Clive Anderson Profile

He may look like a cuddly bear - but Clive Anderson is blessed with a quick wit, fast delivery and scathing sarcasm.

Clive Anderson

Clive Anderson has never been averse to sticking his neck out when there's an issue he feels passionate about and, boy, he's got one viper-like tongue you wouldn't want to mess with. Well, he was trained to hold forth, after all...

Clive trained as a criminal law barrister but his natural flair for comedy quickly came to the fore during his student days at Cambridge University. As president of the prestigious Cambridge Footlights for a year, Clive's talents were put to good use and he balanced his studies with the sexy, slinky mistress of entertainment. Anderson in fact became the first comedian to grace the stage at The Comedy Store, when it opened its doors in 1979 - quite a feat for someone who looks like they'd be more at home stamping books in a library than tackling boozy hecklers.

Clive's breakthrough on national television first came about in 1988 with the innovative comedy improvisation show Whose Line Is It Anyway? The show was an enormous success and lined up some of the period's biggest names in comedy. Regulars on the stage included Tony Slattery, Greg Proops and Josie Lawrence but the show relied as much on Clive's ready wit and lightning reactions as theirs. The audience also provided much of the shows input – with some of the ideas offered suggesting that the producers had rounded up the audience members with a great big butterfly net – although the same could probably be said about a few of the guests.

Even with his straight laced appearance, Anderson's charm clearly caught the eye of many a media mogul and by 1989, Clive had his very own comedy chat show on Channel 4 which ran for an impressive 10 series before moving over to the BBC. Clive's interviews haven't always gone according to plan. Richard Branson poured a glass of water over Mr Anderson when he felt he'd overstepped the mark, to which Anderson scathingly remarked, "I'm used to that. I've flown Virgin". Anderson also upset The Bee Gees, who famously walked off set after taking exception to some off-the-cuff remarks. What's the world coming to when a chat show host can't call his guests 'tossers' anymore?

Recording his verbal assaults seemed the logical next step, and the Sunday Correspondent took warmly to having Anderson as a regular columnist. He had by this point become a regular face on Have I Got News For You. Fitting comfortably into a room dripping with sarcasm, Anderson wasted no time making friends, abruptly dismissing Piers Morgan, who asked, "What do you know about editing newspapers" replying, "About as much as you do". Damn, no Life Stories for him then.

Clearly Clive Anderson isn't All Talk however, having visited various countries during his time as a BBC journalist, including a spell sniffing out hundreds of scams in Nigeria. We can just do that by checking our emails these days. While he probably had a tailormade army print suit made for the occasion, at least Anderson proved that sitting behind a desk being sarcastic wasn't all he could do.

Since then Clive's done all sorts of radio, telly and writing and won a heap of awards including Comedy Presenter of the Year and Top Channel 4 Presenter. Anderson has continued to earn his Dave stripes, featuring on QI and Mock the Week and he even swapped his suit for a tux to present Last Night of the Proms. Still, if a showbiz career doesn't work out, he could always head back to the Bar...

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