Open main menu

Peter Hugh Dennis (born 13 February 1962), known professionally as Hugh Dennis, is an English comedian, actor, writer, impressionist and voice-over artist, best known for being one half of Punt and Dennis with comedy partner Steve Punt, and playing Pete Brockman, the father in the BBC One sitcom Outnumbered.

Hugh Dennis
Now Show 2005 Hugh Dennis.jpg
Dennis during a radio recording of
The Now Show, 2005
Birth namePeter Hugh Dennis
Born (1962-02-13) 13 February 1962 (age 56)[1]
Kettering, Northamptonshire, England
MediumStand-up, television, radio
EducationUniversity College School
Alma materSt John's College, Cambridge
Years active1989 – present
GenresPolitical satire, improvisational comedy, insult comedy
Subject(s)British politics, family, current events
SpouseMiranda Carroll (1987–1993)
Kate Abbot-Anderson (1996–2015; separated)
Partner(s)Claire Skinner (2017–present)
Notable works and rolesThe Mary Whitehouse Experience
Mock the Week
The Now Show
Not Going Out

Since 2005, Dennis has been a regular panellist on the BBC Two satirical comedy show Mock the Week. Since October 2014, Dennis has appeared in the sitcom Not Going Out as Toby. He also starred as the narrator in CBBC's The Zoo.


Early lifeEdit

Dennis, the younger of two boys, was born in Kettering, Northamptonshire,[2] the son of schoolteacher Dorothy M. (Hinnels) and John D. Dennis.[3] His brother, also named John, was the British Ambassador to Angola from 2014 to 2018.[4][5] He grew up in Mill Hill in North London as his father was appointed as parish priest of Mill Hill soon after his birth. His father later became the Bishop of Knaresborough and then of Saint Edmundsbury and Ipswich.[6]

Dennis was educated at University College School in London. During his time at UCS, he played rugby with Will Self and was head boy in his final year.[7]

Subsequently, Dennis went on to read for the Geography Tripos as an exhibitioner at St John's College, Cambridge. His dissertation was titled "The Spatial Distribution of Elementary Education in 19th-century Wakefield".[8] He also joined the Footlights, where he first met Punt and club president Nick Hancock and the trio collaborated on a number of projects besides the annual revue.[9]

In a 2016 interview with ITV's This Morning Programme, Dennis revealed that he was approached by Britain's domestic intelligence service, MI5, whilst at Cambridge University and attended a preliminary interview; however, he eventually decided that he did not want to take the matter any further, particularly due to being told during the interview that the job would require him to "do people over".[10][11]

After graduating with a first,[6] Dennis worked for Unilever for six years in the marketing department while performing comedy with Punt at venues including The Comedy Store on the weekends.[12][13] The duo then formed half of the team of The Mary Whitehouse Experience on BBC Radio 1. Dennis uses his middle name Hugh as his stage name because Equity already had a Peter Dennis when he first started.[14]

When the BBC commissioned the series for BBC Two, Dennis took a sabbatical as the rehearsal days changed to weekdays and eventually went into comedy full-time.[8]

Radio and television careerEdit

Hugh Dennis in 2017

While an impressionist, Dennis did voices for Spitting Image[15] and appeared with Punt as resident support comics on two TV series hosted on the BBC by Jasper Carrott.[16][17] Dennis also appeared twice as a contestant on the topical panel show Have I Got News for You, including one opposite former schoolmate Self.

Punt and Dennis' radio career includes over a decade of performing Punt and Dennis, It's Been a Bad Week, The Party Line and the satirical radio comedy show, The Now Show. On The Now Show , Dennis is in a line-up including Punt, Mitch Benn, Laura Shavin, Jon Holmes and Marcus Brigstocke. He is friends with Chris Morris and has had cameos on Brass Eye as well as doing the narration for the CBBC show Sam and Mark's Guide To Dodging Disasters.

