WHEN I catch up with comedienne Jenny Éclair, she’s stuck on a bus in traffic - and she’s grumpy.
You’d be forgiven for thinking this was her permanent frame of mind, what with her central role as Queen Grouch in BBC Two’s hit show Grumpy Old Women.
But, she reassures me, she just appreciates the opportunity to air her day-to-day grievances.
She said: “I think moaning is very unattractive, but shaking your fist over stuff that really gets your goat is very cathartic.”
We’re speaking ahead of her appearance as one-third of the Grumpy Old Women team at the Beck Theatre, Hayes, this coming Saturday (June 14), as part of a 42-date UK tour.
Jenny will be joined on stage by Susie Blake, from Mrs Brown’s Boys, and singer and actress Kate Robbins for a two-hour romp entitled The Return of the Grumpy Old Women: Fifty Shades of Beige.
It’s an obvious pun on the best-selling book by E.L. James, which has flown off the shelf and captivated audiences around the world since its release in 2011, and Jenny admits she was one of the millions to pick up a copy.
“It did absolutely nothing for me – but it got people talking about books, which is good,” she said.
The Fifty Shades of Beige tour promises to knock some sense into the nation, tackling important topics, such as the joy of large pants, a free nagging master class and customising an unwanted pole dancing kit.
If you’re not familiar with the premise of Grumpy Old Women, it involves several middle-aged female women talking about issues of modern life which irritate them, from teenagers to Christmas.
Far from being an excruciating moan that sees women – and men – reaching for the remote control, the show incorporates comedy sketches and anecdotes which resonate with viewers. And Jenny insists the stage show is just the same.
She said: “The audience are sent home laughing. If they were moaning, we wouldn't have done our job.”
A successor to Grumpy Old Men, which starred notorious moaners including Bob Geldof and Jeremy Clarkson, its female counterpart was first aired in 2004 as a Christmas Day special. After viewers flocked to the show in their droves, the show was brought back for three full series.
It first went on the road in 2005 as Grumpy Old Women Live, which completed four UK tours, three of which starring Jenny.
However, the Perrier Award-winning comedienne is keen to emphasise that, far from being an incessant moaner, she just enjoys speaking her mind.
“I'm just not prepared to take any shit, to be honest, and I'm very glad to say my family are cut from similar cloth,” she said.
She’s also a fan of Twitter – where she describes herself as a ‘Geriatric stand-up comic’ - boasting more than 136,000 followers.
“I post all sorts of stuff - architecture, book recommendations, even photos of flowers! So you see, [I’m] not entirely grumpy.”
The silver-haired comedian, with her iconic black-rimmed glasses, is also a regular on reality television, starring in Comic Relief does Fame Academy, I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here and Celebrity Masterchef, to name but a few.
But her favourite was working alongside Olympic star and TV darling Tom Daley in ITV’s Splash! Though her blink-and-you’ll-miss-it appearance was more of a flop than a perfect somersault, she admits she still dreams of diving.
After this spate of TV appearances and the end of the Fifty Shades of Beige three-month tour, it seems Jenny has no plans to reduce her workload.
She said: “I will be writing my fourth novel, having a holiday and looking forward to taking the show out again in 2015.”
Grumpy Old Women is at the Beck Theatre, Hayes, on June, 14. Tickets cost £21 and can be booked at becktheatre.org.uk