Brigstocke: 'To be honest, I'm a bit of a tart' |

Brigstocke: 'To be honest, I'm a bit of a tart'

As fictional historian David Oxley BA (Hons) returns to our screens for a new series of We Are History, Marcus Brigstocke, shares his thoughts on the character he created.

How did you come up with the character of David?

He's someone that [co-writers and co-stars] Dan Tetsell, Danny Robbins and myself have worked on together for years - since university, really.

Is he based on anyone in particular?

The first series was very much based on Time Team but the new series is much more Simon Schama, with one episode focused almost entirely on Surviving The Iron Age.

The BBC's history programmes are fantastically well made, but they are totally ripe for taking the piss out of because they're so earnest, and the presenters are stuck with the fact that schoolchildren think that they don't like history. They're desperately trying to make it interesting with lots of visual displays and lots of very enthusiastic talking, so it's good fun to send all of that up. For me, Tony Robinson is absolutely classic on Tim, Team, he's very funny.

Have you ever studied history?

No, sadly. I know nothing about history ... which actually works quite well for the character because he doesn't either. The researchers do anc the writers do, and so the relatiionship on screen - with David trying to get away with it - is actually frighteningly accurate.

With which historic figure do you most identify?

I always quite liked Henry VIII - not so much the multiple wives bit but you just picture him being quite loud and sort of gnawing at chicken bones at dinner and hurling them over his shoulder, living at Hampton Court. That'd be quite nice...

Are there any historical events that you would have liked to have witnessed? The Battle of Hastings, for example?

Not really. I'm very glad not to have ever been involved in a battle ... don't think I'd even like to see one. Perhaps the first time Louis Armstrong played in New Orleans ... different kinds of history to the sort we cover.

Do you have a preference: stand-up or acting?

To be honest, I'm a bit of a tart - as long as I'm performing, I'm quite happy. Stand-up is an extension of me anyway. In my stand-up I do characters and voices and stuff, so basically it is acting anyway.

Have you had any bad experiences with hecklers?

Not that many, but during one of my Edinburgh shows I confronted a member of the audience for being late. It turned quite nasty and I said: 'Who are you?' And she said: 'I'm a friend of your Auntie Maxine,' which I thought was quite funny ... although not at the time, obviously.

Who are your favourite comedians and who has influenced you?

Peter Cook is my biggest comic hero of all time, and Jim Henson, who did The Muppet Show, which really made me laugh and still does. There are lots of others. As a stand-up, I'm required to laugh at Bill Hicks, so I do. But I thought that Peter Cook was an awesome talent and did things that were very brave. Running The Establishment Club - that was a real forerunner for things like the Comedy Store and the circuit we have now.

What are you planning to do next?

I'm going on tour in October [dates], doing about 20 dates all round the UK. The tour is called Help Yourself, and is based on my last two Edinburgh shows. It's all about therapy and counselling and the whole TV culture of New Age spirituality. I'm also doing a series for Radio 4 called Think The Unthinkab1e, which starts on 16 October.

This interview was syndicated by the BBC to promote the new series of We Are History, which begins on Tuesday September 25.

First published: September 24, 2001

Published: 22 Mar 2009

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