How I survived my horrific year: Alan Carr discusses his new

How I survived my horrific year: Alan Carr discusses his new – Talktalk News

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Even when he’s crying, Alan Carr is searching for that little nugget that will make someone – everyone, himself included – laugh. The tears flow as he’s talking about losing his dog in May. 

It sounds as if Bev, his beloved Irish setter, slipped out of his life just when he needed her most. ‘She was 13. She’d always been so full of beans, but she wasn’t eating. 

‘She stopped wagging her tail when she saw me,’ he recalls. ‘When the moment comes, you know it. She was ready to go.’

The vet was called for the inevitable. Alan and his former husband Paul Drayton – the ink barely dry on their divorce papers – reunited to say goodbye. And yes, he bawled his eyes out, crying not just for Bev, but for everything that was lost. 

‘I knew it would be hard, but not that hard,’ he says, weeping again now. ‘She was the first dog in our marriage, so there was that symbolic thing too. 

‘The marriage had ended, the divorce came through and then the dog died. It was a rubbish year.’ We pause for a minute so he can compose himself, and then it comes: the flash of ‘funny’ that immediately changes the mood.

Alan gives us his best Poirot and speaks about his new documentary on his idol – Agatha Christie – after a difficult year in which he divorced his husband and his beloved dog died 

 ‘We had this thing when we got her ashes, discussing where to scatter them.  Where was her favourite place in the world? We looked at each other and at exactly the same time we said, ‘Greggs!’ 

The sausage roll shop? 

‘Yes! She couldn’t walk past a Greggs without wanting a pasty. I had this image of me throwing her ashes all over their steak bakes.’

Relax, Greggs customers. They didn’t do it. Bev’s ashes are still at Paul’s new house, along with their two other dogs.

There has been no bitter custody battle. ‘It makes sense for him to have the dogs because I’m away so much,’ Alan says.

‘We’re still good friends. It’s better now, because neither of us was happy before.

You think you’ll be doing cartwheels when you get the divorce papers, but you just feel sad and quite empty

‘Sometimes marriages don’t work out. We gave it a good go; we were together for 14 years. 

‘In gay years, that’s about 107!’

They say timing is everything in comedy, but goodness the horror of how Alan’s personal life collapsed just as his professional one was soaring. 

He says it himself today. ‘I’m going through a real purple patch with work, but it’s been one of those years – everything is wonderful professionally, but personally it’s been a bit rubbish.’

First the easy bit: the work. He’s in the middle of a stand-up tour that’s going down a storm. 

Between gigs he’s been in Italy filming a property makeover show with Amanda Holden (‘we’ve fallen out over bidets,’ he reveals, tantalisingly), and he’s reached the giddy TV heights of being allowed to front documentaries on subjects of his choice. 

He suggested to some TV executives that he’d like to do a show on his childhood idol, Agatha Christie, and to his amazement they said yes.

Alan’s dog Bev, pictured with him, died. He explained that everything was going well for him professionally but that personally it has not been such a good year 

Much of what you need to know about Alan Carr is summed up in the revelation that Agatha Christie was his teenage idol, but it’s quite sweet that he’s pinching himself at being paid to indulge his ‘passion’. 

‘I mean, I do shiny floor TV shows. I never in a million years thought they’d go for it. Then I had a panic. She’s my idol, I’ve loved her since I was 13, but would anyone want to watch? Would it be boring?’

It is not boring. They make a perfect TV match, Agatha and Alan. 

It’s a bit more slapstick than you might expect – he dresses up not just as Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple but he’s also filmed in a wetsuit (‘the least flattering outfit on the planet’) as he explores how Agatha used to go surfing. Who knew? 

Retire? I can see me still on stage like Ken Dodd. I might be playing to two people but I’ll still be there

But his enthusiasm for his subject is unmistakeable. There’s a moment during our interview when we’re talking about Agatha’s troubled personal life. 

She had her own annus horribilis in 1926, when her mother died and she discovered her husband was cheating on her. She famously ‘disappeared’ for 11 days, in circumstances that were reported as a real-life mystery, but it was nothing of the sort.

‘We all love a mystery, don’t we, but it’s more the case that she just had a breakdown. Your heart bleeds for her really. 

‘She just needed to get away, like sometimes we all do.’ Ah, but we don’t all run away.

Some of us dust ourselves down and stride out on a stage. Alan is extraordinarily candid about how he coped in the aftermath of his own marital collapse. 

His relationship with Paul, an alcoholic, had long been the source of speculation, but things became very public when, in 2021, Paul faced prison after reversing into a police car while four times over the alcohol limit. On appeal, in January of this year, his sentence was reduced to 12 weeks, suspended for two years, but it was the final straw for their marriage.

I have been warned that Alan will not talk about the details of their break-up, but nor does he shy away from admitting that it’s all been, as he puts it, ‘a bit s**t’. Some of the emotional punches have been unexpected, he says. 

Alan, pictured with ex-husband Paul, said that after getting the divorce papers he was feeling sad and quite empty 

‘You think when you get the divorce papers you’ll be doing cartwheels and going, ‘Yeessss!’ But it isn’t like that. 

‘When you get them you just feel sad, and quite empty. It’s so odd.’

Odder still is having to go on stage and be funny when your heart’s in bits. His current tour was scheduled for 2020 and every joke had been written in preparation for it. 

