Miles Jupp – On I Bang

Miles Jupp – On I Bang

Tyne Theatre & Opera House – Mon 5 Feb 2024 | 7:30pm

Since Miles’ last tour finished at The London Palladium in 2017, he’s been in The Full Monty on Disney Plus, The Durrells and Why Didn’t They Ask Evans?  as well as many  episodes of Frankie Boyle’s New World Order and Have I Got News For You.

His new show On I Bang  is a tale about surprise, fear, luck, love and qualified medical practitioners.  

You can read his interview with The Times below:

Miles Jupp: My tumour inspired a comedy show. The comedian and actor almost died after a brain seizure, he tells Dominic Maxwell.

Miles Jupp often struggles to come up with a good answer when people ask him what his latest stand-up show is about. “It’s not really about anything,’” he might say. “‘Like much stand-up, it’s about getting slightly annoyed in cafés.’”

That’s what he’d normally say, or want to. However, he’s rather afraid that in January, when he starts his first tour for six years, he will have more than usual to talk about. In the summer of 2021 he had a brain seizure. That led to the discovery that he had a brain tumour the size of a cherry tomato. A few weeks later it was successfully removed. A prodigious worker, the multitasking Jupp has clocked up high-profile spots as a comedian, TV actor and writer. The tumour, naturally, worried him. He lost work and had to rest for a while. Overall, though, he was — he says several times as we talk over tea in a cosy nook in his agent’s Soho club — incredibly lucky.

He is cautious about anything that might sound like complaining or agonising. “The whole point about getting better is to be better, not to be clinging to the handrails for the rest of your life,” he says. So when I start by asking him how he is, he replies genially, “Oh, I am as I seem really. Yeah, I’m pretty normal.” Then, bearing in mind that he is here to talk up a stand-up comedy show that finds the fun in the darkest time of his life, he puts such pretty normality into context. “…having just been through something terrifying.”

He never saw it coming. In the summer of 2021 Jupp was in west London filming a role in the ITV thriller Trigger Point. He started to get a flashing in his eye. The kind of thing that normally goes away after a moment. This didn’t, though. “Within minutes I realised that something was seriously wrong.”

Somebody sat him in a chair and gave him some water. Then he collapsed. “So that was the brain seizure. Some people have brain tumours and they don’t know, and that was me. Mine was benign. And I was lucky. I was in a work environment, there was a set medic, we were close to the West Middlesex Hospital that has a trauma unit.”

At the hospital he was put through tests, the sheer number of which was terrifying yet reassuring. “They were, like, ‘Yeah, you’re going to need to have that taken out.’” He was sent back to the home in Pembrokeshire he shares with his wife, Rachel, and their five children aged 8 to 14. Three weeks later, he was back to hospital for the operation. “Which was very lucky because they said, ‘Oh, a slot has come up unexpectedly soon.’ But then you think, ‘Well, if it’s come up that’s because they’ve had to cancel one.’ So you go through all shades of emotion.”

He is still struck by the speed of it all. He went into hospital on a Tuesday in September 2021, not long before he turned 42. He was discharged three days later. “I remember standing at a WH Smith’s in a service station on the Friday, going, ‘Oh, is everything suddenly normal again?’”

Not entirely. The family’s sole breadwinner, he found his head spinning with this reminder of his fragility. “It could have happened at any time. And you run through various scenarios in which, gosh, even five minutes later it might have gone very differently.” He smiles gently. “I’m not sure how worth exploring the what-ifs are because they are pretty bleak.”

Happily, he got back to work fairly soon. His first appearance was as a panellist on Frankie Boyle’s New World Order on BBC2. He went up to Glasgow for a day for each show, then would return home to Wales “and sleep for a couple of days. Before that I took about six weeks off and I wasn’t telling anyone. It was slightly pressure-testing yourself, but you’re in a safe environment. Frankie knew. I’d say to the floor manager, ‘Can you give me a nod at 8pm because I need to take a tablet?’ But otherwise I wanted as normal an experience as I could. And then to start building back up.”

As it turned out, 2022 and 2023 ended up being as busy as ever. He didn’t go public with his tumour till he announced the tour this September, though. “You don’t want to tell people you’re fine if it turns out you’re not and you don’t want people to worry for no reason.” Meanwhile, he made a radio sketch show, ‘Whatever Next?’ With Miles Jupp, with James Kettle, who had written his one-man touring show about the actor David Tomlinson, The Life I Lead. He toured in a stage version of the Ealing comedy The Lavender Hill Mob. He filmed roles in Belgravia: The Next Chapter and Ridley Scott’s Napoleon and spent six months acting in the Apple TV+ series The Full Monty.

Jupp is every bit as quick-witted and affable as you might expect. He is also, he points out, mumblier and less assertive than you might expect. While studying at Edinburgh University he not only started doing stand-up, he also got a job as Archie the inventor in the CBBC series Balamory. During filming he visited the home of a co-star whose husband, a theatre director, expressed astonishment that Jupp was an actor and said: “Honestly, you can hear about one word in three.” After that “one word in three” became a nickname. “I’m not loud naturally,” he says, “but one of the things I do professionally is being able to speak very fast and clearly and concisely. I sometimes wonder if that is a comedic version of all the times I’ve had to repeat myself after people have said, ‘What? I didn’t hear that.’”

His 74 episodes of Balamory gave him a financial cushion when he moved to London in 2006, aged 26. As a result he coasted for a while. By the time he became a father three years later, he had acquired a fiercer work ethic. “I thought, ‘I need to crack on a bit.’ I would audition for anything that came along.” He worked harder on his stand-up and got TV roles in Armando Iannucci’s Westminster satire The Thick of It, then Rev. Seeing the quality of the scripts and his co-stars, he felt he had to get his act together. “That sort of pressure takes some of the joy out of it, but it was all self-imposed.”

The work kept coming. He wrote his own radio sitcom, In and Out of the Kitchen, then from 2015 to 2019 hosted The News Quiz on Radio 4. He loved the job, but the show runs half the year, he had to turn down other jobs as a result, “and nobody makes a living off The News Quiz”. He also found that he missed Jeremy Hardy, the regular guest who died at the start of 2019. Plus there were only so many jokes about Donald Trump and Brexit that one man could make. “So it was a pragmatic decision to leave it in the end.”

He is 44, still a young man, yet he’s had a sharp reminder of his mortality. We meet just before Napoleon comes out. There is a cast and crew screening of the film that afternoon. Jupp would like to know if his role of Emperor Francis has made it to the final cut. Not so much, though, that he will stay in town to see for himself; instead he is off home to Wales. “I’ve always been quite lucky, but what’s happened has reminded me that I could so easily not be sitting here in this comfy chair. I just want to spend as much time with my family as possible. Because that’s sort of what it’s all about, isn’t it?”

Miles Jupp: On I Bang tours from January 11 to May 16,

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