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Frank Skinner reveals why he is grateful to be a teetotal dad

Room 101 host Frank, who became a father for the first time when he was 55, admits that, looking back to his 20s, he was an alcoholic


Frank Skinner might be pushing 61 but he has a five-year-old son Buzz to keep up with and now that his lad is old enough for a kickabout, the football-mad comic really needs to stay on his toes.

For that reason, he is more grateful than ever that he is a teetotal dad.

Room 101 host Frank, who became a father for the first time when he was 55, admits that, looking back to his 20s, he was an alcoholic.

But, 30 years after quitting booze, he believes the best thing a parent can ever be is sober, and says: “I know I am not a bloke who could go out and have a couple of pints.

“My dad John [a factory worker]always used to say ‘none or enough’ and that was a bit of a family motto.

“And I have realised, since having a kid, that the greatest gift you can give a child is a teetotal parent, because you haven’t got the terrible tension in the house at about 10.50pm when Dad comes home... and that’s something everyone I knew was brought up with.

“That feeling of, ‘I hope Dad is going to be in a good mood when he gets in’.”

Frank Skinner in 1989 before he went teetotal (Image: Birmingham Post and Mail)

Frank with guests Jimmy Carr, Steven Moffat and Rochelle Humes (Image: BBC)

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  • Frank Skinner reveals he believes England star Jeff Astle's dementia started while filming Fantasy Football

This clean-living, sober Frank is a far cry from his early days. After attending schools in the West Midlands, he began grafting, then, between drinks, worked as a lecturer at Halesowen College.

By 1986, he was nearing 30 and was taking tentative steps into a career in comedy.

He also knew his life had to change. Frank had what he now calls a “quarter-life crisis” when he started drinking “Per­­nod instead of sherry for breakfast”. Whether that’s another joke is anyone’s guess but one thing is for sure, after going sober, he can’t imagine drinking again.

Frank hosting Room 101 (Image: BBC)

Frank says: “I didn’t define myself as an alcoholic at the time but I was, looking back. I did a questionnaire and I ticked a lot of boxes and I thought, ‘Hmm, maybe I am’. Alcoholic is a pretty nasty word, certainly when you’re in the midst of it.”

West Brom fan Frank is quite happy with his lot now that he is in his 60s.

He says: “Has life changed since I turned 60? Yes, I keep going on about being 60. I can’t resist referring to it, because I find it sort of hilarious.

“I remember when I turned 30 and I started doing sit-ups, I split with my girlfriend and stopped drinking and all sorts of things. It was a very weird time. But 60... I like it.”

It even gives him extra material. He says: “I was backstage at a stand-up gig and my back was really hurting.

West Brom fan Frank is quite happy with his lot now that he is in his 60s (Image: BBC)

“Jack Whitehall was in the wings with me and he’s about 125 years younger than I am and he said, ‘Oh, I had a bad back, I had a few drinks and a fall. What happened to your back?’

“And I said, ‘Nothing’. As you get older, your injuries don’t come with an anecdote any more, they just come.”

His partner of 16 years, Cath Mason, 45, who is Buzz’s mum, will help Frank celebrate when he turns 61 this month.

Frank has proposed four times and been turned down.

But he has not ruled out trying again.

“I want to marry for love, and I do love her,” he says. And surely Buzz would be keen? “At the moment he is more interested in seeing The Last Jedi than us getting married. But he likes a party so, you know, any excuse.”

Frank with his hero Jeff Astle in 1995 (Image: Alamy)

Frank knows it is important to treasure his relationship – and his health – after his good friend and lifelong hero, Jeff Astle, passed away aged 59 from early onset dementia.

England striker Jeff, who was a regular on Frank and David Baddiel’s Fantasy Football League in the 1990s, scored 174 goals for West Brom. An examination of Jeff’s brain found he had chronic traumatic encephalopathy, a form of dementia suspected of being linked to heading footballs.

Frank says: “Before I ever met him, he was the guy on my bedroom wall.

“You know they say don’t meet your heroes? But Jeff was brilliant and really funny. Towards the end of Fantasy Football we used to take the mickey out of him for forgetting stuff but looking back – no one knew – it was the beginning of dementia.”

The comic, a patron of the Jeff Astle Foundation, says: “What happened with Jeff was tragic. I am not an expert but I saw the scans of his brain and the front part did look different, so there is definitely something in it.”

Frank hosts Room 101 which returns to the BBC next week (Image: BBC)

While no one can top Jeff when it comes to meeting heroes, the new series of Room 101 features big stars.

The line-up includes comic Jimmy Carr, Doctor Who writer Seven Moffat, Rochelle Humes of The Saturdays, Black Mirror creator Charlie Brooker, and Line of Duty’s Vicky McClure.

But who would be Frank’s ultimate guest? “I would have Bob Dylan on the show. He would put in amazing stuff.

“I once spent a night at Elton John’s villa in Nice and, of all the showbiz gossip, this is one of my favourites – Elton told me Bob Dylan was the worst charades player he’d ever met.

“The idea of Dylan even playing charades is hilarious. If we had Bob Dylan on the show, he would definitely put in charades.”

  • Room 101 returns to BBC One on January 12 at 8.30pm.
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Skinner reveals what he would put in Room 101 if he got the chance

He’s banished some quirky things into the Orwellian abyss over the years in Room 101.

This series, former Newsnight host Jeremy Paxman keeps it political, condemning Karl Marx and David Cameron , while Scarlett Moffatt ’s pet hates are little cartons of UHT milk and Crocs.

But what would Frank put in if he got the chance?

Meal time for kids can be a hazard for cutlery (Image: Getty)

1) Adults cutlery for kids in restaurants

Frank says: “You’ve got a kid sat there with a great massive knife and a big poncy fork half an inch from their face that they can’t really use – it’s like Game of Thrones.

“I can’t understand that – why don’t they get some little knives and forks?”

2) Waiting for other people’s food

Frank says: “One thing I really hate is having to wait for someone else to get their starter before you can start eating.

“It’s a ridiculous idea – when your food comes, eat it!”

Ripped jeans also annoy Frank (Image: Getty)

3) Ripped jeans

Frank says: “When I was a kid ripped jeans were what we had to wear because we couldn’t afford to get them mended – nowadays it’s all media types who are wearing them like it’s working-class chic.”

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