Weekend Q&A: Andrew Doyle – cantankerous people allow you to defend your position with greater clarity

Andrew Doyle (42) is a writer, comedian and broadcaster. Born in Derry, he's one of the recent signings for GB News, the upcoming independent news channel headed by Andrew Neil

Derry-born Andrew Doyle will have a show on GB News. Picture by David Windmill
Jane Hardy

How do you unwind at the weekend?

I don't see weekends as different from weekdays, to be honest. They blend into each other. I'm usually writing and start when I wake up, sometimes at 3am. But I won't write if I'm tired as it will be substandard. When I was writing my latest book Free Speech And Why It Matters, I'd write at weekends. I also like to read and have a pile of books next to my desk. My programme on GB News is called Free Speech Nation, is weekly and might happen at weekends but I can't tell you when it begins. I've also adapted Tony Macaulay's Breadboy with Duke Special and we hope it will run at the Lyric Theatre in the summer.

What do you recall most about weekends growing up?

Nothing particularly. I grew up in the English Midlands, although my mother is from Derry. I'd cycle to friends' homes and hang out. It was not some idyllic childhood. I did a lot of ballet on Saturdays and started when a teacher came to take us through the moves at primary school. She didn't tell us it was ballet and was scouting for companies. They needed boys and I was spotted as having talent. Only then was it revealed that it was ballet and I'd have to wear tights. I enjoyed it up to a point but kept it a secret from the other boys.

Friday night or Saturday night?

I don't have a preference. Saturday was comedy night but I haven't done that for a year. I'm going to do some stand-up in September, the Titania McGrath tour. I don't know what it'll feel like after all this time. Audiences will, I think, be desperate to go out.

Do you have a must-listen weekend radio show?

I listen to podcasts like the Jeremy Paxman interviews – he interviewed me for it. I found him fun. He's pushing back and I like people who are cantankerous; it gives you the opportunity to defend your position with greater clarity.

Must-watch weekend TV show/box set?

I like American series and like rewatching things like The West Wing. And I rewatch old Carry Ons. The performances are better than they need be and it's absurdist. Somebody like Hattie Jacques was one of our finest comedic actors.

Favourite eatery – or is it a takeaway?

I get takeaways all the time – Chinese, Indian and pizzas. Like everyone in lockdown, I've put on weight. In normal times, when we can eat at restaurants, I'd go to a Pizza Express.

Is Sunday still special?

It was very special for me as a child. I used to love buying sweets after church. I'm lapsed now but enjoyed the social aspect. Maybe I should take up churchgoing again. I still find going to church very comforting.

How do you feel on Sunday night about Monday morning?

I always feel that I could have been more productive and am metaphorically self-flagellating. Maybe it's the Catholic guilt.

Andrew Doyle is staging Titania McGrath shows later this year in London and Salford.

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