In or out of a squirrel suit, Dom Joly is never afraid to be bold

Pre-publicity for Joly's new show reveals a man who will always speak his mind

Share
Related Topics

I first met Dom Joly more than a decade ago, when I was interviewing him over lunch for a men's magazine. At the time, Trigger Happy TV - a hidden camera show and a distant cousin of Candid Camera - was extremely popular. In Trigger Happy, Joly would dress up as, say, a giant squirrel and terrorise people in London parks. Once, in a snail costume, he got the traffic to stop at the famous zebra crossing in Abbey Road, and then took ages to slide across the road. Hilarious.

Years later, as we became friends and his TV career went into reverse (I don't think there was a connection between the two), we were at the races together and there was a man dressed up as a banana handing out leaflets. “That'll be me in a few years time,” said Dom, sourly yet poignantly.

It's safe to say that Dom is not everybody's cup of tea, but I think one of his greatest qualities - rare these days - is that he doesn't seek approval from all and sundry. I invited him as my guest to an awards evening once. I use the term “once” advisedly. Dom chose the occasion to heckle at full volume every celebrity who went up to receive an award. His behaviour may have been boorish, but his barbs were unbelievably funny. Unsurprisingly, the organisers had something of a sense of humour failure. Dom was banned for life from the event.

Anyway, Dom is now back in favour with TV bosses, and this Saturday evening the second series of his new show, Fool Britannia, a not-so-distant cousin of Trigger Happy, begins on ITV. You will see some trademark Joly stunts, like the country vicar who abuses passers-by, but it would be wrong to assume Dom is merely a loudmouth who likes dressing up and embarrassing people in public.

He is all that, for sure, but he's also got an interesting hinterland. Born in Lebanon, his childhood was played out to the distant sound of gunfire, and this has given him a deep interest in the geopolitics of the Middle East. He was invited on Question Time last year, although the programme was something of a car crash. Not Dom's fault, but he was part of Question Time's misguided drive for inclusivity. (Appearing on the panel next week: Dizzee Rascal, Stan Collymore, Chris Tarrant and Poppy Delevigne.)

As part of the pre-publicity for Saturday's show, Dom has being doing media interviews, and it was a shock to see his thoughts emblazoned over the front page of Metro. Is he really that big again? Yes would seem to be the answer. It was good to discover, on reading the piece inside, that his second shot at popularity hasn't diminished his appetite for saying something punchy. Unlike other TV personalities, Dom doesn't sugar coat his memories. He hated being sent to school “to talk about pony clubs with people who are now in the Tory cabinet”. “People who send their kids to boarding school have too much money and have given up on being parents,” he said. Honest and forthright, Dom Joly doesn't need to hide in a squirrel suit to say what he means.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Marketing & Sales Manager

£40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A reputable organisation within the leisure i...

Tradewind Recruitment: Science Teacher

£90 - £140 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: I am currently working in partnersh...

Recruitment Genius: Doctors - Dubai - High "Tax Free" Earnings

£96000 - £200000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Looking for a better earning p...

Recruitment Genius: PHP Developer

£32000 - £36000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A rapidly expanding company in ...

Day In a Page

Read Next
British Prime Minister Tony Blair (L) pictured shaking hands with Libyan leader Colonel Moamer Kadhafi on 25 March 2004.  

There's nothing wrong with Labour’s modernisers except how outdated they look

Mark Steel
 

Any chance the other parties will run their election campaigns without any deceit or nastiness?

Nigel Farage
Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

Isis hostage crisis

The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

Cabbage is king again

Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
11 best winter skin treats

Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

Paul Scholes column

The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

Frank Warren's Ringside

No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee