Her wickedly funny lip-synched videos on social media have cheered up the nation – and made politicians squirm. Judith Woods meets accidental comedian Meggie Foster.
There’s no denying that some folks have had a better pandemic than others. Bike shops. Deliveroo. Loo roll brands. And Meggie Foster on TikTok.
You probably don’t recognise her name – yet. But make no mistake, this impish comic actress from the Home Counties is on a trajectory to stardom. And all thanks to Meggie’s hilarious lip-synching satires of celebrities and politicians such as Gemma Collins and Boris Johnson. The most-watched example is her uproarious take on the infamous October 2019 interview between ITV news presenter Tom Bradby and Meghan while she and Prince Harry were on a trip to Africa. As the Duchess of Sussex earnestly speaks about the need to thrive, not just survive, Meggie’s Bradby starts playing violin while a querulously sincere Meghan dabs her tears away with a £50 note. Wicked. Funny. Wickedly funny.
Over these past months 27-year-old Meggie has been an irreverent breath of fresh air. ‘Priti Patel followed me on Twitter after I did her,’ says Meggie. ‘I was thrilled. But when I did another one, she unfollowed me. I’m not sure what that was all about.’ I do, Meggie. It’s all about the way you portray our sternly joyless Home Secretary as a hard-drinking, chain-smoking, off-the-scale party girl. ‘I was listening to a speech she gave and I thought she was slurring her words slightly, so I had some fun with that,’ beams Meggie.
In its original incarnation lip-synching is the art of pretending to sing a song when in fact the performer is just moving their lips. But latterly it has become a perfect medium for satire. Frankly nothing hoists a politician by their own petard better than their actual words playfully presented on a public platter with a great big dollop of side-eye mockery.
Meggie’s own extravagant side-eye (see also her expressive eye-roll and long, meaningful blink) is a wondrous thing to witness. We are chatting via Zoom but by sheer force of her personality it’s as if she’s not only in the room but pinning me to the wall. ‘What is fascinating is that you find yourself listening more intently to what the politicians are saying when their words are lip-synched,’ says Meggie. She’s right. So no wonder some MPs are warier than others. In Diane Does Digits, Meggie seizes upon former Shadow Home Secretary Diane Abbott’s disastrously innumerate radio interview about police recruitment. By way of illustration, we see Meggie trying and failing to get her sums right with the help of a nursery numbers book, a can of M&S mojito and an abacus.
In Bedtime with Boris, she plays Boris Johnson reading George Orwell’s 1984 to Theresa May. The audio is taken from the Prime Minister’s ‘Stay alert’ announcement, and his predecessor’s infamous speech about social care during the 2017 general election. A set-to between Labour’s Caroline Flint and Emily Thornberry depicts them as stroppy teenagers.
From Greta Thunberg to Love Island contestants, all Meggie’s targets are instantly recognisable, and since lockdown her social media following has rocketed.
So just who is the woman behind the parody? Meggie was born and raised in Oxfordshire by her businessman father Piers and mother Catherine. She loved performing in school productions and professed an early desire to go to drama school. ‘My parents did exactly what parents are supposed to do and told me to get a proper degree first on the assumption the acting phase would pass,’ says Meggie. ‘So I did a business studies degree at King’s College London then announced I was going to drama school.’
She did a master’s at University of the Arts in London then found herself working as a receptionist, a waitress and an estate agent. ‘Last year I decided I needed to give it one last big push,’ Meggie says. ‘I left my job and spent six months concentrating on auditions before I somehow ended up selling software to beauty salons. I was furloughed in lockdown and went back home to live with my parents where I was unbelievably bored.’
A friend suggested she download TikTok and post something to fill the time. Meggie decided to do it properly. She bought a professional lighting kit and rifled through her parents’ wardrobes for costumes.
The first video she posted on Twitter was a lip-synch of a news interview of an Extinction Rebellion protester that had garnered a lot of interest. ‘There was such a juxtaposition between this woman’s terribly rude four-letter words and her super-posh accent that it was irresistible,’ says Meggie. ‘I filmed it in the grandest room in the house and posted it on Twitter. Social media went crazy and the comedian Dom Joly commented on it.’ That’s an understatement. The Trigger Happy TV star’s words were, ‘If I was an agent, I’d be signing her up on the spot.’ And it turns out, an agent was. ‘Catherine Tate’s agent got in touch, which is unbelievable,’ she says.
Those who follow American politics on social media may already know of Meggie’s US counterpart, the author and comedian Sarah Cooper, whose Donald Trump lip-synchs are hugely popular. ‘Trump is now her territory so he’s off limits to me. I’d love to meet her at some point,’ Meggie says.
Meggie is keen to meet someone else, too. ‘I’m single and ready to – oops, not allowed to mingle.’ A few male fans have been in touch, but a recent foray into online dating was a damp squib. ‘I got banned before I’d even sent a single message!’ she laughs ‘Maybe they thought it was a fake account…’
For Meggie the fakery is strictly on-screen. Her videos may look effortless but they aren’t. A one-minute clip can take up to five hours to put together. She has also encountered some unexpected hurdles. ‘My mum refused to let me open a bottle of her rosé for one sketch so I had to use a glass of Robinsons Summer Fruits juice, then my dad told me off for smoking in the house,’ she says. ‘It’s just a hunch but I’m thinking that might be why sketch shows aren’t generally filmed in your childhood bedroom.’ Quite so, though we suspect she won’t have to worry about that much longer.
Follow Meggie on Twitter @meggiefoster.
Make-up: Caroline Piasecki