Frank Skinner: 'Wasted years become research in the twinkle of an eye'


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The Independent Culture

Being on radio gives me more courage to try things because if listeners don't laugh, I won't know.

I'm delighted by the obscurity of [my Sony Award-winning Absolute Radio] show at times. We were recently sent a text message about "Bill W" that seemed to refer to alcoholism. That led to [fellow presenter] Emily asking if Bill W meant William Wilberforce, then me talking about [the politician] waking up with a hangover, and saying, "I got drunk and abolished what? But I love slavery, what was I thinking?" It's still stupid comedy, so why shouldn't it be about William Wilberforce rather than Jedward?

I look back on my drinking with some nostalgia because of the person it made me. [He started drinking at 14 and was an alcoholic by 21. He has not had a drink since 1986.] I guess I miss it because it was a period when I was a bit more adventurous, a bit less in control.

Every relationship I have been in has been argument-heavy and I guess because I'm the only common denominator, there must be something in me which triggers that. But one of the great things about being a comic is that wasted years can become research in the twinkle of an eye.

I have five ukuleles I've always got one out. If I go and make a cup of tea, I'll play two George Formby tunes on the way to the sink. I love it. I bought one in Blackpool for £950, but you can get perfectly decent wooden ones for 20 quid.

I read quite a lot of poetry I'm surprised more people don't, as it's suited to the modern world, because it tends to be short, condensed and intense, as opposed to long, rambling novels.

It would have been great for the Church to have embraced the [Occupy London] protesters [at St Paul's] and say, "You know those money-lenders we threw out ages ago? Well, we're still overturning tables." I don't know what the Catholic church would have done; depends how much money they were making on the pieties stall, I suppose.

'Frank Skinner's Opinionated' is on Thursdays at 10pm on BBC2. Skinner is also on Absolute Radio from 8am on Saturdays. Tickets for the live show 'Frank Skinner and Friends' (at the Noel Coward Theatre, London WC2, from 23 January to 4 February) are available to buy now at