Can’t keep up with my hair
Enjoyed last night’s History Of Light Entertainment on BBC2 – part three, which was about radio and television’s symbiotic relationship. This is a well-made series by the looks of it (didn’t see the previous two episodes), reliant for its talking heads on people with a real stake in the story it is telling, rather than just media commentators. Due to unfortunate editing, Christian O’Connell was the only head who appeared to be there to make gags. He may have said lots of pertinent, observant stuff, and he is a DJ, but they only used three bits and all were jokey, which made him, not the programme, seem glib. I was on it. You had to wait about an hour to see me in my little brown tracksuit top (I looked much less smart than the other contributors – Mark Radcliffe had a suit and shiny shirt on – there was no dress code that I was aware of). I remember doing my bit in a hotel room in Piccadilly way back in January, I think, judging by my shaggy hair, but it’s so long ago, I humbly calculated that I might not be on. Perhaps, I thought, they’d managed to draft in more important people since getting me in for safety. (After all, better to have Terry Wogan talking, than me talking about Terry Wogan.) But there I was, saying nice things about Noel’s House Party and Chris Evans at his peak. I’m glad I said positive things, especially when Terry Christain came on and tore Evan to bits. This came across as bitter and vindictive and jealous, even if it wasn’t! It’s a dangerous game, being a talking head – you can rattle on coherently and wisely for an hour, but it will be the off-the-cuff remark that gets edited in to suit the programme’s narrative. I am always careful not to fall into this trap. I don’t wish to come across on telly as one of those tiresome moaners. As it happens (guys and gals), The History Of Light Entertainment was concerned mostly with history and less with hagiography. It didn’t have an axe to grind.
Because I’ve been tied up with Not Going Out since December, I’ve turned down many talking head gigs this year. Because I’m free of those particular shackles now, I agreed to one that took me to somebody’s house in Shepherd’s Bush on Friday morning, where I spoke about 60 years of children’s TV for a BBC4 Time Shift programme. (These are of a high quality, and they usually give me a good slice of the pie.) At least, whenever it’s on the telly, probably December or something, I will be able to look at my hair and go, “Ah yes, that was in August, when it was quite short again, with a small quiff. I look quite shiny too – it was bloody hot that day and I walked the length of the Uxbridge Road to get there.”
PS: For the record, I originally illustrated this blog entry with a grab from the first series of Doctor Who Confidential, when I was experimenting with a fringe. (Imagine how dull it would be to be a talking head and never changing your hairstyle!) I didn’t grab it. Someone else did, and posted it on my Wikipedia entry, and it’s now long gone.