Stephen Fry isn't just an institution. He's a museum, a sprawling library, a veritable Big Ben of wit and wonderfulness beloved by all who know him and all who goggle at him on the telly. He's a pretty good comedian too.
Stephen first appeared on the Edinburgh Fringe back in 1981 as part of the award-winning Cambridge Footlights Review alongside Hugh Laurie, Tony Slattery and Emma Thompson, and soon appeared in some of the best comedies of the 80s, including The Young Ones, A Bit Of Fry And Laurie and of course Blackadder.
In fact we really can just stop there; as far as we're concerned anyone involved in Blackadder should be given a knighthood, although the jury's out on Ben Elton nowadays thanks to his rather annoying habit of working with that sinister Lloyd Webber chap. With both incarnations of Melchett and the Duke of Wellington, Stephen revealed he was more than able to hold his own against Rowan Atkinson, and his love for ridiculous wordplay is crammed into every line he delivers, no doubt contributed by the man himself.
Of course Stephen Fry is far more than the excellent comedy actor he is - just check out his perfect turn in Jeeves and Wooster for more proof - he is also a respected novelist, academic, journalist, producer, director, presenter and playwright. He was also the last person to be named Pipe Smoker of the Year. You see? The man is so damn talented he was recognised just for the way he sucks on a piece of wood and plastic.
The one thing that runs through all these mighty endeavours is Fry's inescapable wit. The man just cannot not be funny and in recent years he has become the epitome of wit as the host of QI. Even when turning his hand to more serious stuff such as the plight of endangered species or manic depression, Stephen's charming blend of insightful academia and self-deprecating humour makes anything he does effortlessly watchable.
Stephen also had his own show in 2008, Stephen Fry in America where he travelled the country, exploring all fifty states with his usual witty charm. In fact, Stephen could've actually been born across the pond, which seems wrong in our eyes – he's just too British, like Winston Churchill and bulldogs with Union Jacks in their mouths. We have his father to thank for his British beginnings as he turned down a job in America thinking it just wouldn't be right for his children to grow up Stateside. Here, here.
He's also director of Norwich Football Club, narrates the English language version of Spanish cartoon Pocoyo and has had a reoccurring role in forensic drama Bones as Dr Gordon Wyatt. And he's written four novels and two auto-biographies and is also infamous for his audio book recordings, including his readings of all seven Harry Potter novels – and why not, we could listen to him talk all day, especially in audio book form.
We could go on, but frankly there's no point. Stephen Fry's status as a living national treasure is blatant to anyone with half a brain, and what makes this even better is that the chap is so unbelievably modest we know he'd never buy into his own hype. So light that briar and raise a glass to the man. But not champagne; he's allergic to that, don't you know.
Check out some fascinating facts about Stephen Fry