The Divine Comedy’s Neil Hannon talks to Matthew Jenkin about his music, Father Ted and making bad covers.

FROM penning a spoof song for sitcom Father Ted and composing the theme tune for The IT Crowd, to producing a string of chart hits, there’s nothing conventional about Neil Hannon’s career.

“There’s nothing which I don’t allow myself to write about, as long as it interests me and does something emotive to the people who listen to it,” explains Hannon.

The man behind baroque popsters The Divine Comedy certainly has few limitations when it comes to material for songs, finding inspiration in subjects as banal as cricket and a coach company.

However, his talent for producing catchy pop tunes with eccentric but witty lyrics has served him well and it has been 20 years since the world was first introduced to the foppish Irishman with the release of debut album Fanfare for the Comic Muse.

Now, still under the banner of The Divine Comedy but performing solo, Hannon is doing the festival rounds, headlining one night at this year’s Greenwich Summer Sessions on July 26.

However, it might not be the chart-storming 90s anthem National Express or his tribute to Michael Caine, Becoming More Like Alfie, which the crowd will be screaming to hear.

“My Lovely Horse will probably be on my gravestone because it’s the song which is shouted for at my live shows more than any other,” he laughs, referring to the Eurovision song he wrote for seminal comedy Father Ted.

He added: “It’s insane. I knocked it out in half an hour.

“My Lovely Horse is not the greatest song in history. It’s just the silliest.”

Not content with delighting his devoted fans with his own lyrically inventive tracks, Hannon has gained a reputation for putting his inimitable spin on hits from Nelly Furtado’s Maneater to Raspberry Beret by Prince.

“It’s easy to get cover versions wrong,” groans Hannon as he is reminded of a song he did for a Smiths tribute album in 1996.

Giggling, he said: “We did There Is A Light Which Never Goes Out and it’s terrible.

“But I really like doing covers because it can get very dull just listening to me go on. I do like doing odd ones.”

Just don’t ask him to do any Lady Gaga.

“I can’t stand her music,” he spits.

I can’t see him in a meat dress anyway, so it’s probably for the best.

Greenwich Summer Sessions runs at the Old Royal Naval College from July 26 to July 31. To book, visit