What’s your must-see TV show?
Harry Hill’s TV Burp. It’s one of the few programmes where I’m guaranteed to get one or two really good laughs. A good laugh every 12 minutes is a fantastic ratio in TV.
What’s your guilty pleasure?
Deal or No Deal. I see that as a little treat to myself: if I get a couple of hours’ writing done, I make a cup of tea and watch Noel tell people about “life-changing” money. Now, Noel, £16,000 is barely going to get you a new bathroom in London.
What makes you blush?
I get very uncomfortable whenever I see politicians trying to be hip or funny. They wheeled out Vince Cable at the British Comedy Awards; it’s like wheeling me out at the UN.
What makes you blub?
Any soppy 80s film where it’s laid on with a trowel. My little boy was watching Splash with me and I had to send him on a pretend errand because I knew I’d break down at the point where Tom Hanks leads the mermaid back into the sea.
What would you delete from your wife’s watchlist?
Any period drama. I just hate everything about them: the self-importance, the ridiculous stories, the low-level luridness – like a bad Carry On film without the jokes.
Who makes you tune in?
I’ve got a terrible crush on Kirsty Wark and have had for a number of years. I’ve always had a thing for intellectual women slightly older than me: Joan Bakewell, Anna Raeburn and now Kirsty.
Who’s left you star-struck?
I met David Essex on Loose Women. Blimey, I thought, you were God when I was growing up.
What is your perfect TV dinner?
Anything that my wife’s not cooked. Put it this way: she’s a career girl.
What would you bring back?
I tell you what would be nice: a quiz that you could play at home like Ask the Family. Except nowadays there’d have to be at least three celebrity guests; the son would be dunked if you got a question wrong; and they’d unearth a video of the mum misbehaving in a car park when she was a teenager to show just before the interval…
I also think there’s room for a good old-fashioned sitcom with great big characters and great big jokes like a modern-day Dad’s Army.
Are you tempted to do a sitcom?
Definitely – if a character came along. If it doesn’t, I’ll probably write one myself. It’s the ultimate challenge and where almost every stand-up ends up failing.
When did you know you’d made it?
If you’re a working-class kid who’s done a day’s work on a building site for £50, then you’re on stage doing 20 minutes of something you really enjoy and someone pays you double that – that’s when I cracked it, as far I was concerned. Before that I worked in a fish market, furniture factory, cleaning dishes…
How much would it take to get you into the Celebrity jungle?
I was asked to do it and jokingly said to my agent, “I’d rather eat my own s**t.” “You’re perfect!” he replied. The other side of once being a kid who worked on a building site and has still got his paintbrushes and window cleaning bucket downstairs is that I can go back to that. I don’t need to be famous or ultra-wealthy; I don’t have to eat donkey’s testicles in the jungle.
This is an edited version of an article from the issue of Radio Times magazine that went on sale 7 February 2012.