He’s been making us laugh for four decades. He’s the man behind Outnumbered, Drop the Dead Donkey and has also worked on Alas Smith & Jones and Not the Nine O’Clock News. But for writer Andy Hamilton, his biggest achievement has been staying in work:
“I’d say that my proudest achievement is actually staying employed as a freelancer for so long. I had a normal childhood in Fulham, just two minutes walk from Stamford Bridge, home of Chelsea Football Club. I always fancied becoming a footballer but the furthest I got was kicking a wooden ball around my kitchen. I started writing stories from quite a young age and was encouraged by my mum and my teachers.
“I remember getting paid for my first written piece of work that featured in a revue in 1975. I did a lot of charity work around that time, especially for old people’s homes and prisons – people who couldn’t get away basically.”
Andy joined the BBC in 1976 and some of his early radio work included Week Ending, The News Huddlines and The Million Pound Radio Show.
“I started off being paid £2 a minute and I was on a minimum of two minutes a show,” says Andy, who had been spotted by Geoffrey Perkins, then a young radio producer and who went on to become Head of Comedy at the BBC.
In 1984, he produced and wrote for Channel 4’s Who Dares, Wins… and created ITV sitcom The Kit Curran Radio Show, working with Guy Jenkin. The duo enjoyed greater success in the 1990s with Drop the Dead Donkey.
“I still write a lot with Guy and over the years and we work well together. He’s more of a night owl whereas I’m not. When I first set out, I had romantic ideas of staying up late and working through the night to reach a deadline. Thankfully, I haven’t had to do that for 30 years and now that Guy has children, he’s on the same hours as me.”
In more recent years, Andy’s become a familiar face on QI and Have I Got News For You. He’s even the voice of Dr Elephant the Dentist in children’s TV show Peppa Pig.
“I’ve also written a novel called The Star Witness. It tells the tale of an actor in a big TV soap who makes some bad choices, gets into trouble and has to redeem himself.”
Andy’s stand-up tour visits Cardiff on the 29th October. His show at the Sherman Theatre promises to be an evening of ‘good entertainment’.
“The last time I did a show in Cardiff was back in 1981 so it’s very much overdue. It’s not going to be a grumpy old man show – more a show of anecdotes and arguments with a few comic points!” says Andy “The show’s theme is all about change and I’m not talking about the stuff you find down the back of your settee. Change can be a turbulent thing and I’ll mainly be talking about we all deal with it.”