10 Questions for Hospital People comedian Tom Binns

Tom Binns
Tom Binns

HE was a warm up man on the Alan Partridge shows, a writer on Trigger Happy TV, he acted in The IT Crowd, and he’s a sell out at the Edinburgh festival.

Tom Binns presented alongside Chris Evans on radio, but it was the recent BBC 1 comedy show, Hospital People, that popularised his comedy characters. The series is released on DVD this week.

How long did it take to get the series off the ground?

You could say it’s taken decades, as that’s when I first created Ivan Brackenbury, the hopeless hospital DJ. But I guess around seven years.

Just how difficult is it to get your own series?

Even after the pilot show we were kept waiting for a decision. We edited it in to a short movie and won several film festivals around the world, then word built and we got the go-ahead for a series from the BBC.

How many characters have you invented?

In the series I play Ivan the DJ, Father Kenny the Scouse chaplain who wants to be a rock star, Ian the clairvoyant porter, and Susan the manager. On stage I also play a possibly bad ventriloquist, and a children’s entertainer for adults.

What riles you?

When people say Ivan is copied from Alan Partridge. I devised him long before, so imagine how I felt working on those shows as warm-up man. It made me give up for a while, yet wind forward and I was asked, as Ivan, to introduce Tony Blackburn at a radio festival. That was surreal.

Who is the hospital chaplain based on?

I was in an Elvis tribute band fronted by a lovely priest called Father Terry. Sadly he died during the filming of the series.

Where were you when the first episode went out?

I was working on a ship in the middle of the Atlantic, so I saw it in the officers’ mess, miles from home, which was a bit unusual.

What’s next?

There’s talk of a Hospital People movie, and I’m making a film in January that’s a bit like the Blair Witch Project, but with laughs.

What’s your philosophy in life?

Comics are supposed to rush around pushing themselves forward, begging for more TV shows, but I don’t. My philosophy is ‘try to be as funny as you can, then the rest will follow.’ I hope.

Your favourite comedy programme?

Modern Family. Each time my wife Liesl goes in to labour I get the series on DVD for her. I couldn’t get it this year because of some dispute over the cast’s payments. Thanks guys.

You have 24 hours left to live. How do you spend it?

In a nice, sunny water park going down the flumes and slides all day long. I flew to Dubai and did three on my own. I love them.