Jack Whitehall and his dad on Father’s Day, wrestling and crying at Deal or No Deal

"It’s a cruel game. With one box, the dream factory can become the refinery of nightmares"

What’s the best present you have ever given for Father’s Day, Jack?


Jack Father’s Day normally involves very little effort – usually buying a gift from a petrol station on the way over. Last year it was a two-pack of chamois leathers.

Michael Joking apart, which is not easy for Jack and me, he always organises something special. Due to my constant complaints of the garden being too small, one Father’s Day Jack bought me two huge mirrors and fitted them to the fence at the end of our garden, which made the garden look several times bigger than it was. I then spent the next few years trying to prevent him from smashing the mirrors with cricket balls, footballs and other assorted missiles. I failed.

Michael, what was Jack like growing up?

M There were obviously times when we p****d each other off – he used to lose everything, his dress code was very hit and miss and his choice of girlfriends used to be a bit dicey. But he was always very good company, although unlike me, rather eccentric.

J He used to make me wear a lot of ties, which means in every photo of me as a child I look like I’ve been dressed up as a bank manager.

What were the TV family favourites in the Whitehall household?

J I was forced to watch things like The World at War and Antiques Roadshow.

M We both watched Have I Got News for You from when Jack was a baby. I remember changing his nappy once during a lively exchange between Hislop and Merton.

Michael, was there anything you used to forbid Jack from watching?

J I was banned from watching wrestling as it was deemed too homoerotic. He just couldn’t see there’s nothing gay about two greased up guys grappling each other in leather pants.

M The Simpsons, which was on 24/7 and clogged up the hard drive to such an extent I was unable to record any programmes I wanted to watch.

Jack, anything you used to watch secretly?

J Babestation or the Labour Party conference. Both were banned.

First TV crush?

J Xena: Warrior Princess. For my father, does Thatcher count?

M The Queen. We always stood for her Christmas message.

Who controlled the remote in your house?

J Father. End of.

M Me, of course.

Michael, did you school Jack in comedy?

J My father introduced me to Laurel and Hardy, Tony Hancock, Dad’s Army. I tried and failed to get my dad hooked on The League of Gentlemen.

M Dad’s Army was the very best and I was lucky enough to be John Le Mesurier and Clive Dunn’s agent. And we both love Fawlty Towers and Modern Family.

Nowadays do you have similar taste in TV?

J We both love Breaking Bad. If his chat show career fails, I could see Father doing a Heisenberg: cooking meth in a camper van on Putney Common.

What was the last programme that really made you laugh?

J Inside No 9.

M Backchat of course. It’s on a continuous loop in my study.

And what made you cry?

J I cried at an episode of Deal or No Deal when an old lady who wanted a holiday joined The 1p Club. It’s a cruel game. With one box, the dream factory can become the refinery of nightmares.

M When Jack came last in a race at the Newport Velodrome on League of Their Own.

Michael, do you watch Jack’s shows?

M I watch all of Jack’s shows.

Has he ever done or said anything that’s embarrassed you?

M Has Jack ever done or said anything on TV that hasn’t embarrassed me?

Jack, is there anything you wish you could erase from your TV CV?

J I think I made a joke about CJ De Mooi of Eggheads once in a show and then he was upset about it on Twitter. I don’t want to upset CJ De Mooi of Eggheads, so I’d take back the joke.

If you were a channel controller, what would you like to see more or less of on TV?

J More Kriss Akabusi. Him doing a Michael Palin-style travel show.

M We definitely need more Chuckle Brothers.

What is your current favourite?

J Cardinal Burns – the funniest guys on TV.

M It was always Antiques Roadshow and Newsnight, but Aspel has gone and now Paxman is going, I’ll probably have to rely on Dimbleby not leaving Question Time.

What do you disagree about?

M Pretty much everything.

Who would play you in the film of your life?

J I’d probably be played by Conchita Wurst and my father by Eddie Murphy.

M George Clooney, of course. No idea for Jack; if only Barry and Paul Chuckle were a bit younger.

Finally, as the World Cup is on – do you both support the same team? And are you planning on watching the England matches together?

J I will try to avoid watching too much with my dad as I don’t like constant references to the war when I’m watching football.

M We support Arsenal and Leicester City and I would only mention the war if England were playing Germany… or maybe Japan.


Backchat Father’s Day Special is on Sunday at 10:00pm on BBC3