Alfie Moore comedian: How Radio 4 comic went from Sheffield steelworker to police officer to stand-up
Alfie Moore, whose hit Radio 4 show It's A Fair Cop is returning soon for an eighth series, is bringing his new stand-up routine, A Face for Radio, to Sheffield City Hall
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Alfie Moore grew up in Sheffield and comes from a long line of steelworkers sharing his name.
So how did he go from being an apprentice steelworker, destined to follow in their footsteps, to an acclaimed comedian with his own Radio 4 show, via a long stint on the thin blue line?
The 55-year-old is in reflective mood as he discusses bringing his latest stand-up show to his native city, where he is due to perform at Sheffield City Hall on Sunday, November 12.
Born in the Attercliffe area of Sheffield, as a young boy he headed with his family to Australia as part of the influx of so-called Ten Pound Poms, only to return a few years later.
School in Sheffield was 'not for the faint-hearted'
Once back, he initially lived with his grandmother on the Manor estate and attended Manor Park School, which he says was 'not for the faint-hearted'.
"I was about seven and had picked up an Australian accent," he recalls. "It was winter but we didn't have any long trousers, having just returned from Australia, so we turned up in shorts. Fortunately my brother could fight a bit, which was lucky because we needed him to."
That experience would steel him for a lifetime of throwing himself in at the deep end, whether risking his life as a police officer or trying not to die on stage as a stand-up.
Alfie later moved to the north-west of the city where he attended Wisewood Comprehensive School. He left at 16 to begin an apprenticeship at Davy McKee steelworks, with the plan being that he would learn the trade before joining his father's firm.
Things didn't quite work out like that. A steel strike followed by the recession meant his dad went bankrupt and he was made redundant on the day he completed his apprenticeship, aged 20.
What else could I do but join the police?
He joined the police, working first in Lincolnshire then Humberside, not because he had a passion for law enforcement but because he didn't have any better options. "I was a young man with a bad attitude, little in the way of education and no prospects - what else could I do?" he jokes.
He ended up staying with the police for more than 20 years, growing to love the job as he took on various roles from front-line response to neighbourhood sergeant and detective sergeant specialising in domestic violence and vulnerable adults.
He had no plans to do anything else until his wife persuaded him to go to a new comedy club in Scunthorpe. He became hooked and ended up joining the comedy circuit.
Eventually he saved up enough to pursue his dream of performing at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and it was there, performing in a Portakabin to a handful of people, that he was spotted by Alison Vernon-Smith, from BBC Radio 4.
His own series, It's A Fair Cop soon followed and the hit show has now been running for seven series with an eighth commissioned for early 2024.
'I had a fair few hidings as a police officer'
Its success enabled him to leave the police and take up comedy full-time, touring as well as writing the show. Going from policing to stand-up may sound like a big leap but Alfie points out that there are many similarities.
"As a police officer I had a fair few hidings and I got my jaw, my nose and my ribs broken, but I always liked the excitement of working on the frontline," he tells The Star.
"It's a very similar buzz to the one you get walking into a theatre in front of a few hundred strangers, where there's that terrifying moment of silence as they wait for you to try to make them laugh.
"When you attend your first incident as a police officer where you get someone being aggressive and in your face you can't hide your nerves or stop your voice from shaking. But two years down the line your heart doesn't miss a beat.
"It's the same with stand-up. When they first call out your name and you start that long walk to the stage you're a nervous wreck but I love the thrill I get from that now."
It's a Fair Cop has shone a humorous light on topical policing issues and Alfie is always keen to raise awareness of what it's like being a cop and the challenges you face.
"It's a tough time for policing," he says. "That relationship between the police and the community has become strained and watching from the outside I really feel for police officers because it's such a difficult job."
Memories of Sheffield's Hole in the Road
Alfie's latest stand-up show, A Face For Radio, confronts a very different challenge, that of coming to terms with getting on a bit.
"I feel the same as I did when I was 20 but occasionally I'll catch my reflection in a shop window and think who's that, and I've started to notice people are treating me a bit differently," he says.
"The checkout assistants never used to ask me if I'd like any help with my packing but they do now, and I've started getting spam mail about toenail fungus and funeral plans."
Alfie is excited to be back at Sheffield where he has fond memories of watching watching Showaddywaddy at City Hall, and of the much-mourned Hole in the Road, where he and his friends, along with every other young person in the city at the time, would arrange to meet beside the fish tank in the wall when making plans.
Alfie Moore will be performing his new show, A Face for Radio, at Sheffield City Hall on Sunday, November 12. Tickets are available now at www.sheffieldcityhall.co.uk.