Siobhán McSweeney: ‘There are a multitude of living individuals whom I hold in contempt.’

Born in Ireland, McSweeney, 44, completed a science degree at University College Cork, before studying at the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama in London. From 2018 to 2022, she portrayed Sister Michael in Channel 4’s Derry Girls, earning a Bafta for her performance. She appears in the Disney+ comedy Extraordinary, and her stage roles include As You Like It and Dancing at Lughnasa at the National Theatre, and The Alchemist at the RSC. She also hosts The Great Pottery Throw Down, and a new series begins on Channel 4 on 7 January. She resides in London.

When were you happiest?

On stage. Always on stage. God that’s depressing, isn’t it?

What is your most treasured possession?

I’ve lost so much stuff over the years, not least in a house fire, I’ve learned not to treasure possessions.

Describe yourself in three words

Loving, odd, playful. Jeepers, I’ve described myself like a damaged rescue puppy.

What do you most dislike about your appearance?

The chins! Where in the name of God did they come from? Where is my jawline?

What is your most unappealing habit?

Appearing overbearing when I’m just trying to put everyone at their ease. And I spill my food all the time.

Which book are you ashamed not to have read?

I feel no shame about not reading a book. That’s silly.

What do you consider your greatest achievement?

Being loved by my family and friends despite my personality.

What is the worst thing anyone’s ever said to you?

“Sorry, I don’t mean to insult you, but did you know you look a bit like that actress Siobhán McSweeney?”

What is the trait you most deplore in yourself?

Appearing angry when I’m not angry.

What is the trait you most deplore in others?


What is your guiltiest pleasure?

Massages. I’d have them every day.

To whom would you most like to say sorry, and why?

So many. I have been very cowardly in the past, and it came across as me not caring, when the opposite was true.

What or who is the greatest love of your life?

Cheese and gherkins.

Have you ever said ‘I love you’ and not meant it?

Yes – and twice on a matinee day.

Which living person do you most despise and why?

So. Many. I wouldn’t give them the pleasure of naming them.

Which words or phrases do you most overuse?

Fat phobia colluding with systemic misogyny propped up by capitalism. (I am a hoot at parties.)

What has been your biggest disappointment?

Politics. And casting directors.

If not yourself, who would you most like to be?

Someone in charge.

What’s the closest you’ve ever come to death?

Physically, falling off my bike two years ago. Emotionally, when my mother died when I was 27.

What single thing would improve the quality of your life?

A better knee and better lungs.

What keeps you awake at night?

My impotence in the face of war.

How would you like to be remembered?

As Tilda Swinton in a fat suit.

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