It’s not a bedsit, it’s a flat

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Let us then belatedly mark the nicest job the BFI have ever asked me to do: the Spaced event on Saturday. A marathon, tied in to Channel 4’s 25th birthday, at which hundreds of Spaced fans gathered and watched the whole of series one and two on the big screen in NFT1, introduced by the cast and director Edgar Wright (albeit sadly lacking Jessica Hynes, who sent a filmed message), and with an hour-and-40-minute Q&A, hosted by myself. I’ve interviewed assorted filmmakers on this very stage down the years (Michael Moore, Terry Gilliam, Christopher Guest), not to mention hosted three TCM Classic Shorts awards, but this was a true labour of love. (Simon Pegg actually asked me by text about a month ago, and I texted back yes without even asking when it was.)

It was a lovely way to spend a few hours, not least because of the audience, which comprised the most devoted fans (one guy had flown to London from Seattle specifically to attend), who were warm and appreciative, and didn’t need anything explaining to them, obviously. I’ve met Simon a few times this year, and we’ve become email pals (partly because we discovered we have a Northampton connection), and I met Nick Frost briefly, but this was the first time I’ve been in the presence of all of them, in a big row. Edgar and Simon came on first, then I introduced the others, to a massive round of applause each: Nick, Mark Heap, Katy Carmichael (Twist for the uninitiated) (actually, if you’re uninitiated, you won’t know who Twist is), and Julia Deakins, who wins the prize for being least like her character. Although both Katy and Mark insisted in the green room that they didn’t want to speak, I made sure everybody got a question, and it turned into a free-for-all come the end. We could have talked all night, but they still had series two to screen. You can watch amateur highlights, thanks to YouTube (scroll down), although if you’re not a fan of Spaced or shaky camerawork from Row H, I wouldn’t recommend it. Here are some grabs, for posterity. (Oh, and by the way, I also met Colin the dog, aka Ada. Which will mean nothing etc. etc.) If anything like professional photos come my way, I’ll post them here.

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Edgar, me and Simon (I wore a jacket to give myself an air of authority, which worked)

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Edgar in full anecdotal flight

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Simon and me attentively listening to Edgar

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Me looking adoringly at Simon

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Edgar, me, Simon, Nick, Katy (Nick may have just mentioned bukaki)

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We had joy, we had fun


Part 1 (which includes the intro and part of the Q&A)


Part 2 (all Q&A)

These rather more official photos appeared on Edgar’s MySpace blog (so I’m kind of assuming he won’t mind me showing them here):

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Bah bah bah ba-baaah ba-ba-da-ba-baaahh!

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Welcome to my world. Yesterday afternoon, I went up to Broadcasting House to record a column (ie. authored piece that you read out) for the estimable Front Row on Radio 4. It compared the opening night of Channel 4 with the schedule of this week, in a light-hearted way. (They don’t usually ask me on for a non-light-hearted view – they have plenty of others for that type of thing.) It was fun to do, as it began with me musing on the fact that TV channels no longer have fanfares, as they all did when I was growing up. I was going to ask producer Laura to drop in clips of the fanfares for Thames, LWT, Anglia and early C4, which are all reassuringly available on YouTube, but we decided it would be more amusing if I sang them, as you might in a pub during a conversation about theme tunes. So I did. With the column recorded, I came home. Then, about an hour and a half later, I had a concerned call from Laura, who was mid-edit: it turns out I had erroneously sung the Thames theme for Anglia. Hey, you try remembering channel idents on the spot, in a BBC studio. They get mixed up. So, I travelled all the way back into Central London just to sing the Anglia TV ident. We found a studio, we set up, I put on my headphones, sang, “Bah bah bah ba-baaah ba-ba-da-ba-baaahh!” and then came home again. What professionalism, you’re thinking.

Anyway, it was worth it, I think, to lower the tone of Radio 4 for a few minutes on a Thursday evening. You can, if you wish, listen to the column (it’s the last item on the show, as my items always are!) and to Kirsty Lang back-announcing it with a jaunty laugh in her voice, possibly put on, possibly not. I don’t care! Look for Thursday night’s Front Row here.

(Of course, C4 dropped its fanfare in 1996 and went all esoteric. Nowadays you get an ambient “bed” over which the announcer can rabbit on, and the logo is constructed, mid-air, out of haystacks or bits of council estate.)

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And if anybody needs to see or hear the old Anglia fanfare, here it is: