Lee Mack: 'At 17 I was convinced I could become a pro darts player'

(Image credit: BBC)

Not Going Out star Lee Mack and a host of his comedy pals will be teaming up with professional darts players such as Andy Fordham and Bobby George for Let’s Play Darts Comic Relief trophy all week from Sunday on BBC2...

We caught up with Lee to talk about his rivalry with former co-star Tim Vine, growing up in a pub and what NOT to do when you're on the verge of throwing a 180...

You’re a massive darts fan Lee, so what was it like to play with some of the best players in the world?

" It was a dream come true. I’m a lifelong darts fan so to play with this lot at the place where they hold the world championship [Lakeside, Frimley Green] was brilliant and very nerve-racking."

You were quite a good darts player in your youth as well, weren’t you?

“It’s true although you wouldn’t think that to look at me! I grew up in a pub and, aged 17, I signed on the dole so I could play all day. I was convinced I would become a pro!”

We hear your former Not Going Out co-star Tim Vine also fancies his chances?

"Me and Tim are quite competitive at darts. Not other sports, just darts. In the showbiz world there aren’t that many people who play, so when you find someone who’s into it, you latch onto them! We play a comedy competition every year… and I’ve won it more than him, but whatever! My favourite victory was the time he was 4-0 up and bottled it – I won 5-4. He was properly devastated…"


Your professional darts partner was Martin ‘Wolfie’ Adams, did he give you any good advice during the tournament?

"He did help me to keep calm, because I was getting a little panicky at one stage. Darts is probably the least forgiving sport for a shaky hand. In javelin if you have a shaky hand and it goes 5ft to the left and no one notices, but if you do that in darts you’ll kill the referee!"

Did you get a 180 during the tournament?

"Well, I can’t give anything away, but what I will say is that if you get two treble 20s and then turn round and milk it with the crowd before throwing your final dart for a 180 – that’s not the best way to get the third one in!"

Oh dear…

"Yes on hindsight it was a mistake, but there isn’t one thing I could do in comedy that would be better than hitting that treble 20. I knew I wasn’t going to get it so I thought I might as well enjoy the moment! Martin wasn’t happy."

Some celebrities climb mountains for Comic Relief, were you pleased when they asked you do this instead?

"I’d love to say I had plenty of offers, but this was the only one and I was delighted to do it. What you don’t realise is that it’s quite tiring walking up and down to the darts board for hours on end. These professionals’ games are over quickly. But ours go on for ages so it’s a war of attrition."

Will there be another series of Not Going Out?

"I’m having a little break from it for a while and see how I feel. I genuinely don’t know yet.  I said that if the main characters got together it would be the end of the show, but I might have changed my mind. Then again it might be the end of that and the start of something else, a spin-off series or something. Like George and Mildred was to Man About The House? (laughs)... We might keep it going, we might do a spin-off, we don’t know yet."


Sean Marland

Sean is a Senior Feature writer for TV Times, What's On TV and TV & Satellite Week, who also writes for whattowatch.com. He's been covering the world of TV for over 15 years and in that time he's been lucky enough to interview stars like Ian McKellen, Tom Hardy and Kate Winslet. His favourite shows are I'm Alan Partridge, The Wire, People Just Do Nothing and Succession and in his spare time he enjoys drinking tea, doing crosswords and watching football.