Hugh Dennis

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Hugh Dennis
Hugh Dennis (38166341085) cropped.jpg
Hugh Dennis in 2017
Birth namePeter Hugh Dennis
Born (1962-02-13) 13 February 1962 (age 59)[1]
Kettering, Northamptonshire, England
MediumStand-up, television, radio
EducationUniversity College School
Alma materSt John's College, Cambridge
Years active1989–present
GenresPolitical satire, impressionism, improvisational comedy, insult comedy
Subject(s)British politics, family, current events
  • Miranda Carroll
    (m. 1987; div. 1993)
  • Kate Abbot-Anderson
    (m. 1996; sep. 2015)
Partner(s)Claire Skinner (2017–present)
Notable works and rolesThe Mary Whitehouse Experience
Mock the Week
The Now Show
Not Going Out

Peter Hugh Dennis (born 13 February 1962) is an English comedian, presenter, actor, writer, impressionist and voice-over artist, who is one half of Punt and Dennis with comedy partner Steve Punt. He played Pete Brockman, the father in the BBC One sitcom Outnumbered and since 2014 he has played Toby in the long-running sitcom Not Going Out.

Since 2005, Dennis has been a regular panellist on the BBC Two satirical comedy show Mock the Week.

Early life

Dennis was born in Kettering, Northamptonshire, the younger son of schoolteacher Dorothy Mary (Hinnels)[2] and John Dennis.[3] His brother, also named John, was the British Ambassador to Angola from 2014 to 2018.[4][5] He grew up in Mill Hill in North London as his father was appointed as Vicar of John Keble Church, Mill Hill soon after his birth. His father later became the Bishop of Knaresborough and then of Saint Edmundsbury and Ipswich.[6]

Dennis was educated at University College School in London. During his time at UCS, he played rugby with Will Self and was head boy in his final year.[7]

Subsequently, Dennis went on to read for the Geographical Tripos as an exhibitioner at St John's College, Cambridge. His dissertation was titled "The Spatial Distribution of Elementary Education in 19th-century Wakefield".[8] He also joined the Footlights, where he first met Punt and club president Nick Hancock and the trio collaborated on a number of projects besides the annual revue.[citation needed]

In a 2016 interview with ITV's This Morning programme, Dennis said that he was approached by Britain's domestic intelligence service, MI5, whilst at Cambridge University and attended a preliminary interview; however, he eventually decided that he did not want to take the matter any further, particularly due to being told during the interview that the job would require him to "do people over".[9]

After graduating with a first (his nickname was "Desk"),[6][10] Dennis worked for Unilever for six years in the marketing department while performing comedy with Punt at venues including The Comedy Store at weekends.[11][12] The duo then formed half of the team of The Mary Whitehouse Experience on BBC Radio 1. When the BBC commissioned the series for BBC Two, Dennis took a sabbatical as the rehearsal days changed to weekdays and eventually went into comedy full-time.[8]

Dennis uses his middle name Hugh as his stage name because the actor Peter Dennis was already a member of Equity; he explained, in an episode of Would I Lie To You that he'd requested to keep his birth name as there was little chance of confusing the two actors, due to their age difference; Equity responded by saying normally this would have been allowed, but advised against it as the elder Peter Dennis was the chair of Equity's name-changing committee.[13][14]

Radio and television career

Dennis during a radio recording of
The Now Show, 2005

While an impressionist, Dennis did voices for Spitting Image[15] and appeared with Punt as resident support comics on two TV series hosted on the BBC by Jasper Carrott.[16][17] Dennis also appeared twice as a contestant on the topical panel show Have I Got News for You, including one opposite former schoolmate Self.

Punt and Dennis' radio career includes over a decade of performing Punt and Dennis, It's Been a Bad Week, The Party Line and the satirical radio comedy show, The Now Show. On The Now Show , Dennis is in a line-up including Punt, Mitch Benn, Laura Shavin, Jon Holmes and Marcus Brigstocke. He is friends with Chris Morris and has had cameos on Brass Eye as well as doing the narration for the CBBC show Sam and Mark's Guide To Dodging Disasters.[citation needed]

In December 2009, Dennis joined Oz Clarke in presenting the sixty minute Christmas special Oz and Hugh Drink to Christmas broadcast on BBC Two.[18] In December 2010 the pair returned for a four-part series called Oz and Hugh Raise the Bar, which puts them in a competition to create a bar featuring only local British food and drinks.[19]

Dennis has starred in a number of sitcoms, including My Hero, in which he played obnoxious GP Piers Crispin. From 2007 to 2014, he starred in Outnumbered, a semi-improvised sitcom based around family life[20] and won a BAFTA nomination in the comedy category for the 2009 Christmas special.[21] On Radio 4 he also featured in the sitcom Revolting People which, like Outnumbered, was co-written by Andy Hamilton.

