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FRANK SKINNER learned all about the Bard and the literary greats when he did a masters degree in Coventry in English literature, but he thinks people will remember him for very different reasons. TV writer Marion McMullen finds out why the Midlands comedian is preparing to go football crazy for the World Cup.

"THE Three Lions football song, my car-crash TV interview with Tara Palmer-Tomkinson and me dancing in my pants to the Vengaboys," reels off Frank Skinner when asked to name the three things he is likely to be remembered for.

The football-mad Midlander, who studied at Coventry's Warwick University, is currently unleashing more funny moments in his new BBC 2 Show Frank Skinner's Opinionated.

The topical news show takes on the big, and not so big, issues in the news from Frank's unique perspective.

Frank, who was born Christopher Graham Collins, says: "It's me, two guest comedians and, most importantly, the citizens of Great Britain sharing our opinions on stuff in the news. On a good week, I will probably crowdsurf." The show began last week and joining Frank tonight will be comics Dave Gorman and Laura Solon. The 53-year-old comedian and writer has appeared on shows such as Mock The Week, Have I Got News For You and BBC 2 series The Bubble and co-wrote and sang the football anthem, Three Lions, with former comedy partner David Baddiel. "When I started doing the London comedy clubs 22 years ago, there were about 40 comics making a living out of it," he muses. "I spoke to a club owner recently who said he had a data base with over 400 comedians on it. I'm really glad I got in there early, or I might have got lost in the crowd. "I'm a big comedy fan so, for me, the more the merrier. "I'm not like th who work in a ch factory and sudd off chocolate. I s love going to comedy clubs an watching comed on TV."

The former Rear Of The Year winner says his best TV jobs have always been ones that allowed him to indulge his passions. "I bought a shir which supposed belonged to Elvi for pounds 11,000. It wa every penny because it resulted in me making a TV documentary in which I met loads of people, and visited loads of places central to Elvis's life." After beating Jack Dee and Eddie Izzard to the prestigious Perrier Award at the 1991 Edinburgh Festival, Frank carved out a reputation as one of the country's sharpest stand-ups, selling out cavernous arenas around the country with his idiosyncratic brand of comedy. He's gone on to turn his hand at writing and radio presenting and, of course, brought Fantasy Football to telly with Baddiel. "When Fantasy Football started, there wasn't really anything else like it on TV," he nts "It ure that was so big in the early 90s. "

We did no pre-publicity for the show. We just appeared - late Friday nights on BBC2 - and slowly crept into people's consciousness. "Now there are funny clips and sketches on Soccer AM, regular comic elements on Match of the Day 2 - we've been usurped. "I'm not complaining. I like both those shows and we had a great run. "Besides, David Baddiel and I are off to South Africa for the World Cup., doing regular radio shows and podcasts for Absolute. "We get tickets to all the England games, the best of the other group games, two quarterfinals, both semis and the final. "When we did Fantasy Football we spent every tournament in a TV studio in Wandsworth. That's 'a single good reason' for not bringing back Fantasy Football." The West Bromwich Albion fan is still as passionate as ever about the beautiful game. "I'm really not fretful about the future of the football," he says. "You can have all your millionaire players and naff sponsorships, your sex scandals and your executive boxes, but the game's about 22 men, a football and a load of people who really, really care which team wins. Everything else is just trimmings." There was a time when Frank was given a hard time for being the highest-earning comic on TV. "One tabloid voted me the greediest person in the world. Imelda Markos only made fourth," he remembers. "The credit crunch took about 50 per cent of my life-savings, so now I'm lean and hungry again. "I think we all struggle to guess how others perceive us. I'd like my tombstone to say, 'He was funny'." Why comedy star Frank doesn't want to see the return of Fantasy Football
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Publication:Coventry Evening Telegraph (England)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Apr 24, 2010
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