Jack Whitehall on ‘regret’ over Queen joke and the upset it caused his family
The Fresh Meat star and future Brit Awards host spoke to Kirsty Young on Desert Island Discs.
Comedian Jack Whitehall has said he regrets making a lewd joke about the Queen several years ago, mostly because of the impact it had on his family.
The stand-up star and actor, who faced a backlash in early 2013 after making a bladder infection joke involving the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh on Channel 4’s Big Fat Quiz Of The Year, said he has since become “a lot more careful” in what he says.
Whitehall, 29, also said that he feels saddened that he did not give his family the “best version” of himself earlier in his career while being so focused on working.
He said the royal jibe resulted in one of the “biggest” moments of press attention he has ever faced.
He told Kirsty Young on BBC Radio 4’s Desert Island Discs: “It was when I made a joke about the Queen, it was like a crass joke on a panel show, a joke I actually regret.”
He said it was on the front page of newspapers “every day for a week” at the time, which affected his family.
“That was not nice, because it was something I’d said that caused them upset and that was the bit that hurt the most,” he said.
“I’m fine, I have a relatively thick skin but I never wanted to drag them into it.”
He added: “I just became a lot more careful about what I say. I self-censor more.”
The star, who has worked with his father Michael Whitehall on TV shows Backchat and Travels With My Father, said he can never “really plan” their on-screen moments of tenderness.
He said: “We don’t really talk about our emotions as a family, we’re not necessarily very good at that, but it’s amazing.
“You know, the nature of my life, I’m working all the time and I actively choose to do that, that sometimes you sacrifice spending time with people that you care about.
“I got very bad at it. I’d come to life when on a show and I’d be upbeat and fun, and when I was with (my family), I was kind of twitchy and on edge and anxious about work.
“I’d see them for an hour for lunch and bugger off, and I wasn’t giving them the best version of myself, and that really upset me.
“And then I took a conscious effort, I was like, I need to spend more time with them and be careful that I never do that and never take them for advantage, because I’m so close to my family, and they’re so supportive.”
Whitehall, who is known for starring in comedy shows Fresh Meat and Bad Education as well as the BBC adaptation of Evelyn Waugh’s Decline And Fall, said that the thing that hurts him the most is when people imply he has only been successful because of his father’s career as a celebrity agent.
“To become a stand-up comedian, the fact that my dad used to look after Christopher Biggins doesn’t necessarily help you get stage time,” he said.
“That’s the bit that needles me, and now I’ve said it people will needle with me more!”
Desert Island Discs is on BBC Radio 4 on Sunday at 11.15am.