Smith and moans

GRUMPY Old Men star Arthur Smith claims he s actually too grumpy to be involved in the TV show any more. I caught up with the south London comedian ahead of his appearance in Variety Lives at Stratford Circus on Friday, and he was in typically jovial, ye

GRUMPY Old Men star Arthur Smith claims he's actually too grumpy to be involved in the TV show any more.

I caught up with the south London comedian ahead of his appearance in Variety Lives at Stratford Circus on Friday, and he was in typically jovial, yet moany mood.

"They wanted to do a Grumpy Old Men Big Brother type thing," he explains. "But I'd rather knock my own teeth out with a hammer than be locked in a room with Jeremy Clarkson for any period of time. I'm basically far too grumpy these days for the whole thing.''

I first came across Arthur back in the late '80s, when he was hosting a night of alternative comedy at The Comedy Store, Leicester Square, with Jim Tavare and Bob Mills on the same bill.


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"Ah, happy days," remembers Arthur. "But I do stand-up at a more gentlemanly pace these days. I don't need to do five gigs a week any more ."

Writing his autobiography is taking up much of his time and he points out: "I do TV, radio and journalism, as well as the comedy, so I like to spread my net broadly."

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And, of course, there's the voiceovers for adverts.

At Stratford Circus he'll be hosting the show, although he says: "I'm not sure if I'm compering the show or doing a turn.

"I do know it's an attempt to revive the variety format and that's a good thing."

Born in Bermondsey and a staunch south Londoner, he argues: "I don't really approve of north or west London, but I don't mind east London.

"I'm actually the self-proclaimed Mayor of Balham, sorry nightmare of Balham."

I comment that I went out with a girl from Balham once, and he's straight back with, "Yep, I went out with her too. She's done the rounds, mate."

Yet to play the Circus, Arthur has played the Stratford Theatre Royal East a couple of times, adding: "And I've pitched up at a load of dodgy pubs in east London in my time as well."

There's more info at his "reluctant website" - www.arthursmith.co.uk, but you won't find him on Facebook.

"I don't do Twitter-twatter or Facebook or any of that rubbish. From what I can make out, Facebook is a way of people I've been trying to avoid for the past 25 years finally being able to get hold of me.

"And then there's all the guys getting attacked and killed by irate husbands because they've started having an affair with a girl they used to fancy at school 20-odd years later."

And with that he's off, on his grumpy, merry way.

Tickets to Variety Lives are �12.50 and �10 and are available at www.stratford-circus.com.

Also on the bill are 2007 Funny Women award winner Andi Osho, veteran comic Arnold Brown, plus jazz musicians Carol Grimes and Dorian Ford.

- MATT TROLLOPE

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