Is Chris Addison a famous face? The honest answer, he admits, is it depends where he is. In mainstream Britain, he enjoys a decent enough profile as an affable comic and actor. Over in America, where he’s been making it as a director, he’s less recognisable. But in one London postcode, he’s a veritable A-lister.
‘It was like being in a Hollywood movie,’ he laughs, as he recalls a walk across Westminster shortly after starring in the first season of The Thick Of It as the hapless junior SpAD Ollie. ‘Everywhere I went people were going “it’s him! It’s him!” – much more than anywhere else I’d been.’ That cult fame has followed him ever since – at least in SW1.
You can see why. Almost ten years on from its conclusion, Armando Iannucci’s political satire remains a universal reference point in Westminster. While Addison and his fellow stars started off playing characters inspired by the late-Blair/Brown/Cameron era, they ended up being more recognisable than most of those they were parodying.
Still, Addison hasn’t jumped on Zoom to talk about The Thick of It (he’s moved on; even if some of us haven’t). He’s here to discuss the second series of Breeders: the brutally-honest parenting sitcom he co-produces, and sometimes directs, with fellow Brit dads Martin Freeman (who also stars alongside Daisy Haggard) and Simon Blackwell.
From some of the marketing material, you might assume you’ve got the measure of Breeders. Two parents, two kids – that familiar ‘sitcom’ pose that suggests a healthy dose of silliness is on its way before long. And you’d be completely wrong.
For Breeders, as Addison explains, isn’t actually a show about children whatsoever but about parenting itself. ‘It’s really hard bringing up kids,’ he says (Addison himself speaking as a father of two).