Comedian Miles Jupp: ‘I earned three years’ salary for one day of work’

miles jupp - Heathcliff O'Malley
miles jupp - Heathcliff O'Malley

Miles Jupp, 43, is an actor, stand-up comedian and writer who found fame in 2002 in children’s television series Balamory.

He has worked in TV (The Thick of It, Rev, The Durrells), film (Johnny English Reborn, The Monuments Men), theatre (The Life I Lead), many comedy panel shows on BBC Radio 4 and hosting The News Quiz (2015-19).

Today he lives in South Wales with his wife and five children.

How did your childhood influence your attitude to money?

I grew up in a manse; my father was a minister in north-west London. It was a pretty comfortable childhood and as a young child I assumed the whole world was just as nice.

My mum was a solicitor, very much the breadwinner, and we got the impression that if you wanted things you were expected to work for them, although I was bought 50 shares in Eurotunnel when I was seven.

Presumably I still own them. When they rose to £11 a share I said, “Ooh, shouldn’t we sell them?” Everyone said, “What are you talking about? You’re seven.” I also remember getting a child’s ­savings account because my older brother had one and a smart folder and vintage matchbox van with “Barclays” on the side.

Presumably some people take out life insurance because what they really want is a fancy pen.

What were your first jobs?

At 11 we moved to the East Midlands and a lady in the village paid me and a friend £4 each to knock down a wall.

I did ­holiday work at my mum’s law firm and at university in Edinburgh worked in a call centre.

At 20 I started doing stand-up and weekend club gigs in London and Manchester, and did a BBC Scotland TV series, Live Floor Show, with a bunch of stand-ups.

At 22 I got the Balamory job and from then on was earning a living.

Miles Jupp found fame in 2002 in children’s television series Balamory - BBC
Miles Jupp found fame in 2002 in children’s television series Balamory - BBC

Do you invest in stocks?

Yes, although I don’t understand it and get confused by all the terms.

My financial adviser told me, “You’re unbelievably cautious” and she made me very slightly less cautious, saying, “You have to be prepared to take some risks sometimes. It’s a long-term thing.”

I tried following it for a couple of months and it was depressing.

Have you ever had trouble paying your bills?

Yes. I had to sell a car to pay a tax bill in about 2017.

Does money make you happy?

Well, it certainly has the potential to make you unhappy.

Those moments when you realise you’re under pressure are a horrible feeling, and I now religiously put aside money for tax.

But I had a period when I didn’t. ­Getting a phone call from your accountant saying you owe the Inland Revenue five figures and you’re walking on your way to a half-full theatre is a pretty unpleasant feeling.

Have you invested in property?

I’ve been lucky like anyone who bought property in the 2000s.

After renting in Nunhead, south London, we bought a house in about 2011 in Peckham, which became trendy not long after we’d moved in.

And we’ve moved since as the family got bigger. We once bought a ruined farm with the intention of turning it into a house but I hadn’t considered what a big job that is.

Have you ever done lucrative TV adverts?

I did an advert for a website for a Volkswagen car; it was me but playing identical twins.

That was one day’s work but they ended up using it for three years, so paid me three years’ worth.

I was paid the money they pay you for the day’s filming, which is for a year’s worth of usage. And they paid me again, all up amounting to one year’s income spread over three years.

What was your worst money experience?

I had a glorious holiday in Cumbria with my family and friends. When I came home under the laptop on my desk was a letter from the Inland Revenue, which I must have put there and not noticed.

It was a bill for the exact amount of the holiday.

Have you splashed out?

With my friend Justin Edwards, who I’m currently starring in this play with, we did once somehow manage to spend £90 on a two-person meal in Pizza Express, although it was probably nearly all wine.

What is the hardest lesson you’ve learnt about business?

You can’t take anything for granted or expect things to come your way. You have to plan for those inevitable moments.

Another hard lesson is finding that some people are just genuinely unhelpful and obstructive.

Have you experienced any outrageous behaviour?

For one film, we were filming in a stately home in Derbyshire.

I was being driven back to London and, about to go, someone handed a package to the driver, saying. “This is X’s (an actor) lunch. Please can you take it to their hotel in London?”

The driver agreed and leant over to me in the back, with, “Miles, is it alright if we drop you at a Tube station?” I said no and when we got to X’s hotel, the driver came back to the car with the lunch saying, “He’s not there.”

What’s the most you’ve been paid for a film role?

I’ve been in about 20 films, never very big parts, and I don’t think I’ve ever ­broken five figures.

What has been your most profitable TV series?

I’d say 20 years of Balamory repeats.

I didn’t think it would be, but after getting a chunk of repeat fees for that during lockdown, I must never be ungracious about that programme.

Which production brings you the best repeat fees?

I was in one episode of Father Brown (2017). But Father Brown is sold to more than 80 countries. So that never stops. I get a few hundred quid a time in repeat fees, say, every six months.

Have you seen money’s funny side?

At 19, I was travelling around Europe by train, and arriving in Vienna from Bratislava – this was before euros – I realised I had no money.

At a cash machine I put my card in but didn’t know what the currency was. I pressed a button and five identical notes came out.

When I paid for breakfast at the Viennese equivalent of Wimpy with one of these notes they looked at me as if I was mad; and to give me change they had to empty all the change out of four tills. To this day I have no idea what that note was.

Miles Jupp stars in the play The Lavender Hill Mob, which tours the UK until Feb 18;