The very privileged past of Channel 4's grubby golden boy: Why is Jack Whitehall so eager to prove his laddish credentialsA puerile display has finally got the comedian the attention he has cravedHe cracked infantile, lewd jokes throughout Big Fat Quiz Of The Year 2012The Queen, Prince Phillip and Susan Boyle are among his childish targets
Friends say he has been 'very spoilt' and 'thinks he can say what he likes'Privately educated Whitehall grew up in a six-bedroom 4.25m houseAn unfazed Whitehall thinks latest outrage 'will do wonders for his career'
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Crude: Jack Whitehall (left) caused controversy with jokes about the Queen on Big Fat Quiz Of The Year 2012
This week, however, at the age of 24, the comedian has finally got the attention he has always craved. His name has been in the papers virtually all week following his controversial appearance on Channel 4's Big Fat Quiz Of The Year 2012 last Sunday — although not for positive reasons.
Whitehall, who was on the show with friend and fellow comic James Corden, as well as Jimmy Carr and Jonathan Ross, began by cracking lewd 'jokes' about the Queen and Prince Philip before making a series of infantile, sexually explicit remarks about sprinter Usain Bolt and singer Susan Boyle.
During the show, he drank roughly a bottle of wine and appeared intoxicated, sparking speculation that alcohol was to blame for his puerile display.
Not so, according to one who knows him. 'What we saw on the show is what you get away from the cameras,' says the acquaintance. 'He comes out with the most unbelievably crass things, he's incredibly childish. He has been very spoilt all his life and thinks he can say what he likes.'
But where did baby-faced Whitehall, whose new beard looks quite incongruous against his pink cheeks, acquire such blithe confidence A clue may lie in his background, which is about as luvvie-ish as you can get.
His father is Michael Whitehall, 72, a former theatrical agent turned producer. His clients over the years have included Judi Dench, Colin Firth, Richard E. Grant, Daniel Day-Lewis and Edward Fox.
Outrage: Whitehall appeared with other comedians, including Jimmy Carr, Russell Howard and James Corden
Mother Hilary, 51, is a former actress (stage name Hilary Gish) who retrained as a 'doula' — someone who assists a pregnant woman before, during and after childbirth.
Jack has a sister Molly, 23, and 20-year-old brother, Barnaby. His godfather is actor Nigel Havers, an old showbiz friend of both his parents.
Michael Whitehall's first wife, whom he married in 1969, was Jane McIntosh, who went on to marry the lyricist Tim Rice. He also had a relationship with Lynne Frederick, who later married Peter Sellers.
In 1989, Mr Whitehall was involved in a high-profile High Court action brought by a former long-term lover, Victoria Windeler, who tried to claim a share of his homes and assets.
Miss Windeler, who told the court of lavish champagne parties thrown by Mr Whitehall for stars such as Havers, Peter Bowles and Stewart Granger, lost the case. Over the years, Mr Whitehall, the author of Shark-Infested Waters, a waspish account of the showbusiness world, has had various production companies, which have left him very well-off.
Last year, the family sold their six-bedroom house overlooking Putney Common for 4.25 million and moved to another house overlooking the Thames nearby, for which they paid 2.55 million. The new property is mortgage-free.
Privately educated: The comedian went to the 24,000-a-year Marlborough College in Wiltshire
Born into such a gilded showbiz set, it is little wonder Jack Whitehall has achieved TV fame at such a young age. He certainly started young. At the age of four, he and sister Molly appeared in The Good Guys, a television series produced by their father, and starring their mother and Nigel Havers.
He was privately educated at The Harrodian School in South-West London and 24,000-a-year Marlborough College in Wiltshire. Another pupil, the Duchess of Cambridge, then Kate Middleton, was five years his senior.
There were lots of auditions as he was growing up and he talked about his attempt to play Harry Potter on Radio 4's Front Row programme. It was aired two days ago but was recorded before the furore over the Big Fat Quiz erupted.
'That was very much driven by my mother,' he said. 'She was very excited. She bought us all the books. Weirdly, the audition process came to my school and they did an open audition where one of the cast agent's assistants looked at loads of different pupils to see if any of them would work in the film.
'My Dad, being an agent at the time, said: 'This is nonsense, Jack, we're not sending you off to some open audition. They never find anyone from an open audition. I'll get you a one-to-one because I know David Heyman's (the producer) mother, I used to work with her.'
