BRIDGET Christie is on a mission. The multi-award-winning Gloucestershire comic has hit 52 and started to experience the array of changes associated with the arrival of that unavoidable accompaniment to middle-aged life: the menopause.

And as a “confused, furious, sweaty lady who is annoyed by everything”, she is taking to the stage to stick up for women of her vintage – and to laugh about it.

Her show, which comes to the Oxford Playhouse tonight, Friday September 8, attempts to get to grips with what is happening to her – and other ladies of her age – and is named, with suitable self-doubt, Who Am I?

She admits she cannot ride the motorbike she bought to combat her mid-life crisis because of early osteoarthritis in her hips and RSI in her wrist; wonders why there are so many films, made by men, about young women discovering their sexuality, but none about middle-aged women forgetting theirs; and laughs about hot flushes and brain fog.

“I’m much more eloquent on stage than I am in real life,” she laughs.

She also talks about how woman over 50 are often overlooked or unseen.

“When I see another one-dimensional female character over 50 in a TV show or a film, I think about my incredible 50-plus friends, and women in the public eye or sport, doing incredible groundbreaking work and at the top of their games,” she says.

“They’re leading campaigns, they’re activists, they’re running businesses, they’re changing games in their fields – but where are they? Why are we not seeing them?”

Despite the challenges, she admits to finding the menopause hugely liberating.

Oxford Mail: Bridget Christie; promotional shots; photography by Natasha Pszenicki; comedian; Amanda Emery

Bridget Christie. All photography by Natasha Pszenicki / Amanda Emery

“I’ve found that I care less about what people think of me, and I’ve became really excited about my future,” she continues.

“I feel truly and deeply who I’m supposed to be, accepting all of my flaws and faults and just feeling really good about myself. And I think that’s a hormonal thing.

“Also, I’m in the public eye. There are plenty of people to bring me down should they so wish – why would I do the same? And it’s not about being arrogant, or overly confident, it’s about doing my best, being a good person, being grateful for what I’ve got, and exercising a bit of self-love and self-care.”

The Edinburgh Comedy, Chortle, Rose D’Or and South Bank Sky Arts award-winner is a familiar face – and voice – starring in QI, Ghosts, Cardinal Burns, Harry Hill’s Alien Fun Capsule, Anna and Katy, Have I Got News for You, Room 101 and the comedian Kevin Eldon’s show It’s Kevin.

She made waves with her BBC Radio 4 series Mortal, an intimate lockdown audio diary recorded at home and in the park.

She has headlined the comedy stage at Reading Festival, and her page-turner A Book for Her was critically acclaimed and nominated for a Chortle Award.

Oxford Mail: Bridget Christie; promotional shots; photography by Natasha Pszenicki; comedian; Amanda Emery

The observational comic – who lives in North London with her comedian husband (and Oxford Playhouse patron) Stewart Lee – has also humorously explored the menopause in her Channel 4 programme, The Change.

What prompted her to write it?

“Well it evolved over a long period of time,” she answers.

“I wanted to write a story that I wasn’t seeing on screen. I wanted to see more middle-aged women having adventures, not being defined by their relationships or their families, and I’d always wanted to write something based in the Forest of Dean.

“But the central character, Linda, wasn’t going through the menopause when I first started writing it, because I wasn’t going through the menopause – it was seven years ago. But I’m glad it took that long to commission because the story evolved organically and became a much richer, more satisfying one in the end. When I look at those earlier scripts, they were missing something. And that something was the menopause.”

Rather than just writing her own routine, it saw her penning lines for a whole cast of performers.

“It was joyful!” she says.

“I wrote with particular people in mind, of course not knowing if they would come on board or not, but it was extremely helpful to imagine them saying the lines. Writing for the likes of Paul Whitehouse, Jerome Flynn, Jim Howick, Monica Dolan, Tanya Moodie, Liza Tarbuck and Omid Djalili – and all the cast, just felt like a ridiculous privilege.

“I felt like I really knew my characters and had to respect them and be true to them. An instinct kicks in when you’re writing for other characters and sometimes, half way through a sentence you’ll go. “Hang on, they would never say that!”

And it went down well.

“I’m still pinching myself,” she says.

Oxford Mail: Bridget Christie; promotional shots; photography by Natasha Pszenicki; comedian; Amanda Emery

“It was the most incredibly rewarding process of my working life and the critical and public response to it was way beyond what I or the team could have dreamed for. I don’t know what will happen in my career from here on in, but this was a real defining moment for me that may never be repeated, so I’m just aware of seizing the moment and draining every last bit of joy out of it!

“We’ve had hundreds of messages from members of the public, menopausal women, young women, men, across the spectrum, saying how it’s touched them, and it’s just been really overwhelming to be honest.”

It’s the same with the stand-up show. And it is not just middle-aged women who are finding it hilarious.

She says: “I thought it might be quite a hard sell, but I started running the material in at little comedy gigs, where audiences are predominantly 20-something, and I’d see tables of young guys just laughing their heads off.

“I thought they might be laughing at something else, so I asked them what was going on and they said ‘That’s our mums’. That was very interesting for me, because it made me realise that the menopause wasn’t this niche subject, and only interesting to women of a certain age – it was something much more universal than that. I found that young women in the audience responded well to it it be-cause it’s something in their future, and it’s about their relationships with their mothers.

“And on tour, when I’m signing my books at the end of the show, there are loads of teenage boys and young 20-something men who have watched Taskmaster and Ghosts, getting their books signed.

“So while I might have originally wanted to speak to menopausal women and women my age, an oft-overlooked demographic especially on the comedy circuit I found that the reach was, in reality, much much wider than that. It’s either you, or your wife, or your mum, or your sister.”

Bridget Christie's Who Am I comes to the Oxford Playhouse tonight, on Friday, September 8.