Interview: Miles Jupp

AMY JEFFS talks to comedian MILES JUPP- aka ‘Archie from Balamory’- about his new tour, having a family, and being more English than anyone could possibly expect. And destroys her childhood memories while doing it.

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My first encounter with comedian Miles Jupp came while I was afflicted with a high temperature. I was twelve and eating a bowl of chicken soup in front of CBeebies’s Balamory.  Yet little did I know, in my cloud of nausea, that the pink-garbed Archie the Inventor, who waved at me from the crenellations of his magenta castle, would one day be at the mercy of my questioning.

Since the days of Balamory, when he was still a student, Jupp has enjoyed many successes as a comedian, having appeared on television in such shows as Never Mind the Buzzcocks, and Mock the Week. Among other films, he has played minor roles in the recent Sherlock Holmes, Made in Dagenham and Harry Potter And The Order Of The Phoenix. He is no stranger to the radio either, as presenter of the third series of topical comedy show, Newsjack, for BBC Radio 7.

In much of his work, Jupp plays to his upper-class accent. Over the phone the man who is an animated-toff on stage speaks with a casual drawl, and I can’t help wondering whether he has either just eaten a big meal, or indeed whether he simply lacks interest.

“Reasonably natural, I play it up slightly, I suppose.” he explains. “I started in Scotland so I had to develop some kind of defence mechanism. The compere would go, “The next act is English,” and everyone would groan, so I thought, “I’ll just surprise them. I’ll just be more English than people could expect me to be. It’s sort of got out of control.”

Now that he is an established and successful comedian, he spends a lot of time travelling. At the moment he is filming for Johnny English: Reborn, despite his commitments at home.

“I’m married, I have one young son and there’s a baby coming in March so that changes the sort of work that you can do away.

“There is a silly work – time ratio, if you have a gig in Nottingham or Leeds then you can be away for two days to do little more than forty minutes of work. You need to be useful in the morning.”

Miles gives short answers and seems distracted. For some reason I expected him to show more excitement about his vocation. My idealised image of the happy-go-lucky man in pink that sang to me all those years ago is disintegrating. It doesn’t help when I ask him about his influences.

“I sort of love everybody who was involved in Blackadder in any way. I really like older stuff like Beyond the Fringe and stuff like that.” The words ‘stuff like that’ don’t indicate unbridled enthusiasm.

But, as the conversation progresses Miles begins to show that his present project is where his true passion lies. As he speaks about the tour, Fibber in the Heat, he seems to cast off his lethargic persona and pick up speed.

“I really love Fibber in the Heat, it’s a story I really enjoy telling.”  As he continues I am able to assure my inner twelve year old that all is not lost.

“I’m looking forward to spending four months doing that and taking it to as many places as possible. It’s not a show about cricket or class but about being a fish out of water and being passionate about something to the extent that it mars your judgment.” I feel as if I might have actually seen his soul, or something.

I am left with the important realisation that talking to Miles Jupp about anything other than his current distraction is about as fruitful as asking a guy watching the football what he thinks about current interest rates. I know that when a childhood figure reappears in your adult world there is a real chance it’ll be a disappointment (or even a bit scary- Jo from S Club 7) so I am glad that he is still able to be as enthusiastic as Archie the Inventor, everyone’s favourite childhood hero … sort of.

Miles Jupp will be at The Junction on 1st February with his show Fibber in the Heat.