When asked which classics he enjoyed growing up, it turns out to be quite a list. Though he gets ‘quite itchy’ watching most – missed a joke here, could have riffed on that a bit more there – but, for him, Yes Prime Minister is about as perfect as it gets.
And with 20 years of writing for BBC sitcoms behind him, Miranda, My Family, My Hero, Milton Jones, and creating Bluestone 42 for BBC Three, and Hut 33 for Radio 4, it does feel like he’s qualified to judge.
He’s also an evangelical Christian, and a member of the Church of England General Synod….hugely thoughtful about the business and mechanics of comedy – what works, what doesn’t, and why – but also about holding the tension between being an ‘out’ Christian in the mainstream comedy world, and not always being entirely acceptable to Christians because of what he writes.
He’s thoughtful, and very funny. I love his new book, The Gospel according to a Sitcom Writer, where he cleverly takes us right into the gospel stories – his own comedy red line is that he won’t give extra words to Jesus, but the disciples are absolutely fair game, utterly baffled, as most of us would be, by what they’re hearing and seeing, and expressing that in a way that I find enormously reassuring!