Sunday, 19 August 2007

Biography 6: Clive Anderson

This week it’s time to turn our attention to the man who is 17% less annoying than Antarctica, Mr Cleeve, er sorry, Clive Anderson, pictured left here, next to Andy Parsons.

Clive was born in Stanmore, Middlesex in 1952. He was educated at Harrow County School for Boys, alongside future politician Michael Portillo. After studying law at Cambridge University, where he was also President of the Footlights revue group from 1974 to 1975, he was called to the bar a year later and practised as a barrister in London for about 15 years, specialising in criminal law.

Despite his busy work, he found time to become part of the alternative comedy scene in the early 1980s, and was the first person to come onstage at The Comedy Store in 1979. During this time he wrote scripts for Frankie Howard, Griff Rhys Jones, Mel Smith and others (including the sketch series Not the Nine O’clock News), and performed as a stand-up comedian, which led to presenting radio and television programmes. He began his chat show connections by once standing in for Terry Wogan on his show, but came to prominence in Whose Line Is It Anyway? on Radio 4 and then on Channel 4. It was here that he bore the brunt of jokes referring mostly to his baldness and short neck, but this did not stop him from achieving further exposure. The show won a BAFTA in 1989. He presented ten series of his chat show Clive Anderson Talks Back, picking up British Comedy Awards in 1991 and 1992 and being named Top Channel 4 Presenter that same year. He later moved on to BBC1 with Clive Anderson All Talk. In 2003 he also presided over The Big Read for BBC2. His chat shows have been particularly controversial, most notably for causing the Bee Gees to walk out of an interview in apparent disgust, although the interview had seemed to be progressing smoothly. He has also had water poured over him by Richard Branson. Conversely, he has gained the upper hand in conversations with both Jeffrey Archer and Piers Morgan, the latter in an appearance on Have I Got News For You, where he has made several appearances as a panellist.

On radio he has chaired Chat Room on Radio 2, and The Cabaret Upstairs and Unreliable Evidence on Radio 4. In Unreliable Evidence Clive cross-examines some of the most eminent legal figures in the country. Other broadcasting credits include the shows Time Cycle, The News Quiz, The Devil's Advocate and a Radio 5 Live series called The Real… where he has profiled figures such as Gordon Brown, George Bush and Jesus Christ. Clive is also an accomplished writer and has written for The Times, The Observer, The Listener and The Sunday Correspondent. He is a keen supporter of Arsenal FC and lives in Highbury.

On QI, his nervous but quick delivery continues to shine, as does his drawing skills (when asked to draw a wigwam, he instead drew the band Wham! wearing wigs). He was revealed to be President of the Woodland Trust, although Jo subsequently became President of the Shut Up About The Woodland Trust Trust. A frequent panellist since the beginning of the show, he appears in series E and it is safe to assume he will reappear in future series.

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