Metro 68

Thursday 13 Jun 2013

Richard Herring asked Stephen Fry a simple question. His answer made headlines around the globe.

I always thought I’d be on the news one day, though I had assumed I’d be being led away in handcuffs or possibly accepting my award for being the world’s sexiest man. But last week, my face was seen on news bulletins in the UK and as far away as Australia, not because any of my many crimes had been discovered or because my sexiness had finally been universally acknowledged. It was because of a chat I’d had with Stephen Fry.

For a few years now I’ve been side-stepping the censorship, limitations and, let’s face it, lack of interest of television broadcasters and producing my own comedy podcasts. I love the freedom and autonomy of the medium, as well as its immediacy.

I can have an idea in the morning and it can be broadcast that same day. With all the hoops you have to jump through to make a TV show, it can take years to get an idea to screen and, by the time it’s on, it has often been interfered with so much by executives that it is unrecognisable.

I’ve produced a comedy sketch show called As It Occurs To Me, daily audio blogs and even done an audio commentary of me playing myself at snooker (though you will need a resolve of steel and a certain sense of humour to enjoy that one!). All of them are free to listen to on iTunes or at

My most recent project, Richard Herring’s Leicester Square Theatre Podcast, involves interviewing some of my favourite comedians including Stewart Lee, David Mitchell and Charlie Brooker. It’s still free as an audio, but recently we’ve decided to film the shows and charge a piffling amount for people to download them at

I was delighted that one of my all-time comedy heroes, Stephen Fry, agreed to appear, but I was nervous. I had never met him before and was concerned I might just sit opposite him in open-mouthed amazement, unable to say a word.

But luckily I managed to hold it together enough to ask some questions and the eloquent QI host gave hilarious, fascinating, even poetic answers. The audience was rapt and he was relaxed. It was joyous.

Towards the end, I asked a question written by the director’s 12-year-old son: ‘What is it like being Stephen Fry?’ Perhaps the childish simplicity of the enquiry opened Fry up.

As you’ve probably heard, he told us he’d attempted suicide last year. And though it was a graphic and shocking revelation, the message he was imparting was one of hope and support for others who suffer from such extreme depression. It was a brave admission but one he made to reassure others and it certainly did that.

This email is typical: ‘The fact that Stephen has handled his situation with such dignity and that the reaction to his disclosure has been so warm has helped me to realise this is not an issue that I should keep hidden from others.

It has also had a positive effect on those that were privy to my “secret”, yet did not comprehend it to any real degree and went a long way to helping my parents realise the extremes that “low moods” have.’

It was the most extraordinary and electric 90 minutes that I have ever experienced on stage, showed that independent podcasts can compete with and trump mainstream broadcasters and spread awareness about the effects of depression. What’s this strange, unfamiliar feeling? Is this pride?

Russell Brand guests next week. It’s not like he’ll say anything that will get me back on the news!

For information on coping with depression or to donate money to help those who suffer with it, visit