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25th Jun 2015

Exclusive interview with Matt Berry, JOE’s new Agony Uncle, Part Two

Lia Nicholls

Award-winning writer and comic Matt Berry is JOE’s new Agony Uncle – offering solutions to your troubles and strife every Thursday.

In part one of our chat with the actor, we talked about the inspiration behind his most popular characters and the 1970s suit he wore when picking up a Bafta.

And now, in part two, we discuss why he dislikes panel shows and what it’s like being part of Vic Reeves and Bob Mortimer’s fraternity.

Frustratingly for Berry, he says being awarded the coveted Bafta doesn’t mean a gateway to a higher salary. And neither does it equal a bigger budget for his Channel 4 series Toast of London, currently in pre-production for a third run. 

I don’t get into those ugly conversations about money,” says Berry. “And annoyingly the budget for Toast was sorted out before I won.

“Comedy doesn’t make a lot of money for the channel, shows like The Paedophile Hunter (Channel 4) does because it doesn’t cost any money and is bought by everyone else across the world, I mean they all want to see that documentary.

“Whereas to make six episodes of something costs a fair bit of cash and not everyone wants to buy it so there isn’t a lot of money that goes into comedy.”

You would think Berry, 41, would be knocking back scripts left, right and centre since the win, but he hasn’t had to get his hands mucky here either. Although there have been a few unusual requests.

“If your agent is good,” he explains, “a lot of the stuff you would never want to do you won’t see because they say no at the root. There may be some awful things happening but I won’t know about them.”

An invitation to appear on Lorraine on ITV’s This Morning left Berry a bit baffled.

“It’s not ridiculous but it is surprising – Lorraine? I’m like ‘why the hell would she want me on there?’”

“Why would her audience be interested in anything I have to say?” he says humbly. ” I wouldn’t be a massive kind of snob about it, and it isn’t that I don’t want to be seen on there, but because I can’t imagine they would have any interest in anything I have to say.”

Panel shows are out too, especially Whose Line Is It Anyway, currently enjoying a revival as a live West End show at London’s Adelphi Theatre.

“I’m not a fan of panel shows,” says the comic. “I can honestly say as a kid I hated ‘Whose Line is it anyway?’ I thought it was really smug. I liked stuff like Blind Date and Gladiators before it.”

Luckily he hasn’t got to worry too much about panel appearances. Berry has one of the most envied jobs in comedy, in BBC Two’s surreal sitcom House Of Fools alongside Vic, Bob, and Morgana.

It’s a huge honour to be chosen by Vic and Bob to be on their show, that was a big deal for me,” he says. “They are the only ones I’d go out of my way to watch as a kid. I’d watch them because they weren’t cheese, they were a double act but they didn’t have any of the s**t stuff, you know, (laughing) you know, like the other double acts…”

“Morgana is like Katherine Parkinson (award-winning actress, best-known for The IT Crowd), she’s got that thing.”

As a fan of House of Fools, it’s clear a fair chunk of it is improvised; the spontaneity, ad-libbing and smirks are there for all to see. 

“Oh a lot of it is improvised! Bob can’t remember his words, and he gets lost, and it is brilliant,” says Berry, laughing.

“It is so funny because there is nothing better than seeing someone panic because they don’t know what is coming next or whatever, and you’re not going to help them because, well, it is just too much fun seeing them f**k up!”

If you haven’t seen it Mortimer anchors the whole show with Berry coming on set each time for a few minutes to “d*ck around”.

“It was a lot easier for me,” he notes.

It is a superb comedy family, surely there is going to be another series? 

“Probably not,” says Berry. “Well, maybe it will in some way, I mean, we could do it live…”

That sounds like a tip to me…

If you want Matt Berry to help with your daily dilemmas, or a suggestion to make you chuckle, send your problems to