How we met: Marcus Brigstocke & Bill Dare

'We hit it off at the party because we're both quite tall; it helps to have someone of the same height at noisy parties'

Bill Dare, 53

A comedy producer, writer, novelist and playwright, Dare (right in picture) has been behind some of the biggest comedy hits on TV, including 'The Mary Whitehouse Experience' and 'Dead Ringers'. He lives in north London.

I went to see Marcus perform on [Radio 4 satirical programme] The Now Show, in 2002, which I'd created but didn't produce much after that. And I was blown away by his performance, talking about the MMR vaccine and its alleged link to autism. I was struck by the passion, along with how well-informed he was – it made it proper satire.

I bumped into him at the BBC's light-entertainment Christmas party later that year and we hit it off because we're both quite tall, and at noisy parties, it really helps to talk to someone of the same height.

I've worked with a lot of comedians who are a bit feckless, with a shambolic attitude to work. But he gave the impression he'd work hard, so I invited him for lunch the next day to talk through some ideas, including a satire show.

Marcus is good with interviewees, as he's a good listener and doesn't barrack people; he talks about the issues. I remember he interviewed a Tory who was pro-Trident and Marcus had said to me, "Can we make a trident spear?" He then held it up to the interviewee and said, "Look, if I threaten you with this, are you more likely to do what I say, or pull out a gun?" It was a bit like The Daily Show in the US, but he's a bit angrier than Jon Stewart, and passionate about the issues.

Before I met Marcus I was a bit disillusioned with comedians, but he's restored my faith in stand-ups. We've done more than 100 shows together [including comedy chat show I've Never Seen Star Wars], but our approaches are different. Marcus sits and chats for several hours before getting down to work. I think he calls it research around the subject. I call it faffing about.

He's got a lot of interests – he likes to be busy and complicated, and he's very sporty; he loves snowboarding, for instance. I, meanwhile, live a simple life: after a show, I go to the pub. He's not a pub person as he's a recovering alcoholic, but we do lunch, as he's a foodie and drawn to the weirder end of things: he once made me have jugged hare cooked in its own blood.

We do talk about personal stuff, if it comes up; he's open about his eating disorder – his weight has been a bit of a battle – and his marriage [Brigstocke split with his wife this year, after his affair with former Emmerdale actress Hayley Tamaddon]. I think Marcus has the attitude that family is important and [his marriage] should have worked; that it didn't, hit him hard and he feels all sorts of guilt.

Do I tell him personal stuff? He doesn't know much about me; I'm not as open.

Marcus Brigstocke, 40

Brigstocke began performing comedy while at Bristol University, and won the BBC New Comedian of 1996. He has since undertaken numerous stand-up tours, and has forged a successful career on radio and TV with series including 'We are History', 'The Late Edition' and 'I've Never Seen Star Wars'.

Bill has a funny way with comedians. He makes a fair few performers feel uneasy. It's because he doesn't treat them like they're someone special. And if he doesn't like something he'll just say, "No, I don't think so."

We met at a Christmas party at the BBC, and I managed to have a long chat with Bill without realising who he was initially; once I did, I realised I had to flirt heavily. People think he's a bit brusque and glum and some think he's a bit aloof. But I haven't found that. And if you look at his track record, his hit ratio is astonishing. We agreed to meet for lunch and we talked about making what became [BBC Four satire show] The Late Edition.

It was a difficult time for me at the start, as my best friend died while I was working on the programme. I still had to come in to work to get the show done, but for me it was a good example of Bill's calm. I didn't go to him for hugs, but he made it clear, quietly, that he was there for me and he picked up the extra slack without any fuss. I felt that was pretty cool.

It did get a bit toxic at one point, as one might expect in a high-pressure environment. It's a tricky thing to approach comedy with a sense of discipline, as it doesn't come naturally to write that sort of material. I'd come in, have a chat, talk to my mates and suddenly we were running out of time. Bill tolerated more than he should have. If I was producing me, I would punch me on the side of the head and say, "Shut up and get going."

