Jack Whitehall WAS funny... | Father and son trade jibes as they talk about their new BBC One show

Jack Whitehall WAS funny...

Father and son trade jibes as they talk about their new BBC One show

Tell us about the show…

Jack:  The show is our attempt at trying to have some Father’s Day fun but from the comfort of our own homes, we’re going to have some Father’s Day surprises for Michael, and then a few things which we’re going to film in advance like our stint on the lockdown version of MasterChef. And we’ll be having some guests and some of our usual ummm… chat.

Michael: Wondered what you were going to say then. Usual… chat. 

Will filming this be the first time you see each other in person?

Jack: I have jogged past their house a couple of times so from a distance we have seen each other, but   this will be the closest we have been in a while.

Have you missed each other?

Jack: Yes I’ve missed seeing my dad. We’re a very close family and spend a lot of time together so it has been quite weird to adjust but we’ve done lots of Zoom calls and the family WhatsApp group has been really up and running. And in a way that’s where this all came from, trying to do what we’ve been doing as a family but for other people’s entertainment.

Michael: What is amazing is all this technology, which obviously I don’t understand, but it is amazing that you can actually talk to people on this basis. I talk to Jack and then I think that I have seen him. I never think ‘Oh it would be lovely to see Jack’ as I think I’ve just seen him. In the old days if someone went abroad for a month you lost them, you wouldn’t hear from them, they may write you a letter but it wouldn’t arrive for weeks. Whereas now you can keep in touch with anyone, anywhere, at any time which is just extraordinary.

Why do you like working with each other?

Jack: I guess it’s because it doesn’t feel like work, it’s always just very natural and given that we’re father and son there’s a surprising lack of stress to any of the stuff we do together because it’s always so enjoyable.

Michael:  I think because I didn’t have children until my mid- to late-forties, and I had got my career well organised by then I was able to spend a lot more time with Jack, Molly and Barney than most fathers would with their small children because they’d be away in an office somewhere. But because I was running my own show I could take time off and go to their schools. Obviously Hilary was the one who ran the whole family brilliantly, and still does. But I think that’s one of the reasons I am So Close to Jack and his two brothers. Sorry his brother and sister!

Jack: Yes my secret brother

Hilary: Your secret brother Winston?!

What was your father like, Michael?

Michael: My father sadly died when I was in my late twenties and I never really got to truly know him. He wasn’t very well as he had emphysema and he died in his late fifties. I was close to him and loved him, and he loved me. He had a very good sense of humour, he was very funny and he was called Jack. So Jack Whitehall was a very funny man. But I wish he had lived longer, and today emphysema is something that can be managed. But in those days they didn’t have any cures. I’m pretty hopeless on the family department because they’ve all now gone so when Molly got married just before the lockdown it was very difficult to dredge up any relation of mine. 

Do you have fond memories of Father’s Day growing up?

Jack: I do, obviously because I was at boarding school Father’s Day would be one of the weekends that I always came home for. There was no getting out of it. We would have a Sunday roast – that will be the sad thing about this year, not having one of my mum’s Sunday roasts which I have missed greatly. It just isn’t the same when you make it at home yourself. It’s the one thing you cannot recreate; I reckon you can recreate any restaurant dish but not your mum’s roast. 

Michael: Can I just nail something down about Jack and boarding school?

Jack: Oh here we go!

Michael: The truth is we wanted our children to go to London day schools so we could see them every day of the week, but the problem is that those schools are academic and it’s quite difficult to get into a London day school unless you’re very academically gifted. I say no more.

Jack: I would add that I did actually see a lot of them, most weekends I would come home, which was because when I was 13 I told daddy that every weekend I went home they would take a percentage off the school fees, so he thought that would drive the price down. 

I hear you missed your 80th birthday party of lockdown. How would you have been celebrating in normal circumstances? 

Michael: It was true. Apparently, Hilary had big plans but I knew nothing about them. All that had to be cancelled and it was just cheese on toast in the kitchen in the end with a glass of water.

Jack, have you got any presents for your dad in mind?

Jack:  I’ve got lots of presents up my sleeve, many of which will be revealed on the show. I have some big surprises some of which he’ll like, some of them less so. Some of them he won’t like and some of them his neighbours will like even less.

Michael: Jack always used to accuse me of giving him presents that were meant for myself. So I’d give him a book of Churchill’s memoirs and he’d say ‘Why are you giving me that daddy?’, and I’d say ‘I thought you ought to bone up on Churchill but when you’ve read it if you can’t be bothered to put it somewhere I’d be very happy to have it’. But we gave Jack some amazing presents

Jack: Shoe-horns, three-piece suits, canes, just the things that a boy loves.

Have you had to go over family memories for the show?

Jack: Yes there’s always a deep dive into the family archive, and mother manages to dredge up some very embarrassing family videos most of which I then veto. Some of them are vetoed on account of some of the opinion and sentiment that comes out of Michael’s mouth and some of them because I look like such a weird child and I don’t want people to see that. So I’d say a lot gets found and then a lot gets retracted.

Michael: Quite a lot has been redacted because Jack had a habit as a child of taking all his clothes off, which I didn’t think would be very appropriate for an 8.30pm audience on BBC One.

Jack have you taken parenting tips from your dad for the future?

Jack: Yes. Get them to boarding school as soon as possible. Nannies first, then boarding school and then university. Keep them at arm’s length.

Michael:  University worked well didn’t it Jack. We were so proud of him when he got his degree and had his gown and mortarboard.

Jack: Two-metre separation from daddy is fine because as a child it was 66 miles the distance between us. Not that anyone is counting.

Can you tell us a bit more about Lockdown MasterChef?

Jack: Me and daddy are obsessed with Gregg Wallace… he’s one of my favourite people on television Obviously I have been cooking a lot during lockdown, so when we came up with this show my first thought was perhaps we can do something with MasterChef. Thankfully they’ve been very up for it. So we’re going to do a special edition with Gregg and John [Torode]. Food packages are going to be dropped on our doorstep and we’re going to cook a meal and bike them over to Gregg and John and they’re going to decide who wins.

Michael: Slight problem is that Mrs Whitehall is a brilliant cook, Jack is a brilliant cook, Barney is a brilliant cook, Molly is a brilliant cook. I cannot cook anything except for scrambled egg and I can do boiled chicken where you put a chicken in a big thing full of boiling water but apparently you’re not allowed to call it boiled chicken, it’s poached. Give me a steak and it will come back to you black and completely tasteless and if you cut it open it will be pale grey inside.

Jack: Which is why you should definitely watch him doing MasterChef.

Hilary: He burnt a burger on the barbecue the other day that was wrapped in cling film.

Jack Whitehall’s Father’s Day is currently scheduled to air at 8.30pm on BBC One on Friday June 19.

Published: 9 Jun 2020

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