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Hugh Dennis on being a “complete idiot” around Hugh Laurie

He’d have a puppet play him in a movie and get Alastair McGowan to do his voice – if only he could stay cool in front of the other Hugh… logo
Published: Sunday, 16th June 2013 at 6:50 am

What can’t you miss?


Mad Men. I’ve always rather liked that world. Before I was an actor, I was in marketing and made ads. It has nothing to with the abundance of attractive women. Nothing at all.

What’s your guilty pleasure?

Football. I’ll watch anything with a football in it. I support Arsenal but it really wouldn’t matter if it were an Eastern European fourth-division match. I think I’ve been like that since childhood, but it’s only recently that all this stuff has become available.

What brings a tear to your eye?

The terrible thing is that almost anything can since I had children. It could be Emmerdale. I look across at my wife and she points at her eyes, and I go, “It got me, too!”

What makes you laugh?

Modern Family is fantastically good. I couldn’t even tell you what channel it’s on but my children record it religiously. If you’re a comic actor or a comedian, it’s quite difficult to sit down and, without any kind of analysis, enjoy comedy programmes. Modern Family is the exception – probably because it’s American.

Speaking of family sitcoms, is Outnumbered coming back?

I believe so. I’m not quite sure when, but there’s one scheduled for this year. It will be a shock to see what my children look like.

Do you think it could run and run or is this likely to be the last?

I don’t know. Between series three and four, when the kids really grew up and the nature of it changed, it stopped being a classy version of Kids Say the Funniest Things and started being a family sitcom. I thought, “I wonder, is that going to work?” Then that series won a National Television Award, so you say, “Oh, that does work then.”

What did you watch with your parents?

We always watched Porridge and Butterflies together as a family. All I can really remember about Butterflies is my parents looking at each other and nodding in a knowing way as if to say, “Yes, our life is a bit like that.”

And when you had the television to yourself?

I used to love it in the cricket season because the Test match would start at 11am and go on until half-past six. In the middle – when it got a bit boring – there’d be Belle and Sebastian or a programme about French fighter pilots or a Yugoslavian thing called The White Horses, all dubbed and incredibly soppy, but I was addicted.

I watched far too much TV as a child but it was all BBC so therefore it was all right – it was all classy.

Who was your first crush?

I’m ashamed to say I fancied all sorts. Suzi Quatro quite a lot – it might have been the leather trousers – and the Doctor Who assistant who wore nothing but animal skins. What was her name?

I suspect you mean Leela. Have you ever been star-struck?

Although I’ve met him many times, I’ve never managed to have a conversation with Hugh Laurie where I haven’t gone away thinking, “Oh you’ve just been a complete idiot. What you said there didn’t make sense. Why did you say that?”

Which actor would you choose to play you?

Whoever it is will need a prosthetic chin so I’d like to be a puppet or a 3D animation, and I’d like to be voiced by Alistair McGowan who does an impression of me. I thought, “Do I sound like that?” and everybody around me went, “That’s pretty good.” Very disconcerting.


Hugh Dennis is in Jo Brand’s Great Wall of Comedy (Sun 7.30pm Gold), Mock the Week (Thu 10pm BBC2) and The Now Show (Fri 6.30pm Radio 4)


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