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    5. Keith Allen: “In my generation, the police were terrible – ..


    Keith Allen: “In my generation, the police were terrible – they just wanted to beat people up”

    “I'm more than capable of knowing if this is offensive or not”: Keith Allen Credit & Copyright: Jeff Gilbert

    The idea was to interview Keith Allen – actor, occasional comedian, musician, storyteller, father of singer, songwriter and actress Lily, actor Alfie and many other kids – at the Groucho Club. Few figures epitomize the heyday of 1990s hedonism quite like him, so what could be better than London's busiest drinking hall of the era? We had a couple martinis and he showed me where Damien Hirst and Blur hang out.

    Unfortunately, Keith didn't have any of that. “I gave up on that idea,” he laughs as he sits in the sterile Broadcasting House conference room. “I got into some kind of comfortable bracket. There are Fleet Street files that never disappear. I get Hellraiser Keith Allen or Comic Keith Allen. I haven't been a comedian for 40 years. Lazy journalism annoys me. But you learn to live with it.”

    I quickly cross out “Hellraiser?” from my notebook.

    Allen currently lives near Stroud in Gloucestershire with his partner and actress Tamzin Malleson (whom he met on the set of the medical drama The Body) and their 17-year-old daughter Teddy-Rose, also an actress. He spends a lot of time in the garden, where he has “bees, butterflies, a pig, a dog, two cats.”

    With a long white mustache and goatee and orange-tinted glasses, Allen looks like a cross between Hunter S. Thompson and Hulk Hogan. At 69, he's been long enough to take all of this with a grain of salt, even if he's sometimes misrepresented. He won't talk about his personal life, in particular his famous children Lily and Alfie, which he shared with his ex-wife Alison Owen, with whom he had his ups and downs in a relationship. But otherwise he's in good shape.

    Fat Les: Damien Hirst, Keith Allen, Matt Lucas and Alex James in 1998 year. Image Credit & Copyright: Julian Meiki/Shutterstock

    “When I look back on it all, my acting career never helped that I wrote Vindaloo, and it never helped my acting career that when I was poor they gave me a free lifetime membership to Groucho. . This meant that you could open an account.

    “What I didn’t realize was that the place where I had a lot of fun was the place where all the people who would like to hire me or not hung out,” he adds. “It's become like…what do they call it on your neck?” — Zhernov? I speak. “Millstones,” Allen replies.

    The mention of Vindaloo, the tongue-in-cheek football anthem he co-wrote with Fat Les before the 1998 World Cup, is a reminder of how long Allen has been a part of pop culture's big moments. A common criticism is that he didn't live up to his potential. Lily once called her father a “saboteur” and said that he couldn't “use his comic gift for a career”, but by most standards, he was an enviable success.

    “I was lucky with the choice,” says Allen. “I did a lot of cultural iconography simply because I was in the right place at the right time. I was in [movies] Trainspotting, Shallow Grave, [songs] World in Motion, Vindaloo, I was there at the beginning of channel 4.

    “Then, when people get older, there are people who remember something from the early 1980s, but their children or grandchildren know me from Robin Hood. This could answer a few questions about “Why the hell is he famous?”.

    He appears in the new BBC series Steeltown Murders, a dark re-enactment of a real-life serial killer hunt in South Wales in the 1970s and 2000s. Allen's dark and bleak performance is a reminder that he's not just having fun and playing.

    The story is personal to him: he grew up in Wales and studied in Cardiff in the 1970s. “I was probably about a mile away from where one of the murders took place that day,” he says. His memories of the police are not very pleasant.

    “There may have been a golden age when the police cut off your ear and sent you away, but I don't remember that,” he said. speaks. “In my generation, they were mostly ex-servicemen, and they were fucking animals. They were terrible. Nobody went to the police to make society better. They went to beat people up.”

    Keith Allen with Sharon Morgan in the upcoming BBC drama The Steeltown Murders. Credit & Copyright: TomJackson/BBC. He was born in Llanelli in 1953. His father was a submariner, and when he was sent to Singapore, 11-year-old Allen won a scholarship to Brentwood, a boarding school in Essex. But two years later he was expelled for having changed the organ pipes of the chapel before assembly. He was later sent to borstal before making his way through odd jobs into the nascent world of alternative comedy in the 1980s. He was the opening act for The Clash.

    At one point he was squatting in Eaton Square working as an electrician on stage for the Max Bygraves show Singalongamax. Nearing the end of his contract, Allen decided to walk across the stage naked in the middle of a performance, an incident that led Bygraves to tell him that he would never work in a theater again.

    Does he consider himself a working class? “I was born into the working class,” he says. “My parents were ambitious, but we didn't have any middle-class trappings. But I didn't feel like working class until I went to Brentwood. Then I noticed I was a little different when my dad dropped me off in a Standard 8 Triumph next to Douglas Adams' dad's Aston Martin DB8. Douglas Adams taught me how to play the piano.”

    Along with Griff Rhys Jones and Noel Edmonds, they make up an incredible quartet of matching entertainment figures at the same school at the same time.

    Keith Allen as the Sheriff of Nottingham in Robin Hood. Photo: BBC/Tiger Aspect. It's like the word “art” – I can't stand it. I'll leave it up to you to decide how good or bad something is – I won't tell you it's art. I feel the same way about waking up and studying.”

    In terms of arbitrary standards? I ask, trying to connect the dots. “I am more than capable of understanding whether something is offensive or not,” he replies. “I don't need someone to tell me that I was woken up. I don't. I'm just sensitive to the world around me. I'm more than capable of not waking up, trust me. I find some comedians who are considered racist or homophobic or whatever to be very funny. I just do it.

    “I remember I once told Jim Bowen that the difference between him and me is that we can tell the same joke,” he adds, “but, given the context of everything around me, people might think that I'm not a racist. But the people who came to see you [Bowen] weren't sure, and that's the problem.

    “You don't have to go to Bernard Manning, who was a brilliant comedian by the way, but for some people it can be very offensive. But I wouldn't ban him.”

    Keith Allen with daughter Lily in 2007. Photo: MJ Kim/Getty Images.

    A lot of Allen's conversations are like this: he jumps from topic to topic, just like he went from project to project without a clear through line. He never voted in a general election, he didn't have a credit card, and he says he's never been in debt other than his mortgage.

    “I know the position of my mouth and my hand very well,” he says. “Which informs what you do and don't do. I've done a lot of good work, but also a lot of shit. It's not me blowing my own trumpet, but I'm telling the kids, don't be arrogant. If it's crap, shit, but always do it. I don't tend to watch my work. If I'm happy when I shoot it, that's enough for me, and then I can bear the brunt of people asking why I did something, and I can say, ” Because I didn't have any money and I needed ten grand.”

    Is he sure he doesn't want to talk about Lily and Alfie? /p>

    “Tell them I didn't say anything,” he says. Silence is unnatural for him.

    The Steeltown Murders start on BBC1 on Monday at 9pm; box set available on BBC iPlayer

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