What inspired you to start a career in the media?
A very early interest in the theatre. Laurence Olivier's Shakespeare films. And epic Kirk Douglas ones before that.
When you were 15 years old, what was the family newspaper, and did you read it?
When I was 16 I acted in a production at the Traverse theatre in Edinburgh which was directed by David Halliwell, the author of Little Malcolm and his Struggle Against the Eunuchs, and he insisted on The Guardian which I have read just about ever since. But I tend to read two or three different papers a week to get a more rounded picture.
And what were your favourite TV and radio programmes?
Peter Cook and Dudley Moore's Not Only ... But Also, and apart from that all the usual TV detectives. I can remember Rupert Davies as Maigret. And being terrified of a children's programme called The Red Grass. Leonard Rossiter in a prescient play about reality television called The Year of the Sex Olympics also made a very big impression.
What media do you turn to first thing in the morning?
I like to read the Times Literary Supplement over breakfast. It is an education.
Do you consult any media sources during the working day?
I scoot through The Guardian to get to the quick crossword.
What's the best thing about your job?
The constant adrenalin and excitement and new challenges. I like the interaction with lots of people, as well.
And the worst?
Last-minute bookings. Not being able to plan my life properly. Anti-social hours.
What is the proudest achievement in your working life?
Breaking free from the tendency to hide behind character and stand up for myself as a performance poet.
And your most embarrassing moment?
Telling a funny theatrical anecdote to a colleague, and passing it off as my own experience only to realise that it was something that had actually happened to him. Lying and showing off at the same time, basically.
At home, what do you tune in to?
Radio 4, Radio 3. On telly I really, really liked Extras. And The Thick of It, a political satire. It's a sort of Yes, Minister for the 21st century with Chris Langham, who worked sometimes at The Comic Strip Presents..., and Peter Capaldi with whom I worked on Feelgood, the West End comedy.
What is your Sunday paper and do you have a favourite magazine?
I chop and change with the Sundays. The TLS keeps me so busy I don't have time to read other magazines.
Name the one career ambition you want to realise before you retire
To be earning money in my sleep.
If you didn't work in the media, what would you do?
Teach: acting or comedy.
Who in the media do you most admire, and why?
At the moment I admire people such as John Humphrys and Jon Snow who don't give up. Although I don't agree with him on everything, I enjoyed the performance George Galloway gave in America last year. That must take balls.
1978 Stars in the original cast of 'Evita' in the West End, shortly after finishing drama school.
1979 Makes his name as one of the earliest stars of the The Comedy Store, before leaving with Rik Mayall and Adrian Edmondson to set up alternative venue The Comic Strip.
1981 Stars in hit BBC2 comedy 'The Young Ones' as Neil the depressive hippie.
1983 Starts BBC show 'The Comic Strip Presents...' which runs for 13 years and features spoof rock band Bad News, who went on to release two albums produced by Queen's Brian May.
2002 Appears in the Ben Elton musical 'We Will Rock You'.
2005 Writes his first play, 'On the Ceiling', which runs at London's Garrick Theatre
- More about:
- Actors And Actresses
- Male Actors
- Newspapers And Magazines
- Performing Arts
- The Guardian