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“It’s the Scottish Presbyterian this-will-never-work thing,” he says, the flip-side being a similar sense of humour. I remember at his funeral his old mates said, ‘He was always very pleased to see you on television,’ but I don’t remember him saying that very much.

If he commented on a programme, he would say something like, ‘I didn’t like the tie you were wearing.’ I could be interviewing the Dalai Lama, the Pope and the Queen and he’d go, ‘Yeah, fine but I thought that joke you did at the beginning was a bit off-colour.’ ” He may sound Home Counties, have the perfect BBC presenter’s voice, but does he feel Scottish?

“Some people have overtaken me.” A dash of gravitas? “I still feel like I’m an 18-year-old in awe of the world,” he continues, in disbelief.

But, if time has been relatively kind, the television industry hasn’t been nearly so gentle to the former criminal barrister who made a decisive break for showbusiness after a long, busy, dithery period of having a foot in both camps.

, the long-running improvisation game-show that helped usher in the era of comedy’s new cultural dominance.

And not long after that became a monster hit, he broke the mould again with a quirky, irreverent C4 chat show that anticipated the teasing, familiar way with celebrities that Alan Carr, Graham Norton and Jonathan Ross have now made almost wearyingly standard.

An actor who is, to all outward observation, a member of the regular cast, but who still receives guest billing.

”, retaliated with “The old jokes are always the best”, only to be parried with, “Yes, I’ve read your books!Often with many cases exclusivity can have an effect.If a cast member is a regular, then that show has them somewhat "locked down," and they have to stay at the cost of other projects.This can also happen if a guest star becomes an Ensemble Darkhorse and is written into future episodes to capitalize on their unexpected popularity, which may eventually lead to a Promotion to Opening Titles.Other times, however, they remain guest stars due to difficulties modifying the opening titles.

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