From dyslexia to Dickens: An A-Z of one of the nation's most innovative comedians, actors and activists

This article is from 2019

From dyslexia to Dickens: An A-Z of one of the nation's most innovative comedians, actors and activists

As Eddie Izzard heads to the Fringe, we have a go at compiling some fast facts about the national treasure

Eddie Izzard is in town not to do anything as obvious as doing stand-up in a foreign language. Oh no, he's making a long-awaited return to the Fringe with a performance of Great Expectations. What that is going to look like remains a secret treat for those lucky enough to get tickets. We thought we'd take a step back and have a go at compiling an A-Z of one of the nation's most innovative comedians, actors and activists

A is for Aden

His birthplace on 7 February 1962. His father Harold was an accountant working with BP in this British colony which is now located in the south of Yemen.

B is for Broadway

He's there next year in a revival of Edward Albee's Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, starring opposite Laurie Metcalf, an actress perhaps still best known as the fictional Roseanne's sister Jackie.

C is for Cows

His unaired Channel 4 sitcom in 1997. Essentially, all the members of the Johnson family (such as Pam Ferris and James Fleet) appeared in cow costumes. The end result was, we assume, pretty surreal.

D is for Dyslexia

A fan at the end of a gig first suggested that Izzard might be dyslexic because of the way he spoke about stuff. It was at this moment he realised that this might be why he had been spelling 'cat' with a 'k' and 'ceiling' with an 's'.

E is for Europhile

An avid Remainer, he insists he will be causing a continual stir until Britain gets fully back into the EU. Last year he told Billboard magazine that 'we have to reform the EU. But you can't reform it by running away from it. Brits don't quit. We will not quit. I will fight forever.'

F is for Frank Skinner

The Midlands comic scooped the Perrier Award in 1991 with a shortlist completed by, get this, Izzard, Jack Dee, Lily Savage and, um, Avner the Eccentric.

G is for Greatest

In Channel 4's Greatest Stand-Ups poll of 2007, he made it to number three, slipping to five when it was re-run in 2010.

H is for Hannibal

In US TV show about the fava-beans loving cannibal, Izzard played Dr Abel Gideon, a former surgeon who claimed to be the 'Chesapeake Ripper'.

I is for Igor

An animated comedy from 2008 in which he played Dr Schadenfreude, an evil genius at war with the titular character.

J is for James Mason

One of his favourite impersonations and aired quite often in his early stand-up shows.

K is for Kilt

There are a lot of pictures on the internet of Izzard dressed in a kilt. A lot …

L is for Languages

He speaks quite a few. He not only speaks them, he actually performs his comedy in them. When recently gigging in Normandy to mark D-Day, he did a show in German then English and then French. That's just showing off, surely?

M is for Mayor

He's spoken of it before, but this time he's serious. In 2020 he will launch his campaign to become the Mayor of London. It would almost be worth the agony of another Trump election win to have him and Izzard go at it hammer and tongs. OK, maybe it's not really worth it that much …

N is for Nazis

He has had a lot to say about Nazis down the years, but one choice quip came in 2009's Stripped when he reckoned they invented Scrabble to upset dyslexic folk.

O is for Ocean's Twelve and Thirteen

In which he appeared as Roman Nagel, a tech genius who creates a holographic Fabergé egg.

P is for Python

Izzard insists that Monty Python were his biggest comedic influences and in turn, John Cleese has remarked that Izzard deserves the title of the 'lost Python'.

Q is for Question Time

Comedians are almost ubiquitous now on the politics panel show but back when he appeared in 2005, it was more of a novelty.

R is for Running

Not known then as especially athletic, Izzard ran seven weeks of back-to-back marathons for Sport Relief in 2009. As well as raising a heap of loot he was awarded a special gong at the BBC Sports Personality of the Year ceremony that same year.

S is for Six Minutes to Midnight

A film he's co-written which should be out in 2020. It's set in a girls' boarding school in 1939 where some Nazi leaders' daughters have been sent as a way of assimilating into British life. Jim Broadbent and Judi Dench are in it.

T is for Transgender

A long-term cross-dresser, these days he identifies as 'somewhat boyish and somewhat girlish'.

U is for University

He's received honorary doctorates from the likes of East Anglia, Sunderland and York.

V is for Victoria & Abdul

In which he played Bertie, son of Queen Victoria and her ultimate successor on the throne.

W is for Whisky Galore!

In the 2016 remake he played Captain Waggett, a Home Guard officer who is generally against any kind of illegal behaviour.

X is for X-Files

In his 1997 show, Glorious, Izzard compares the suddenness of Princess Diana's death as similar to the feeling fans would have if they killed off all the characters on The X-Files overnight.

Y is for Yemen

See 'A', folks.

Z is for, well, Z

If you look closely at his surname, you'll see he has two of them.

Eddie Izzard: Expectations of Great Expectations, Assembly George Square Studios, George Square, 7–25 Aug (not 12 & 13, 19 & 20), 2pm, £17.50; Eddie Izzard is at the Book Festival, Charlotte Square Gardens, 10 Aug, 5.45pm, Pay What You Can; Eddie Izzard: Wunderbar, Gilded Balloon, Teviot, 12–14 Aug, 10.30pm, £25.

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