Page last updated at 08:10 GMT, Tuesday, 12 August 2008 09:10 UK

Talking Shop: Dan Clark

How Not to Live Your Life is a new sitcom by comedian Dan Clark, which makes its debut on BBC Three on Tuesday.

The cast of How Not To Live Your Life
Dan Clark's character Don (l) finds himself living in a bizarre set-up

Clark has created the character of Don, who inherits a house when his grandmother dies.

He decides to live there, despite its old-fashioned decor and the presence of some odd characters, such as a home-help.

He explains how the idea for the show came about and why this kind of comedy is different to his previous life as a stand-up act.


What lured you to the world of comedy?

I've been doing comedy for about nine years. I started off doing sketch comedy, in a group called Electric Eel. We did quite a lot of Edinburgh shows, and then we disbanded because sketch comedy only has a certain amount of life.

Once you've written a certain amount of sketches, you think, 'That's it - I want to move on.' In about 2004 I started doing stand-up and did three shows up in Edinburgh. And my TV show had quite an interesting build-up.

I got asked to do some "shorts" for the Paramount Comedy Channel between its programmes shows. They were only a minute long but we did 10 of them. They were called Dan Clark's Guide to Dating and they were lists of things you shouldn't do on a date, things you shouldn't wear, that kind of thing.

I don't think it's too dark - there's something silly and fun about it
Dan Clark on How Not To Live Your Life

There were always 10, and they got linked on to the internet and a lot of people were checking them out. The BBC asked if there was any way I could do that in a half-hour format and the short answer was no - you can't just do that quickfire list for half an hour. People would get bored.

But we found a way to interweave that with a traditional sitcom. We did the pilot last year and that went down very well, and now we're on to a series.

Do you miss being in Edinburgh at this time of year, when the comedy festival is on?

I do miss doing live gigs, and I do love doing shows in front of an audience, but Edinburgh is a tough festival. It's a lot of fun but it can be quite challenging on your soul.

There's a lot of drinking, a lot of competition, there's all the reviews - and unlike reviews in other parts of the industry, it affects your show that day. It's such an immediate reaction to a good review or a bad review. It's a very harsh month.

I've had some great Edinburghs but you still look around you at all these other comics who are doing well and you wonder, 'What have they got that I haven't?' It's a very bizarre place.

How hard was it to find furnishings and props for the set of How Not to Live Your Life?

We gave the production designer free reign. We made a pilot in a real house in London but we made the series in a studio in Glasgow.

Dan Clark in How Not To Live Your Life
Dan Clark's character Don is not as amiable as he first seems

We said, 'Look at the house we used in the pilot, base it on that, but just go town and make it a bit more weird and antique.'

I think that was music to his ears because he spent weeks going around charity shops and props houses, and we just turned up one day and there was this house.

The only thing we weren't happy with was the sofa. We said it wasn't the right colour, two days before filming, so they all panicked and ran out and got a red sofa.

Your character, Don, seems likeable one minute and horrible the next.

All the best British sitcom characters - Basil Fawlty, David Brent, Alan Partridge - are monsters.

As soon as you spot them, you can tell they're a monster, an idiot, because they've got a silly moustache or they dress in a green blazer. There's just something about the way they present themselves.

I was interested in having a character that, on first sight, looks like someone who could be your friend, but actually when you get to know him, you realise he's not.

Why did you take your series to BBC Three? Is it because of its success in finding new comedy talent, such as Gavin and Stacey and Nighty Night?

BBC Three likes to aim shows at a younger audience, but at the same time, I think they're very proud when a show comes out of BBC Three and then reaches a slightly wider audience.

I wanted to make something which the BBC Three audience would like but which wasn't too cultish. I don't think it's too dark - there's something silly and fun about it.

I felt like BBC Three was a very good place for comedy. It's had some great hits over the last five years, and I just hope that people come to the show.

Finally, with the Olympics under way in Beijing, which sport would be best for Don?

It would probably be gymnastics because then he'd get to be around women. Anything that involved meeting new women would suit him, and also I think it would be fun to see 10 Olympic moves that Don shouldn't do.

How Not to Live Your Life begins on BBC Three at 2220 BST on Tuesday. Dan Clark was talking to BBC News entertainment reporter Kevin Young.


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