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Stephen Fry opens up on glittering career ahead of TV special

Published 29/12/2015

Stephen Fry spoke of his on-screen partnership with Hugh Laurie
Stephen Fry spoke of his on-screen partnership with Hugh Laurie

Stephen Fry has described his friendship with frequent collaborator Hugh Laurie as "an act of creative falling in love".

Speaking i n an exclusive interview for BBC Two's Stephen Fry: A Life on Screen, the 58-year-old talks openly about his life and career.

He discusses his partnership with Laurie, speaks candidly about his mental health issues and reflects on his time as presenter of QI.

Fry was among a wave of comedians who broke out of the Alternative Comedy scene of the 1980s.

He went on to establish himself as a household name with BBC comedy show A Bit of Fry and Laurie, alongside his long-time partner.

"It was an act of creative falling in love. Comically falling in love. A genuine connection," he said of the successful partnership.

Laurie, who went on to acclaim in American drama series House, is one of several colleagues and friends offering insight into the popular screen personality.

The one-hour celebratory special also hears from John Lloyd, Michael Sheen and Alan Davies, to name a few.

During the programme, viewers will be treated to footage of Fry's early days with the Cambridge Footlights drama club.

"He had a tremendous sort of gravity even at that age of 20. He seemed like a 60-year-old at the age of 20," Laurie recalled.

"He wore tweed and I think stiff collars and smoked a pipe. I mean, ludicrously affected!"

Best known for TV series including Blackadder and Jeeves and Wooster, Fry can currently be heard as the voice of Colonel K in the new CBBC series of Danger Mouse.

Stephen Fry: A Life on Screen also touches on darker times.

"My luck began to fizzle out. I just couldn't take being in the play, or being in London," he said of quitting the West End production of Cell Mates in 1995.

"I saw these rows of newspaper headlines - 'fears for Fry' type thing. And I stared at it in complete disbelief. I mean, I was absolutely staggered.

"'They all are worried that I've committed suicide.' That's the awful thing, isn't it? I can't believe I worried people so much."

He added: "When you feel you can't go on, it's not just a phase, it is a reality. I could not go on. And I would have killed myself if I didn't have the option of disappearing."

Just two years later, Fry was back on top in the 1997 film, Wilde.

"One of the greatest good fortunes I've had in my life was to be able to connect to the greatest heroes of my life - Oscar Wilde, who meant everything to me, who opened the doors of language to me and then, of course, made me examine the nature of my own sexuality and allowed me to be proud of it.

"He was an incredible man who never ceases to astonish me."

Pinki Chambers, commissioning editor for BBC Entertainment, said: "We're delighted to be celebrating the life and works of Stephen Fry, who has contributed so much to the BBC as well as the entertainment world at large.

"This warm-hearted programme documents his wonderful achievements and it is the perfect festive treat."

:: Stephen Fry: A Life on Screen, a Bafta Production, is broadcast on Tuesday December 29 at 9pm on BBC Two.

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