NOT all showbiz marriages are built to last . . . but Ruby Wax has the secret: Spending time apart.
The US comedian-turned-author, 68, has been married to British film and telly producer-director Ed Bye, 66, for 33 years.
She reckons the “unconventional” nature of their relationship is what keeps it fresh. Ruby says: “I have my friends, he has his friends. I don’t assume we have the same tastes.
“It’s understood we both have different careers. We’re together but we have different tastes and jobs — and that’s OK.
“We don’t step on each other’s toes and I don’t really see myself as Mrs Bye.
“My name is what my name is. I see myself as an individual. But that’s OK. I’ve got three kids and they don’t mind.”
Ruby, who has written six books, and Ed do not need to be joined at the hip to be happy.
She says: “I write, he directs — and I never go, ‘Oh, how come you’re not going with me to write?’ I don’t know why our relationship is unconventional but it’s not conservative.
“If my friends ask me to dinner, I don’t necessarily have to bring him because they’re my friends. We’re not addicted to each other’s company or demand that we’re always there.
“I wouldn’t have written these books if I’d have had somebody on my back.”
Ruby recently finished her latest book, A Mindfulness Guide For Survival, while living apart from her husband in a “nano house” in Hertfordshire while he remained at their family home in London.
Ruby says: “I write a lot of books, so I have to leave and Ed stays here in London. If you’re writing, you’ve got to be alone.
“I live near my friend who is my editor and it’s one room. So that’s a nano house. And she sits next to me and edits my books.”
Ruby, who has spoken about how she suffers from depression, completed a Masters degree in mindfulness and neuroscience at Oxford University in 2013.
If my friends ask me to dinner, I don’t necessarily have to bring him because they’re my friends
In 2015, she was awarded an OBE for her services to mental health. Now, Ruby practises mindfulness, a type of meditation in which you focus on being present in the moment.
She also goes on silent retreats to give her brain a workout. She says: “I go to them twice or three times a year for two weeks.
“It’s 12 hours of mindfulness every day but it’s really hard. It’s not a spa — you are exercising your brain.
“You ditch your phone and you’re silent. You get up at 6am and it stops at 8pm. And you do exercises. I like to give my mind a rest because I wind it up too tight.
“I don’t love it but it means the stress can slow down. It’s a legitimate thing — I’m not waving crystals! I have depression, so I can’t afford it to go too loopy.”
Ruby found fame in 1985 when appearing in ITV sitcom Girls On Top, which also starred Dawn French and Jennifer Saunders.
GIVE MIND A REST
She interviewed famous faces including Madonna, OJ Simpson and the Spice Girls for her BBC series Ruby Wax Meets from 1994.
And she will soon be back on the box with a three-part look at those chats for a new BBC2 series, When Ruby Met.
Speaking about grilling Madonna, Ruby says: “With her, there were 12 people around who were her people and I can’t interview when people are that close. I didn’t get to who she was — but maybe that’s who she was.”
She interviewed Simpson — whom she calls “deluded” — after the 1994 murder of his ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson. He was found responsible for her death in a civil court and Ruby has her own view on his acquittal at the earlier criminal trial.
She recalls: “I had a whole camera crew, so I wasn’t scared of him.” And the Spice Girls? “I loved them.”
But the most special connection she made was with Star Wars actress Carrie Fisher, who died aged 60 in 2016. Ruby says: “I wanted her to be my friend, so that was the point of the interview.
I wouldn’t have written these books if I’d have had somebody on my back
“She became my best friend and we would travel together. She had depth and she was funny and that’s all I ask from people.”
Ruby wrote episodes of comedy classic Absolutely Fabulous with Jennifer Saunders, who recently said the show would become a victim of cancel culture today.
But Ruby believes her own work was never controversial. She says: “I was interviewing celebrities and treating them like human beings instead of celebrities, so I think they liked that. I didn’t insult anybody.
“I worked for 25 years and then it changed. They wanted reality shows and game shows and that’s not my area. I really liked being with people for a week and getting to know them.
“So I was not going to go and sit in a house and file my nails and have people film it.”
- A Mindfulness Guide For Survival, by Ruby Wax, is out now (Welbeck, £14.99).