Comedian Omid Djalili

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Published: 1 March 2014

Comedian Omid Djalili:

"The saddest time that shook my world? Watching 9/11. I noticed a change of attitude towards me because of my Middle-Eastern appearance"


We ask a celebrity a set of devilishly probing questions – and only accept THE definitive answer. This week it’s comedian Omid Djalili’s turn

The prized possession you value above all others... My gold wedding ring. Annabel and I got married in 1992, but a year later I lost the ring. I replaced it in 2009 and now I never take it off. 

The temptation you wish you could resist... Late night eating in the car after a gig. If it’s gone well I’ll have a Big Mac. If it’s been a disaster I have a Double Whopper from Burger King.

The happiest moment you will cherish forever... The moment David Beckham scored that last goal against Greece that meant England qualified for the 2002 World Cup. I was so excited I passed out.

The book that holds an everlasting resonance... Captain Corelli’s Mandolin by Louis de Bernières. The ending had me sobbing when I read it.

The priority activity if you were the Invisible Man for a day... I’d hang around the Comedy Store changing rooms to see what other comedians say about me.

The pet hate that makes your hackles rise... Being interrupted. 

The film you can watch time and time again... The Graduate. I saw it when I was 13 and really connected with Dustin Hoffman’s character – the goofy  underdog who had to fight to get the girl.

The person who has influenced you most... Professor Soheil Bushrui, a Middle Eastern master of literature. He taught me about truth and beauty when I was 17. He’s in his eighties now and we’re still in touch.

The figure from history for whom you’d most like to buy a pie and a pint... Mahatma Gandhi – he wouldn’t want a pie or a pint, so I’d get more nosh while he droned on about world peace.

The piece of wisdom you would pass on to a child... Be yourself. 

The treasured item you lost and wish you could have again... My Panini football sticker albums for the 1974 and 1978 World Cups. I filled them when I was a kid but in 1995, I gave them to a friend. I want them back!

The biggest regret you wish you could amend... Giving up playing football when I was 22. I used to play left midfield in a good amateur league. I was lean and fit but then I packed it in – that’s why I’m fat!

The unlikely interest that engages your curiosity... Air crash investigation documentaries. I believe I will crash one day so I watch them and absorb any information that might help me survive.

The unending quest that drives you on... Striving for excellence.

The poem that touches your soul... Rabbit by Anonymous. It’s about a rabbit that gets its leg caught in a trap. I came across it during A-level English.

The misapprehension about yourself you wish you could erase... That I’m tall and really fat. I’m 5ft 6in and 103kg so I’m short and only quite fat!

The song that means most to you... Simon And Garfunkel’s Scarborough Fair. It’s a beautiful reminder of that moment in The Graduate when he gets the girl against the odds.

The way you would spend your fantasy 24 hours, with no travel restrictions... I’d begin the day with Annabel and our three children [aged 15-21] at the Atlantis hotel in the Bahamas. The kids and I would go to the water park and do the Leap Of Faith slide, a 60ft drop into a lagoon surrounded by sharks behind glass. Lunch would be at The Dome in Edinburgh. I’d start with haggis then have the fish of the day and a cranberry juice – I don’t drink.

I’d then go skiing at the indoor mountain in Dubai. Later, I’d have a gondola ride with Annabel in Venice before dinner at the Beverly Montage hotel in LA. Then we’d go to Broadway to watch my favourite show, The Producers. I’d end the day at home in south west London watching England win the World Cup in Brazil!

The event that altered the course of your life and character... Getting spinal meningitis when I was 13. It was touch and go that I would make it. Having a brush with death makes you appreciate life. 

The crime you would commit knowing you could get away with it... I’d be a vigilante on the streets slapping burglars and muggers who attack old people.

The saddest time that shook your world... Watching 9/11. I noticed a change of attitude towards me because of my Middle-Eastern appearance.

The unfulfilled ambition that continues to haunt you... To play in a big pro-celebrity football match and dazzle everyone with a winning performance. 

The philosophy that underpins your life... Only do things that are of service to your fellow human beings. 

The order of service at your funeral... I’d want a cheerful ceremony with them playing Santana’s Smooth – because my life has been anything but smooth. At the party people can tell a few jokes about me. I’d make sure that everyone gets a slice of stuffed crust pepperoni pizza from Pizza Hut.

The way you want to be remembered... He tried his damnedest. 

The Plug... Omid’s Live tour is on now. Visit