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If it weren't for Sue, I'd have thrown in the towel; SCREEN SMALL.

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 we more cool," the 45-year-old explains.

unleash baking "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.

Giedroyc, 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 new game show, Draw It! without her right-hand woman.

Based on the addictive app of the same name, each show of Draw It! sees two celebrities help contestants win a wad of cash through 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.

Little did know the beast Perhaps Giedroyc's creative talent lies more in the kitchen. Surely presenting The Great British Bake Off for four series has taught her a thing or two about turning a lump of butter and a fist full of flour into a cakey creation? "Oh yes. I dabbled in baking before but now I am heavily committed, I bake at least twice a week," she reveals.

The presenter confesses that she and Perkins never thought Bake Off would be such a huge success.

"Hand on heart, we took the gig thinking it looked nice, but would just be one of 5,000 cooking shows on TV. Little did we know we'd unleash the baking beast."

Giedroyc has a theory about why the show's such a hit.

"It's a kind show, and I think in TV world at the moment, there are lots of shows that are harsher, competitive, sensationalist and quite salacious even," she says.

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.

She lives in West London with her daughters and her husband Ben, a TV director-turned-acting teacher.

"Life at home is chaos," she says. "Ben and I try to share the care of our children 50-50, but it's more me 40, him 60."

Theatre work might be a big commitment, but it is also Giedroyc's first love. She confides 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."

If she hadn't gone down the showbiz route, she thinks she a might have been a drummer. She actually has some experience, as she and Perkins once formed a band - Leatherhead - having learned the basics of guitar playing and drumming from the Light Lunch band.

"We did one gig in my brother's living room and haven't played since," she recalls.

It's clearly had a lasting impact though. "If someone said to me right now, 'OK, here's a magic wand, I am going to turn you into a brilliant drummer and you're going to be in a band for the rest of your working life', I would be very happy with that."

Draw It! begins on Channel 4 on Monday, at 4.30pm

Little did we know we'd unleash the baking beast

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Drawing on success - Mel is launching a new game show
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Date:May 1, 2014
Words:866
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