Comedian’s sad times explored in memoir

Alan Carr's new book
Alan Carr's new book

Alan Carr greets me in typical effervescent form, eager to regale his woes via amusing anecdotes and trademark self-deprecating wit.

After a mammoth tour of Australia, he and his partner - party planner Paul Drayton - have just returned from a holiday in Bali and Lombok, and Carr is sporting the engagement ring Drayton gave him during the trip.

The host of Channel 4’s Chatty Man talks as if he’s doing a stand-up routine, moving quickly from one funny story to the next, often ending in a punchline you feel he’s delivered before.

Many of his hilarious anecdotes are featured in his second memoir Alanatomy, which reads a bit like one of his stand-up shows, full of Carr mishaps and mirth.

But there are excerpts of the book - a follow-on from his first bestselling autobiography Look Who It Is! - which simply aren’t funny, no matter how hard he tries to make light of them. Last year was undoubtedly his annus horribilis.

His partner’s alcoholism and spells in rehab, Carr’s own dubious relationship with booze, along with the crippling anxiety attacks for which he sought help, are all charted in the book, and while he does his best to keep the mood light, it’s clear 2015 was a desperate time for the comedian.

Matters came to a head at his pal Adele’s fancy dress birthday party. Carr dressed up as Purple Rain-era Prince, while Drayton squeezed into a pencil skirt and high-heeled boots, dressed as his mother, and in doing so managed to pull the vertebrae in his back out of line.

He then developed deep vein thrombosis and an embolism. Drayton was bed-bound for weeks and, overnight, Carr turned into his reluctant carer.

“In my head, I thought I could be his nurse, but he did my head in.

‘I would turn into Kathy Bates in Misery, you know, that ‘cockadoodee’ woman. I started crushing Nytol into his food.”

Carr says he and Drayton had always liked a drink but when Drayton injured his back, he was simply drowning his sorrows at home while Carr went to work, doing the chat show and a big UK tour, and the comedian just couldn’t keep an eye on him.

“When people think of alcoholics, they think of Patsy from Ab Fab having a whale of a time. But you’re watching someone kill themselves slowly. I couldn’t cope because when I left the house, I didn’t know if he was going to have a fall, or put something on the hob and fall asleep.”

While all smiles on his chat show, behind the scenes, Carr’s life was falling apart.

“I’d come home and end up having a bottle of wine because I couldn’t cope.”

There were times when he thought he was an alcoholic, he says, but when he saw his partner in a worse state, he realised he was nowhere near it.

“You start to understand that alcoholism isn’t really about drinking,” he writes, “it’s about control, habit, self-worth, depression, escape...

oday, Carr is in a better place. Drayton is out of rehab, and they are happily engaged.

“With alcohol you are never yourself - there was party Paul, hysterical Paul, upset Paul, morose Paul, exuberant Paul. Nowadays I get just Paul, and I like it like that.”

Alanatomy by Alan Carr is published by Michael Joseph, priced £20.