He’s a celebrity, get him in here!

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Interview by Graham Chalmers

If such a thing as a ‘generation gap’ still exists today, I’m sure of two things - its fault line lies with I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out of Here and stand-up comic Rob Beckett and myself are on opposite sides of it.

The likable young Londoner, who is bringing his trademark grin and bubbly down-to-earthness to this year’s Harrogate Comedy Festival, made a bit of a name for himself when he co-hosted ITV 2’s coverage of the popular reality show last year.

I can’t stand the show but, despite my best efforts to shame him, this self-deprecating comedian isn’t embarassed about it in the slightest.

Talking to me in the run-up to his show, Rob said:

“Growing up as a 15/16-year-old, I watched Big Brother and I’m a Celebrity a lot. Being asked to do it was a double whammy for me because I like it anyway.

“Some people think I’m A Celebrity is terrible but I love the progamme. I like watching people. People are the funniest things.”

In this era of the ‘chav’, comedians like Rob Beckett may be the last survivors of the old working class who were proud ot their humble roots.

The multiple award-winning Rob only started on stage in 2009 having done just about every kind of occupation before eventually turning his back on ‘normal’ employment.

“I always loved comedy and wanted to be a comic but I come from a bit of a working class background where you can’t just go to your mum and dad and say ‘I want to be a comedian’.

“One of my brothers was the first to get a GCSE in the family. If I’d been born in a more middle class family and had done an arts subject at university, it would have been easy.

“Where I grew up, that wasn’t an option.”

So, having tried working in a flower market, working in Sainsburys, working in M&S, working in a pub, working a a cricket club, working as a waiter in a restaurant and working in an office, Rob finally took the plunge into the competive world of stand-up comedy performing his first gig at Up the Creek comedy club in Greenwich at the age of 18.

“I’d been to a few clubs already and I thought ‘I can’t be as bad as that’. I was a bit naïve. I’d never done anything on stage in public before I did comedy.

“Ignorance is bliss, though. It was nerve-wracking at first but you get more and more comfortable.”

Much of Rob’s popularity rests on his cheery personality but there’s method at work, too, as anyone who’s seen him on the likes of 8 Out Of 10 Cats on Channel 4 can judge for themselves.

“Anything humorous that happens to me goes on my notebook or on my mobile phone to use in the future.

“Someone asked me once if I’d heard anything funny recently and I said if I had it’s in the show.”

The blonde-haired stand-up’s rapid rise to success (he only marked his fourth anniversary in May) must have pleased his parents.

Rob certainly grants them with a lot of credit for his own upbeat and positive approach to his craft and is life.

“Anyone can get the hump but what’s the point? My dad, who’s 70, is arguably even more energetic and childish than I am. Who knows, I might get even worse the older I get, too.”

He tells me there’s little chance of him slowing down with age. World beware when Rob Beckett hits pension age!

“Fingers crossed, if I can be anything like my mum and dad at that age I will be a happy bunny. The great thing about being 80 is you can do a fart in the lift without being told off by anyone.”

It’s a sure sign of Rob Beckett’s burgeoning fame that his Harrogate Comedy Festival show is already sold out.

rob beckett performs at Harrogate Theatre studio as part of Harrogate Comedy Festival on wednesday, October 16.

For tickets, call 01423 502116 or visit www.harrogatetheatre.co.uk