A series of talks with Absolutely Fabulous guests will be coming to the Rose this spring – and with a new host to boot.

The new season of the High Street venue’s popular Time to Talk series gets underway next month, starting with comedian, writer and actor Jennifer Saunders.

The Bafta-winning creator of Absolutely Fabulous will be discussing her new autobiography Bonkers: My Life in Laughs, as well as other aspects of her life and work.

She will be followed later in April by Scottish actor and Hollywood movie star Brian Cox, before Brian Blessed, who gave his distinctive, booming voice to the theatre’s winter production The Snow Gorilla, completes the line up in May.

And following the departure of the theatre’s artistic director Stephen Unwin, there’s a new name taking the interviewer’s chair.

Journalist, broadcaster, author and comedian Viv Groskop will now be asking the questions, starting with Saunders on Monday, April 7.

“I’m really excited,” says Groskop, who lives in Teddington.

“I’m a regular at the Rose, I do a lot of comedy locally and I interview a lot of people who have got books out, so I suppose they thought I would be a good person to take over.”

Surrey Comet:

Jennifer Saunders will be talking to Viv Groskop at the Rose on April 7

Groskop will be interviewing Saunders for the second time in as many months, after the pair first met at the Bath Literature Festival in February - where Groskop is artistic director.

“We had 1,000 people turn up for Jennifer,” she says.

“She’s fantastic. She’s in a really great mood right now. She’s got a new grandchild, and I think she feels there’s lots of exciting things happening at the moment.

“I think she’ll be quite playful, but she also has some quite stringent views on comedy and the BBC. It should be a good interview.”

On her next two subjects, Groskop says: “We’ve got the two Brians, both with their great facial hair.

“I think they will both be amazing, ‘you have to be there’ moments.

“Brian Blessed will be his usual bombastic self, while I think Brian Cox will give us a great insight into going from a great Shakespearean actor to appearing in X-Men.”

After years interviewing the great and good of the art world, Groskop should know how to get the most out of her subjects.

And she promises to be an engaging yet unobtrusive host when she takes over the Time to Talk reins.

“I know my place,” she says. “I don’t like to ask very long questions, I don’t like to make it about myself.

“I want to make sure the audience is really included, and have time to ask their own questions.

“I’ll be playful and probing, but really it’s about asking the questions the audience want answered, and hopefully giving them time to ask their own too.”

Time to Talk, Rose Theatre, High Street, Kingston

Monday April 7, Friday April 25 and Friday, May 2


Tickets: Jennifer Saunders £12; Brian Cox and Brian Blessed; £8 (pit cushions £5)

Call 08444 821 556 or visit the website.