In December 2009, Dennis joined Oz Clarke in presenting the sixty minute Christmas special Oz and Hugh Drink to Christmas broadcast on BBC Two.[18] In December 2010 the pair returned for a four-part series called Oz and Hugh Raise the Bar, which puts them in a competition to create a bar featuring only local British food and drinks.[19]

Dennis has starred in a number of sitcoms, including My Hero, in which he played obnoxious GP Piers Crispin. From 2007 to 2014, he starred in Outnumbered, a semi-improvised sitcom based around family life[20] and won a BAFTA nomination in the comedy category for the 2009 Christmas special.[21] On Radio 4 he also featured in the sitcom Revolting People which, like Outnumbered, was co-written by Andy Hamilton.

Besides his regular television work, Dennis is a panellist on Mock the Week and has appeared in every episode since its inception. He is a regular guest on various BBC-broadcast comedy panel game shows such as They Think It's All Over, Would I Lie To You?, QI and has guest hosted Have I Got News for You. In 2011, Dennis hosted the short-lived improvisational comedy series Fast and Loose.

Beginning on 16 February 2012, Dennis and Julia Bradbury hosted a four-part BBC One documentary series The Great British Countryside.[8] From October 2014, Dennis has started appearing in the sitcom Not Going Out as Toby.

Personal lifeEdit

Dennis lives in London. In 2015 he separated from his second wife, Catherine ("Kate") Abbot-Anderson, whom he had married in 1996.[22] They have a son, Freddie (born 1997) and a daughter Meg (born 1999).[6][23] His first marriage to Miranda Carroll ended in divorce in 1993, the pair having married in 1987. In June 2018, it was confirmed Dennis was in a relationship with actress Claire Skinner, who starred opposite him in the sitcom Outnumbered.[24]

In July 2008, Dennis received an Honorary Fellowship from the University of Northampton.[25]

Dennis took part in the 2007 L'Étape du Tour, cycling an open stage of the Tour de France for amateurs which was held in the mountains 2 weeks before the main event. This was discussed in the fifth series of Mock the Week and also QI series six, episode 5 'France'. He started in 2,400th place of 8,000 entrants, finishing in 3,400th from 4,000 who completed it, five hours behind the winner. In October 2011, Dennis completed the Great South Run in Portsmouth for the Alzheimers Society.[citation needed]

Dennis was the subject of the BBC One programme Who Do You Think You Are? (broadcast on 12 September 2012) in which he tries to find out more about his two grandfathers and their backgrounds.[26] His paternal great-grandfather was a miner at Kiveton Park Colliery near Sheffield whose younger son, Dennis' grandfather, served as an officer during World War I, and was coincidentally trained at Dennis' alma mater St John's College.

His maternal grandfather also served in France during the Great War and was in the Suffolk Regiment. Dennis has one brother, John David Dennis, who is a career diplomat, currently serving as the British Ambassador to Angola.[27]

Dennis is a supporter of Arsenal F.C.[28] and also a fellow[29] of the Royal Geographical Society.


Year Show Role Notes
1989–1991 Spitting Image Various characters Voice only
1991–1992 The Mary Whitehouse Experience Various characters Co-creator/writer
1992 Me, You and Him Harry Dunstan Co-creator
A Word in Your Era Prince John 1 episode
Springing Lenin Peter TV Short
1994 The Easter Stories Gardener 1 episode
1994–1995 The Imaginatively Titled Punt & Dennis Show Various characters 12 episodes
1996 The Detectives Seth 1 episode
1997 Brass Eye Dr Balb Kubrox 1 episode
2000 Doctors Nick Browning 1 episode
Jack Dee's Happy Hour Jed Cake Voice only; 8 episodes
2000–2006 My Hero Dr Piers Crispin
2002 TV to Go Various characters Series 2
2005– Mock the Week Himself, regular panellist
2007–2014, 2016 Outnumbered Pete Brockman Series Regular
2009 New Tricks Tony Granville 1 episode
Hotel Babylon Jim Doody 1 episode
2009, 2010 QI Himself, guest panellist 2 episodes
2011 Fast and Loose Himself Host
2013 Agatha Christie's Marple Major Phillpot "Endless Night"[30]
2014– Over to Bill[31] Bill Onion
2014– Not Going Out Toby Also portrayed Captain Morris in 1 episode
2015 Ballot Monkeys Martin Frost
2016 Drunk History Napoleon/Richard III 2 episodes
Fleabag Bank Manager 3 episodes
Midsomer Murders Milo Craven Episode 19.1 "The Village That Rose from the Dead"
Britain's Classroom Heroes Presenter
2016, 2017 Insert Name Here Guest panellist 2 episodes
2017 The Red Nose African Convoy Himself One-off special
Taskmaster Contestant 8 episodes
2017 The Zoo Narrator 15 episodes[32]
2017 Possibly... The Best Adverts In The World Presenter One-off special
2018 Richard Osman's House of Games Contestant 5 episodes (won)


