David Baddiel

David Baddiel

Date of birth: 28-05-1964

David Baddiel’s first brush with comedy was in 1982 when he wrote and performed in the Sixth Form revue at The Haberdashers Aske School, Elsetree, before developing his talents while a student at King's College, Cambridge. As well as graduating with a double-first in English Literature, he was vice president of the Footlights.

On leaving, he performed stand-up on the London circuit, while working on a PhD entitled Seductive Innocence: The Little Girl In Victorian Sexuality. There he met Robert Newman [then called Rob] and they started writing sketches for the Radio 4 show WeekEnding, which solicited work from any writers who wanted to contribute.

They were subsequently paired up with Steve Punt and Hugh Dennis for the Radio 1 comedy show The Mary Whitehouse Experience, which began in 1989. Two years later it transferred to BBC Two for two series.

Baddiel continued to work with Newman for the 1993 series Newman and Baddiel in Pieces –and later that year became the first comedians to play Wembley Arena, prompting the now clichéd saying that ‘comedy is the new rock and roll’. However, the duo’s relationship was under huge pressure at the time, and they subsequently split with some acrimony.

Baddiel then formed a partnership with Frank Skinner, who at the time was lodging at his London flat, recreating their living-room banter in both Fantasy Football League – which ran on BBC Two from 1994 to 1996, returning on ITV for the 1998 World Cup and 2004 European Championship ¬– and Unplanned, which started life as an Edinburgh Fringe show in 2000 before transferring to the West End and, eventually, TV.

In 1996, the pair teamed up with the Lightning Seeds’ Ian Broudie to record the England football anthem Three Lions, which has been a terrace favourite ever since.

Outside of these comic partnerships, Baddiel created the 2001 Sky One sitcom Baddiel's Syndrome and devised the Radio 4 panel show Heresy, which attempts to challenge received opinion. In 2009 he appeared in the 3rd series of Skins, alongside his real-life partner.

He has written three novels : Time For Bed, Whatever Love Means and The Secret Purposes and writes a regular literary column for The Times. He also wrote the 2010 comedy film The Infidel, starring Omid Djalili as a Muslim who discovers his parents were actually Jewish.

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David Baddiel: I was never a misogynist

Comic reflects on his lad culture days

He may forever be linked with ‘lad culture’ – not least because of the 1996 football anthem Three Lions. But David Baddiel has insisted his work was never misogynistic.

‘I'm comfortable if you actually go and look at the work,’ he says on today’s Desert Island Discs, ‘because truth is always in the detail.’

His comments came after host Kirsty Young quizzed him about how he felt looking back at his past as something of a poster-boy for a ‘badly-behaved generation of men’.

Baddiel also recalled Alexei Sayle branding him and his Fantasy Football co-star Frank Skinner as ‘misogynistic’ – but says he when challenged his fellow comic over the comment, Sayle couldn’t come up with an example.

The double act did appear on the front cover of Loaded in 1996, with Skinner tugging at a female model’s football shirt, as she placed one hand over his crotch.

But Baddiel challenged Young’s description that he was ‘leery’ in the photograph, replying: ‘I’m not looking leery, actually.’

‘I'm not going to claim in any way that that Loaded thing was OK and great, but I'm going to claim that if you actually look at it, I'm covering my testicles in a terrified way, which obviously is a reference to being in the wall in football. 

‘But I would say, I'm not just going: 'Here are my genitals, here I am being proud of being a man in this situation.'

‘I'm being funny about it, as best I can in a situation which, I admit, is kind of like, not great.’

Baddiel chose Three Lions as one of his Desert Island Discs, saying that even thinking about the time it was sung at Wembley during Euro 96  brought him out in goose pimples to this day.

He also spoke about how his comedy had matured over the years, and now confronts bleaker topics such as his father's dementia

‘As you get older your life gets darker,’ he says. ‘You're faced with mortality.’ 

And he said joking about it wasn’t a denial, but ‘a bulwark’.

• Desert Island Discs is on Radio 4 at 11.15am today. 

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Published: 27 May 2018

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Book (2017)
Birthday Boy

DVD (2010)
The Infidel

Past Shows

Edinburgh Fringe 2004

David Baddiel: Meet The Author

Edinburgh Fringe 2013

David Baddiel: Fame: Not The Musical




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