'He knows all these people, so he said: 'I'll get you in the door.'
Mockney: Whitehall ditched his earlier attempts to play down his posh background
'My Mum made me up to look like Harry Potter, put me in round framed glasses, did the hair so I looked just like Harry, so I went in and completely fluffed it, hadn't read the book, so when she was asking me who the scariest villain was . . . I completely forgot the name of the character and I didn't get it.
'My Dad was very disappointed because he thought that could have been his gold ticket to LA.'
When Whitehall began touring on the comedy circuit, he tried to disguise his plummy voice and acquired a 'Mockney' accent, which he thought would go down better with audiences. When it didn't, he changed his routine and began playing up to his 'posh public schoolboy' background.
The Whitehalls, according to an acquaintance, are very aspirational and don't mind if people think they are more posh than they are.
'They're rather like the Middletons,' explains a source. 'Real social climbers. The Dad sounds like a character from Downton Abbey.'
Whitehall talked about the class issue on Front Row. 'It's a weird one. I never know what defines you as being posh,' he said. 'I went to a posh school, definitely. People at Marlborough were all trying to hide the fact we were posh.
'And my Dad is very, very middle class, and he came from not a middle-class background and neither did my Mum, so I guess I'd be first generation posh.'
He became friends with James Corden and Matthew Horne — stars of the sitcom Gavin And Stacey — on the comedy circuit. And he admits they got him his big break in television when they 'bullied' the producers of Big Brother's Big Mouth into giving him an opportunity to present the show in 2009.
Who says it doesn't help to have friends in the business
In 2010, Whitehall was nominated for Best Newcomer at the Edinburgh comedy awards and he became a regular on BBC2's Mock The Week and was also a guest presenter of BBC 2's pop quiz Never Mind The Buzzcocks.
Early on, Whitehall discovered he could find easy laughs by pushing the boundaries of good taste.
During the recording of Front Row, he recalled: 'The first time I ever did live at the Apollo, I was doing a routine about sex and I looked out into the audience and I saw Antony Worrall Thompson, because he was one of the celebrities they had invited.
Newcomer: Whitehall made his acting debut last year as JP in Channel 4 comedy drama Fresh Meat
'And it triggered this memory, which is a true story, that I lost my virginity in one of his establishments, which is a restaurant hotel that he had, and I said this.
'I blurted it out on stage and then did some jokes about it, then came out at the interval and found my Mum apologising to Antony Worrall Thompson, saying: 'I'm so sorry. He does this all the time. We have no control over him.''
In June 2010, the News Of The World published pictures of Whitehall snorting cocaine through a 20 note at the side of the road outside a nightclub in Manchester.
There was a time when such a thing could have destroyed a young performer's career, but the episode was just a minor blip for Whitehall.
he made his acting debut in 2011 in the Channel 4 comedy drama Fresh Meat, in which he plays JP, a public schoolboy who failed to get into a good university.
Starring alongside him was Gemma Chan, who had previously appeared with Billie Piper in the ITV2 drama, Secret Diary Of A Call Girl. The pair became an item and last year moved into a 2.6 million flat in Notting Hill — bought with a 1 million deposit from Whitehall.
Good education: The star of Bad Education is said to enjoy the attention of young female fans
The couple's neighbours include Stella McCartney, Jeremy Clarkson and Chancellor George Osborne.
Finding the funds shouldn't have been too much of a strain for Whitehall. His company, Jackpot Productions, has assets of 600,000 and accounts to the end of January 2012 show a profit of just over 400,000.
Before this week, Whitehall's star showed no sign of waning. Last year, he appeared in a BBC3 comedy drama about a young teacher, Bad Education, which he wrote.
Those in his circle say fame has made him more cocksure and unrestrained than ever and that he particularly enjoys the attention of the young female fans of Fresh Meat and Bad Education.
He is said to be unfazed by all the outrage following his latest TV appearance, and actually rather enjoying it. 'He's delighted,' says a source. 'He thinks it's going to do wonders for his career.'
Later this month, Whitehall was due to present a prize at the National Television Awards. A producer of the show said earlier this week there would be a meeting to decide if he should withdraw, but it appears that he will present the award as planned.
At least he's got a few weeks to think of a decent joke.
VIDEO Jack Whitehall on the Big Fat Quiz Of The Year 2012
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