I would talk to Bill about anything. I am a bit like that; I'll talk openly with anyone I consider a friend. But I don't know loads about Bill. I know he likes to go to the Groucho Club after a show, but emotionally he doesn't offer up the sorts of things I do. But you do have to know Bill well to realise when he's flapping. It's not obvious, but it's clear: he mentions it more than once.

I remember one panicky moment he had, when I was having lunch with him and Frank Skinner to discuss Frank appearing in I've Never Seen Star Wars. I'd ordered jugged hare and after we'd had it he realised that it had port added to it. Between Frank and I, we had 60 years of sobriety as recovering alcoholics. There was this glorious moment when Bill was asking the waiter several times to check with the kitchen to ensure all the alcohol had burnt off. Luckily, all the port had gone.

'Brian Gulliver's Travels', by Bill Dare (£7.99, Pilrig Press) is out now. Marcus Brigstocke is appearing at the Latitude Festival today (latitudefestival.com)

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

Ashdown Group: HR Manager - West London - £50,000

£40000 - £50000 per annum + bonus: Ashdown Group: HR Manager - West London - £...

Recruitment Genius: Recruitment & HR Administrator

£17000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Guru Careers: HR Manager / HR Business Partner

£55 - 65k (DOE) + Benefits: Guru Careers: A HR Manager / HR Business Partner i...

Recruitment Genius: Senior HR Assistant

£23000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The Company's vision is to be t...

Day In a Page

Seifeddine Rezgui: What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?

Making of a killer

What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?
UK Heatwave: Temperatures on the tube are going to exceed the legal limit for transporting cattle

Just when you thought your commute couldn't get any worse...

Heatwave will see temperatures on the Tube exceed legal limit for transporting cattle
Exclusive - The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Swapping Bucharest for London

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Meet the man who swapped Romania for the UK in a bid to provide for his family, only to discover that the home he left behind wasn't quite what it seemed
Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

Solar power will help bring down electricity prices over the next five years, according to a new report. But it’s cheap imports of ‘dirty power’ that will lower them the most
Katy Perry prevented from buying California convent for $14.5m after nuns sell to local businesswoman instead

No grace of God for Katy Perry as sisters act to stop her buying convent

Archdiocese sues nuns who turned down star’s $14.5m because they don’t approve of her
Ajmer: The ancient Indian metropolis chosen to be a 'smart city' where residents would just be happy to have power and running water

Residents just want water and power in a city chosen to be a ‘smart’ metropolis

The Indian Government has launched an ambitious plan to transform 100 of its crumbling cities
Michael Fassbender in 'Macbeth': The Scottish play on film, from Welles to Cheggers

Something wicked?

Films of Macbeth don’t always end well - just ask Orson Welles... and Keith Chegwin
10 best sun creams for body

10 best sun creams for body

Make sure you’re protected from head to toe in the heatwave
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - Milos Raonic has ability to get to the top but he must learn to handle pressure in big games

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon files

Milos Raonic has ability to get to the top but he must learn to handle pressure in big games
Women's World Cup 2015: How England's semi-final success could do wonders for both sexes

There is more than a shiny trophy to be won by England’s World Cup women

The success of the decidedly non-famous females wearing the Three Lions could do wonders for a ‘man’s game’ riddled with cynicism and greed
How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth: Would people co-operate to face down a global peril?

How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth

Would people cooperate to face a global peril?
Just one day to find €1.6bn: Greece edges nearer euro exit

One day to find €1.6bn

Greece is edging inexorably towards an exit from the euro
New 'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could help surgeons and firefighters, say scientists

'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could become reality

Holographic projections would provide extra information on objects in a person's visual field in real time
Sugary drinks 'are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year'

Sugary drinks are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year

The drinks that should be eliminated from people's diets
Pride of Place: Historians map out untold LGBT histories of locations throughout UK

Historians map out untold LGBT histories

Public are being asked to help improve the map