Tom Allen is what you might call a queer multihyphenate. A broadcaster, comedian, journalist, and author, he’s achieved a lot in his 40 years – including winning a British LGBT Award. So it’s surprising to hear that he still has self-doubts. “I hope I have been a good enough role model for younger queer people,” he says. “I always worry I probably put people off!”

Winning the award in 2021 meant a great deal to him. “I felt like it was from our community.” Not that he had much time for celebration. “Actually, I was working the next day, so I had a glass of whisky with my friend Suzi Ruffell and then went home to bed.”

In the past, Allen has been outspoken about his experience of homophobic violence but also about shame and internalised homophobia. Is this a conversation he thinks we still need to be having as a community? “I would say so. I think that internalised homophobia and shame are sometimes complex and difficult to explain for us. The way that society can often shame us, for example with something like Section 28, which I grew up under, means that very subtle threads of shame can be woven into a person’s mind and they can take a long time to unpick, despite changes in the law and changes in society. Talking about these things can hopefully move us forward, though.”

Growing up, he was always something of a perfectionist. “I wish I’d allowed myself to make mistakes and not tried to be perfect. I obviously wasn’t perfect and that just made me stressed. I wish I’d known I was a good person just as I was.” He’s certainly made a success of things, achieving all that he has in so many areas. What’s his secret? “That’s very nice of you. I try and work as hard as I can. Also, I’m a member of the Illuminati. But shhh, please don’t tell anyone.” Does self-confidence come naturally to him or is it something he has to work at? “No, not at all. I just fake it till I make it. And sometimes I don’t make it.”

He measures success not by professional achievements, but by how much personal happiness he feels. “I’ve come to realise it’s a journey to being happy with yourself – success for me has been time to spend with my partner [actor Alfie Garston], making Sunday lunch and watching Call the Midwife.”

Right now, he’s looking forward to being back on Bake Off: An Extra Slice in the autumn and continuing with his current tour, which runs until June next year. With so many jobs on the go, I wonder how he paces himself. Does he have a routine when he’s not at home? “The nature of touring is that it’s always different, which I really like, and I like being busy. When I’m on the road I just try and allow myself little treats. Maybe a tea cake here or a trinket from a charity shop there.”

He’s the first to acknowledge that life can be challenging, but stresses the importance of keeping things in perspective and not being consumed with fear of missing out. “It’s important to remember the small things that can help us through tough times. I always assume other people are off at sex parties, but for me it’s watching Miss Marple – the Joan Hickson years, obviously – or Keeping Up Appearances.”

What’s his advice for finding your logical family? “I think just be open with people and try not to hang out with dreadful people.” And for throwing a good party? “Crisps in a bowl. And some cheese twists, definitely.” Interview by Paul Burston