Why Alan Davies doesn’t let his kids watch TV

The QI star also reveals how TV success almost ruined his stand-up career


What’s on the TV right now?


Not a lot. I’m doing an MA in creative writing at the moment and I love it. I’d say to anyone reading this: have lessons in something, it doesn’t matter what, because it’s just really nice to feel you’re learning.

So, there’s an atmosphere of studious contemplation…

Well, I’m a sucker for football. My wife [children’s author Katie Maskell] will come in and I’ll be watching, say, Lincoln Town against Ipswich. And I like Would I Lie to You? a lot. I’m a big fan of Lee Mack and David Mitchell. We usually watch a bit of Graham Norton, and we liked Him & Her.


And what about your children, Susie, 7, Bobby, 5, and Francis, 1?

To be honest we try to keep them away from the telly. Life’s too short. Old and knackered parents, you can sit and watch the telly, but children doing it is depressing. We’re convinced it scrambles their minds. They never seem to like what they’re looking at and we don’t let the one-year-old anywhere near a screen. I’d rather they were painting each other’s faces.

Not even when their dad’s on?

They’ve only ever seen one thing, which was the spot I did on the Royal Variety performance in December, in which I talked about going to the soft play with them, which my daughter thought was hysterical. But it was slightly disturbing, watching her watching me.

Do you like your own work?

I’d hate to be one of those acts or comedians where you thought, “If he’s in it, it’s probably s***.” That really makes my blood run cold. I know Jonathan Creek’s good. I know QI’s good and I think Alan Davies: As Yet Untitled’s good, it’s entertaining and it’s funny, so I’m all right.

Why is As yet Untitled good?

People like sitting around, having a chat. It’s a bit of a lost art. No one’s got a phone out, there’s no telly on, no one goes to the loo – well, we all go to the loo at the same time.

You’re happily married, so Untitled isn’t about dating?

I must say, I’ve never seen it in that way. I can assure you that none of the women on the show has shown the slightest interest in me, least of all Denise van Outen, which is very wounding. Not even Mel C, whom I’ve had a crush on since 1999

Has TV success been bad for your stand-up career?

I found it increasingly difficult to get material and it was tough. I got quite down about it because there was a period around 2000 to 2001, when I thought, “I can’t go to comedy clubs,” because everybody recognised me from the telly. I thought, “I can’t go down the Comedy Store any more and that’s my favourite place in the world. What have I done? I’ve ruined my life!”

And now you’re back?

I’m not giving myself ten out of ten everywhere I gig, but I know my stand-up show is funny. I’m confident in my own abilities. I don’t think “Oh God, I shouldn’t be here, this lot are hilarious.”


Alan Davies: As Yet Untitled is on Tuesday at 10.00pm on Dave