Jolly un-boating weather: 'I've always had a paid education - at day schools which didn't cripple my father, but gave him something to think about. At the age of 13, I went to Westminster School, a most un-boatered place, quite unlike the image of a public school. You weren't all cloistered away: it's in central London. It is a school which is very challenging intellectually. My only criticism is that it's a bit up its own arse.
Driven up the wall: We did Waiting for Godot in French, and The Real Inspector Hound within weeks of it having opened in the West End. Stephen Poliakoff and I wrote a play together called The Pot-hole, which was meant to be a swingeing satire on the school, and they actually let us put it on in the lecture theatre. We also produced a satirical school magazine, which we put up on the wall, a bit like a samizdat.
Chemistry all wrong: My reports tended to say, "He could do the work - if only he sat down to do it." I would fail nowadays because of continuous assessment. Irritatingly, I could do six weeks revision and pass with flying colours - I learn the work like a performance. I got thrown out of Chemistry; I had a friend who was very dangerous in the classroom - it was all his fault!
Off stages: They rushed you through your exams and I got A and S-Levels in English, History and French when I was just 17. They had at that time just started drama courses at four universities, but I was turned down. This shocked me, and on the rebound I became the New Me, the person who wasn't doing drama. I went to read African and Asian Studies at Sussex University, and didn't even go the theatre. Dropping out was terribly fashionable at the time and I left the course after a year. I felt rather like a hero and went around travelling and doing jobs I hated. I became ill. Sitting in hospital, I thought, "I've been a completely stupid idiot. What do I enjoy? Drama. Swallow your pride!" Which I did and went to LAMDA.
Planer sailing: I was by then 21 or 22, with a very serious intent. I can be blown off course quite easily but you know when you're back on course. I felt alive again. It's a three-year course, but I didn't complete it because, by my third year, I'd met Peter Richardson, who became my partner in a double act and later founded the Comedy Store club. In your last year you just do productions to which they invite agents in a meat market, but I thought that if I was doing productions, I might as well get paid for it. We got an Arts Council grant for a show from which Neil [of The Young Ones] came.
Bitch, bitch, bitch! Nicholas Craig in I, an Actor is an affectionate piss take, and part of that comes out of my time at LAMDA. Last year I presented the Evening Standard drama awards, in which I had to stand up in front of the profession - and bitch. Do you know what the collective noun for the profession is? A whinge of actors.Reuse content