Stand-up comic’s white lies avoid a sticky wicket

Miles Jupp
Miles Jupp
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Perhaps not the specifics, but the general feeling is something to which every cricket fan can relate.

“You’d be standing outside the Oval, hoping to get a return ticket, then see the press men walk straight past you, into the ground and the inner sanctum of the Press Box,” says Miles Jupp.

“You’d watch and think ‘what I wouldn’t give to break into that inner sanctum’. You listen to Test Match Special and wonder that it might be the greatest job on earth – and then wonder how you might get somewhere close.”

Jupp’s way of getting close was subterfuge – of a sort.

“Well, it wasn’t entirely made up. My now father-in-law is editor of the Western Mail and they did want me to cover the tour specifically with regard to Simon Jones. Unfortunately he was injured and sent home just before I landed. We probably passed each other in the air,” he says.

Jupp was in the air on his way to India to see the England cricket team tour the country and Simon Jones was the injury-prone fast bowler from Wales – which is why the Western Mail newspaper was particularly keen on covering the progress of the local boy.

Using his connections, Jupp had blagged a press pass to cover the tour for the Western Mail and also claimed he would be covering England against India for BBC Scotland.

“Yes, that wasn’t strictly... I had some headed paper from BBC Scotland,” says Jupp.

Landing in India, with the Western Mail no longer interested in his copy and BBC Scotland never having been interested in the first place, Jupp decided to chance his arm.

“I was in Nagpur, where the first test was being played and I was on the outfield while the England team were practising, arguing with the press representative, thinking that I had done a fairly stupid thing,” says Jupp.

“Then I realised that I had made it that far, so I had got somewhere.”

He decided to continue to push his luck and, miraculously, found himself travelling around India, watching the England cricket team. He quickly discovered that “there is a huge gulf between being a fan wanting to write about the game, and actually producing 800 words a day as a professional journalist, which is what the people around me were”.

Fortunately, even though he wasn’t a professional journalist, Jupp was a stand-up comedian and performer.

He is recognised now for cameo roles in The Thick of It and for playing Nigel in the highly acclaimed BBC2 comedy series Rev, and has also performed as a stand- up comedian since 2000. He realised, when he got back from India, he had perfect material for a new comedy show.

Fibber in the Heat became a hit show in Edinburgh. Indeed, it was such a hit that Ebury Press turned the show into a book – and now Jupp is going back out on the road with the stage show to promote it.

“If you had young children, you’d probably know of me from Balamory,” says Jupp, who played Archie in the children’s TV show.

“So I had to be very clear in the publicity that I am there to talk about cricket, my obsession and that strange time in India.

“But it’s a show I’m really proud of and I think it’s actually a fun story.”

Miles Jupp Fibber in the Heat, City Varieties, Leeds, May 8, tickets 0113 243 08 08 and Harrogate Theatre Royal, May 30, 01423 502116.