Which TV series would you take to a desert island?


The Muppet Show. I discovered it when I was at university in the 70s. I remember annoying my fellow students by stopping play rehearsals to go home and watch it because I thought it a work of genius. I still do.

What’s your guilty pleasure?

I enjoyed watching Downton Abbey just so I could carp about what a crap, clichéd bit of writing it is. There’s nothing real in there.

Who would you like to take out for dinner?

Stan Laurel. Stan was the creative force behind Laurel and Hardy films, which I still watch on a weekly basis, sometimes more. They’re the true fount of comedy: if you look at any comedy show today you’ll immediately see resonances of Laurel and Hardy in it.

What makes you laugh nowadays?

The only really brilliant comedy on television is Harry Hill’s TV Burp – not only is it fantastically funny, it’s also the most beautifully nuanced TV criticism. The way he takes programmes apart with a smile on his face is extraordinary.

Who was your first crush?

There were so many: the girl from Follyfoot, the daughters in Father, Dear Father, Sally Thomsett in The Railway Children – I adored her – and saucy Sally James from Tiswas, who always wore thigh-high leather boots.

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Who’s surprised you?

Marco Pierre White when I was a contestant on Hell’s Kitchen. I thought him terrifying to begin with but after a day I worked out it was all an act: he’s just a big panto villain and crybaby at heart. All you had to say was “I’m cooking this because it reminds me of my childhood” and he would love it.

What do you wake up to?

Breakfast and I shout at it because Bill Turnbull’s tedious jollity and badly made suit annoy me.

What do you and your wife Jennifer Saunders enjoy together?

The must-see bits of television in our house recently have been Harry Hill, the Danish Killing and we love our footy. I support Exeter City and Jennifer supports Man United. We’ve met twice: Exeter drew against Man United in the FA Cup a few years ago and then they beat us at home so that wasn’t too bad – we didn’t have to have too serious a scrap.

What do you fall out over?

She likes freak television, which I find distasteful – Embarrassing Bodies and shock-docs about 54-stone women who can’t stand up any more. She doubtless thinks I watch too much music: BBC4 documentaries about prog rock and reruns of The Old Grey Whistle Test.

Why have you swapped comedy for presenting?

I drew a line under Bottom after the last series in 2003, to do other things. So I make documentaries [including Ade in Britain], I play about a hundred gigs a year with my folk band the Bad Shepherds, I even tried my hand at farming… I’ve got more comfortable with being me.

But is it true you and Rik Mayall are planning a series of Bottom set in an old people’s home?

We often amuse ourselves by talking about what we might make when we’re pensioners: Richie and Eddie in an old people’s home, hitting each other with colostomy bags.

Who would play you in a film of your life?

I would hope for someone like Klaus Kinski but they’d probably get Timmy Mallett.

And Rik Mayall?

Molly Sugden because he’s a big girl’s blouse.


Ade in Britain is on weekdays at 4pm on ITV1