Whether she’s presenting TV comedy panel quiz show QI, entertaining us – and her lucky travel companion – on her Extraordinary Escapes or indeed performing in front of a live audience, Sandi Toksvig makes it all look and sound effortless and very, very funny.
It comes as something of a surprise then that there have been periods in her life when she’s questioned her abilities and felt decidedly vulnerable – especially starting out as a comedian.
“In order to be a woman comedian – particularly for our age and generation – it was really hard,” she has said. “You were always the only woman on the bill. You were always in the dressing room with no facilities – where the boys all wee’d in the sink. And you’re a bit stuck so we all had to fight quite hard. So, on the surface, you might seem as though you’re quite a confident kind of character, but there’s a vulnerability there, too.”
Sandi's early years
Sandra Birgitte Toksvig (known as Sandi) was born in Denmark to Claus Toksvig, a Danish journalist and foreign correspondent and British mum, Julie Anne Toksvig. The family travelled around a lot thanks to her father's job, meaning Sandi spent much of her younger years growing up in New York.
As a girl and a younger woman, Sandi’s life – although privileged – wasn’t particularly easy. She loathed the strict boarding school she was sent to as a teen which left her with ‘a feeling of desolation that I can hardly bear’.
Then a few years later, she was shunned at Cambridge University for being a lesbian, told by a tutor that she’d brought disgrace on the ancient seat of learning and says it felt almost like having the plague.
In 1994, Sandi ‘came out’. Death threats followed which saw her, her then-partner and their three small children having to go into hiding for a time. Little wonder then that she’s had periods of insecurity. Happily now, though, that’s all in the past, and Sandi is pretty much a British National Treasure – even if she is half Danish!
Sandi's love of the UK
While she loves her Scandi side, her affection for this country knows no bounds.
“I really do love Britain,” she says. “My view of this country is that people are nice, and less prejudiced, less homophobic, less racist than some would have you believe. I think it’s a nation of kind people, I really do. Look at our response to the refugee crisis in Ukraine, for example?
“The UK also has the most amazing history. You can go to any street corner and fascinating events will have occurred there in the past. There’s an anonymous spot in South East London, for instance, where a victorious Henry V entered the capital after the Battle of Agincourt! As I tour the country with my live show ‘Next Slide Please’, I’m looking into the history of every place I visit. It’s a ‘brown-sign’ tour because when there’s a brown road sign, it indicates a place of interesting heritage - anywhere there is a stately home and a cup of tea.”
A new tour
Sandi chose the title of the tour as a kind of tongue-in-cheek homage to Chief Medical Officer Professor Chris Whitty.
“When he was doing his nightly TV appearances during the pandemic, he had us all in the palm of his hand but he would keep saying. ‘Next slide, please’ when they weren’t slides at all!” she laughs. “Nobody’s used slides for years! He meant ‘Next TV graphic!’ I knew I’d been locked down too long when I started yelling at the TV screen every time he said it.”
Sandi is clearly relishing interacting with a live audience for the first time in more than two years.
“There is such a sense of joy when we hear people laughing, meeting strangers, having a drink and just being glad to be out for the evening,” she says.
“The show is all about having fun, being silly, doing jokes and enjoying ourselves. I engage with the audience, ask them lots of questions and there are prizes to be won.
“You can win a pencil with ‘Next Slide Please’ on it, which is very exciting, there’s some Swedish chocolate and in each town, I’ve purchased a used postcard from the turn of the 20th Century that we will read out and see what the person thought was worth writing about in that town.
“Each show is very much tailored to concentrating on what’s in the area and what can I learn as much as what I might have to say to them. You have to stay curious about life – otherwise you become a dinosaur.”
Who is Sandi Toksvig's wife?
Sandi is married to psychotherapist Debbie Toksvig. The two entered a civil partnership in 2007 and later renewed their vows on March 29, 2014 - the same day same-sex marriage was legalised in England and Wales.
In December 2014, their partnership was converted into a marriage.
Where does Sandi Toksvig live?
Sandi and Debbie have a rather interesting living situation, as they live in a houseboat that is moored in Wandsworth, South West London.
