Comedian Darren Harriott, 34, glides through the final practice sessions before he dons his skates for the first night of Dancing On Ice.
You’re in this year’s Dancing On Ice. We’d ask how the training’s going but you’ve had a few falls, haven’t you?
I’ve enjoyed it but it’s very, very hard. I mean, I’ve had whiplash for the first time. Dancing On Ice goes against everything I’m about – ice skating is about stillness, understanding the weight of your body, moving it in a certain way. Whereas I’m like a manic guy, even when I’m walking around! When it’s done right, you’ve got that nice glide, it looks so graceful. I look like a fridge. I want that graceful swan energy.
That’s the thing – it’s not like Strictly where you just have to learn a routine. You’ve got to be able to skate as well…
I know and I’d never even been on an ice rink before. The other thing is, it’s live television. You can’t fall over and say, ‘Right guys, time out!’ You’ve got to get up and carry on. I love Strictly, honestly. But, guys, trying doing it on ice!
As a comedian, do you think you’ll need to get your personality across on the ice?
Yeah, my first routine definitely has comedy elements in there. You’ve got to be expressive.
I’m quite a new face to some of the audience so I’ve got to let them know quickly that, ‘Hey guys, I’m funny. Not just funny, but entertaining. Not just entertaining but I can dance. And skate! Woo hoo!’
That’s why even when I’ve been falling over in practice while filming, I’ve still thrown in a joke. Still funny, baby!
Comedy isn’t a competitive sport, is it? How are you going to handle dancers being eliminated each week?
I’m telling you, John Fashanu is the nicest guy. And yet he’s still got that edge, that mentality of a footballer.
He’s so competitive. And there are also Olympians, people who have won reality shows. But can you imagine competing comedians? How would that even work?
Someone would do a joke and you’d push them off and try to do a better one?! So when it comes to a skate-off, I will definitely need to get more competitive.
Although you did help someone win record cash on The Wheel just before Christmas, didn’t you? You are a winner…
The only reason we won so much is because I was last! Finally, having the least knowledge on a show worked in my favour. I’m telling you, I’ve done Pointless Celebrities, I’ve done House Of Games, and I always come last. But yeah, The Wheel is easily my greatest television moment ever.
Your game-show experiences sound like a good topic for your podcast Shame Is Delicious…
Everyone has brilliantly shameful moments and getting people to speak about them on the podcast is great. Like, I was talking recently about being a bouncer when the belt broke on my trousers. I got hold of this guy who was fighting and he looked at me with fear in his eyes. I mean, all he saw was me grabbing him – and then me seeming to pull my trousers down. ‘You have to leave now,’ I said, but I was giggling too much. I had to leave the club early that night, I couldn’t bear everyone knowing about my rich red underwear.
So who would be your perfect guest?
Someone super-open, who’s going to talk about everything. Not Prince Harry – it seems like he’s told it all now. Although for me, the one thing he should feel shame about is allegedly being beaten up by William. I mean, come on dude, you’re supposed to be the tough guy! Matt Hancock would be fun, right? He kind of seems shameless.
While we’re on the subject of MPs, you’re going back into your constituency later this year when you do your stand-up tour Roadman…
Yeah, I believe that comedians should be in parliament because we go up and down the country. We do the research. We meet all the people and we know the way they feel, in the weird places no one ever visits. The tiny, dingy pubs, the big halls – we go all over. We know this country better than anybody else.
So what does it look like to you?
I would say this country needs a summer, right now. A bit more fun but mainly a solid reason to turn the heating off. You know, I’ve got one of those smart meters in my house and I just look at it going, ‘Do you hate me? What even is this?’ It’s just rising through the roof.’ I feel like we all just need a big hug.
Roadman is going to approach your relationship with your dad and your upbringing in gangs…
I was thinking about one of my fondest memories of my dad, when he bought me and my brother a new Nintendo 64. We had GoldenEye 007 – you’ve never seen two happier boys in your life. Anyway, we opened it and he’d already completed all of the levels. Now, I only realised this is not what a normal parent would do. Now I look at it and go, that’s not nice – there’s no surprise at all!
Dancing On Ice starts on ITV1 on Sunday at 6.30pm. Harriott’s Roadman UK tour begins in September, darrenharriott.com
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