Besides his regular television work, Dennis is a panellist on Mock the Week and has appeared in all episodes since its premiere in 2005, with the exception of a special episode of the programme that was broadcast as part of David Walliams' 24 Hour Panel People[22] He is a regular guest on various BBC-broadcast comedy panel game shows such as They Think It's All Over, Would I Lie To You?, QI and has guest hosted Have I Got News for You. In 2011, Dennis hosted the short-lived improvisational comedy series Fast and Loose.

Beginning on 16 February 2012, Dennis and Julia Bradbury hosted a four-part BBC One documentary series The Great British Countryside.[8] From October 2014, Dennis has started appearing in the sitcom Not Going Out as Toby.

In 2016 Dennis appeared as the Bank Manager in the acclaimed BBC Three series Fleabag, acting alongside Phoebe Waller-Bridge in the first, fourth, and final episodes of series 1.[citation needed]

In 2019 he was a narrator in ITV's series Yorkshire Airport.[citation needed]

In February 2021 Dennis started presenting The Great British Dig on More 4.[23]

Personal life

Dennis lives in London. He has been married twice: to Miranda Carroll (married in 1987; divorced in 1993), and to Catherine "Kate" Abbot-Anderson (married in 1996[citation needed]; separated in 2015), with whom he has a son (Freddie) and a daughter (Meg).[6][24] In June 2018, it was confirmed that Dennis was in a relationship with actress Claire Skinner, who starred opposite him in the sitcom Outnumbered.[25]

In July 2008, Dennis received an Honorary Fellowship from the University of Northampton.[26]

Dennis took part in the 2007 L'Étape du Tour, cycling an open stage of the Tour de France for amateurs which was held in the mountains two weeks before the main event. He completed it in 11 hours and 7 minutes. He said: "I was an hour ahead of the broom, the vehicle that gathers the slower riders and disqualifies them."[27] In October 2011, Dennis completed the Great South Run in Portsmouth for the Alzheimer's Society.[28]

Dennis was the subject of the BBC One programme Who Do You Think You Are? (broadcast on 12 September 2012) in which he tries to find out more about his two grandfathers and their backgrounds.[29] His paternal great-grandfather was a miner at Kiveton Park Colliery near Rotherham whose younger son, Dennis' grandfather, served as an officer during World War I, and was coincidentally trained at Dennis' alma mater St John's College.

His maternal grandfather also served in France during the Great War and was in the Suffolk Regiment.

His father was the bishop John Dennis, and he has an older brother, also called John Dennis, who is a diplomat and was the British Ambassador to Angola from 2014 to 2018.[30]

Dennis is a supporter of Arsenal F.C.,[31] and also a fellow of the Royal Geographical Society.[32]


Year Show Role Notes
1989–1991 Spitting Image Various characters Voice only
1991–1992 The Mary Whitehouse Experience Various characters Co-creator/writer
1992 Me, You and Him Harry Dunstan Co-creator
A Word in Your Era Prince John 1 episode
Springing Lenin Peter TV Short
1994 The Easter Stories Gardener 1 episode
1994–1995 The Imaginatively Titled Punt & Dennis Show Various characters 12 episodes
1996 The Detectives Seth 1 episode
1997 Brass Eye Dr Balb Kubrox 1 episode
2000 Doctors Nick Browning 1 episode
Jack Dee's Happy Hour Jed Cake Voice only; 8 episodes
2000–2006 My Hero Dr Piers Crispin
2002 TV to Go Various characters Series 2
2005– Mock the Week Himself, regular panellist
2007–2014, 2016 Outnumbered Pete Brockman Series Regular
2009 New Tricks Tony Granville 1 episode
Hotel Babylon Jim Doody 1 episode
2009, 2010 QI Himself, guest panellist 2 episodes
2011 Fast and Loose Himself Host
2013 Agatha Christie's Marple Major Phillpot "Endless Night"[33]
2014–present Over to Bill[34] Bill Onion
2014–present Not Going Out Toby Also portrayed Captain Morris in 1 episode
2015 Ballot Monkeys Martin Frost
2016 Drunk History Napoleon/Richard III 2 episodes
Midsomer Murders Milo Craven Episode 19.1 "The Village That Rose from the Dead"
Britain's Classroom Heroes Presenter
2016, 2017 Insert Name Here Guest panellist 2 episodes
2016–2019 Fleabag Bank Manager 4 episodes
2017 The Red Nose African Convoy Himself One-off special
Taskmaster Contestant 8 episodes
The Zoo Narrator 15 episodes[35]
Possibly... The Best Adverts in the World Presenter One-off special
2018 Richard Osman's House of Games Contestant 5 episodes (won)
Trollied Jerome 1 episode
Nativity Rocks! Robert Hargreaves
2019 Urban Myths Richard Asher 1 episode
Yorkshire Airport Narrator 6 episodes
2020–present The Great British Dig Presenter
2021–present The Great British Dig: History in Your Back Garden Presenter [36]
2021 No Time to Die Dr Hardy Cameo


