Q&A: Jack Dee

The lugubrious comedian talks about his TV likes and dislikes - and his own sitcom, Lead Balloon

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Q&A: Jack Dee
Written By
Claire Webb
Which TV series would you take to a desert island?
The Sopranos. It’s got everything: humour, drama, action. It’s some of the best television ever made.

What’s your guilty TV pleasure?
I find Come Dine with Me entertaining. It’s an excuse to get to know people in a different world from your own. And the narration makes me laugh.

What did you last change the channel to avoid?
The news. It makes me feel strangely voyeuristic sometimes and I find really nasty stories difficult to digest, so I tend not to watch.

What do you wake up to?

The Today programme. I listen to the radio much more than I watch television and I always have an audiobook going on my iPod for gym sessions.

I’m listening to Birdsong [Sebastian Faulks’ First World War saga] and I’ve just finished Alone in Berlin, which was bloody depressing... as opposed to Birdsong, which was just a bit depressing!

And who do you settle down in bed with?
My wife and two dogs.

Do you keep up with comedy on TV?
It’s sort of like a busman’s holiday so it’s not my first choice when it comes to relaxing. I have two daughters who are 16 and 18 – they love Miranda and I have twin sons aged 13. One of them, Miles, is a fanatical Mighty Boosh follower – he could write their unofficial biography – so I get introduced to all the best stuff through them.

Channel 5 is bringing back Celebrity Big Brother. Would you do it a second time?
No. When I did it for Comic Relief in 2001, there’d only been one series of Big Brother and I hadn’t paid any attention, so I wasn’t really aware of what I was letting myself in for. Not that I found it as stressful as some; I just sort of sat back and found it rather amusing.

Who was your first crush?
I always had a soft spot for Suzi Q when I was younger. Obviously, there was a natural chemistry between me and her – at least that’s what I thought, like all teenagers.

How similar are you to your character Rick in Lead Balloon?

Poor old Rick gets endlessly excited about the slightest crumb of hope in his life and I’m the opposite; I don’t think I’ve been excited for years.

He was a character who emerged out of my stand-up, an alter ego. Rick’s massively optimistic and always thinks things are going to work out OK. Perhaps that’s the part of him I admire.

You’ve said this is likely to be the last series of Lead Balloon. What does the future hold?

A return to stand-up. Lead Balloon consumes all my time, which is why I haven’t toured for six years. Stand-up is what I started out doing and I always find I want to return to it after a while. It’s such a great thing to be able to do, because you get immediate feedback.

TV is very different, very labour- intensive, very controlled: you control what the set looks like, who the actors are, the pace, everything.

Have you ever Googled yourself ?

No, never. Apparently there are people who dedicate a lot of time to it and have alerts out for their own name but I can’t think of anything worse.

I started Twittering because a lot of people asked me if I would but the novelty has slightly worn off, to be honest.

Who would play you in a film of your life?
I think it should be Jedward. We’re very alike.

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