Jack Dee: ‘I feel eternally guilty that I played a part in making reality TV popular’

Jack Dee is the self-proclaimed “grumpiest man in comedy”. He wrote and starred in the sitcoms Lead Balloon and Bad Move, and hosts the panel show I’m Sorry I Haven’t A Clue on BBC Radio 4. A long-time regular on stages and television screens, he won the inaugural Celebrity Big Brother in 2001. 

His latest book, What is Your Problem? Comedy’s little ray of sleet grapples with life’s major dilemmas (£20, Quercus), sees the 60-year-old father of four offer satirical advice for personal struggles and social dilemmas.

Best way of dealing with life’s challenges?

Humour. Too often we think of a problem as something to fret over. Sometimes, it’s better to stand back and laugh at your own problems. It can lend you a certain perspective that you may not have had before, if you’re able to laugh about something. We don’t do it enough.

Treasured childhood memory?

I used to love it when my grandfather would tell funny stories. I can still tell his tales today, word for word, and I think his way of speaking sparked something for me. My elder brother was very witty and funny, so I grew up listening to their banter.

Best thing about fatherhood?

As soon as I became a dad, I understood why people struggle in life sometimes, but do it because they have a purpose. It was an eye-opener how much of a priority and a driving force it becomes in your life. It’s made me a nicer person. The older I get, the more generously disposed I am to people.

Favourite night out?

My favourite thing to do is to go to the cinema with my wife. Sometimes we go once a week. I love the immediate simplicity of arranging to go to the cinema, and the accessibility versus going to the theatre. You set aside time to see something at the cinema – we don’t do that with telly anymore, because everything is available on demand. My family and I spend a lot of time in West Sussex, and go to the independent Chichester Cinema at New Park.

The ultimate music genre?

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