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Ex-cop-turned-comedian Alfie Moore: ‘I don’t know how I’d cope on the streets with a smartphone in my face now’

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Former detective sergeant turned stand-up comedian Alfie Moore is bringing his latest show, Fair Cop Unleashed, to Cambridge Junction next month.

Alfie Moore. Picture: Idil Sukan
Alfie Moore. Picture: Idil Sukan

Something of a ‘late bloomer’, Alfie was in his 40s when he first started doing stand-up – proving that it’s never too late to drastically change direction in life and start realising your dreams. In Alfie’s case, this change was rather drastic, as he had already had a successful career working for the police.

Now in his 50s, he has drawn a great deal of inspiration from his time in the force and as such Fair Cop Unleashed is based on a dramatic real-life incident from his police casebook. Relive with Alfie the thrilling ups and downs of the night a mysterious clown came to town and more than one life ended up in the balance...

Around the same time he passed his exams to be promoted to police inspector, Alfie began doing stand-up as a hobby. “I got a break on TV about 10 years ago now,” he recalls, “in an ITV show called Show Me the Funny, which only did one series.

“It was hosted by Jason Manford and it was like an X Factor for comedians. They were all more experienced than me but I got on because a lot of opportunities had come along because of the quirky copper thing – so I’m very fortunate for that.

“I got on that show and it was sort of 9 o’clock ITV so it was quite a big audience. I fortunately lasted enough weeks where it did me some positive, and I got approached by a big London management company who wanted to take me on tour and up to the Edinburgh Festival.

“So I had to sit my poor wife down and say, ‘I’m on the list of expected promotion [with the police force], or I’ve got this opportunity in my 40s to go around sleeping on people’s settees and stopping at Ibis Budgets and start again doing something completely different’.

“Any normal person at that point would have said, ‘You get back to work and keep your head down for 10 years and get me a nice pension and stop being so daft, and never mention this again’. But bless her, she said, ‘Follow your dream’ and again I was fortunate in as much as... well, not fortunate really for the police, but the [David] Cameron and Theresa May double act were slashing police budgets under the umbrella of austerity and so I applied for a career break.

“It suited the organisation to save a sergeant’s wage, and everything just freezes when you go on a career break from the police. And so it played out that off I went for a year to follow my dream, and then at the end of that year, when I’d got one tin of beans left in the cupboard and it was time to go back to work, I got the lucky BBC Radio 4 break.”

Alfie Moore. Picture: Idil Sukan
Alfie Moore. Picture: Idil Sukan

He elaborates: “They found me somehow in a portable cabin at the Edinburgh Festival – things were going well because a portable cabin in a car park was my venue at the Edinburgh Festival. There was about 10 people in staring at me and a lady who worked for the BBC called Alison Vernon-Smith.

“I was shaking hands with people on the way out, which didn’t take very long, and she said, ‘I work for the BBC, can I bring my executive producer?’ I’m a massive fan of the BBC because they still talent scout the old-fashioned way.

“A lot of stand-up comedy has become like the music industry, really, where pop stars are manufactured. Stand-up comedians, to a degree, can be manufactured. A lot of young, cute people are picked up by one of two or three big agencies that have got all the clout, and they’re signed up and then you’ll see them on Live At the Apollo, or you’ll see them on panel shows and you can see their career being built.

“So a lot of that goes on in stand-up, and consequently a lot of deals are done by agents in wine bars. But BBC Radio 4 still hire a flat at the Edinburgh Festival for a month and they’ll send maybe four producers a week up to take the flat over, which is not a bad gig.

“They’ll have a couple of glasses of wine and they’ll go and see as many interesting, quirky shows... and it will be nothing to do with the agents or anything else; they’ll just look through the brochure and they’ll try and discover new talent – and I was probably the oldest new talent to be discovered that year!”

Alfie, who is not from a showbiz background – describing himself as a “working class copper” – went on to be the star of his own hit BBC Radio 4 series It’s a Fair Cop – a seventh series of which has just been commissioned.

“Of course I never got my inspector’s job,” he says. “I never got my enhanced pension, but it’s worth it because I’m having the time of my life – I’m like a big kid running around living the dream.”

Alfie served with both Lincolnshire and Humberside police forces for a total of 20 years. He finally retired three years ago, having taken on a part-time role after his comedy career had taken off.

During his crime-fighting career, he had roles including frontline response, neighbourhood sergeant and detective sergeant in the public protection team, specialising in domestic violence and vulnerable adults.

He was seconded to the local force drugs unit and the regional counter terrorism team and was a practical trainer for new recruits in the Humberside Police tutor unit.

“I always loved being a cop and you can make a difference at any rank really,” he says. “It’s a very rewarding job and I still feel supportive of the police. Having said that, nobody hates a bad cop more than a good cop, so if there’s things that have been done badly I haven’t got much sympathy – and if cops get caught out doing something wrong, I would give them double the sentence at court.

“If it was a police officer, or a politician, who got convicted of a crime I’d just give them double, automatically – I’d change the law tomorrow. But at the same time there is obviously a loss of confidence in policing. That’s clear at the minute and that’s our responsibility to get that back.

Alfie Moore. Picture: Tony Briggs
Alfie Moore. Picture: Tony Briggs

“But there is a bit of a two-way stretch going; I’ve seen some very disrespectful behaviour towards police officers on the streets and I think that’s wrong – to expect professionalism, which you should expect, and a measured response when you’ve behaving outrageously.

“I’d say there’s some outrageous behaviour towards police officers, which I also find equally frustrating. I don’t know how I’d cope on the streets with a smartphone in my face now – people trying to bait you just to get a bit of a clip for social media, which happens a lot. There’s not many jobs out there where somebody sticks a smartphone in your face and starts filming, is there?”

Alfie says he remembers things from his time in the police every day that can be used as stand-up material. “You go to so many jobs as a police officer,” he says. “If you’re busy, you might go to 10 or 20 jobs a day over a period of 20-odd years, which is my total service, and all that’s forgotten.

“You write everything in your notebook and you hand your notebooks in – I wish I could get those notebooks back! And now I’ll talk to somebody, or read something in the paper, or see a cop show on TV and it’ll come flooding back.”

On the subject of Fair Cop Unleashed, Alfie says: “I don’t want to give too much away because the way the show’s set up it would spoil it but, as the poster says, the intriguing hook is it was a night that a mysterious clown walked into Grimsby police station, and everybody thought he was a bit drunk and a bit weird – so it was a bit funny actually...

“It turned out that lives ended up in the balance and it was one of the most amazing nights that Grimsby had ever seen, I should think. And that story, because it was in the ’90s, I don’t really think it made much of an impact, national media-wise, and people can’t remember the story, but it’s a true story that happened.”

Alfie Moore's new tour
Alfie Moore's new tour

As well as his radio work and stand-up tours, Alfie’s television credits include Comic Relief, Bizarre Crime (BBC3), The Wright Stuff (Channel 5) and Confessions of a Police Officer (Channel 4). He also recently joined the presenting team of Channel 5’s CCTV crime series Caught on Camera.

Live, Alfie has previously supported the likes of Rhod Gilbert, Sarah Millican, Russell Kane, and Milton Jones on their national comedy tours.

Catch Alfie on stage in Cambridge at the Junction’s J2 on Friday, May 20. Visit junction. co.uk. For more on Alfie, go to alfiemoore.com.

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