Q: You’ve got the money, you’re very vain, so why on earth haven’t you had your hideous eye bags fixed?
A: Money isn’t the issue. I think plastic surgery is a bit like sushi, in that a big sign in the window saying “Now Half Price!” will never be that encouraging. What stops me is fear, because it doesn’t matter how much you spend, there are no guarantees on how it will turn out and no way to reverse your terrible error of judgement. In the end I’ve decided I prefer looking haggard to looking like the Chinese ambassador’s gay brother.
Q: Why don’t you do something with your life that matters?
A: There are only so many people who can spend their time looking for a cure for cancer. Of course, it’d be nice to do a show that changed lives or even had some serious content, but I’d just be doing that for myself, not the audience. There are many presenters and interviewers who can present informed and intelligent content better than me, so with regret I feel it’s my duty to play the role of clown.
The only thing that cheers me slightly is that not everyone can celebrate the frivolous, and television only works as a medium because there is light and shade. If you ever hear that I’m going to present some serious documentary or discussion programme, you have my permission to shoot me.
Q: You don’t have any celebrity friends. Is there something wrong with you?
A: I know what you mean. It is odd that while I’m on nodding terms with loads of celebs I don’t make plans to hang out. Occasionally, I try and we see each other a few times and then the friendship just fades away like badly applied fake tan. I think the problem is I started to work on TV quite late, so I already had my friends, and between them and having to walk around picking up dog poo, I just don’t have the time you need to devote to having famous friends.
Q: Ricky Gervais and Russell Brand made it in America. Does it bug you that you haven’t?
A: It might have been nice to have success in the States, but we gave it our best shot, it didn’t work and you’ve got to make your peace with that. I certainly would have regretted never trying, but a failed attempt doesn’t seem like anything to be ashamed of.
In retrospect I wonder why I ever thought they would need to import me? They have the best chat-show hosts in the world, so it’s hard to see what some Irish guy who looks like he hasn’t slept since 1978 could bring to the party.
Q: When you get the boot from TV, what will you do?
A: My dream job is to sit in a badly lit radio studio in the middle of the night, my dogs asleep at my feet while people call in with their problems. My days would be spent mostly in bed drinking lukewarm soup with my Baftas propped up on pillows around me.
Occasionally I’d be contacted by some bright young thing making a programme about the history of the chat show. I’d agree to be interviewed overly eagerly. When the TV crew arrived, I’d have shaved myself badly and, having found none of my old showbiz suits fitted, I’d be dressed in some silk dressing gown with a few dried soup stains scattered down the front.
Now do you understand why I like to work?