Then came Covid. ‘By the time I came to do the tour everything had gone wrong between Paul and me and none of the jokes worked because they weren’t real. 

‘I was thinking, ‘I can’t say this stuff.’ I had to write new material, and on the hoof as it was all happening around me.’

His choice was to hurl himself back on stage, and with honesty, actually joking about his ex’s prison stint.

‘He loves chubby people with glasses. I was worried about him sh**ging Rose West,’ went one joke. Funny, but… ‘I know!’ he says.

‘But what’s the alternative? I wasn’t going to cancel, no way. I think it was that thing of ‘when life gives you lemons, make lemonade’.

‘I was dying to find some humour somewhere. ‘I think it was a better show for it. 

‘It was more raw, and the audience appreciated it. They were gagging for fun by this point, I saw it everywhere, even doing something like the Royal Variety Performance.’

‘That audience can be quite stuffy, but after lockdown it wasn’t. People wanted to be entertained.’

By a man who was, at his own admission, falling apart?

‘Yeah, I know. All this stuff at home was happening, and even writing about it was hard because things were changing. It was like nailing blancmange to the wall, like the tectonic plates of my relationship were shifting.

‘Then Bev was slowly fading. I know it sounds silly, but yes, there were times I’d stand in the wings and just shake and think I couldn’t go on. 

‘I think the audience sensed that too. There was like an extra cheer from them, a ‘Go on, Alan’. I needed that.’ Did he come close to a breakdown himself?

‘I didn’t have a breakdown, no. I don’t want to say I did because I didn’t. 

‘But comedy probably stopped me having a breakdown.’ The irony, of course, is that he believes his comedy career played a part in his marriage ending. 

Alan, pictured at Hyde Park in June, is in the middle of a stand-up tour that’s going down a storm 

The temptation is to think that Paul’s alcoholism finished them off, but perhaps it’s not that one-sided. ‘I should have sorted my home life out, said no to this job or that job, but I’m a workaholic. 

‘I think it’s a working-class thing. You’re afraid it will all disappear so you say yes to everything.’

He came into the industry the traditional way, doing comedy clubs alongside his mates John Bishop and Jason Manford. ‘We used to share a Mini, driving over to Leeds to do a gig at £100 a time. 


Painful as the end of his marriage has been, Alan can still see the funny side on the subject of remarrying. Sort of.

 ‘People assumed I’d be Zsa Zsa Gabor, but the thought of dating terrifies me. It’s all online now. 

‘I could get an app, but how does it work? I haven’t been on a date since before Paul [left].

‘ It’s petrifying, but I know I’m not ready yet.’ Maybe he doesn’t need another partner? 

He might still be single at 70. ‘Oh, here’s my wound, rub salt in it,’ he jokes. 

‘Yes, I think I could. I don’t really want another person around the house.

‘I can see me at 70, in red corduroy and a trilby. I can see me being quite distinguished.’


‘We’d be thinking, ‘Are we ever going to make a success of it?’ At the time I was just happy not to be working in a call centre.’ 

More than 20 years on they’re all millionaires, so the continued ‘saying yes to everything’ isn’t necessarily money-related. ‘I don’t know what it is, just the feeling that you’re lucky so you must make the most of it.’

Perversely, though, it was lockdown – when he was at home and not working – that was the death knell for their marriage. ‘I know it was awful but I sometimes wish I could go back to those days and appreciate them. 

‘Bev was alive. We had all this time, and all I could think was, ‘This is hell.’ I drove my agent mad, ringing up saying, ‘Is there anything I can do?’ 

‘I should have cherished that time more. Sometimes pressing pause is a good thing.

‘It’s made me realise I have to get that work/life balance thing sorted. I will. Next year.’

He also ate his way through lockdown, putting on 3st. ‘I was so disappointed with myself. 

‘It was all that banana bread. I went up a cup size. 

‘When they said people in telly were essential workers, I was terrified. I had to lose 3st overnight.’

In conversation, Alan is as funny as he is on stage. Not for him the dour off-duty comedian thing. 

‘Some are like that,’ he says. ‘I have dinner with them and think, ‘God you’re miserable off stage.’ 

‘What you see is what you get with me. I’m not deep.’ He is honest, though, particularly when he says that constantly working is sometimes better than going home to an empty house. 

‘People have said to me, ‘Alan, you’ve got to go home at some point.’ But Paul’s not here, the dogs aren’t here, so I know I’m coming home to an empty house. 

‘When I do stop and come home, I get lonely. I need to sort myself out.’

So what’s next? Well, work, it seems. There’s a sitcom coming up, and more touring.

‘I used to think I’d retire and potter about gardening, but I can’t see it,’ he says. ‘I can see me still on stage like Ken Dodd was.

‘I might be playing to two people but I’ll still be there.’ He had an insight into what it might be like to perform with a walking stick when he did a high-kick in Glasgow the other week.

It went spectacularly wrong and he ended up flat on his back. ‘My tour manager found an old crutch in the lost property section and I finished the show on that.

People were saying, ‘Oh, Alan, you must be careful!’ I’m only 46! I think my high-kicking days are over, though. 

‘I’ll have to rule out Riverdance and I can’t mince any more.’ Oh, he can. Alan’s ability to mince will be the last thing to go.

Alan Carr’s Adventures With Agatha Christie starts on Sunday 14 August at 9pm on More4. Tickets for his Regional Trinket tour are available from 

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