Katherine MacAlister chats to the actor and TV presenter who is now lead vocalist



I had to watch some old YouTube clips of Armstrong and Miller to remind myself of Armstrong’s singing voice. Having launched a tour based around his “gloriously powerful baritone”, it seems extraordinary that this man, who has his fingers in so many pies and genres, has added another fiddle to his already prolific bow. Is there nothing this man can’t do?

“What can I say? I am a master of multi-tasking,” he grins, “but I did a gig at the Hippodrome, and it went from there, they suggested a tour and here we are...” Here being a brief glimpse of the “real” Alexander Armstrong, singing his heart out, chatting to the audience and having a grand old time.

“I did Henley and enjoyed it, finding it an honest evening because it’s me. I’m not hiding behind any characters for a change, which I thought I’d hate it, but it’s rather relaxing.”

Still, singing? Nonplussed by my reaction, Xander, as his friends call him, reminds me that he was a choral scholar at Cambridge and nearly took up a career as a singer. “I was a semi-professional singer in my early 20s and a choral singer at Cambridge, producing three CDs and going on endless global tours. So I have a lot of experience of singing and I did consider becoming a classical baritone at the Royal College of Music in London which would have been a glorious career,” he admits.

So any regrets? “I have friends who are professional singers and they have such a hectic timetable — three nights in Strasbourg, two in Vancouver, because of course music translates all over the world. So if you like living out of a suitcase...” he pauses, “but as you will have gathered that’s just not me.”

Instead the 43-year-old has restricted himself to singing at parties and weddings, until now. “I have a little classical repertoire always ready and was going to do a recital as a fundraiser in our local church (near Chipping Norton) but then the vicar changed and it got shelved,” he says. “But I still have singing lessons every week in London, which pay off, because I can do three or four Pointless shows a day without losing my voice as well as a lot of voiceovers and cartoons.”

Ah yes, Pointless, the BBC quiz show he hosts, whose title the critics say is entirely appropriate, and an unusual diversion for someone with such acclaimed comedy hits and characters up his sleeve as beloved as Brabbins & Fyffe, Dennis Lincoln-Park, the Inappropriate Dentist, Jilted Jim, and the RAF Airmen. “That’s the thing about comedy — it means you get to jump to the front of the queue for serious acting jobs when there are much more talented and serious actors available,” he says. “And Pointless condenses into blocks of three or four shows a day for a few months, and then I can have fun with the rest of my time, like singing in this band which is a jolly nice position to be in.”

Yet his during his last tour, which brought Armstrong to Oxford with Miller, he admitted to being terribly homesick. “I was,” he agreed, “and did far too much that year, but this is just three gigs a week, and I don’t even have to learn my lines,” he smiles.

Currently splitting their time between Oxford and London, the Armstrong family is about to take the plunge and move to Oxfordshire full-time. “We hope to move there permanently in July 2014. I’ve got three boys who aren’t getting smaller and the thing I long for them is space, fresh air and exercise.”

Who will come to the show then? “People have no idea what to expect because while there is chat and banter between numbers I woudn’t sell it as a comedy show. Basically it’s just an evening hanging out with me.”



  • Alexander Armstrong and his band play Oxford Playhouse on November 4. The show is sold out