Page last updated at 10:26 GMT, Monday, 21 April 2008 11:26 UK

Profile: Harry Hill

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Harry Hill's TV Burp won the Bafta for best entertainment programme

Harry Hill, who has won two Bafta Television Awards for his TV Burp programme, emerged as a stand-up comedian well before his move to primetime television.

Originally he had qualified as a doctor - but then he honed his skills as an entertainer with performance in revues, and decided to abandon medicine for the stage.

He won the Perrier Award for best newcomer on the Edinburgh Fringe in 1992.

It was a year which saw critically-acclaimed performances from other up-and-coming stars such as Graham Norton - who hosted this year's Bafta ceremony - and Jo Brand.

Hill's surreal style combined storytelling with music and sketches involving different characters, played by other comedians such as Al Murray.

Harry Hill in 2001
Hill has been on David Letterman's US show more than any other UK comic

And in terms of appearance, his trademarks became his thick-rimmed glasses, with oversized collars draped over the lapels of his blazers.

Further awards followed for his stand-up, and broadcasters began to notice him.

He transferred his tales and characters to programmes for BBC Radio 4 and BBC Two, and then launched The Harry Hill Show on late-night Channel 4.

But it was clever observations on, and the nifty editing of, the week's television highlights which fired Hill into the mainstream.

The pilot episode of TV Burp, broadcast shortly before Christmas in 2001, was nominated for the prestigious Golden Rose award at the international TV festival in Montreux.

And a couple of series down the line, Hill would win the prize for best comedy performance at the Swiss ceremony.

Harry Hill
Hill has added two Baftas to his Golden Rose and British Comedy Awards

The show has also received British Comedy Awards and on Sunday, Hill won best entertainment performance and programme from the Bafta judges.

References to TV Burp's catchphrases did not seem to register with too many of the stars at the London Palladium, however.

A mention of a recent running joke centred around "ear cataracts" was greeted with bemusement rather than warm recognition, for instance.

But there was laughter when Hill gave perhaps the most surreal opening line for any Bafta acceptance speech ever, collecting the first of his two prizes.

"Baffy-waff! Baffy-waffy-wim-wham! Wim-wham-baffy-waff! Waff-waff, whiffy-waffy-wafta," the 43-year-old said, before adding: "Put the spuds on darling; I'm coming home."

Harry Hill in 1997
Fruit Corner, recorded in 1997, was one of Hill's shows for BBC Radio 4

With regular audiences of between five and seven million viewers, however, TV Burp has proved that there is an audience not just for intelligent "clips" shows but also Hill's unique brand of humour.

And Hill remains in touch with his stand-up roots, with several gigs planned in London in the coming weeks.

These are to be followed by an eight-date tour of England on the Wonderbus, a project established by fellow comedian Paul Zenon which aims to entertain older people through old-fashioned stage shows.

The Wonderbus website describes the idea as one which will provide "a bit of fun and companionship" - a phrase which sums up Hill's act perfectly.


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