Matt Lucas has opened up about visiting his father in prison as a child, and how it was a "stressful" experience. The comedian, who has written a new musical Christmas book, The Boy Who Slept Through Christmas, joined Fearne Cotton on the Happy Place podcast, where they discussed his father’s incarceration for fraud.
The former Bake Off host explained: "I don’t want to talk about it in great depth as I have a brother, and my father’s widow, my father’s stepchildren who are obviously very close to him and want to be sensitive to how they understood that experience. But in this book, there will be children whose parents or siblings will be in prison this Christmas.
"We don’t think a lot about the prison population. My dad made some mistakes in his business and paid the price. It’s not nice going to visit someone in prison that’s for sure. It’s really stressful, as a kid… My dad was convicted of fraud and was there for nine months, and in those days you got a third off for good behaviour, so long as your sentence was under a certain [time].
"My dad was sentenced to nine months and served six. He was in prison with murderers and rapists and drug sellers and all that kind of thing and it’s not massively streamlined. There’s open prison and closed prison. He was moved to an open prison after ten days… that’s pretty scary for people… It had changed him, he swore like a trooper when he came out! That dissipated and he didn’t sweat the small stuff anymore. He did the crime and he did the time."
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Matt also spoke about how his father passed away from a heart attack when he was in his 50s, explaining: "I lost my father when I was 22, he died in late November, and that Christmas was hard, and the next one, and the next one. I’m Jewish so we have Hanukkah but we still get together on Christmas Day… I’ve lost a partner, I’ve lost a parent, both very much before their time, two people gone before their time, so I’m aware of that anxiety and that pressure… there are all sorts of things. This book is poignant but it’s also funny. It’s a comic novel."
The star also admitted that he was having a difficult time when he decided to write the new book, telling Fearne: "I just had some things happen and they knocked me for six. But without that depression, I locked myself away and completely threw myself into this.
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"I wasn’t really sleeping much. It’s very hard for me to write songs until the song is finished. I was living strange hours and just being completely instinctive as a writer which I haven’t found that easy to do… I seem to know more people than I ever knew before, and to actually hide for a couple of months, and to shock my agent!"