  1. ^ {England and Wales Birth Index 1916–2005}
  2. ^ Sheridan, Peter (19 February 2011). "Hugh Dennis was so boring I divorced him: Ex-wife reveals the ups and downs of being married to Outnumbered star". Daily Mail. Retrieved 5 January 2015.
  3. ^ "Hugh Dennis: My family values". The Guardian. 16 January 2015.
  4. ^ "Change of Her Majesty's Ambassador to Angola". GOV.UK. Retrieved 2018-05-03.
  5. ^ "Change of Her Majesty's Ambassador to Angola". GOV.UK. Retrieved 2018-05-03.
  6. ^ a b c "Hugh Dennis on working with the kids of Outnumbered". Daily Record. 26 December 2009.
  7. ^ Have I Got News for You. Season 13. Episode 2. 25 April 1997. BBC Two.
  8. ^ a b c "Hugh Dennis: I'm a happy rambler". Radio Times. 16 February 2012.
  9. ^ "In a taxi with...Hugh Dennis". Daily Mail. 10 July 2010.
  10. ^ This Morning (2016-06-14), Dara O Briain And Hugh Dennis Talk 150 Episodes Of Mock The Week | This Morning, retrieved 2017-07-27
  11. ^ "'I'd be expected to do people over. That's the bit I was uncomfortable about': How Hugh Dennis turned down MI5 for a life of comedy". Mail Online. Retrieved 2018-05-28.
  12. ^ "Why Footlights is a breeding ground for double acts". BBC. 6 December 2010.
  13. ^ "In your funnybone rather than your face: Punt and Dennis". The Independent. 3 July 1994.
  14. ^ Hardwick, Viv (7 April 2007). "A headline act". The Northern Echo (Newsquest North East): p. 26.
  15. ^ Deans, Jason (17 May 2004). "Spitting Image plans TV comeback". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 2010-05-04.
  16. ^ Rampton, James (3 July 1994). "Show people: In your funnybone rather than your face: Punt and Dennis". The Independent. London.
  17. ^ "Impressions are back in fashion: The great pretenders". 30 September 2003.
  18. ^ "Oz And Hugh Drink To Christmas". BBC. 20 December 2009. Retrieved 2010-01-05.
  19. ^ The BBC (21 December 2010). "Oz and Hugh Raise the Bar". BBC. Retrieved 2010-12-26.
  20. ^ "Outnumbered Press Pack". BBC. 17 August 2007. Retrieved 2009-12-22.
  21. ^ "BAFTA Awards 2009". Retrieved 2014-05-02.
  22. ^ The mail online 7th July 2016
  23. ^ "Marriages England and Wales 1984–2005".
  24. ^ "'Outnumbered' Actor Hugh Dennis Confirms Relationship With On-Screen Wife Claire Skinner". HuffPost UK. 2018-07-01. Retrieved 2018-07-01.
  25. ^ Hugh Dennis welcomed to The University of Northampton Archived 18 July 2008 at the Wayback Machine.
  26. ^ "Hugh Dennis" Who Do You Think You Are? Episode 5 of 10, Series 9. Broadcast 12 September 2102.
  27. ^ UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office: News 19 September 2013.
  28. ^ "Hugh Dennis on being a "complete idiot" around Hugh Laurie".
  29. ^
  30. ^ "Filming begins on ITV's Agatha Christie Marple adaptation, Endless Night". ITV. 17 March 2013.
  31. ^ "Can Comedy Playhouse save the British sitcom?". Telegraph. Retrieved 2014-05-02.
  32. ^ "Hugh Dennis to narrate new CBBC comedy lifting lid on zoo animal antics". Basingstoke Gazette.

External linksEdit