Chris Addison does a nice line in shirts - and making people laugh, writes Roz Laws.
It seems impossible to believe, but at some point this year – it might well have already happened – Chris Addison turns 40.
The baby-faced comedian gets away with playing someone at least a decade younger in the political satire The Thick Of It. He hardly looks responsible enough to be the married father of two children.
And there’s a real air of juvenile glee about him as he talks about his latest job, appearing in his favourite TV show.
It’s not Mock The Week or Have I Got News For You, but the children’s sketch show Horrible Histories.
Birmingham graduate Chris explains: “I’ve been saying for months that it’s the funniest show on telly. When the producers contacted me to ask if I wanted a cameo role in the next series, it felt like a proper Jim’ll Fix It thing.
“I play two Georgian characters, a merchant and a man called Turnip Townsend. I get to wear proper costumes and a huge wig made of yak hair.
“It’s so nice to dress up, as I only wear a cheap suit for other acting work like The Thick Of It, Skins and the Direct Line ads.”
It’s taken 30 years for Chris’s showbiz wish to be granted, because when he was a little boy he wrote to Jim’ll Fix It but never had a reply from the late Jimmy Savile.
“We had these marionettes at home made by Pelham Puppets, and I asked for a tour of the factory in Wiltshire,” he remembers.
“It’s a shame I never heard back, but writing to Jim’ll Fix It was a rite of passage for people my age.”
And it’s not just recently, with Sir Jimmy’s death, that Chris has felt nostalgia for the TV of his childhood. He remembers how, when he began studying English literature at the University of Birmingham in 1991, he joined The Children’s Television Society.
“There wasn’t YouTube then, it was a pretty barbaric existence,” laughs Chris, who starts a new stand-up tour next week in Stafford.
“You weren’t able to go ‘Do you remember The Clangers?’ and then look it up online. We had to go to a room to watch the programmes and then we talked about them.”
If that sounds slightly geeky, Chris is happy to agree. And to admit to further nerdishness by revealing that was part of a barbershop quartet when he was at school.
“I was in a choir and they asked four of us to do this thing,” remembers Chris.
“We wore bow ties and looked like singing waiters, but we went busking on the streets of Manchester at Christmas and made a fortune.”
These days Chris is most often found wearing his trademark floral shirts. Not that he realised until recently that they were becoming famous in their own right.