Matt Lucas

Matt Lucas

Date of birth: 05-03-1974
Born in London and educated at Haberdashers' Aske's Boys' School, Matt Lucas lost his hair at the age of six, giving him a distinctive look from an early age.

He was a member of both the National Youth Music Theatre and the National Youth Theatre, where he met comedy partner David Walliams, and both went on to study drama at the University of Bristol.

He began his career in comedy on the stand-up circuit as character act Sir Bernard Chumley, an aging luvvie actor, which he took to the Edinburgh Festival and who later resurfaced in Little Britain

In 1992, Bob Mortimer spotted him on a comedy club stage and recruited him to appear in the second series of The Smell of Reeves and Mortimer. He then went on to be the giant baby George Dawes, who kept score on Reeves and Mortimer's cult quiz show Shooting Stars.

But he is best known for his partnership with David Walliams, which started in earnest with the 1999 UK Play series Rock Profile. They recorded their first of two series of Little Britain for Radio 4 in 2001, and it transferred onto BBC Three in 2003.

In 2002, he played Leigh Bowery in Boy George's musical Taboo in London,and in 2005, he took his first role in a TV drama, playing a Venetian duke in the BBC's Casanova.

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Pompidou

Note: This review is from 2015

TV review by Steve Bennett

Maybe Matt Lucas can take solace from the fact no one liked Paris’s now iconic Pompidou Centre when it first opened. For his new physical-comedy namesake is not an obvious initial hit either.

It’s a peculiar prospect, for sure. Pompidou is an aristocrat-on-hard-times who who speaks in semi-coherent gibberish and winds up in all sort of slapstick scrapes.Boris Johnson, basically.

Mr Bean is the obvious closest parallel, and if Pompidou could make a fraction of the receipts Rowan Atkinson’s universally exportable character has raked in, it would be a useful fillip to the BBC’s hard-pressed budgets. But for all Lucas’s cartoonish gurning, it’s more difficult to see this creation breaking out and appealing to many beyond primary school age – at least in the UK. It may have more success on the continent, it certainly has Gallic comedy sensibilities.

The tweedy Pompidou lives with his faithful butler Hove, played by The Thick Of It’s Alex MacQueen – though it could just as easily have been David Walliams – and a puppet Afghan hound, Marion – in a dilapidated caravan,. They are so poor they are not sure where their next meal is coming from.

That’s the motivation for many of Pompidou’s actions, which Lucas hoping to emulate the cunning of Chaplin’s Little Tramp to blag some free nosh. Much of the comedy, though, has far-from-cunning outcomes: when there’s a body of water, someone’s sure to end up falling in it (in this case Les Dawson’s one-time sparring partner Roy Barraclough shoves Hove backwards to the classic vaudevillian ‘wa-wa-wa-wa’ musical accompaniment) and when there’s a medical operation, the surgeon is sure to leave his watch inside the patient…

A little of Lucas’s outlandish performances go a long way. Providing a minute or two of intense nonsense on Shooting Stars is brilliant but extending a series of sketches to 25 minutes, and the interest wanes. Pompidou is childishly arrogant and petulant, fine traits in a silent comedy hero, but although he’s never overtly mean, he’s not exactly likeable either, despite Lucas’s appealingly soft, ‘who, me?’ expressions, which makes it hard to empathise over the duration.

Yet there are plenty of nice touches in the asides. When Pompidou kidnaps Hove from his hospital bed, he draws a crude face on the pillow to fool the nurses – and as they abscond, he pauses an an OCD Awareness Week poster… to straighten it. And some of the more cartoon-like moments, such as Hove undergoing an X-ray add to the distinctive feel of the show. But there are not quite enough original gags to sustain all the hammed-up scenes.

Pompidou is a commendably bold attempt to produce a style of comedy missing from TV – exactly the brief which the BBC should be following. But the problem with experiments is that sometimes they don’t quite work.

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Published: 2 Mar 2015

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Products

Book (2017)
Matt Lucas: Little Me

DVD (2015)
Pompidou

DVD (2011)
Barking

DVD (2010)
The Infidel

Past Shows

Agent

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