Greg Davies: I had a meltdown in a  flotation tank | The Taskmaster reveals the breakdown that drove him to comedy © BBC/Stephen Perry/Wall to Wall

Greg Davies: I had a meltdown in a flotation tank

The Taskmaster reveals the breakdown that drove him to comedy

comedyGreg Davies has revealed he went into comedy after a midlife meltdown in a flotation tank.

The comic ditched his unhappy 13-year teaching career after the experience caused him to have a breakdown and re-evaluate his life.

‘I couldn’t stop crying for the whole day and I couldn’t understand why,’ he says on Desert Island Discs today. ‘The day after that, I couldn’t stop crying. And day three I thought, OK, I’ve gone mad.’

A woman who owned a flotation tank centre later told him that such reactions were common as you get so relaxed that ‘lots of things you’ve suppressed get released into your system’.

‘It was a real turning point,’ Davies tells host Lauren Laverne.

That night, he filled out an application for a stand-up course.

Asked why he’d left it so long, he explains: ‘I don’t think my skin was thick enough to start a career in comedy. I would have fallen at the first bad review back then.’

He said his father Bob, pushed him towards teaching. Adding: ‘I thought it would just be a stepping stone - I hadn’t banked on my own cowardice. I blinked and 13 years passed.’

But the comic, 55, says his time at school was a misery. ‘Honestly, every morning before work I woke up in tears,’ he recalls. ‘I remember rationalising it, going, "Well everyone’s doing this, everyone’s getting upset because no one wants to go to work." Looking back on it, I think I probably was depressed.’

He drew on the experience in his breakthrough role of Mr Gilbert, head of sixth form, in The Inbetweeners and its two follow-up films, and in his own Channel 4 sitcom Man Down,

Davies chose Glenn Campbell’s Wichita Lineman as his favourite track, and said he would take John Steinbeck’s Of Mice And Men as his book.

His luxury is an endless supply of sausages. ‘There’s never a situation which isn’t improved by a sausage,’ he says. 

Davies embarks on 55-date tour in January with a show titled Full Fat Legend. Greg ​Davies tour dates,

Desert Island Discs airs on BBC Radio 4 today at 10am.

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Published: 12 May 2024

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