Phill is perhaps best known for his role of team captain on BBC Two’s long-running music quiz ‘Never Mind the Buzzcocks’. But he also appears regularly as a guest on several other panel shows, including ‘QI’ and BBC Radio 4’s ‘I’m Sorry I Haven’t a Clue’.
In between his TV appearances he has built a reputation as a fine stand-up comedian, actor, performance poet, cartoonist, and even podcaster. So it is little wonder that he heads back ‘home’ for a bit of welcome relaxation whenever possible.
Born Phillip Swan in Newport, he took his stepfather Alexander’s surname, Jupitus, when he was 16. Now approaching his 51st birthday, he smiled: “The Island is a sunshine place with sunshine people. I don’t get back here as much as I’d like, just because of how busy I am with commitments over the ‘river’, but it really is special to come back.
“I think when many people talk about going back to where they’re from it’s a bit forced; all they’ve done is jump in the car. But the fact the Island is geographically independent makes a huge difference – not just how you get here (not in the car, unless it’s on a floaty thing). Everyone is fiercely proud, quite independent and always passionate about where they live.”
Phill has not ruled out the possibility of returning to the Island to live at some stage. He continued: “I think when I get a bit older and my commitments aren’t as demanding as they currently are, the prospect of coming back would be a lovely one if, for no other reason, than to spend time with the special people who live here.”
Phill has been a team captain on ‘Never Mind the Buzzcocks’ since its inception in 1996. He was joined by fellow captain Noel Fielding in 2009, but the show runs without as regular host. Phill reflected: “What’s nice about it is the show feels a lot more organic now. Without a regular host you’re more responsible to make sure everybody has a good time.
“Noel and I both want everyone to have a laugh, whereas with the regular hosts it had a much more focused direction. I think it’s a bit more scattergun now and more variable as a result of that, but I don’t think that’s necessarily a bad thing; it certainly makes it fun to work on, and I love working with Noel.”
Phill is currently waiting to hear whether ‘Buzzcocks’ will be back for another series in the autumn, He is confident, saying: “I’ve been on it since it started so it’s been a real part of what I’ve done in entertainment. It will be the 17th year if this one happens.
“I always think the reason ‘Buzzcocks’ has got the longevity is because the new people on it each week outnumber the regulars, and even more so now it’s only me and Noel who are the regulars, so we’ve got five new people every week. We’re the glue that holds people together.”
The household names who have appeared on the show include Terry Wogan, Lorraine Kelly, Cilla Black and Dale Winton. Phill’s wish list still includes Paul O’Grady and Bruce Forsyth. He said: “I always find it weird when I’m working with people I’m a fan of; it’s difficult. You have to kind of stop being a fan and get on with the work thing.”
Phill will be heading to the Edinburgh Festival later this year for three shows. He said: “I did a play called Coalition there last year. I can’t say the title of the new play yet as they haven’t announced it, but that will happen. I’m doing a free Fringe show with Deborah Francis White, called the Phill Jupitus Experiment, which is where I go on stage and she has a microphone at the back of the room, and she tells me what to do. It’s weird, she kind of directs me through an arc of the story, and I don’t know what’s going to happen. It could be anything.”
He added: “I’m hoping to tour in the autumn. I’ve got a character improvised show that I do as well, which is where I play an actor – 113 years old – called Vernon Herschel-Harley, who is dead. I play dead people talking about their lives. I play a submarine captain who died in World War Two, and I play the late Phill Jupitus, who died on June 24, 2052, on the eve of his 90th birthday. I’m a quantum temporal hologram from the future, and I can answer any questions about my life between now and my death. It’s a really good show, honestly!”
*Phill is a passionate supporter of the Lily Foundation, the charity which seeks to fundraise and improve research into Mitochondrial Disease.