The comedian, 62, on growing up shy in Middlesbrough, losing his dad, meeting Vic Reeves, and the deep contentment of fishing

I was quite a shy boy. Growing up in Middlesbrough, I felt a bit of an outsider. My three elder brothers are funny and boisterous and I was in awe of them. I felt like an appendage. It’s probably the curse of being a younger kid. I’ve seen some become the loudest because they fight for their place, and others retreat to the fringes. I was in the latter group.

If you’re the quietest at home, it’s tough to find a voice. I’ve always been quite a good mate to have because of that. If I ever did make a connection with anyone, it was very precious to me. My friendships are everything.

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