SHE has filmed with the likes of Mad Men’s Jon Hamm and appeared in a string of cult comedy shows over the years. 

It was working on a scene on location in the rather unglamorous Glasgow suburb of Bishopbriggs that really made Doon Mackichan stop and pinch herself.

“I thought, ‘This is great. Day one: four women in a garden shooting. Elaine C Smith, Arabella Weir, Sharon Rooney and me. When does that ever happen?’”

We’re on the subject of women in comedy, or more the lack thereof.

With a career in film, theatre and television that spans nearly 30 years, the star of Smack the Pony, Toast of London and new BBC Scotland comedy drama Two Doors Down is very much aware of how little has changed.

“In the 1980s I used to be on at the Comedy Store with five guys and then I’d get an agent ringing me up and saying, ‘It’s International Women’s Day, I’ll put you on with Jo Brand and Jenny Eclair and Hattie Hayridge’ because we were the four women doing the circuit.

"It’s pretty similar now, you don’t get four women on a bill on the same night,” she points out.

“I think it has changed in that women are doing more character-based and more sketch-based comedy and I would hope that came from Smack the Pony.

"There were a lot of women going, ‘I love this, it is a voice for what I want to do. I want to be silly’.”

She says she never ceases to be astonished at the number of sketch shows and women’s shows that go so far and are then dropped.

“It’s time for commissioners, women and men, to face up to that. There are so many good performers around who don’t get the chance.

They use the same people. People are probably sick of seeing me. They’ll be saying, ‘Why are you using Doon again?’.”

Probably because she’s one of the best comedy actresses of her generation.

However, I take her point: little has changed. Which is why Two Doors Down, the six-part comedy which also stars Alex Norton, Jonathan Watson, Jamie Quinn and Harki Bhambra, which first aired as a New Year’s special in 2013, particularly appeals to her.

The comedy of manners follows friends and neighbours in fictional Latimer Crescent, with Doon’s rather glam character Cathy playing a central role.

Her wardrobe usually consists of designer clothes accessorised with lots of blinging jewellery but for the scene being filmed today at the BBC’s Dumbarton studios she’s wearing a rather old fashioned nightie.

“Normally Cathy is very sparkly. If there was the Real Housewives of Dumbarton, she would be on that because she has the hair and the big false lashes,” laughs Mackichan.

“She’s loud, probably drinks one too many at a party, and she’s quite narcissistic and self-centred. She’s actually very happily married to her husband, they’ve been together since she was quite young.

“She’s like a big butterfly in a domestic situation: everything is a drama. She doesn’t work and I think they’re probably up to their eyes in credit.

"She’s very interested in everyone but she is over-interested in everyone’s business: she wants to know exactly what is going on, she’s nosy but also just wants to talk about herself.

"She’ll say, ‘Tell me all about it. Let’s have a glass of wine and a catch up’ and she’ll just talk about herself.” 

Many of us are familiar with Mackichan’s other glitzy on-screen character – the showbiz agent Janet Plough in Channel 4’s Toast of London who has a lot of agents in London wondering if she is based on them.

Terribly polite, but with no soft side, she gently but firmly strong-arms Matt Berry’s pompous actor Steven Toast into a string of unsuitable roles. 

“She is an absolute joy to play,” says Mackichan, revealing that Plough’s distinctive hairsprayed coiffure was inspired by the bridge partner of Mackichan’s mother, who happens to be June Whitfield’s sister.

“They’re all women who are those brilliant survival ladies of a certain age who just would never wear an elasticated waistband.

"They look good, they put their make up on, they’ll get together, and they’re inspirational.

"They have all lost their husbands but they will get up, make a meal, and get on with it. They’re brilliant,” she marvels.

Filming the third series of Toast of London also gave Mackichan the opportunity to work with Mad Men’s Jon Hamm, a noted fan of British comedy, who appears as himself.

“We were all slightly ridiculous in the make-up wagon because we were trying to be really cool and he was just sitting there and people were knocking things over and going ‘What the f*** are you doing? Calm down, let’s be cool’,” she giggles.

“He is ridiculously cool and even on set I was trying to sit quietly and thought, ‘I don’t have to speak because he’s not speaking’ and then, of course, filling the silence with utter crap like, ‘Do you, have, ahem, bars like this is, ehm, in LA?’”

Beyond the cut-glass voice, Mackichan has a very good Scottish accent, the product of spending her teenage years at school in St Andrews.

Fiercely proud of her Scottish roots – her family can trace its origins to the Macdonalds of Clanranald – she has been loving the weeks spent in Glasgow filming. Not least because the late summer schedule with unseasonably balmy days offered the chance to combine a trip to Scotland with her favourite pastime: wild swimming.

As well as taking a dip in the waters off Arran, she went to Croy beach at Culzean Castle and even managed to get some of her fellow cast members from Two Doors Down into Loch Lomond on a break in filming.

“They were like, ‘We’re not going in’, and I said, ‘Yes we are, we’re going in. Get your costume’,” she laughs.

“I’ve never seen them look so happy, they were like ‘Ooh, it’s life changing’. I absolutely love it when people are scared of open water and get over their fear.”
lTwo Doors Down is on BBC2 Scotland on Friday at 10pm