font loading for Top nav

In the

moment+

BEN
MILLER:
FUNNY MAN

From studying quantum electronics at Cambridge to becoming one of the biggest names on the UK comedy circuit, Ben Miller reveals how he got his act together

In the Moment: with Ben Miller

Ever since I can remember, comedy was the thing that I wanted to do,” says comedian, writer, actor and director Ben Miller. “I loved studying for my PhD [in solid-state physics], but I never really had any intention of having a career in it, so I started doing more writing, stand-up and acting, taking part in lots of student plays – all while I probably should have been researching electrons. I can remember walking to the lab in my final year at college – it was a very long walk, probably about four miles – and I had an idea for a one-man show about the former Blue Peter presenter John Noakes. He had disappeared, so I decided to leave my PhD and go and find him. I tracked him down in Mallorca, where he was living on a boat, took photos and incorporated them into the show, which I then took to the Edinburgh Festival. That was my first professional success.

“I met Alexander Armstrong [Ben’s partner in the comedy double-act Armstrong and Miller] on the back of that and knew immediately that we were going to work together. It was an amazing thing to happen and I’m so grateful that it did, because I now realise that it’s very rare to come across somebody and for there to be such trust. You’re throwing in your lot with each other and you know that you’re probably only going to have one shot and that you’re taking that shot together. They were really exciting times. We had a good five years of playing clubs, trying to get our material right, going to Edinburgh and taking a

beating. One year, the reviews said, ‘Armstrong and Miller have created a new kind of comedy – one which isn’t funny and has no jokes.’ That was a bit brutal.

“Just as we were on the brink of making it, Alexander was offered a big part in a musical at the National Theatre. He was saying, ‘Should I do it? Should I not?’ and I was thinking, ‘Please don’t take the part!’ I went out and found a review of the play in the newspaper and sat him down and said, ‘If you take this part and it’s a hit, there might be a picture of you and a sentence about your performance but that’s all you’ll get. Whereas if we do our act and we’re successful, the whole article will be about you. It’ll be about things you’ve written – your comedy – and it will have a life beyond just a little flicker in a newspaper.’ And good for him, he turned it down and we got our break a few weeks later.

“I’ve had so many career highlights since, things that I can’t believe I’ve had the chance to do. I try and push myself to do comedy in different forms: movies, TV, comedy books about physics – whatever way I can, really. Winning a BAFTA for The Armstrong and Miller Show meant an amazing amount. To think we’d come that distance, from writing sketches on scraps of paper to having our own show on TV! I’ll never forget watching Rowan Atkinson at work on the first Johnny English film, either – that’s the sort of moment when you think, there’s no better place for me to be than here.”

Shop the look

“Winning a BAFTA for The Armstrong and
Miller Show meant an amazing amount.
To think we’d gone from writing sketches on scraps
of paper to having our own TV show!”

LONDON CALLING

From scaling the heights of the Shard to revisiting his comedy beginnings in Soho, Ben enjoys a perfect day in his beloved London

THE SOHO LOOK

I love that old tradition of Carnaby Street – the mods, the rudeboys and a real sense of pride in looking sharp

MILLER’S TALE

SOHO “Soho means everything to me in terms of who I am and the world I work in. It’s the place where people start out, a space where you can be yourself, and I love that. There’s a beating heart to it that’s continuous”

STYLE “I don’t particularly believe in being on trend, especially at the age I am – I’m moving towards the classic items in my wardrobe rather than trying to get my pedal pushers a certain length”

FAMILY “It’s really hard to fit in being a dad, but you just have to juggle and if you generally put your children first, you’ll never go far wrong”

TRAVEL “If I could, I’d have my morning croissant in Soho, be in the Cotswolds for lunch, Edinburgh for the afternoon and Malibu in the evening with a sundowner”

ICONS “I really admire Steve Coogan. There’s something so unique about him and he’s such a funny person in real life, too. Oh, and Rowan Atkinson – I just think he’s amazing”

THE DETAILS

STEAL BEN’S STYLE

You need the classic items: your blazer, your jeans and a skeleton of wardrobe basics that always work

REFINE YOUR PALETTE

Colour block your tie and blazer for a cool yet considered finish. It’s a great way to create contrast
Shop now

Photography: Ian Harrison / Interview: Charlene Barton

GET INTO CHARACTER

Dress with confidence. If it feels right, run with it – your mood and sartorial credentials will soar
Shop now

GET SMART

Tailored linen jacket Shop now

TRUE BLUE

Tapered jeansShop now


LOOK SHARP
Recreate Ben’s signature style with a smart
blazer, classic denim and a crisp white shirtShop now

style inspiration

Discover the latest lifestyleedit

Discover the latest lifestyleedit

YOUR DAILY
EDITOR'S PICK

Receive updates on the Style & Living team's
hero M&S products, from fashion to food

Sign up now