Hugh Dennis Profile

Actor, comedian, writer, impressionist - is there nothing comedy-flavoured that Hugh Dennis can't turn his hand to?

Hugh's real name is actually Peter Hugh Dennis, but when Equity already had a Peter Dennis on their books he decided to adopt his middle name for the dark art of tomfoolery.

The son of the Bishop of St Edmundsbury and Ipswich, Hugh was a smarty-pants from the off, ascending to the dizzying heights of head boy at his high school and going on to read Geography at St John's College in Cambridge. His nickname at school was apparently "desk" because he was always glued to one. As well as playing rugby with Will Self, he also met future partner in crime Steve Punt and they began to perform at London's Comedy Store. At Cambridge he naturally signed up to join Footlights, whose alumni features David Mitchell and John Cleese among many very funny others. While he was approached after graduation by a member of the intelligence service for an interview, he decided not to follow up and pursue comedy instead. Very smart move (well, you'd expect no less) though we can definitely picture him as James Bond...

A stalwart of Radio 4 political satire, Dennis, along with partner Steve Punt, has rarely been off the airwaves since the late 80s, including lending his dulcet tones to a fair few of the voices for 80's telly classic Splitting Image, but it was when the pair hooked up with David Baddiel and Rob Newman for the comedy phenomenon The Mary Whitehouse Experience that his career exploded. In fact he's been on pretty much every quality staple of British comedy that you can think of, from Have I Got News for You to Brass Eye. He's also starred in more serious stuff such as retired copper drama New Tricks, where he gave the audience something to smile at other than Dennis Waterman's terrible theme tune and the fact that the casts' combined age was greater than most nation-states. He's also worked in theatre, starring in productions of All in the Timing and Silhouette, won a Writers Guild of Great Britain award for his work on Canned Carrot and received an honorary degree from the University of Northampton. Which was nice.

Back to telly, and Hugh starred alongside Oz Clarke in their foodie programmes Oz and Hugh Drink to Christmas and Oz and Hugh raise the bar which involved them eating and drinking a wide range of fine British food and booze - we're sure that was really challenging for them, but they suffer for their art so we don't have to. Kind of like Black Swan, but with booze. Hugh's also well known for his long-running radio shows, The Now Show and It's Been a Bad Week.

As well as being a comedian, Hugh has also had a crack at the Tour de France where he ended up coming 3,400th out of 4000 people, which is five hours behind the winner but still much better than we could ever do. Now happily married for the second time, with two children who provide him with endless inspiration for Outnumbered and his comedy routines. If by inspiration you mean stress and panic, of course.

Viewers now know Hugh for his off-the-cuff wit on Mock the Week, where he always seems to get the serious answers right and manages to make every guest on the show feel ridiculously stupid in comparison. He's appeared in every episode so far, so that's a lot of wry witticisms! He's also well known as the downtrodden Dad in Outnumbered, where he's regularly upstaged by three child actors. Most recently, he's been taking centre stage as the host of improv show Fast and Loose. All in all, a pretty impressive comedy CV, we're sure Hugh'll, sorry you'll, agree.

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