SELF-confessed comedy nerd, Sally Phillips, 48, joins some of the nation's top comedians to look back at their most-loved funny scenes for the celebratory show My Favourite Sketch. Gemma Dunn finds out more

How would you describe the show?

My Favourite Sketch is a cross between Desert Island Discs, but with sketches, and one of those cheap clip shows. But at the end, we re-enact the guests' favourite sketches. We've got top-notch guests. I'm really thrilled we have some real comedy legends like Paul Whitehouse, Bob Mortimer and Jessica Hynes coming in, and they have selected 10 sketches that have either inspired them or really made them laugh.

Tell us more about the re-enactments?

We re-enact one of [the 10] with varying degrees of success, I have to say. But you could say that would define a great sketch - in that it couldn't be redefined by anyone else other than the original people. So we put the sketches to the test and most of the sketches win. I'd say sketches five, us one. For me, it was really interesting to see how the sketch worked from the inside. It's a different type of comedy.

Is there a sure-fire recipe to success when it comes to sketches?

None of us know what the secret of a great sketch is and that's what keeps us going back. There are many different ways, but it has to be funny. We are all reaching after that magic formula, and the minute you find the formula, it goes dead like a sparkler because you do have to keep surprising the audience.

What's the one sketch you wish you'd written?

There are so many great sketches in the show. I guess in terms of pride, there is this mathematically-perfect Mitchell and Webb sketch about brain surgery. But the sketch I wish I had been in is the Spike Milligan sketch. There are no words in that - it's just him as an opera singer, blowing raspberries, and it's hilarious.

British TV appears to be casting the format aside somewhat - why?

I think it's mainly cost, because to make a sketch show interesting you can't just keep shooting it all in an office. You have lots of different set-ups, lots of different wigs, costumes and locations. It's just all really expensive. So if you could do a live sitcom with one or two sets, a live audience and cameras where you're essentially doing the editing as you shoot it, it's so much cheaper that people want to do that.

You've got some great guests on - who would you like to see in future series?

I'm really hoping Michael Palin will do it; I've just interviewed him for something else and he is just a dream. He's delightful - he's such a nice man and he's also so skilled. People forget that because he's older, but obviously he can really, really do comedy. Also I love Celia Imrie - she and Julie Walters are such a key part of British comedy. It would also be important to get Catherine Tate.

You've been in the industry for three decades now. Have you noticed a tide of change for female comics?

A huge change. It's fantastic. They're so funny and so ballsy and so confident, but it's still much harder for them and the way in which it's harder is not immediately obvious, but once you see it, you can't un-see it. The fact that the BBC will turn stuff down because they say, 'We've already got a women's thing'. And it's not just me that's happened to. The person that has made me angry, in a way, is Aisling Bea, who's so funny, so beautiful and so talented and at 34, has only just now had something commissioned. She's been writing with Sharon Horgan, who is a known presence, and you just go, 'I know if she was a guy, she would have already had three series'. I know that for sure.

You've had a hectic few years across film, TV and radio - is it important to you to keep busy?

I enjoy being busy. It's like and not like athletics - in that having stopped while I was having kids, I did get really rusty. If you want to be a good performer, you have to keep performing. And I also think, on some level, with a special needs child, I feel slightly less guilt because I need a break. Panorama last night was showing that so many parents and family members of people with any kind of disability are having to give up work to deliver so much of the care themselves, so it feels quite important to keep going if you can.

  • My Favourite Sketch will be on Gold from Friday, October 5.