Fiona O’Loughlin **** The Herald Scotland

As someone who has visited Alice Springs, I can agree that there can have been nothing anonymous about Fiona O’Loughlin’s AA meetings there. The spunky 48-year-old mother of five has had a very public battle with alcohol (which apparently came to a head the night before she was to appear on the Australian version of Strictly Come Dancing). When she arrived at AA she asked if she could be upgraded from beginner’s to advanced, and that kind of sums up her extreme personality.

Now sober, O’Loughlin seems still to amuse herself with some of the “scrapes” she got into while inebriated (she calls these her “red flag” moments).

Hitting rock bottom at the Melbourne Comedy Festival comes back to haunt this show in a memorably humorous way (which she asked not to be revealed, so I won’t). Her best anecdote was about meeting the Queen in an outpost in Alice Springs (look out for the Duke of Edinburgh’s one-liner) and her Oprah impersonation was absolutely priceless, especially as Australia went nuts for the chat-show host when she deigned to visit earlier this year.

She’s a spunky Aussie who has a quip for everything with a certain slightly crinkled grandeur: Liz Taylor meets Clive James with the delivery ofJo Brand.

For tales of rehab recovery, her family’s annual incest prevention plan and more, she won’t mind if you raise a glass to her good health (though she may nip out for a fag).

Marianne Gunn

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