Harry Enfield’s best memory of York? When his toilet roof collapsed…

Transported back to his student days… in an Astra: Harry Enfield. Photographs: [email protected]
16 Feb 2016 @ 7.10 pm
| News

Harry Enfield came back to his old stomping ground of York – and reminisced about his grotty student digs.

The comedian and actor first came to the city when he won a place at York University to read politics in 1979.

He was brought back here by the car makers Vauxhall as part of its #GreatBritishLegends series of promotional films.

‘Bright lights of York’

At the wheel of a Vauxhall Astra, Harry drives around the inner ring road in the rain while answering questions from journalist Dylan Jones, editor of GQ magazine.

His first question was hardly complimentary about York:

“You came to York in 1979 – when London is the hotbed of music, post-punk, clubs; there’s so much going on. Why did you decide to come to York and not London?”

Harry says he was jaded with the scene in the capital.

“I’d been up in London, on and off, for three years, seeing all the punk and post-punk stuff,” he said. “And I was a bit bored of it by then.”

So, the “bright lights of York were more appealing…” says Dylan.

You can't park there! Harry and Dylan Jones outside York Minster
You can’t park there! Harry and Dylan Jones outside York Minster

Rotten housing

But there was another reason for choosing the city: it’s a long way from Sussex.

“My parents lived in Sussex and I wanted to get as far away from them as possible. So York seemed like suitably far away.”

During the drive Harry recalled his horrible student digs.

“It was so wet that when it rained the water came down the wall and the floor had literally rotted away.”

One day Harry and his housemates heard a crash, ran upstairs and discovered that the roof of the toilet had crashed down on the head of a guest.

Things changed when a friend called Brian hauled him up to Edinburgh to do a show on the fringe and he was spotted by the BBC.

In a second film, the man who brought us Loadsamoney, Stavros and Tim Nice-But-Dim, says there’s no such thing as “the art of comedy”.

“Some people are just funny, aren’t they?” Harry muses. “I’m basically famous because I stole a lot of Paul Whitehouse’s early ideas. And he’s a funny man.”