One of the most famous men in the UK is comedian, director, author and presenter Stephen Fry. He described himself on his Audioboo profile as “a tall fellow.” Prince Charles would describe him as a “National Treasure.” The late outspoken atheist and writer Christopher Hitchens perhaps put it best when in a national debate on Catholicism he claimed that he was proud to call Fry his friend and trusted babysitter.
Fry found humor as a way to cope with his problems. As a teenager, he struggled with his homosexuality and his kleptomania, which included a three-month prison stay. He still managed to get into Cambridge. While there, he joined the comedy troupe Footlights and met his long-time comedy partner Hugh Laurie. Americans know Laurie best for his dramatic work in the medical series House.
Fry has worked in a variety of comedy series, including A Bit of Fry and Laurie, Blackadder and the original version of Who’s Line Is It, Anyway? He is a favorite of chat shows and panel shows because of his lighting wit and his vast abundance of energy. He was one of the most popular hosts of the BAFTAs. He is the moderator of the highly successful panel show QI, now in its eleventh year.
Fry suffered from bipolar depression, also called manic depression, from his childhood days. This would lead to tremendous bursts of creative energy followed by crashing periods of suicidal depression. Once in a depressive period, he walked out of playing a lead role in a West End play and snuck off to France and then America without anyone knowing what happened to him.
Fry would write and star in an award-winning documentary called The Secret Life of the Manic Depressive (2006) which not only looked at his struggles with bipolarity but the struggles of other bipolar patients from the actress Carrie Fisher to a woman so paralyzed by fear that gong to the grocery store is nearly impossible. Fry has been outspoken for mental health awareness ever since.
Fry works on behalf of many causes from gay rights to conservation. He took over the work started by the late Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy author Douglas Adams for Last Chance to See featuring the most endangered species in the world. Just one retweet from Fry on his Twitter page generates masses of free publicity.
In 2009, Fry participated with Christopher Hitchens in a nationally televised Intelligence Squared debate on Catholicism. Video clips from the debate received hundreds of thousands of hits on YouTube. At the debate’s end, the studio audience voted that Catholicism was harmful to the world.