COMEDIAN Chris Addison shot to fame as the put-upon junior policy adviser Olly Reeder in the cult TV show The Thick Of It, but he says his first love will always be stand-up.

The curly-haired comic is back on the road with his first “proper” tour in five years, and says he couldn’t be happier.

“It’s really good fun,” he said. “I don’t know what I was expecting — it’s the first time I’ve been on a proper tour for five years and I wondered if my enthusiasm would wane after a couple of dates, but it hasn’t.”

The Thick Of It was the brainchild of Armando Iannucci, and was so popular that a spin-off film was made, In The Loop, which Chris also starred in.

And Chris says he has definitely seen his audiences change (and grow) since the show.

“It’s an odd one — they don’t quite know what to expect,” he says. “A lot of people were there because of The Thick Of It.”

Although this means that they might already be fans, Chris says that there is no room for complacency.

“The thing about people being on your side is that you have to prove very quickly that their faith in you isn’t misplaced — you can’t take your foot off the gas,” he says.

Born in Worsley in 1972, Chris studied first at Manchester Grammar School and then at the University of Birmingham. Although he had thespian ambitions, by his own admission he was “too lazy” to follow his dream of becoming a theatre director. But after graduating he found himself at something of a loose end.

“I didn’t do anything creative for about a year and I found myself going a bit crazy,” he says. “Stand up seemed the easiest thing, you just turn up in a room and someone else does all the hard work for you.”

That was autumn 1995, and within a year of starting out Chris had turned professional.

“I never underestimate how lucky I am in my working life,” he says modestly.

A “series of coincidences” lead to him being cast in The Thick Of It, starting with a stand-up night called “Political Animals”.

“I decided I would do a character,” says Chris. “I don’t know why, because I never had before and I never have since, but I decided to go as this really right wing newspaper correspondent.

“Armando Iannucci was in the audience. It was the only time he’d ever seen me, so obviously in his head that was what I did. We ended up doing the News Quiz on Radio 4 together and he was telling me about his idea for a modern Yes Prime Minister and that I should come in for a chat about it.

“Armando does that a lot — he just looks at people and thinks, ‘Yep, he can do that.’”

As the show has grown in popularity, it has started to reflect more closely its real life Westminster counterparts.

“When we started the series, politics wasn’t that interesting,” says Chris. “People weren’t as fired up as they are now. After MPs’ expenses and the rise of the BNP people are more alive to it and as a result the show has started to follow real life in a more like for like way.

The latest tour deals with Addison’s various middle class failings and those of the people he knows, delivered in his trademark whimsical style.

He is currently trying to decide whether or not he will take the show to Edinburgh’s famous Fringe Festival — although it is looking likely that he will.

“I went up a couple of years ago to be on a panel and as soon as I landed I felt that battery acid tang of anticipation on the back of my tongue,” he says. “I was walking around seeing other people’s posters and not performing — I didn’t like it!”

• Chris Addison is at the Albert Halls, Bolton, on April 1. Tickets cost £15. To book, visit or ring 01204 334400.