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Iannucci says OBE is surreal and hilarious

Comic Armando Iannucci, who has lampooned the great and the good of British society, was humbled today by the experience of receiving an OBE.

Armando Iannucci proudly holds his Order of the British Empire (OBE) medal
Armando Iannucci proudly holds his Order of the British Empire (OBE) medal

The writer and producer described the Buckingham Palace investiture ceremony, hosted by the Prince of Wales, as "slightly surreal, a little bit hilarious" but "also quite moving".

Iannucci has been a constant presence in British comedy for more than 20 years - in front of and behind the camera - working on a string of hit shows like The Day Today, I'm Alan Partridge and foul-mouthed political sitcom The Thick Of It.

Speaking after the ceremony the comic played down his achievements, saying other recipients at the palace deserved greater recognition: "I've just been doing my job for the last 20 years and quite enjoying it and it's very nice to get that recognition, but there are a lot of people here who have put in years of dedication to their local communities."

Iannucci also laughed off his famous Twitter spat with Alastair Campbell over his decision to accept the establishment honour, saying it only happened because his wife had left him alone.

The versatile writer, producer and performer was born in Glasgow to a Scottish mother and Italian father and studied at Oxford University.

He worked on radio shows before television, alongside people such as Chris Morris, Stewart Lee and Steve Coogan.

The success of The Thick Of It raised his profile higher and the success of his 2009 film In The Loop helped make his name in the US.

Actor Peter Capaldi played The Thick Of It's foul-mouthed spin doctor Malcolm Tucker, inspired by Alastair Campbell, a former aide in Tony Blair's government.

Iannucci's clash with Campbell over his decision to accept the OBE saw the ex-spin doctor accuse the comic of joining the establishment he derides.

The comic tweeted in reply: "It's probably more Establishment to order your army to march into other countries for no reason," in reference to Mr Blair's decision to commit the UK to war in Iraq.

When Campbell replied that "Three little letters can have more impact than you realise", Iannucci replied: "WMD".

Laughing, the comic said: "That was all spontaneous, it wasn't planned. I also think he had a book out at the time so it was quite good publicity for him.

"I don't normally get involved in those sorts of things. The problem was my wife had got up to take one of our kids to a school party and I was left on my own and that's when trouble starts."

He added: "I'm happy to get awards for programmes I do and for my work, I'm not bothered by that. I've absolutely no intention of using the letters or anything like that, I just see it as a thank you or a well done."

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