I never really wanted to be an accountant... | AccountingWEB

I never really wanted to be an accountant...

While mulling over a new thread all about what accountants get up to when they're not grappling with tax returns and trial balances, I came across the following post from Mark Lee's Accountants Jokes page about 10 famous people who were nearly accountants.

Here are the celebs he mentioned (based on a 2007 AccountingWEB thread - thanks for reminding me, Democratus!):

  • Arnold Brown - "Possibly the only Glaswegian Jewish ex-chartered accountant stand up comedian in the world".
  • Eddie Izzard - failed accountancy student who turned to surreal stand-up comedy (His father was Harold Izzard, a former president of the institute of internal auditors and chief auditor of BP).
  • Robert Plant - gave up accountancy training to sing for the rock band Led Zeppelin.
  • David Graveney OBE - former chairman of the England Test selectors (1997 until 2008).
  • Novelist John Grisham
  • Bob Newhart - American funny man
  • DJ Alan ("Fluff") Freeman
  • Pádraig Harrington - Irish professional golfer passed his final exams in 1994 to gain admittance to ACCA.
  • Fred MacAulay - Scottish Comedian graduated from the University of Dundee with an MA in accountancy and jurisprudence. He went on to work as an accountant in a number of companies before moving into Comedy. (NB: He put his knowledge to good use on Radio 4's News Quiz last week when he cracked a joke about whether Robert Gaines-Cooper's middle name was "Taxable" or "Capital" - you can still hear it for a few more days via the BBC iPlayer).
  • Ron Moody - Actor best known for playing Fagin in Oliver originally trained to be an accountant at LSE.

I've always suspected that accountancy harbours a lot of people who have aspirations in other areas, and one that allows them to continue pursuing those interests when their professional duties allow. I tested the theory out at the ICAEW sole practitioners' day in December and uncovered a surprising number of hidden passions, including one accountant who had been quite successful as a professional opera singer.

So, can you help us identify any more accountancy celebrities? Or did you have dreams of fame and fortune before taking up accountancy - or perhaps still do? I'm looking forward to learning a lot more about our members, and perhaps to explore a few more areas for AccountingWEB.co.uk coverage.

Narrowboat's picture

Celebs who were accountants

Narrowboat | | Permalink

Radio 2 DJ Ken Bruce gave up accountantcy to be a radio presenter.  His loss to accountancy is our gain with morning entertainment. Just love his pop quiz.

Democratus's picture

its deja vu all over again

Democratus | | Permalink

This has cropped up before on AWEB



I did enjoy Fred McAuley's tax joke on Radio 4, even though you could also hear the tumbleweed blowing past for a few seconds afterward. Excellent.

Old Greying Accountant's picture

Let's turn it round then...

Old Greying Acc... | | Permalink

... who gave up an interesting job to become an accountant?

Phil Rees's picture

On the other hand

Phil Rees | | Permalink

It may be a slight exaggeration to describe Nanak Dev Ji as an accountant, but he did start the world's newest  monotheistic religion 500 years ago. That has to be better than being an accountant.


naomi2000's picture

Former accountants

naomi2000 | | Permalink

What about Colonel "Mad" Mike Hoare (mercenary leader and chartered accountant)

spacysam's picture

I have tried being something else but fate always brings me back

spacysam | | Permalink

When I was at school I didn’t know what I wanted to be, but I knew I never wanted to be an accountant!

 I was terrible at maths and so steered clear or anything to do with it (although I would have loved to do something with physics...but you need maths). I done my work experience at a vets (soon realised I didn’t like the sight of blood and gave that up). I have an a-level in art & design (trying to be an interior designer). I have an AVCE in computers (as I really wanted to be a graphic designer, but I didn’t like working freelance). I have a certificate in psychology. When I started work in an office with data entry they asked me to also do the bank rec….before I knew it I was printing out trial balances & profit & loss (ok so I was handing it to the accountant but that was the start). Since then I have been given more and more accountancy stuff, and now I am doing an accountants job! My boss said accountancy doesn’t really have anything to do with maths, but apparently I have a logical mind and it comes naturally to me. So accountancy is where I have ended up – I have now accepted my fate and am studying AAT to be the best accountant I can be. Although I may not find it fascinating, at least I now know where I belong :-D 

mcgregorian's picture

Famous Accountants

mcgregorian | | Permalink

Two from the world of music.

Lou Reed (Velvet Underground) and Mike Heron (Incredible String Band).

I also write songs but at 54 next month feel that time is against me!



Nigel Hughes's picture

AH But......

Nigel Hughes | | Permalink

If you could write a song like "First girl I loved" (OK I think that was Williamson rather than Heron) surely your life would be complete.

taxhound's picture

I was doing a temp job looking up postcodes

taxhound | | Permalink

Twenty something years ago I was looking postcodes up (in the old telephone directory style books) for an insurance company for the princely sum of £100 per week.  (Now that was DULL).  I took a paycut to £65 per week to work as an accounts junior in a local accountancy firm.  .  I have to say accountancy was a bit more exciting than looking up postcodes and thankfully, I think the pay gap was closed reasonably swiftly.....

lindaward's picture


lindaward | | Permalink

I used to spend my days flying by the seat of my pants...now they are firmly seated at a desk.

A few years ago I left my international endurance equestrian life of fame behind and now spend it head down in  numerous tax books as I get much pleasure in the work I do.   The fast every changing pace suits me.  I bought another Team Horse this Autumn with the view to racing for my country once again...alas starting my own practice here in the West Country this year along with maintaining my position as a Company Accountant in Bucks has proved inextricable.

I remain positive and train my horse at the weekends...My Country Needs Me !!!


gennyjones's picture

Am i more than an accounatant?

gennyjones | | Permalink


Well, I have always tried to sing here is a clip http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s7S1GETvK6Q

The other day I sang the full proper version of the song on my local radio and I received two bookings to perform at a children's event.  I then got the children and parents to join me singing and dancing at the event and everyone had a good time by the comments I received and a lot fo the children took pictures with me!

I must say I felt good and it is now my way of getting away fom figures after a long hard week at work! I showed this to my work collegues and they even joined me -

So if any of you want to sign me up do let me know!



lindaward's picture


lindaward | | Permalink

 There may be more than one God...but I thought there was only one Reggie Perrin.

  :) Such a likeness 

Gina Dyer's picture


Gina Dyer | | Permalink

Any Glee fans here? Mr Schuester was almost an accountant before he became a singer!

pembo's picture

getting old

pembo | | Permalink

as milearned judges would say "what are Glee..."...got told off by the kids the other day cos never heard of someone called "Usher" or something when he popped up on Graham Norton..

Apparently Gordon Brown wanted to become an accountant but he could never get the TB to balance and resorted to writing things off to suspense to balance the books....


Old Greying Accountant's picture

I thought Glee was a TV show!

Old Greying Acc... | | Permalink

Just goes to show!

spacysam's picture

It is!

spacysam | | Permalink

Glee is a show about a school that has a "glee club" (thats what they call a choir / singing group in America) and there struggle with being accepted, singing and everyday life.

DeborahLesley's picture


DeborahLesley | | Permalink

It is nice to see that there are some other "Gleeks" out there.    My daughter watched one episode and declared that she lost IQ points and the will to live!!     And this is coming from someone who used to watch Sabrina the teenage witch!!

BTW I never wanted to be an accountant.  I wanted to be another Delia Smith.  Sadly, it never happened, marriage and children got in the way.

Happy Friday!!


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