Darren Harriott says his career stopped him from a life of crime
9th January 2023

‘I could easily have stabbed someone over nothing’: Dancing On Ice’s Darren Harriott says his comedy career saved him from a life of crime as he felt like he had ‘nothing to lose’ age 14

Darren Harriott has spoken about how his comedy career saved him from becoming a gangster and falling into a life of crime at a young age.

The comedian, 34, who is set to appear on the upcoming series of Dancing On Ice, discussed his childhood and carrying a knife when he was just a teenager.

Darren’s father died by suicide while in prison for drug dealing offences, as he described feeling ‘completely lost’ at the time when he was just 11 years old.

Rock bottom: Darren Harriott has spoken about how his comedy career saved him from becoming a gangster and falling into a life of crime at a young age

He shockingly revealed: ‘At that time, when I was 14 or 15, I felt like I had nothing to lose. I could easily have stabbed someone over absolutely nothing.’

The funnyman touched on modern times which he described as ‘devastating’, where young teenage kids are dying in stabbings across London.

Darren walked away from his own gang after they turned on him and kicked him to the ground, turning to comedy and stand up to aid his flailing mental health.

New project: The comedian, 34, who is set to appear on the upcoming series of Dancing On Ice, discussed his childhood and carrying a knife when he was just a teenager

Describing his ‘fresh start’, he said: ‘I was really depressed. I needed something to become obsessed with and take my mind off things and then I found comedy after going to an open mic night.

‘I did my first gig at 18 and I still had that element of the ghetto kid, with a lot of anger. It’s like chasing that high, constantly trying to get that laugh and it helped me a lot.’

Prior to this, Darren dealt with with his grief by bonding with a group who also had what he called ‘dad issues’.

They formed a grime music group called Terror Lan Killerz in Oldbury whey they were based, which was relatively untouched by gang crime. 

However friends of Darren’s lived in the suburbs of Birmingham, which were plagued by the fractious rivalry between gangs.

Moving on: Darren walked away from his own gang after they turned on him and kicked him to the ground, turning to comedy and stand up to aid his flailing mental health

Darren described seeing the gangsters as ‘heroes and film stars’, due to their flash clothes, cars and jewellery. 

He told how his friends began to take gang culture more seriously and they all began to carry knives, which he said he thankfully never had to use.

In 2004 on New Year’s Eve, Darren’s own group turned on him and he resolved to not be in the same situation the following year.

Darren started working as a bouncer – including at the Hammersmith Apollo which he later went on to head line – before getting into the comedy circuit and rising to fame.

Darren is best known for his stand-up work on the BBC Radio 4 series, Darren Harriott’s Black Label and was nominated for the Best Newcomer Award at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in 2017 and Best Show Award in 2019.

He became the eighth celebrity to join the line-up for alongside previously announced actress and DJ Patsy Palmer, football legend John Fashanu, Love Island winner Ekin-Su Cülcüloğlu.

Eleven celebrities will embark on the ultimate challenge as they take to the ice each week, skating live in a bid to impress both the panel and viewers at home. 

Line-up: He became the eighth celebrity to join the line-up for alongside previously announced actress and DJ Patsy Palmer, football legend John Fashanu, Love Island winner Ekin-Su Cülcüloğlu

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