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)

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

HR Analyst - Banking - Bristol - £350-£400

£350 - £400 per day: Orgtel: HR Analyst - Banking - Bristol - £350 - £400 per ...

HR Manager - HR Generalist / Sole in HR

£30000 - £35000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: HR Manager - HR Generalis...

Business Analyst - Banking - London - £350-£400

£350 - £400 per day: Orgtel: Business Analyst - Banking - People Change - Lond...

HR Manager - Milton Keynes - £50,000 + package

£48000 - £50000 per annum + car allowance + benefits: Ashdown Group: HR Shared...

Day In a Page

Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape
eBay's enduring appeal: Online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce retailer

eBay's enduring appeal

The online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce site
Culture Minister Ed Vaizey: ‘lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird’

'Lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird'

Culture Minister Ed Vaizey calls for immediate action to address the problem
Artist Olafur Eliasson's latest large-scale works are inspired by the paintings of JMW Turner

Magic circles: Artist Olafur Eliasson

Eliasson's works will go alongside a new exhibition of JMW Turner at Tate Britain. He tells Jay Merrick why the paintings of his hero are ripe for reinvention
Josephine Dickinson: 'A cochlear implant helped me to discover a new world of sound'

Josephine Dickinson: 'How I discovered a new world of sound'

After going deaf as a child, musician and poet Josephine Dickinson made do with a hearing aid for five decades. Then she had a cochlear implant - and everything changed
Greggs Google fail: Was the bakery's response to its logo mishap a stroke of marketing genius?

Greggs gives lesson in crisis management

After a mishap with their logo, high street staple Greggs went viral this week. But, as Simon Usborne discovers, their social media response was anything but half baked
Matthew McConaughey has been singing the praises of bumbags (shame he doesn't know how to wear one)

Matthew McConaughey sings the praises of bumbags

Shame he doesn't know how to wear one. Harriet Walker explains the dos and don'ts of fanny packs
7 best quadcopters and drones

Flying fun: 7 best quadcopters and drones

From state of the art devices with stabilised cameras to mini gadgets that can soar around the home, we take some flying objects for a spin
Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

The midfielder returned to the Premier League after two years last weekend. The controversial character had much to discuss after his first game back
Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

British No 1 knows his consistency as well as his fitness needs working on as he prepares for the US Open after a ‘very, very up and down’ year
Ferguson: In the heartlands of America, a descent into madness

A descent into madness in America's heartlands

David Usborne arrived in Ferguson, Missouri to be greeted by a scene more redolent of Gaza and Afghanistan
BBC’s filming of raid at Sir Cliff’s home ‘may be result of corruption’

BBC faces corruption allegation over its Sir Cliff police raid coverage

Reporter’s relationship with police under scrutiny as DG is summoned by MPs to explain extensive live broadcast of swoop on singer’s home