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My Weekend: Actress and comedian Niamh McAllister on being an early riser and working on new BBC show, Dry Your Eyes

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Niamh McAllister

Niamh McAllister

Aisling Bea

Aisling Bea

Bridesmaids

Bridesmaids

Bridesmaids

Bridesmaids

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Niamh McAllister

The best time to get up at the weekend is?

Unfortunately, I’m an early riser thanks to my dad, who for as long as I can remember, has got up at 6am every day and has banged cupboards in the kitchen, so I can’t really lie in.

Even now that I’ve left home and live with two other actors who aren’t early risers, I get up at 7.30am most days.

A lie in for me would be about 8am, even at the weekend but I make sure I don’t bang the cupboards too much.

 

Breakfast or brunch?

Both. I have my Weetabix in the morning and then I’m hungry again after a few hours and am ready for brunch about midday. I’m obsessed with poached eggs because I can’t make them myself I’ve tried all the methods, so brunch out is always poached eggs and tea I’m a big tea drinker.

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What does an ideal Saturday look like?

I love a big walk on a Saturday and then lunch somewhere before rounding the day off with a trip to the cinema or the theatre.

I live right beside Phoenix Park in Dublin, which is great for a walk, but if I’m at home in Bangor, I love walking along the coastline.

 

What would your perfect Sunday be like?

Sundays are a bit of a lazy day for me. I’ll maybe try making a new recipe or do some meal prep for the week ahead.

I’ve got about 10 meals that I do in rotation, so I’ll make a big pot of something and put a couple of portions in the freezer.

 

Do you prefer to be indoors or outdoors?

I appreciate the outdoors more now because of the pandemic and try to get a walk in every day.

I’m not sporty in the slightest, but my dad and I did do the Couch to 5k together during lockdown, so I can run now which is a new thing. I’ve kept it up because if you stop even for a week, you lose it.

 

How have your weekends changed as you’ve gotten older?

I used to go out a lot when I was younger. I would have gone to Belfast to the Limelight for some live music, or the Empire for a stand-up show. Now I prefer to go to a pub and catch up with friends. I still go out for a ‘bop’ occasionally, but it’s more about chatting these days.

 

If you could eat out anywhere tonight, where would you go?

Me and my family have a tradition of going to Maggie May’s on Botanic Avenue before going to see a show in the Lyric, so I always associate there with having a really lovely night.

They also do the best milkshakes.

 

And you would have?

The menu is massive, but I would go for a veggie burger and round it off with a banoffee milkshake.

 

Do you sometimes work at weekends?

As an actor, it’s kind of like your weekends aren’t real anymore. You’re either doing a self-tape (an audition you record yourself) or writing or learning a script. And if you’re on a job, you are usually working.

For BBC Northern Ireland’s new comedy show, Dry Your Eyes, we were working on a Saturday, then had Sunday off, before starting again on Monday. It can be pretty full-on.

In the show, I play lots of different characters including a therapist, an American tourist… and Vicky McClure in Line of Duty.

 

Who would you most like to go for a drink with?

The Irish comedian Aisling Bea (left). We would fill in every silence with jokes. It would just be chaos and a really funny night. She’s brilliant. I love her.

 

Are you a weekend cook?

Since becoming vegetarian, I’ve gotten much more experimental with cooking and trying different things with tofu and stuff like that things that I would never have thought of before.

But I always come back to my butternut squash korma. It’s the one dish that I’ll willingly cook for people because I’m confident that it can’t go wrong.

 

What’s your dream Sunday dinner?

My dad makes this mince, carrot and onion stew and it’s the only thing that I miss since becoming vegetarian. It breaks his heart that I won’t eat it anymore.

When I’m in Dublin, Sunday dinner isn’t much of a thing, but definitely when I’m home in Bangor, it’s a big family event and we all eat together.

These days, a nut roast and lots of veg would be my perfect Sunday dinner.

 

Too tired to cook what would you order from the takeaway?

I’m so boring… I just love a Margherita pizza. I don’t need any toppings. Just a Margherita pizza and I’m happy.

 

Heading for the cinema, what are you going to see?

I enjoy most genres, but I do really love comedy and I’m a sucker for musical films too, so I can’t wait to see the new West Side Story. I think I’ve probably seen Bridesmaids about 20 times. I just love Kristen Wiig. She’s the funniest woman.

 

Staying in… what’s on the box?

I have a terrible habit of rewatching shows that I’ve seen a million times, such as Friends and Peep Show, but one I got really into this year was What We Do in The Shadows. It’s like a mockumentary with vampires and is hilarious.

 

What are you reading?

I always have a book by my bed and am always asking people for recommendations as I get completely overwhelmed in bookshops. Right now, I’m reading Just Kids by Patti Smith. I’m halfway through and her life is so interesting.

 

What’s your bedtime routine?

I try to be in bed around 11pm. I also try to get off my phone 30 minutes before bedtime and read my book for a while. I have this sleep tea I think it’s from Twinings and that puts me right out. Plus it’s delicious.

 

Dry Your Eyes is on BBC One Northern Ireland on Monday, January 10 at 10.35pm. It is also available on BBC iPlayer

 


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