Film interview: Harry Hill

Harry Hill.
Harry Hill.
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With the thick spectacles, black suit and statement white collar, the man who walks into the room looks a lot like Harry Hill, but there’s none of the exaggerated gestures or facial expressions he’s known for on TV Burp.

He quietly introduces himself, takes a seat, and leans back resting his bald head on the sofa cushion, much like you would in a therapy session. But it’s unlikely that Hill (or Matthew Hall, as he was born) is interested in cathartic chit-chat, he’s simply exhausted.

“I’m always having ideas that I write down in a little book. Most of the time I can’t persuade anyone to put any money into it but every now and then, like this year, I’ve had two crazy ideas that I actually got people to take seriously,” says the 49-year-old. The first big gig is I Can’t Sing! The X Factor Musical, which he’s been developing with Simon Cowell and is confirmed to be opening in London’s West End in early 2014.

The second project is The Harry Hill Movie, which marks a much longed-for leap from the small to big screen, “a dream come true”.

Hill came up with the idea as TV Burp – his hit show which raked through the week’s TV, digging out amusing blunders or inserting hilarious innuendos into scenes – reached its conclusion in 2012.

“Normally, films take years to come about, but the worst thing for comedy is to put it on a shelf,” he notes.

“Somehow, comedy dates.”

On reflection, he admits he entered into movie-making with naive enthusiasm.

“Absolutely. I just said, ‘Right, let’s make a film,’ not really knowing what it involved. It was a much bigger job than I thought.”

Given his taste for surreal humour, it should come as no surprise that The Harry Hill Movie exists in a heightened world.

Julie Walters plays Hill’s rapper Nan: “I thought there’s no way she’d say yes, but getting her helped us a lot with getting the rest of the cast. People love Julie and it makes it more like a proper film, rather than something that’s straight to DVD.”

Sheridan Smith also stars. And as for the plot, it sees Hill and Nan taking pet hamster Abu (voiced by Johnny Vegas) to the vet (Simon Bird), who wrongly diagnoses him as terminally ill.

He doesn’t deny that the movie provides a peek into the workings of his mind. “I think a lot of comics have a unique world,” he says.

The Harry Hill Movie is released on Friday, December 20

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