Paul Whitehouse (born 17 May 1958) is a British comedian and actor. He became known for his work with Harry Enfield and as one of the stars of the popular BBC sketch show, The Fast Show. In a 2005 poll to find The Comedian's Comedian, he was in the top 50 comedy acts voted for by comedians and comedy insiders.
Whitehouse was born in Stanleytown in the Rhondda Valley, Glamorgan, Wales. His father worked for the National Coal Board and his mother was a singer with the Welsh National Opera. The family moved to Essex, England when he was four years old, which led to him discovering his talent for mimicry:
"At school I didn’t say a word for the first four weeks - I called it my Silent Month. I think it was because everyone was speaking so differently from how it had been in Wales. Then, after four weeks, I came home one day and said, ‘Muumm, I wanna go to Sarfend!’ For her that was the end because I had lost my lovely Welsh lilt. So I became very conscious of speech and the effects it can have. But when I went back to Wales I would start talking all Welsh, ‘lyke that you see’ before going all Alf Garnett while coming back the other way.”
Whitehouse attended the University of East Anglia in Norwich from Autumn 1977, where he made friends with Charlie Higson. The pair spent little of their first year studying, instead playing guitar and performing with their punk rock combo, the Right Handed Lovers.
Whitehouse dropped out and lived with other drop-outs in a council flat in Hackney, East London and occasionally worked as a plasterer. After Higson graduated in 1980, he moved in with Whitehouse, working by day as a decorator and performing at night and the weekends with his new punk-funk group The Higsons.
The pair began working as tradesmen on a house shared by comedians Hugh Laurie and Stephen Fry, which inspired them to start writing comedy. They moved to an estate where in a pub they met Harry Enfield, a neighbour with a stage act, and after he gained a place on Channel 4's Saturday Live, the pair were invited to write for him. Whitehouse created Enfield's character Stavros a London-based Greek kebab shop owner, and then Loadsamoney an archetypal Essex boy made good in Margaret Thatcher's 1980s; he also appeared as Enfield's sidekick Lance on Saturday Live.
This success turned Whitehouse and Higson's career, and they started writing for Vic Reeves' Big Night Out and extensively for the BBC, firstly for A Bit of Fry and Laurie and The Paul Merton Show, then as performer on shows such as Harry Enfield's Television Programme, where he developed numerous characters including DJ Mike Smash of Smashie and Nicey alongside Harry Enfield as Nicey.
The Fast ShowEdit
While watching a preview tape of highlights from Enfield's show, Whitehouse and Higson were inspired to create a rapid-fire delivery comedy show, The Fast Show. Whitehouse's characters included:
* Rowley Birkin QC * The 13th Duke of Wymbourne * Archie ("hardest game in the world") * Chris Jackson * Unlucky Alf * Arthur Atkinson * 'Brilliant' * Ron Manager * Ken, one of the "Suit You" tailors * Lindsey, one of the Offroaders * Poutremos Poutra-Poutremos, anchor of the foreign TV station Chanel 9 sketch
Due to his array of comedy characters, Johnny Depp has said Whitehouse is one of the best actors he has seen. Depp is a fan of the The Fast Show and made a guest appearance on the programme.
In 2001 and 2002 Whitehouse wrote and performed in two series of the BBC comedy drama Happiness, in which he played a voice-over actor with a mid-life crisis.
Whitehouse wrote, produced and appeared with Chris Langham in the 2005 comedy drama Help, also for the BBC. In this show he took 25 roles, all patients of Langham's psychotherapist (except one, who is Langham's psychotherapist's psychotherapist). The pair's collaboration resulted in Whitehouse taking the witness stand on 24 July 2007 in the trial of Langham, in regard to the charge of holding explicit images and videos of minors. Langham claimed he downloaded this material as research for a character in the second series of Help, but Whitehouse's testimony did not corroborate this explanation.
Harry and PaulEdit
Whitehouse is appearing in the BBC sketch show Harry and Paul (formerly Ruddy Hell! It's Harry and Paul), starring alongside Harry Enfield.
It has been confirmed that he is working again with Higson on a television project with a working title of Bellamy’s Kingdom, designed to be a spoof of celebrity travel programmes.
Whitehouse and Charlie Higson produced and appeared in a spoof phone-in show Down the Line on BBC Radio 4. The first series was broadcast May-June 2006. A second series was broadcast 16 January - 20 February 2007, during which they won a Sony Radio Academy Award. A third series was broadcast in January 2008.
In Summer 2007, Whitehouse followed Victoria Wood in the latest ASDA advertising campaign.
Whitehouse, who lives in Islington and drives an Audi A3, is a supporter of English Premiership football team Tottenham Hotspur and has appeared on fellow comedian Phil Cornwell's Spurs Show podcast .
Whitehouse's main early influences were the sketches of Peter Cook and Dudley Moore, and the Monty Python crew. Tommy Cooper made him laugh, as did Morecambe and Wise and the television show "Dad's Army." He cites his modern influences as Harry Enfield (who he says without meeting he would not have been doing what he does now), and the approach of Reeves and Mortimer who he thinks are "far and away the best comedians that we have had in this country for a long while."
Whitehouse has had a number of small roles in film, principally:
* Kevin and Perry Go Large - 'Bouncer', with Harry Enfield * Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban - 'Sir Cadogan'. * Finding Neverland - 'Stage Manager' (with his friend and admirer Johnny Depp; Whitehouse's daughters Molly and Sophie have non-speaking roles as orphans in the film) * Corpse Bride - 'William Van Dort' (again, with Johnny Depp)