Hugh Dennis goes back to school for fundraiser in memory of inspirational teacher

 Hugh Dennis at the British Academy Children's Awards at the Roundhouse,.London.

Hugh Dennis is going back to his old school UCS to take part in a fundraiser in memory of former teacher David Lund - Credit: PA

The Lund Fund aims to raise £1 million to build on a gift made by the family of inspirational UCS teacher David Lund and is hosting a star-studded comedy fundraiser.

During thirty years at the Hampstead school, the English teacher organised jazz and comedy events and encouraged creativity and volunteering in pupils.

On April 12, April Foolery will see ex head boy and Highgate resident Hugh Dennis among a music and comedy line-up fundraising to help disadvantaged children unlock their creativity. The Outnumbered and Mock The Week star answered questions about his schooldays.

Claire Skinner and Hugh Dennis perform 'A Potter's Life' at a Highgate Roman Kiln fundraiser

Hugh with partner Claire Skinner at a fundraiser at Lauderdale House Highgate - Credit: David Winskill

Q: How influential were your schooldays and was there anything that sowed the seed for your comedy career?

A: I think my time at UCS was pretty much essential for my future career, and I guess Dave Lund was key to that. While I was there the school built a new theatre and he organised the programme. There was a lot of jazz, because that was his great love, but in the first year there was a lot of comedy including evenings with Barry Cryer and Michael Palin. Pretty influential.

Q: What are your memories of David Lund?

A: Dave Lund never taught me but really seemed to be the guardian of the ethos of the school. He was constantly encouraging and saw that education was about far more than the curriculum.

Most Read

Q Wikipedia says you played rugby with Will Self at UCS. Is that true?

A He was at the Junior School with me, when I was 11, and I played in the same rugby team as him. I can’t really remember what he was like but we did an edition of Have I Got News together and to be fair he couldn’t remember me either.

Q You were head boy at UCS. Was that a vote by students and what did it entail?

A: As far as I remember you were appointed by the headmaster. I had to quieten the school before assembly every morning which was a bit odd looking back on it, and I had to make a speech on speech day, which was also my first experience of public speaking. I guess if it hadn’t gone well, I would now have a completely different career.

Q: You and Steve Punt did an early gig at your old school. Was that odd going back?

A: To be honest I can’t really remember, but I am guessing it was stranger for them. I did no comedy or drama at school except a fourth year play in which I played Billy Liar’s father. I played a lot of sport, and (say it quietly) worked quite hard, so I should think I was the last person they expected to return as one half of a double act.

Q: What are your happiest/unhappiest memories of school?

A: I really enjoyed school and have many happy memories of it – my unhappiest memory is being nutmegged in a national football final to give away the only goal of the game. I still dream about it sometimes.

Q: From Spitting Image to the Now Show your career has a strong satirical theme. Do you find today's politicians rich source material?

A: When I was a kid, my parents always encouraged me to read the papers. We got the Times every day because my dad realised that we could get it on a student discount. Then, when we left university, Steve Punt got a job on the topical Radio 4 show Week Ending because that was a place that welcomed new writers, and I guess it started there. For a long career it is a good area to operate in, because comedy needs fuel, and the news is always changing. And yes, every generation of politicians provide rich source material. They are the gift that keeps on giving.

Q: What is the part you most get recognised for and does it bother you?

A: I think it just goes with the territory, although I have been recognized in some unexpected places. In Sweden I was recognized for being in Taskmaster and according to a man who stopped me in London, My Hero, a sit-com I did years ago, makes me very recognizable in Zimbabwe. In the UK though I guess it is Mock The Week, Outnumbered, and Not Going Out.

The cast of Outnumbered Tyger Drew-Honey, Hugh Dennis, Ramona Marquez, Daniel Roche and Claire Skinn

Hugh with his Outnumbered co-stars after winning a National Television Award in 2012 - Credit: PA

Q: You had a part in No Time To Die what was that like?

A: It was great being in James Bond, although I do die pretty early on. Perhaps after seeing me at the David Lund event the audience will understand why they decided to get rid of me after 20 minutes.

April Foolery is on April 12 at the Lund Theatre UCS, Frognal, starring Hugh Dennis, Simon Brodkin and The Showstoppers. Visit www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/april-foolery-tickets-190229751307 for tickets.