‘I’ve got no idea if I have any sort of profile in Ireland’ - comedian Miles Jupp

Sophie Clarke speaks to comedian Miles Jupp about the Irish leg of his On I Bang comedy tour, career highlights and his recent Balamory reunion

Jupp played Archie a kilt wearing, curly haired inventor in Balamory from 2002-2005
Miles Jupp is now a fixture on the comedy circuit but is well known for playing Archie, a kilt-wearing, curly-haired inventor, in children's favourite Balamory from 2002-2005 (Will Boase)

“Miss Hoolie, Edie McCredie, PC Plum and Archie the Inventor all met up for a glass of wine before my show last night,” says comedian Miles Jupp, unwittingly transporting me back to my childhood.

For those who don’t remember the golden age of CBeebies when back-to-back episodes of Balamory were the height of entertainment, Jupp played Archie, a kilt-wearing, curly-haired inventor who built zany creations from household objects and lived in a pink castle.

However, nowadays Jupp is far more likely to be found creating comedy shows – like On I Bang, which he is currently touring.

“On I Bang is a phrase that I find myself saying when I realise at home that I’m trying to outline something that people really have no interest in - like no-one is listening to my lecture about being tidy,” Jupp explains.

“So, I find myself going, ‘Well anyway, on I bang’, but also given the context of the show it also takes on this meaning of what a privilege it is to be able to be banging on.”

In 2021 Jupp suddenly suffered a brain seizure which led to the discovery of a tumour “the size of a cherry tomato” and a rather pressing need to undergo major neurosurgery.

On the surface, this life changing event doesn’t sound like the sort of story that will elicit belly laughs when shared on stage, but Jupp begs to differ.

“Having a brain seizure, then having a benign tumour diagnosed, then having brain surgery made for a pretty hectic month,” he says.

“I started writing down what had happened at the time just to get it clear in my head for my own benefit, and then much later when I was better, I started thinking about doing something with it.

“So, I wrote it as a show without knowing whether I would even do anything with it or not, because I just found the writing of it quite cathartic.

“And in relation to comedy, to have a story like this is quite good because you have a really solid foundation and it’s exciting, thrilling, although admittedly nerve wracking to just go out and start telling people about it.”

Although this is not the first time Jupp has taken a personal anecdote and turned it into comedy gold: his 2011 stand-up routine Fibber in the Heat chronicled the time he bluffed his way onto an England cricket tour to India as the cricket correspondent for both BBC Scotland and the Western Mail.

Miles Jupp On I Bang live
Miles Jupp isn't sure how Irish audiences will take to him... (Steve Best/stevebest.com)

The show received rave reviews from audiences and critics alike.

“I did it partly thinking some sort of story will emerge from this,” he confesses.

“I had some headed notepaper from a friend who worked at BBC Scotland and just told them I was the chief cricket correspondent.

“The accreditation didn’t quite work out but by that point I was standing on the outfield in a place called Nagpur the day before a test match and I thought, ‘Let’s just see how far this goes.’

On I Bang is coming to Belfast on June 26
Miles Jupp brings his On I Bang show to Belfast on June 26 (Will Boase)

“My plan was to get myself in the right place at the right time and then it would just become my job, and that very quickly unravelled.”

Although his career in sports journalism didn’t quite work out, Jupp has dabbled in most theatrical mediums, including appearing in TV dramas such as The Full Monty on Disney Plus, The Durrells and Why Didn’t They Ask Evans? on ITV, as well as topical comedy shows like Frankie Boyle’s New World Order and Have I Got News For You.

“I enjoy it all, which is probably why I do it,” he laughs.

He’s also graced the West End stage and the silver screen, most notably when he was cast as Emperor Francis I in Ridley Scott’s Napoleon: “Doing a big movie is very exciting but you feel like you’re at somebody else’s party in a way.

“In the past when I’ve done big films, I’ve allowed myself to get very nervous. I was once in a film with George Clooney about 12 years ago and I just remember being ridiculously nervous. Then after half an hour, I realised he’s just at work. We all are.”

Having a brain seizure, then having a benign tumour diagnosed, then having brain surgery made for a pretty hectic month

—  Miles Jupp

Although he says it was his time on BBC sitcom The Thick Of It playing inept Labour Party press officer John Duggan that he enjoyed the most.

“I got a really nice part in an episode of The Thick Of It in 2009 and that was a programme I watched and enjoyed, and it was a very welcoming bunch of people.

“It was absolutely awesome, and the same casting director pushed for me to audition for a sitcom called Rev in 2010 and that sort of changed things for me so I look back on that particular time really fondly.”

But for now, Jupp is enjoying being back on the road as a comedian, so much so he has extended his tour and will be making six stops across Ireland.

“I thought if we were going to Ireland we should do a proper run of shows,” he says.

“We weren’t booking it long in advance so I said I would do venues of any size because I just want to see what doing the show there will be like.

“I’ve done a couple of panel shows in Belfast and in Dublin and a few stand-up gigs in both, but I’ve got no idea if I have any sort of profile in Ireland – except for my work on Balamory 22 years ago,” he laughs.

“I’d perform anywhere that was kind enough to take us - that’s proper touring.

Comedian Miles Jupp
Miles Jupp would be delighted for you to come and see his show - but don’t feel pressured to go along... (Will Boase)

“If you’re the Rolling Stones you say, ‘Right, we’re doing Wembley Arena for three nights, you’re all coming to us – you’re getting the trains and the hotels’ – whereas with my show it’s just me, my tour manager and a couple of suitcases. I want everyone to relax – we’ll come to you.”

Jupp isn’t the most pressurised of salesmen. “I don’t know if I would actively try and convince someone to come to the show,” he says.

“If people are there, I want them to genuinely want to be there. I don’t want them to have been reasoned or threatened into it.

“If it sounds like the sort of thing you’d be interested in I’d be absolutely delighted for you to come and see it but please don’t feel pressured in any way.”

Miles Jupp will be making stops with his On I Bang show in St Michael’s Theatre in New Ross (June 22), Coughlan’s Comedy Club in Cork (June 23 and 24), The Sugar Club in Dublin (June 25), The MAC in Belfast (June 26), Balor Arts Centre in Ballybofey (June 27) and Mermaid Arts Centre in Bray (June 28).