Comedian Adam Hills and Davina McCall on the importance of Stand Up To Cancer

SU2C has so far raised more than £84million, funding 59 clinical trials and projects involving more than 19,000 cancer patients across the country

Comedian Adam Hills and Davina McCall on the importance of Stand Up To CancerByMatt RoperFeatures writer

  • 19:48, 14 Oct 2021
  • Updated20:27, 14 Oct 2021
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Strictly star Bill Bailey will deliver a tribute to his best friend and fellow comedian Sean Lock on tonight’s Stand Up To Cancer.


It will be just one of many moving moments on the Channel 4 fundraiser for Cancer Research UK.

The late stand-up Sean, known for his work on panel show 8 Out Of 10 Cats died of lung cancer in August aged 58.

A glittering night of live TV is promised as famous faces including Usain Bolt, Olivia Colman, Liam Payne, The Derry Girls, Liam Gallagher, Jack Black and Martin Freeman appear.

Gogglebox will return for a celebrity episode featuring Michelle Visage and Graham Norton and the whole event will be hosted by Alan Carr, Davina McCall, Maya Jama and Australian comedian Adam Hills, presenter of The Last Leg.

SU2C has so far raised more than £84million, funding 59 clinical trials and projects involving more than 19,000 cancer patients across the country.

Davina says: “Every penny raised goes to Cancer Research UK. They really are world leaders in cancer research and treatments. They are doing the most amazing work.”

Here the four hosts explain why it is a cause close to their hearts and an event they love to be involved with…

  • Stand Up To Cancer, Channel 4 tonight from 7.30pm, donate at

Adam Hills

Adam for SU2C

Jon Cottam)

Why is SU2C so important to you?

My dad died of cancer in 2012, just as The Last Leg started to hit over here.

There was an offer of it becoming a regular series, and me having a career here. And so one of the last things he said to me was “Good luck in London.” That was literally the last full sentence he said to me. So, in a way, I’m doing it for him.

Will you think of him on the night?

On a night like that, and even for the photo shoot, I wear the watch he used to. I’ll have that on, on the night, definitely. But the night itself then becomes about everybody else, the videos and the packages and the guests.

What are your favourite SU2C moments?

Me playing the drums on John Legend’s butt. Each time I see him singing a really poignant love song, all I can think is “I played drums on that guy’s butt!”

The first year of Stand Up to Cancer, I ended up doing a Last Leg segment about a testicular cancer mascot from Mexico called Senor Testiculo.

It was a person inside a giant testicle costume… we thought it would be funny to recreate that, so we had a giant testicle costume made up and shipped to the venue – which, of course, is like a Presbyterian Hall.

So there was great consternation that we’d brought a giant pair of testicles into a church.

Maya Jama

Davina is Maya's hero

Jon Cottam)

You’re back doing Stand Up to Cancer. How was the experience the first time around?

It was amazing. I feel like that was one of my first big, proper, main-channel events, and I was so nervous but so excited.

How does it feel doing it a second time around?

Every time you do something so big, it’s always a nervous feeling.

Davina’s literally my idol… I’m pinching myself a little bit.

Why is Davina McCall your hero?

She was the first woman that I saw on TV that just seemed so fun and genuine and free, and I wanted to be exactly like that.

She’s the perfect example of someone that looks like they’re having the best time… she’s got this amazing energy.

I said “I want to do that job” after seeing her do things.

Why is SU2C important to you personally?

I’ve had family members that have suffered from cancer. My grandma survived but my great uncle passed away from it.

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Davina McCall

Davina's sister passed away from cancer

Jon Cottam)

Why is SU2C so important to you?

The really big thing for me is one in two of us will get cancer. We are at the tip of the most amazing scientific iceberg. Genetics and DNA and targeted therapies – there are some amazing treatments coming to the fore. My mum died of cancer, my sister died of cancer, so I know that how cancer affects people.

This year, more than ever, we need to fund as much research as we can, to give as many people a chance as possible.

Sarah Harding’s death is a dreadful reminder that cancer can strike at any age, isn’t it?

The last time I’d seen Sarah was on The Jump, where she was such good fun! And obviously I was there at the beginning of her career, with Popstars: The Rivals.

I read somewhere that she’d given herself a hard time for not going to sort it out earlier.

My sister was given a terminal diagnosis in hospital and gave herself a hard time for not doing something about it.

There’s nothing like the look on someone’s face when they realise there’s no treatment. And the idea you’d ever blame yourself is too much to handle.

So we need to help people to find ways of detecting changes in their bodies, but never shaming anybody, ever, ever, ever, and least of all shaming yourself, ever, if you get sick. It’s not your fault.

Sarah Harding tragically died aged 39


Is it difficult for you to control your emotions on the night?

I get very passionate about it. My sister died in 2012. It’ll be 10 years next year. When people tell their stories, I can relate to it, and it’s always tough on the night.

But really I just think “Don’t lose the plot.” It’s my job to keep it together and keep the ship going.

How will you wind down, at the end?

It’s the night before my birthday so I’ll be winding up again! Hopefully with breakfast in bed from my kids.

Alan Carr

Why is SU2C so important to you?

I lost my uncle two weeks ago to lung cancer. This year is going to have a bit more of a purpose for me. As you get older, more and more people seem to be battling it, and it becomes more and more relevant.

You’ve been to UCL Cancer Institute to see where some of the money goes?

Whenever I do Stand Up to Cancer, I always donate, and I like to get as much information as possible so when I’m talking to people at home, I can look them in the eye knowing I’ve done something about it. These people working towards a cure are amazing, and every penny goes straight into research.

How do you control your emotions?

I don’t! The clips with the children are just heart-breaking. It’s not just me crying, it’s everyone behind the scenes.

You get so sad, but in those last minutes you understand where the title Stand Up to Cancer comes from, because something happens and you go: “Right, come on then! Let’s do this. Let’s do it for that little girl.”

What was it like losing the autocue?

Well, you just look like you’ve sh** yourself. But you just go into weird auto-pilot where you’re just filling the time.

Your experience in stand-up helped?

Oh yeah. Me and David Walliams were doing Comic Relief when Russell Brand was 20 minutes late, and we had to fill for 20 minutes. I was basically just telling people what we were going to have for tea and asking David if he was going anywhere nice for his holidays.

I mean, I can fill for a couple of minutes, but 20 minutes? I was telling people my PIN by the end of it.

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