, it read. ‘I’ve been thinking, would you like to come and form a double act with me?’ – and so Mel & Sue was born.
The pair have enjoyed a successful career, writing for French And Saunders, presenting Channel 4’s Light Lunch and Late Lunch and, most recently, fronting the TV beast that is The Great British Bake Off.
“If it weren’t for Sue, I would definitely have thrown in the towel ages ago,” admits Giedroyc.
“If you’re on your own and you have a terrible year, you just think, ‘Oh sod it, let’s try something else’. But if there’s somebody else, it’s different. The stuff that now makes us laugh until we’re sick is the bad stuff, like the terrible gigs.”
And terrible gigs there certainly were. Like the famous Leighton Buzzard 1994 disaster.
“We were a jolly, female double act. We weren’t very cutting edge and I think the audience had expected something more cool,” the 45-year-old explains.
“It went down so badly that they had to open the back of the theatre, so we wouldn’t have to pass the audience in the bar,” Giedroyc adds, laughing. “I remember us grabbing our props, shoving them into plastic bags and literally running to the station – and then crying with laughter all the way home.”
While the best friends clearly love working together, they’ve also pursued solo projects. Perkins has appeared on panel shows, alongside food critic Giles Coren in The Supersizers Eat..., and written and starred in the sitcom Heading Out last year.
Giedroyc, meanwhile, has starred in Ben Elton’s comedy Blessed, the West End musical Eurobeat: Almost Eurovision, and the children’s TV shows Sorry, I’ve Got No Head and Sadie J. She’s also found time to write two books, one about being pregnant and the other about becoming a mother.
Now she’s presenting a brand new game show, Draw It! Yet another project without her right-hand woman.
“I’ve managed to cut loose from the excess, she’s been tying me down, finally I can fly,” Giedroyc jokes.
Based on the addictive app by the same name, each show of Draw It! sees two celebrities help contestants win a wad of cash through a number of drawing challenges.
Denise Van Outen, Dom Joly and Myleene Klass are among the famous faces putting their artistic talents to the test.
“Myleene is so blooming good at everything she turns her hand to, I bet she turns out to have some incredible art degree,” says Giedroyc, who confesses she’s not much of an artist herself.
“I can’t draw for toffee. I am very good at colouring though. I won the 1975 Tufty Club colouring competition. When it comes to keeping in the lines, there is nobody better. But, yes, my drawing is embarrassing.”
Unfortunately for Giedroyc, her two daughters – Flossie, 11, and Vita, 10 – who once thought mum could do nothing wrong, have discovered her lack of artistic flair.
“Before your kids reach eight or nine, you can draw a butterfly which is crap and they will literally think you’re Picasso.
“But then the scales fall from their eyes, and now, they can see their mum is hopeless.”
Next up, she’s hoping to tread the boards once again, in a musical based on the origins of market research - it’s hilarious, she assures - but will only happen if family life permits such a commitment.
Theatre work might be a big commitment, but it is also Giedroyc’s first love. She says that stepping out on the West End stage for the first time in Eurobeat was the highlight of her career.
“I’m an old ham really,” she says, putting on her plumiest posh accent. “I want to be in theatre when I’m on my last legs, just being pushed on stage.”
DRAWIT!, CHANNEL 4, MONDAY, 4.30PM