John Richardson: 'It's really helped that the news has stayed depressing'

Jon Richardson
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Jon Richardson: Ultimate Worrier is returning to Dave, and the comedian certainly has plenty to get off his chest again. Georgia Humphreys finds out what to expect from series two.

We all know comedian Jon Richardson is an obsessive worrier.

But there's something he can cross off his list of things to fret about - the first series of his laugh-out-loud topical show was a hit with Dave viewers, and he was asked to come back for more episodes.

Once again, the Lancaster-born star, 36, enlists the help of some top comedy talent and enlightening experts to address, analyse and log both the serious, and more trivial, issues currently on his mind.

Very appropriately called Jon Richardson: Ultimate Worrier, this time round there's also a custom-built worry lab in the studio, in which the host will be physically facing his fears with some "aversion therapy".

"We knew the show a bit better, so we planned it slightly differently; we were able to look at the news and do the worries from that," notes the deadpan funnyman, when asked how series two is different.

"So, it feels a bit more topical this series, to me, because of the meltdown of the planet and global politics. It's really helped that the news has stayed depressing."

Here, the father-of-one - also known for his appearances on shows such as 8 Out of 10 Cats - chats to us about mental health, the challenges of making TV and working with his wife.

ON WHY THE SHOW RESONATES WITH VIEWERS

We all know the global things we should be worried about, but if you're honest, the things that keep you awake at night are the small things that happen in your house.

Very often with a topical show, you get the chance to do the big news stories but not the silly ones - or vice versa, you pick a show that is a bit lighter. But this one means you can flit really easily from one to the other.

There's a whole section in one episode about the 12 years left to save the planet, but you juxtapose that with me and Joe Wilkinson [actor and comedian] in hotpants rollerblading.

ON COVERING CLIMATE CHANGE

If you're going to do a show that tackles worries, we agreed from the beginning you have to tackle the biggest one of all, which is that we've got some real work to do to save the planet for future generations.

If you're asked to make a TV programme, you want to have a laugh with your mates and have that be enjoyable for the people, but equally you want to feel like you've done some positive work. I think we did a good job on making it funny but not shying away from the actual facts.

ON BEING OPEN ABOUT OUR WORRIES

There's a move towards communicating more. I don't think we delve too much into any of the heavier mental health aspect. If people choose to find me repeatedly being criticised by my wife [comedian Lucy Beaumont, who appears in a few episodes of Ultimate Worrier] on television as a way of furthering debate about happiness and positive mental health, then so be it.

In my own life, I probably spent my twenties bottled up, and I think you can see that in the stand-up that I did then. And then in my thirties, it's a bit more loose.

ON BEING ON SCREEN WITH PALS

We had one episode which was Lucy, and Roisin Conaty and Russell Howard, who are real friends of mine, and that topic was leisure time. It's nice to have an episode where you are literally talking about something quite light with all your friends, and that show felt so easy to me, because we were all laughing and we all know each other anyway.

That was where we discussed Lucy asking whether or not I have a fetish, so we went into the worry lab - I didn't know about any of this until the record. That ended with Russell screaming as I was blindfolded in my underpants.

ON WORKING WITH HIS WIFE

Initially, I was the one saying I don't think we should [work together] because it had taken me 30 years to find a woman who was willing to live with me; I felt it would be a big step to then say, 'Let's work together as well'. But we gradually did a few bits together and it just seemed to come really easily.

You push each other along a little bit. And then the minute we get off the tube after, or in the car, you go back to talking about what we need from Tesco the next day. It's surprisingly mundane.

There sort of isn't time [to talk about work at home] because we have a two-year-old daughter and there's a lot else going on as well - I guess we'll do it in some sort of actual therapy in about ten years' time.

ON HOW THE INDUSTRY HAS CHANGED

It's far more diverse than it was and much the better for it - and it's also diverse in terms of outlet as well. When I started, there were broadly four channels and now there are a number of channels commissioning comedy, and there's much more opportunity of finding your own audience through YouTube.

If I were a young person interested in comedy now, that part of it would be liberating, that, actually, you don't have to find a stage and do 10 minutes within the confines of what people think live comedy is.

ON THE CHALLENGES OF MAKING TELEVISION

Telly is sort of eternal and you're aware anything you do in front of the camera is going to be seen by an infinite number of people. It can be taken out of time context as well.

So, you can do something that felt funny at the time and then suddenly worry about, 'What will that joke look like in 20 years?' And my daughter, I think, 'She's going to be at uni at some point, or she's going to be with friends, and someone could watch a clip of what I'm doing now and that will be her dad'.

All of that context is gone with stand-up; you're just in a room and you say what you like and then you all go home. It's why I hope I'll be able to tour for the rest of my life. It's so liberating.

- Jon Richardson: Ultimate Worrier returns to Dave on Wednesday, July 3