Year Award Category Nominated work Result Ref.
1994 Writers' Guild of Great Britain Awards Light Entertainment Canned Carrott Won
2010 BAFTA TV Awards Best Male Comedy Performance Outnumbered: The Christmas Special Nominated
2011 British Comedy Awards Best TV Comedy Actor Outnumbered Nominated [37]


  1. ^ {England and Wales Birth Index 1916–2005}
  2. ^ Dod's Parliamentary Companion 1995, Dod's Parliamentary Companion Ltd, p. 297
  3. ^ "Hugh Dennis: My family values". The Guardian. 16 January 2015.
  4. ^ "Change of Her Majesty's Ambassador to Angola". Government of the United Kingdom. Retrieved 3 May 2018.
  5. ^ "Change of Her Majesty's Ambassador to Angola". Government of the United Kingdom. Retrieved 3 May 2018.
  6. ^ a b c "Hugh Dennis on working with the kids of Outnumbered". Daily Record. 26 December 2009.
  7. ^ Have I Got News for You. Season 13. Episode 2. 25 April 1997. BBC Two.
  8. ^ a b c "Hugh Dennis: I'm a happy rambler". Radio Times. 16 February 2012.
  9. ^ Dara O Briain And Hugh Dennis Talk 150 Episodes Of Mock The Week | This Morning, 14 June 2016, retrieved 27 July 2017
  10. ^ "Outnumbered's Hugh Dennis: 'It's not good for my image but I like cardigan's". Daily Express. February 2015. Retrieved 18 September 2019.
  11. ^ "Why Footlights is a breeding ground for double acts". BBC. 6 December 2010.
  12. ^ "In your funnybone rather than your face: Punt and Dennis". The Independent. 3 July 1994.
  13. ^ Hardwick, Viv (7 April 2007). "A headline act". The Northern Echo (Newsquest North East): p. 26.
  14. ^[bare URL]
  15. ^ Deans, Jason (17 May 2004). "Spitting Image plans TV comeback". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 4 May 2010.
  16. ^ Rampton, James (3 July 1994). "Show people: In your funnybone rather than your face: Punt and Dennis". The Independent. London.
  17. ^ "Impressions are back in fashion: The great pretenders". The Guardian. 30 September 2003.
  18. ^ "Oz And Hugh Drink To Christmas". BBC. 20 December 2009. Retrieved 5 January 2010.
  19. ^ The BBC (21 December 2010). "Oz and Hugh Raise the Bar". BBC. Retrieved 26 December 2010.
  20. ^ "Outnumbered Press Pack". BBC. 17 August 2007. Retrieved 22 December 2009.
  21. ^ "BAFTA Awards 2009". Retrieved 2 May 2014.
  22. ^ "The Show". Mock the Week. Retrieved 28 December 2007.
  23. ^ Hugh Dennis to present The Great British Dig: History in Your Back Garden on More4 ; Channel 4
  24. ^ "Marriages England and Wales 1984–2005".
  25. ^ "'Outnumbered' Actor Hugh Dennis Confirms Relationship With On-Screen Wife Claire Skinner". HuffPost. 1 July 2018. Retrieved 1 July 2018.
  26. ^ Hugh Dennis welcomed to The University of Northampton Archived 18 July 2008 at the Wayback Machine
  27. ^ "Punt and Dennis – The right stuff". 8 August 2007. Retrieved 27 December 2018.
  28. ^ "Great South Run: £3m raised at Portsmouth event". BBC News. 30 October 2011. Retrieved 27 December 2018.
  29. ^ "Hugh Dennis" Who Do You Think You Are? Episode 5 of 10, Series 9. Broadcast 12 September 2012.
  30. ^ "Hugh Dennis: My family values". The Guardian. 16 January 2015. Archived from the original on 14 October 2020. Retrieved 21 September 2019.
  31. ^ "Hugh Dennis on being a 'complete idiot' around Hugh Laurie". Radio Times. 16 June 2013.
  32. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 13 May 2012. Retrieved 20 June 2017.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  33. ^ "Filming begins on ITV's Agatha Christie Marple adaptation, Endless Night". ITV. 17 March 2013.
  34. ^ "Can Comedy Playhouse save the British sitcom?". The Daily Telegraph. 29 April 2014. Retrieved 2 May 2014.
  35. ^ "Hugh Dennis to narrate new CBBC comedy lifting lid on zoo animal antics". Basingstoke Gazette.
  36. ^ "Hugh Dennis to present The Great British Dig: History in Your Back Garden on More4". Retrieved 15 February 2021.
  37. ^ "The British Comedy Awards – Past Winners". Retrieved 8 April 2020.

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