Ben Miller on chicken videos and British pessimism

"I would be out of a job if everybody in Britain was well rounded and optimistic"


Is that The Archers I can hear
 in the background?


I’ve got three chickens. We live 
in the middle of the countryside. It’s very rustic. There are four neighbours. Four! We swap carrots and free-range eggs. I’ve got a dog as well, though we don’t quite trust it with the chickens yet. They’re massive birds, it’s like having three velociraptors wandering around. Chickens are quite intelligent actually and they’re very relaxing to spend time with.

How does one spend
 time with a chicken?

You literally just hang out. You feed them, talk to them, stroke them and carry them. I’m a novice; I couldn’t claim any kind of mastery. Though I’ve got a crook. You’ve got to have a crook, they’re very handy.

Isn’t that for shepherding?

Well, I like shepherds as well, but I enjoy watching chicken wrangling on YouTube and
 I saw someone pick up a chicken with a crook the other day. Well, it was more of a walking stick. But it really was black-belt chicken handling.

Is your crook handy for herding your children as well?

No need, they’re usually playing Minecraft, which is an amazing game. They build something on it and then they give you a tour of it. People often view video games as being the devil’s spawn. But 
I think anything that challenges you creatively has got to be good.

Where do you watch TV most?

The truth is, I watch nearly all TV on my phone; I download from iPlayer or ITV Hub or whatever and watch it on the train going into London. I’m like everybody really; I’m just a catch-up merchant now. There’s hardly anything that I watch when it’s actually going out, apart from Game of Thrones of course.

And now it’s gone…

I know, it’s been our one appointment to view. Game of Thrones was a massive deal for us. Monday nights have been amazing on the sofa. But sadly no more. There’s not much that can replace Game of Thrones, is there?

At least you’ve still
 got your sofa.

It’s my wife’s sofa actually. It’s the sofa that she had before we got married. It’s an antique velvet sofa, a silvery-gold velvet.
 It was one of the great attractions about her.

But, potentially, pre-Ben boyfriends have sat on it?

Oh don’t say that, you’ve spoilt it for me now! We’ll be getting rid of it. 

Sorry. Anything else bring you and your wife together at home?

Well, we do like MasterChef Australia. It’s the greatest advert for home cooking and the most extraordinary advert for the Australian spirit. They’re nearly always positive and try really hard to find the good in what the person has done. It’s fantastic.

Should we British be a bit more positive about things?

I would be out of a job if everybody in Britain were as well rounded and optimistic as they are in Australia. I literally wouldn’t be able to make a living. There’s something about the United Kingdom – it’s the uptightness,
 the public schools, our ancient institutions, our history – it’s
 like somebody said, “Let’s invent
 a culture that would make
 really great fodder for really sarcastic comedians.”


Death in Paradise is on tonight at 9pm on Drama