Hannah Waddingham's friends weren't exactly ready to celebrate Christmas when they received an invitation to attend a live taping of her holiday special last May at the London Coliseum.
It “was uncommonly sweaty in London,” recalled Waddingham, "and there was us putting out an invitation saying, ‘Please wear your Christmas finery.’ So many of my friends rang me, were like, ‘Dude, really?’ I was like, ‘Yes, get your Christmas sweater out. If I’m going to be sweating, so can you.’”
“ Hannah Waddingham: Home for Christmas," debuting Wednesday (along with an accompanying soundtrack), is a dream come true for the performer, an Emmy Award-winner and three-time Olivier Award nominee. Her mother, Melodie Kelly, was an opera singer and Waddingham says she essentially spent her childhood at the Coliseum.
"I’ve run around those corridors since I was 8 years old. The reason why I am who I am as a performer is from sitting in that theater watching the great opera singers of the day... And then, of course, you know, my mother I didn’t mention it in the special, but my mother is heavily afflicted with Parkinson’s disease and is in a wheelchair. So the fact that she was even able to be there, my father sitting next to her, who had had quintuple heart surgery while I was shooting ‘Ted Lasso’ ... and to have my little girl, who by some quirk of the universe was 8 years old when we were shooting it, it’s unbelievable. Kismet.”
Waddingham is joined by other special guests including Leslie Odom Jr., Luke Evans ("He and I have known each other for 20 years from theater," she said), and Sam Ryder. Some of her pals from “Ted Lasso” also appear.
“We put the blanket offer out to them, and said, ‘Hannah wants as many of you as will be there.’ They were all clamoring to be involved. And let me tell you, they are big, fat Christmas hams."
The special caps off an eventful year for Waddingham. Besides “Ted Lasso” airing its fourth season, and taping “Home for Christmas,” she hosted the Olivier Awards, and also co-hosted the Eurovision Song Contest and the Earthshot Prize in Singapore alongside Prince William and actor Sterling K. Brown.
“2024 is really going to have to go some because 2023 has been insane," she said.