As always with these bespoke writing jobs, I was really stressed for about 3 days, and almost chucked it in the bin 5 times, and freaked out that it wasn’t funny and all that boring shit that people like me go through when we’re lucky enough to have with a big audience with high expectations. I met Tom (he’s nice and quite laid-back off camera, and not very short) and the divine Downton ladies (swoon) and the lovely Inbetweeners chaps (yay) and I did my song and everyone laughed and Tom said it was great and when it was done I ran off set onto the back of a waiting motorbike, got from South Bank to the Hammersmith Apollo in 13 minutes, walked into the building, straight on to stage to sing White Wine in the Sun with Professor Brian Cox. Subsequently, Suzi and her team edited the show and everybody was happy.
And if I’m honest, it ain’t a world-changing bit of comedy. Suzi felt it had a nice balance of big-ticket celeb action, local talent, and a nice bit of that cheeky, iconoclastic spirit for which Jonathan is known and widely loved.
I think he’s a funny, interesting, kind person, and an excellent interviewer. It was the worst possible time to be writing a new song – I’ve been overworked and ill, was on tour, and was really feeling the stress. The idea was to compare him to Woody Allen (short, Jewish, philosophical, a bit hesitant), and expand into redefining his other alleged attributes using modern, popular-culture terminology.
Jonathan and his wonderful producer, Suzi, have been incredibly supportive of me and so when they asked me to write a song for their pre-Christmas show, I didn’t hesitate. And my fellow guests were to be Tom Cruise, the divine actors from Downton Abbey, and the ace Inbetweeners boys. Being Christmas, I thought it would be fun to do a song about Jesus, but being TV, I knew it would have to be gentle.
It’s not a particularly original idea, I admit, but it’s quite cute.
It’s certainly not very contentious, but even so, compliance people and producers and lawyers all checked my lyrics long before the cameras rolled.
) and about the importance of laughing at dumb but pervasive ideas. One of our classic Minchin family tales is of Christmas eve 1978, when I was 3 myself, and my mum asked me in an excited voice, “Who’s coming down the chimney tonight?!