Yet few could have anticipated the mild Cambridge graduates would be replaced by a former drug user who dated Pixie Geldof when she was still at school and counts a convicted killer as a pal.
Ironically, self-styled surrealist comic Noel Fielding’s first job was in a cake shop aged just 14.
“I start getting bored and misbehaving if I don't work hard. There is more than one moment in the show when he wonders why he's still prancing around pretending to be a chicken boy, or a herbal teabag, or the moon (which he plays, memorably, by covering his face with half a can of shaving foam). “If a show has lasted that long and people like it, why would you get rid of it? People liked it, it wasn't an aggressive male panel show. I never know the thinking behind television.” He is still smarting, too, from his last solo foray on E4, Luxury Comedy. Someone called the show the second 9/11,” he says with a sad little grin. “So we tried to write a film, and it all sort of imploded.” Barratt now has eight-year old twin boys with his partner, the comedian Julia Davis.
Noel dated Bob Geldof’s daughter Pixie when she was studying for her GCSEs at school aged 16. “When I first met her I had no idea who she was and that she was so young.
It caused a lot of problems because her dad wanted to kill me obviously.
Unsurprisingly, Noel has also had brushes with the law.
He is close pals with James Browne, 57, once jailed for 18 years for manslaughter during a robbery.
(The day after we meet, he interviews Ronnie Wood in Waterstone's about his new book and posts a picture online; they look like father and son – all angles and bouffant hair.) He attained cult comedy status as one half of the Mighty Boosh and mainstream fame on Never Mind the Buzzcocks.