No furlough for the famous: Why even celebrities might be struggling in lockdown

Like many performers, Russell Kane has had to postpone his current tour, which has affected his income

Like many performers, comedian Russell Kane had to postpone the remainder of his tour when lockdown hit. While he says he’s OK financially at the moment, it could have been a very different story.

Russell, who was speaking on White Wine Question Time, said if the pandemic had hit last year, things could have been very different for him and his family. 

“I'm lucky in that the bulk of my tour was last year, so my tour’s just paid out,” he told podcast host Kate Thornton. “I'm very, very lucky. I've got no worries. If it had been last year…  

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“This is what people don't understand, they think, 'Oh, you're on stage or on the telly, you've got no worries' but actually, you know, once money runs out, it runs out.”

Russell went on to explain that many people who work in show business are registered as Limited Companies and unfortunately, this is the one sector of the economy that the Government hasn’t provided for.

“Directors of limited companies aren't getting, at the moment, any help at all,” he said. “I'm one of the lucky ones and I'm not moaning about my position…

“But there will be many, many, many people like me – one-man-band limited companies – who might be earning anything from 20 to 50 grand a year. Their money’s stop dead. There'll be in trouble very, very quickly.”

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Russell, who also presents his own podcast Evil Genius, joked the pandemic had made him realise just how insignificant being a stand-up really is.

“I am one of the least key workers,” he laughed. “It's like you really do realise how key you are when everything stops. I mean, if tomorrow every pub, every nightclub, every business reopened, but just stand up stopped, it really wouldn't matter.

He continued: “I think it's dawning on a lot of comics – we've all been banned from Timpsons forever because we're so un-key!”

Despite being financially OK at the moment, Russell said he’d still taken a massive hit on the dates he had to cancel.

“It's not just the lost income, it is the cost as well,” he explained. “I don’t mean to be coarse and talk about money, but we're talking hundreds of thousands of pounds just gone straight down the drain, because touring is my main income. Nothing's insured, all the money I laid out on accommodation, on tour cars – the list goes on and on.”

The lockdown has not only had an effect on his income, but with performers like him cancelling their tours, it’s also negatively impacted venues across the UK.

Russell said that one venue he played in Bromsgrove last year, has already gone under – and he expected there to be more to follow.

The comedian, whose remaining tour dates have been postponed until later this year, said: “A lot of the theatres around the country… Not only do they not have any working capital, so they're going to start sinking one by one, but a lot of them are staffed by volunteers who love their work. Great. But guess what age most volunteers are? They're 70 plus.

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“If you think a 70-year-old is going to be rushing back to rooms full of a thousand people coughing, you’ve got another thing coming. We’re going to have a staffing issue as well come September and October – who is going to work in these theatres?”

Russell, who has taken his comedy to Instagram to “fill my days with something”, said he doesn’t want people to think he’s moaning about his finances, as he originally comes from a “very poor family”.

What he does want though, is for people to start showing each other a little bit of kindness.

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“I'm not moaning about my situation,” he told Kate. “I'm just pointing out that it doesn't matter whether you're Prince Charles or someone struggling on the Prince’s Trust: everyone has their own fears and challenges and worries and anything can hit anyone at any time, at any level.

He continued: “I was friends with Caroline Flack for Christ's sake – not everyone has everything you think they have – so it's a time to just show compassion to everyone.”

Hear Russell Kane talk about parenting a four-year-old during lockdown and why he loves working with The Princes Trust on this week’s episode of White Wine Question Time. Listen on iTunes and Spotify.