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Free-Dom to be funny ; Who to watchDom Joly's been roaming the land filming pranks for the second series of Fool Britannia. KEELEY BOLGER catches up...

October 5, 2013


Free-Dom to be funny ; Who to watchDom Joly's been roaming the land filming pranks for the second series of Fool Britannia. KEELEY BOLGER catches up with the comedian to discover why doner kebabs have been giving him sleepless nights

Doner kebabs are on Dom Joly's conscience. He hasn't wolfed any down after a late night booze-up, but he has recently dressed up as one for the new series of his ITV show, Fool Britannia.

With his eldest child just having turned 13 and his youngest returning to primary school, Joly's anxious about how well the prank will go down with his kids.

They've just gone to new schools and the real worry for me is that, when the series is shown, my children, who have just settled in, are going to have to deal with the fact that they're known as the people whose dad dresses up as a kebab, he says, laughing.

My whole family's happiness rests on whether having a dad who dresses up as a kebab is seen as a good thing or a bad thing by the school bullies. So there's quite a lot of pressure on me.

As well as the talking kebab, the new series of his popular hidden camera sketch show, in which Joly plays pranks on unsuspecting members of the public, will see a whole raft of new characters.

These include a highly active panda and a bouncer who tries to train up his young son, as well as the return of old favourite the ASBO vicar, a rather aggressive figure who often takes the law into his own hands.

It was while 45-year-old Joly, who rose to fame in the early Noughties with his hit Channel 4 show Trigger Happy TV, was dressed up as the vicar at his local festival that he almost fooled David Cameron.

I took the vicar to the Cornbury festival, as I thought it was the perfect place for him to be tripping over Portaloos and insulting hippies, recalls Joly. It's the one time David Cameron shows how hip and groovy he is. He even went barefoot, which is just nauseating.

So I'm with my cameraman and we spot Cameron in a tepee buying weird hats, and we were like, 'We've got to'. We go into the tent, and I'm there standing right behind him about to tap him on the shoulder, and at that moment I get whisked away by security guys.

In a way I was chuffed, because they recognise the vicar. But I nearly got him, nearly brought down the Government! While the PM is safe, Joly jokes that a lot of Brits would be in trouble with their partners if all the footage from Fool Britannia was shown.

I do have an entire series' worth of Fool Britannia which, if it ever aired, marriages would break down all over the country, says the comedian, who lives in the Gloucestershire countryside with his Canadian wife Stacey, daughter Parker, 13, and nine-year-old son, Jackson.

There are an extraordinary number of people walking our streets cuckolding their other halves. As soon as they realise we've been filming, they tell us that they're not with their partners and we obviously agree not to show it.

He insists it's important to hot-foot it around Britain to make the best possible hidden camera series.

Everyone, whenever they pitch a TV show, says, 'Yeah we're really going to get out of London', and everyone goes, 'Great, brilliant', and then they don't, he explains.

I was really keen to get around the UK. One, because people in London are quite cynical and have been hit by so many shows that most of them have lawyers at the ready.

But also it's good to get different reactions, landscapes and accents.

He was especially taken with Northern Ireland, which he didn't visit in the first series.

Probably three of my greatest hits were in Northern Ireland, and if we get a series three I want to go back there.

I was amazed [by the place]. Even with my experiences growing up in Beirut [where he was born before moving to the UK], I assumed that people in Belfast might be slightly lacking in sense of humour and be aggressive, but they were anything but.

I loved the accent, loved Belfast and thought the people were great.

He admits that sometimes his family give him quite the grilling about his gags.

Children can be a great sounding board, but they can also be horribly fickle and honest, he says.

I try to surround myself with sycophants. I don't really want people saying, 'Dad, that's rubbish', which they do quite often. It's quite depressing but it's probably good for me.

And like many parents, he was dreading his daughter becoming a teenager recently.

Before she turned 13 I'd wake up every morning, peep round her door and think, 'Has it happened yet? Does she loathe me?' Joly jokes.

The talking kebab might just tip her over. I don't think there's any good thing about having a teenage daughter. I'm just going to have to bunker down for five years and hope we come out the other end.

He admits that his TV career has kept him in his son's good books, however.

My boy is nine and he's still quite pleased with my job. I think he sees a possibility of growing up and not having to work!

It's quite hopeful for him, because he's not big into work. Whereas my mum still refuses to believe that I earn my living dressing up as a squirrel, so you know, ups and downs.

That said, Joly knows one sure-fire way of gaining favour with his mother.

She watches my shows and then she'll go, 'Oh gosh, it was just so fast'. Then I'll write something once every three years about Syria in The Independent, and she'll literally print that out and that's all she'll live off for the next three years, and that's what I do for a living.

Fans of the funny man needn't worry though.

My mum longs for me to do something that has depth or seriousness to it in any way, Joly confides. But that's not going to happen. ? Fool Britannia re turns to ITV tonight at 6.30pm.

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