Interview: Alan Davies

Interview: Alan Davies

Busy with new stand up comedy show “Little Victories”, entertaining us on tele, playing Jonathan Creek since 1997 and being a devoted father: life is full on for the curly-haired joker. Speaking ahead of his Brighton show at the Dome on Saturday December 6, Alan Davies catches up with XYZ’s Léo Rahban about this month’s show, QI, long working hours and Christmas bat-boxes … 

XYZ: Hi! So tell us about how “Little Victories” differs from your previous show “Life is Pain”. 
A: Well it’s my second show since I started touring again in 2011. The title of that story (“Life is pain”) came from a little girl. Her mum was telling her off and she turned to her and said “life is pain!”. I thought that was so funny I kept it as part of the show and that ended up being the title. This new show I wanted to call “Sex is pain” because I was trying to impress my now wife when I first met her, even though she was 12 years younger than me. Still, we thought we might get another kind of audience! So I turned it into “Little Victories”, which refers to managing to get one over on my dad primarily, as a kid. My mum had died so it was just my dad for 10 years, anything we wanted had to get past him and that wasn’t always easy! But the show is not actually about me recounting lots of different little victories, it’s much more general stand up, much of it is about family life.


XYZ: Speaking of family life, what sort of parent are you? 
A: I’m very involved with my children and I am at home as much as I can be. I love spending time with them. When I tour I only do 3 shows a week so I can spend the rest of the week with them. That’s the worst side of being on tour, being away. But with FaceTime and all those sorts of things, you’re not completely absent when you’re away, which is good.


XYZ: On the subject of being away from your family, you complained about the long hours during shooting for the Jonathan Creek show…
A: Yes, it really does bother me. And I’m speaking not just for myself but on behalf of all the film crews and all the people working
on those shows, working long hours. I’ve got a friend who’s a production designer, she has a 3 year old boy but she has to work 12 hours a day, 6 days a week. It really is a serious problem. You definitely cannot see your children when you work these kinds of hours! You can’t see anybody basically, it’s hard. But it has become a norm. When I made those comments about family life and film crews I was attacked for being ungrateful and moaning… so you can’t really win, you know (laughs). Also in the past people used to be quite well paid and that was the compensation. Now everybody gets paid less than they were in the 90’s so you don’t even get that compensation, you know!


XYZ: Does this mean you are going to stop doing Jonathan Creek? 
A: Well I don’t know about that; that depends on David Renwick (Jonathan Creek’s writer). I’m certainly moving away from drama shoots as I don’t want to be away from the kids for so long.


XYZ: Moving onto QI, what’s the best moment you’ve had on that show yet?
A: My favorite moments are whenever we get Stephen Fry laughing so he can’t concentrate on what he’s meant to be doing! Very funny people come on and we have some great guests, a lot of them I’ve known for a long time. Nowadays as we all have children, it’s the only time in the year where we all get to hang out and have a laugh!


XYZ: You are the voice of Dog Rescuers, a channel 5 documentary series following the work of RSPCA inspectors. it must have been quite hard at times to 
narrate some of the footage? 
A: Yeah there’s some very unpleasant footage.  Unfortunately that’s just the tip of the iceberg when you talk about animal cruelty.


XYZ: What would you like to say to people buying a pet as a Christmas present this year? 
You can make donations to the RSCPA for Christmas to help the RSCPA and lots of animals. And make sure your dog doesn’t end up in one of their programs – that’s what I’d say!


XYZ: After Sky One’s Little Crackers which you wrote in 2011, do you have a Christmas joke that doesn’t involve dead dogs and vets? 
A: (Laughs). I’m not really good at jokes despite being a comedian, I can never remember them! Or if I do I tell them wrong…


XYZ: We’ll have no Alan Davies jokes to tell this Christmas then… and what are you doing this Christmas? 
A: My wife’s family is from Northumberland and we are going to be up there this year, my kids like it because they have cousins up there, and grandparents… as long as they’re having a good time that’s all that matters. For me it’s time off work!


XYZ: Are you a Christmas lover?
A: I don’t like much about it, I think it’s absolutely insane! All these rituals about the food, and the amount of work to prepare it all. I absolutely hate Christmas shopping, I can’t stand it! But I like how excited the kids get and I love seeing them enjoy it. I loved it when I was a kid, only because I was excited about getting presents. I wouldn’t get anything else the rest of the year! (laughs)


XYZ: What’s the worst Christmas present you’ve ever had?
A: I remember being very disappointed as a kid; there was a large present under the tree with my name on it. I thought it would be great, and when I opened it up all it was, was a big wooden box . You’re supposed to nail it to the side of your house and then bats come and live in it. I didn’t really want a bat box. Mind you now I have my own house I wish I had it.

See Alan Davies’ new show “Little Victories” @ Brighton Dome, Saturday December 6
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