Jack Whitehall: “Dad seems to have ditched me”

The Fresh Meat star talks his father going solo, his bedside sarcophagus and why he doesn't call himself a comedian in an airport

(Getty, TL)

When I picture your living room, I imagine leather sofas, taxidermy and oil paintings…

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Oh gosh, it’s not like that at all. It’s only one level up from a student house. I’ve got a dark blue sofa that hides various stains and spillages.

Are you always away filming with no time to make it nice?

No, I wish I could say that, but honestly I’m just not very good at cleaning up. It’s because I grew up with my very doting mother who did everything for me. Becoming independent has been a long and difficult journey.

Please don’t tell me you still take your washing home…

No, but she has a key and she still sneaks in and spring cleans sometimes without me knowing.

Talking about parents, how’s your dad?

He’s very good, thanks. We’re off to a family wedding in Dublin this weekend so that’ll be interesting. My dad at a wedding can be a bit of a social hand grenade.

Will you work together again?

He seems to have ditched me. I keep seeing him doing solo things like Dictionary Corner on Countdown and the Celebrity Antiques Road Trip. I feel like he’s used me as a stepping stone and now he’s just going to discard me.

You act, write, and do stand-up comedy and panel shows. How do you describe yourself?

It’s never a good idea to describe yourself as a “comedian” when travelling because that inevitably ends with having to tell a joke and customs guys are a tough crowd. “Performer” sounds like you’re in the circus. And I’ve always felt uncomfortable saying “actor” because I feel like I’m still learning my trade. So I put “writer” because then you can be introvert and get away with it.

Have you ever been surprised by an encounter with a fan?

I did a charity football match and Roy Hodgson came up to me and said, “I really liked you in Decline and Fall; I’m a big Evelyn Waugh fan”. He was not the person I would have expected to say that.

You’re well known for playing posh roles. Would you love to play a cockney drug dealer?

Definitely. I do play quite a lot of roles that are similar to myself. But I’d love to do something completely out of my comfort zone. You just have to hope someone will take a punt on you one day. It’s hard to find someone to take that risk. I’ll keep trying.

So what do you watch on your dirty blue sofa?

I lean towards comedy, but I like a good Sunday-night drama too.

What about reality TV?

I did watch three episodes of Celebrities Go Dating (All4) the other night and felt slightly guilty.

You’ve written and starred in the new Sky1 comedy Bounty Hunters. What’s your most treasured bounty?

I have a sarcophagus next to my TV. The guy in the flat below me was moving out and I was the mug that was walking past that day and said, “I’ll take that off your hands”. How big is it? Human-sized. It’s gold and decorated like the classic Tutankhamun ones. Many a party has seen friends climb inside it.

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Bounty Hunters is on Wednesday at 10pm on Sky1