Tony Slattery speaks of his battle with bipolar disorder

 Actor and comedian Tony Slattery - Rii Schroer
Actor and comedian Tony Slattery - Rii Schroer

Tony Slattery, the comedian and actor, has spoken of his daily battle with bipolar disorder claiming his only plan for his 60th year is to ‘survive.’

The comic regularly appeared on Who’s Line Is It Anyway? and Have I Got News For You in the 1980s and 90s, but has only worked sporadically in television and on stage in recent years.

In an interview with the Sunday Mirror, Slattery said he now lived in a ‘tiny, not nice’ rented two bedroom flat with his partner because he never bought when he had money at the height of his career.

In the 1990s he was spending £4,000 a week on drugs which led to breakdown in 1996, where he did not leave his flat for six months.

He is now touring again, but speaking about his ongoing battle with mental illness, he said: “You wake up and, if you're alive, cool - go from there if you can.

“I could write you a book on bipolarity. It's one of those hidden things, it's complicated. That's not to say, 'Oh god, aren't I special'. So many people have it - the spectrum is enormous.

“But it hugely helps to talk about it - to get it out, discuss it."

Tony Slattery when he appeared regularly on TV
Tony Slattery when he appeared regularly on TV

Slattery’s career began after Stephen Fry invited him to join the Footlights theatre club at Cambridge University where he was a student reading Modern and Medieval Languages.

For years he worked alongside Fry, Emma Thompson and Hugh Laurie and their revue won the first-ever Perrier Comedy Award at the Edinburgh Festival in 1981.

But drugs and depression took their toll to such an extent that Julie Walter, the actress, once staged an intervention on the set of the 2005 movie Ahead of the Class.

“She sat me down and said, 'One - Tony, I think you're a good actor, but there's a darkness inside you,” he said. “‘Two, you smell a bit of vodka. Three take it easy.’"

“I think there's a capability in me to be really dangerous and sinister - as opposed to just being a light entertainment comedian.

“I'm pleased mental health is discussed more openly now.

“There used to be a huge stigma. I get very annoyed when people talk about happy pills - because there's no such thing.

“Antidepressants can be really useful and effective, but they're not a panacea.”

He chose to go back on tour with comic Allan Lear, who wrote to him two years ago asking him to sign a card for his wife’s birthday and the pair became friends.

“We're doing gigs - a mix of interviews and improv - and we're doing Edinburgh this year.

“Comedy is a really good way of dealing with tragedy.”