Janet Street-Porter Interviews Alan Carr

He’s the brother everyone wishes they had and has just signed a £3 million deal with Channel 4. But can Alan Carr really be as loveable off-screen? Janet meets the man behind the wonky-toothed grin.

Marie Claire Interviews: Alan Carr
Marie Claire Interviews: Alan Carr

He’s the brother everyone wishes they had and has just signed a £3 million deal with Channel 4. But can Alan Carr really be as loveable off-screen? Janet meets the man behind the wonky-toothed grin.

I’ve got to be honest, I love Alan Carr. The milk-bottle-bottom glasses, those wonky teeth – we’ve definitely got a lot in common. The difference is, Alan’s a hell of a lot nicer than me. He’s just written his autobiography, Look Who it is! My Story, which, apart from being hilarious, reveals all sorts of fascinating facts about his (relatively slow) rise to fame, from falling and banging his chin on the caravan-towing bar on a childhood family holiday (hence the distinctive gnashers) to a short spell in his twenties working in Tesco at Brent Cross, where the highlight of his tenure was spotting Dale Winton. Alan is so nice, he’s even dedicated the book to his ‘wonderful parents, Christine and Graham’. Ahhhh…

JSP Your book sounds just like you talking.

AC I wrote it a bit like I do stand-up, by just talking it through and then typing it down. I didn’t want a ghost writer. I’ve got such a distinctive voice, people would smell a rat, I think.

You don’t really talk about your sex life. No, well, there’s not much to talk about. Honest, Janet! The worst thing for me is having a drink then waking up with someone.

There was that person with special needs… I know it’s funny, but it was the shock of my life, rolling over in the morning and seeing someone with special needs next to me. I thought, ‘Oh, well, Alan, you’ve really done it this time.’ His minder was lying on the other side of me – he was actually all right-looking. But the special-needs man had been on the slot machines all night, and then got scared and got into the bed.

Where did you meet him? [Laughs.] It was in Blackpool. It’ll all become clear when people read the book.

You once said you had a boyfriend called Pete, who worked with sex offenders. That’s right. He said to me once, ‘How can I go out with Alan Carr with my job?’ And I said, ‘You work with sex offenders! Stop slagging me off and have a go at them. They’re dirty bastards.’

Is it harder to meet partners now because you’re so well known? In your autobiography, which ends when you start presenting The Friday Night Project, you come across as having very little self-esteem. I’m just cynical. I know the standard of men I had before [the show], and now I’m being approached by people well out of my league.Should I just be a slag and fuck them anyway?

There’s a very good story about Russell Brand doing really badly in Edinburgh and getting his dick out.

That’s right. Then he threw his Bacardi Breezer at the side of the stage and went, ‘Fuck you! Alan Carr!’ That’s how he announced me. I came on and it was the worst set I’ve ever done. [During it] there was a woman mopping up behind me. I said to her, ‘Don’t you think it’s hard enough?’ I got the audience round in the end, but I think it’s funny how Russell is now a Hollywood star.

How did you get into stand-up?

A fortune-teller said my future lay in comedy. But every time I tried, I was just shitting myself. Then I got to such a low ebb at Barclaycard, I thought, ‘Fuck it.’

I can’t believe how long you lasted at the call centre.

Two years. I used to look forward to Saturday because [the calls were] mostly about lost or stolen cards, and you got all these pissheads ringing up. I’d say, ‘Have you got your card?’ ‘No.’ ‘What’s your name?’ ‘I dunno.’ [Laughs.]

Do you love the attention you get now that you’re successful?

It depends what mood I’m in. I love that I’m approachable. All kinds of people come up to me.

But what it’s like when you’re a bit depressed?

You know, everyone has their off days, and people can be rude. They go, ‘Ooh, you look better on TV.’ And I’ve got confidence issues anyway. One guy said, ‘I saw that fat face and I thought, “That’s Alan Carr!”’ And you’re thinking, ‘Oh, fuck off.’ My pet hate is, ‘Can I try your glasses on?’ I bet you used to get that.

Yeah, I did. Do you get – and this is the worst – people coming up and saying, ‘My cousin Ralph does a really good impersonation of you’?

Yeah. And people show me photos, saying ‘My friend looks just like you.’ And they’ll be the fucking ugliest person you’ve ever seen. They look like they’ve been mashed up in a fire or something. I’m like, ‘Oh, thanks.’

Do you do any exercise?

I try to keep fit, but I think it’s the drink, isn’t it? I go to the gym. I put me contacts in and I put a cap on. The thing is, I’ve got this new personal trainer and he’s gayer than me. He’ll give me this really strenuous workout and my treat is an ogle at some of the other men. I’ll be doing sit-ups and he’ll go, ‘Alan, Alan. Two o’clock, two o’clock.’

Well, you need an incentive.

Yeah, he’s a laugh. I didn’t want one of these, ‘Come on! Be the best!’ blokes. He’s a great trainer, but we just have such a laugh.

You can’t go on a diet. They don’t work.

Oh, no, no, no. It’s not me. I like my food too much.

What do you eat when you’re really pissed?

Curry. Me and Justin [Lee Collins] are the same. When we got our BAFTA nomination, we were like, ‘Let’s go have some curry and some beer!’ It’s awful, I know. But I think people would be disappointed if I lost loads of weight and I was a size zero.

Like Gok Wan.

Yeah. I was interested to see how big he was.

He’s very thin now.

He was enormous. He’s lovely.

He is. Has he ever done your show? Yeah. He was brilliant. I saw in him a lot of me as well. I think he’s very sensitive. I think we should do a remake of that horror movie together, Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?.

How did you get on with David Hasselhoff [who guest hosted earlier this year]?

He and I were supposed to do this Lady and the Tramp sketch, which was a bit suggestive, and David went, ‘Whoa, whoa, whoa! If that gets on the internet, a billion people are gonna say the Hoff’s gay. But, you know, I’m not homophobic.’ So I said, ‘I’m actually not too pleased about being seen kissing you.’ He does think a lot of himself.

He does. And wasn’t it his own daughter that reported him to the police for drinking?

She was in the audience. He was like, ‘Oh, my beautiful daughter. Can she be part of the show?’ And I thought, ‘Why would you wanna see her again?’

What about a book about your experiences on the show?

When everything’s quietened down a bit, I’ll do one about some of the arseholes we’ve had on.

This is an edited version of the full interview, which appears in the November 2008 issue of Marie Claire

Look Who it is! My Story (£18.99, HarperCollins) is out now.

The leading destination for fashion, beauty, shopping and finger-on-the-pulse views on the latest issues. Marie Claire's travel content helps you delight in discovering new destinations around the globe, offering a unique – and sometimes unchartered – travel experience. From new hotel openings to the destinations tipped to take over our travel calendars, this iconic name has it covered.