They don't spend all of their time here however. They also have a home in Kent that isn't on water!
Here she is below in 2017 hosting a Christmas dinner for her former GBBO family.
Sandi and Debbie have a pet dog named Mildred who also lives aboard the boat, and we must say, she's rather cute!
Sandi Toksvig's children
Sandi has two daughters, Megan and Jesse and a son, Theo. The children were carried by Sandi's previous partner, Peta Stewart and were conceived through artificial insemination using donor Christopher Lloyd-Pack - the younger brother of Only Fools and Horses actor Roger Lloyd-Pack. Sandi and Peta separated in 1997.
How old is Sandi Toksvig?
Sandi was born on the 3rd May 1958, making her currently 63.
How tall is Sandi Toksvig?
Sandi is 1.5m tall or 4ft 9in.
Sandi Toksvig’s net worth
According to Celebrity Net Worth Sandi Toksvig is worth $8 million, that equates to almost £6 million!
Is Sandi on Twitter?
Although Sandi doesn't have an Instagram account, she's quite active over on Twitter. She often shares a range of personal pictures and updates about her latest projects.
Sandi's TV work
Great British Bake Off
Following the departure of previous hosts Sue Perkins and Mel Giedroyc, in 2017 Sandi was announced as one of the new co-presenters of The Great British Bake Off on Channel 4, alongside Noel Fielding.
However after three years, Sandi confirmed she would be leaving the show. She wrote: "When stepping down from a job it is quite common for people to say they are doing so in order to spend more time with their family.
"Unusually I am departing from 'The Great British Bake Off' so I can spend more time with my other work. As my waistline will testify, 'Bake Off' is an all-consuming show."
"Spending time with Prue, Paul and Noel has been one of the great pleasures of my life. These are friendships which I know will continue beyond the confines of television. Bake Off' is a wonderful programme which has already proved it can happily withstand a change of hosting personnel."
In 2016, Sandi took over from Stephen Fry as host of QI which made her the first female presenter of a British mainstream TV comedy panel show.
The Write Offs
Sandi presented The Write Offs, an uplifting two-part series hosted which explored Britain’s low adult literacy rates. The show aimed to help a group of adults ranging from 22 to 66 years old overcome their challenges in reading, writing and spelling.
Sandi said: “Working on The Write Offs has been one of the great honours of my working life. I have had the extraordinary pleasure of spending time with eight courageous people who have approached their deepest fears with humour and determination. Like me, I just know not only will everyone fall in love with them, they will review what they think they know about reading and writing. I believe the ripple effect from these eight will be astonishing.“
Extraordinary Escapes with Sandi Toksvig
In this travel series, Sandi and some of the nation's most fascinating and funny women (such as Alison Steadman and Prue Leith) explore the delights of the UK's wildest, most remote and beautifully designed holiday hideaways.
Can I Improve My Memory?
In 2019, Sandi hosted the show that saw celebs compete in a range of unique challenges using memory hacks and techniques, to try and remember as much information as possible to fill up on facts and become experts in diverse subjects in just a matter of weeks.
The Great Big Tiny Design Challenge
In Sandi's brand new show, she hosts as amateur crafters put their miniature-making skills to the test and compete to transform a derelict mini-mansion into the ultimate fantasy house.
Talking about the series, Sandi said: "I think it's the scale that will make people not be able to believe it. I mean, when you see a miniature bathtub a 12th of the size of an actual bathtub with running water, you see a mangle that can actually mangle clothes, it's breathtaking. Some of the scale was incredible what they managed to do."
She recently told Yours: “The most exciting thing about it is that it’s a doll’s house mansion that’s being renovated – it’s fabulous – but they made me very small and put me in the doll’s house. Finally, I felt I’d arrived where I belong!”
Sandi Toksvig on tour
Fancy seeing Sandi in the flesh? Sandi is going on tour with her one-woman show in spring/summer 2022. Buy tickets here.
Sandi Toksvig's books
As well as her many TV projects, Sandi has also written many books, including a range of non-fiction and fiction reads as well as 12 children's books.
Here's a few of our favourites below.