Legal: Ready and able to stand up to lawyers

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Stand-up comedian and actor Hal Cruttenden is unveiled today as the guest speaker for next month’s Scott + Co Scottish Legal Awards night.

There is a history of lawyers – Susan Calman and Bob Mortimer among them – giving up the excitement of the law for the predictability and safety of telling jokes for a living.

That could have been on the cards for Cruttenden too. “I went to St Paul’s School in Barnes. There were lots of lawyers and judges among the old boys. And politicians. George Osborne was in the year above me and Ed Vaizey (culture minister) was in the year below. It was pretty posh but when we played the likes of Eton at sport they let us know we weren’t quite posh enough. But I quite liked that because it let me and my mates claim we were down with the kids in the hood.”

The nearest Cruttenden has been to a courtroom was playing a minor role in an episode of Kavanagh QC, the long-running courtroom drama with John Thaw as the irascible defence barrister.

“I can’t remember the name of the character but he seemed to be in charge of running things in the court. I remember surprising myself by quite how camp he became. I think I delivered all the legal-sounding lines with conviction but it was a bit like Mrs Thatcher and the jokes that were written for her. Neither of us really understood what we were saying.”

Viewers of Let’s Dance for Comic Relief will have seen Cruttenden’s most recent brush with a jury. With fellow comedians Shaun Keaveny and Mark Dolan, their performance as Destiny’s Dad did not steal the show.

“We really worked hard on the routine but you’d never have known it from the shambles on the night. The jury was quite generous. Well, they had to be. But on the evidence we were bang to rights.”

He is looking forward to the legal awards night and to a return visit to Edinburgh. “There’s always a buzz of excitement and expectation at awards dinners. It’s great to tune into that, though I have to confess that my last motivational gig in Edinburgh was before the Olympics last year.

“The British swimming team were based in Edinburgh for training and I was asked to come in and entertain them. It was 9.15pm and there was no drink anywhere.

“I had a good time teasing the team about all the foreign coaches. The swimmers seemed to enjoy it, though thinking back the coaches were a bit grim. Unfortunately, it turned out to be a disappointing Olympics for the swimmers. Do you think it was my fault we hardly won any medals and most of the coaches resigned?”

• The awards night will take place at the Edinburgh International Conference Centre on 28 March. Go to www.thelegalawards.com for booking details.

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