25 years in showbiz


As 2013 fades from view, and with it, one largely overlooked anniversary – that is, My First 25 Years In Showbiz – I ponder the fact that I had once considered actually marking my silver jubilee in the media with some kind of tour, or one-man show, but I seem to have settled with some determination into scriptwriting (under which umbrella I include script editing) as my chief creative outlet in recent years, and even radio seems to be fading now, so it seems more suitable to simply mark its passing with a blog entry. Writing prose for free: that sums up my current lot, too.

My quarter-century is well documented, not least in my third memoir That’s Me In The Corner, which you can now buy as an eBook for £5.42 from the evil, tax-avoiding Amazon. (I can’t. Or at least, I can, but I don’t have a Kindle to load it up onto.) So I thought I might cut the yakkin’ and sum up 25 years of indecision and happy accident in a single image. The grab above was captured from the studio webcam of what was the main 5 Live studio in Television Centre, a building now cruelly and unsentimentally condemned. I think an eagle-eyed listener grabbed it, and sent it to me. If it was you, raise your hand: it’s a superb shot. I’m dating it back to circa 2009? I am clearly waiting for the light to go green. My best guess is that I was filling in for Mark Kermode – a gig that I haven’t done since I was pushed off the subs’ bench by Simon Mayo’s producer and replaced by Nigel Floyd and Boyd Hilton because their names rhyme – and Simon was broadcasting from a sporting event, possibly the cricket, which is why the studio was otherwise empty. There I am, on my own, waiting, with my BBC canteen coffee, summing up my own career!

Actually, the very fact that it’s indistinct is perfect. Here are a few other images that either give me a Proustian rush or say something thematic about the past 25 years.


I’m rather tempted to leave them uncaptioned. Let the images speak for themselves. If they say anything, it’s that I have spent a good chunk of the past 25 years being around famous and talented people and not complaining or being self-conscious about that fact. Not always by the side of a lake in Sweden, as above, usually in front of “branding”, but in the vicinity of talent, and that’s the key.

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This one needs captioning. It’s the mighty 6 Music team finally winning Digital Radio Station of the Year at the Sonys in 2012. I was not there, which is the significant part. I celebrated their win anyway.

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C&H166I hope you enjoyed that visual celebration of not knowing what to do with myself for 25 years. (My home life has been, it must be said, a whole lot less chaotic.) Let’s get on with the 26th and make it so boringly focussed, there’ll be nothing to illustrate it with bar a selfie of me at my laptop.

Happy New Year!


Last chance to see

On November 3, 2010, I will be performing Secret Dancing for the final time. If you are in or near Cardiff, you can come and see it – tickets are available exclusively through Go Faster Stripe here – and many of you are booked to do so already, without realising what a historic night you will be part of. Richard and I are doing a day’s recording in Cardiff for our second podcast CD, provisionally entitled War, Peace, Crime and Punishment (hopefully available in time for Christmas), and a live podcast gig in the evening. But Chris-Evans-not-that-one had the harebrained idea of doing Secret Dancing as the support act and filming it for a future Go Faster Stripe DVD. This seemed too good to pass up, and Richard has magnanimously handed over the whole of the first half to me.

We hope that this will be a nice surprise for all those who have already purchased a ticket. I have performed Secret Dancing, the full show, 19 times, 16 of those in Edinburgh. Like Stewart Lee says in his book, it feels like a good idea to draw a line under what was an experiment, and by committing it to disc, that’s exactly what I’m doing.

I’ve had a lot of fun, but I am not a stand-up comedian, and although I was keen to pursue this one, just to find out if I could perform my own solo show at the Fringe, I still feel something of a fraud, and have not paid my dues, and I cannot realistically spend every evening doing so like professional comedians do, so it would be insulting if I continue to jump the queue and “dabble”. I have loads of writing work to do anyway, so performing the show one last time, in a city that has been very kind to it before [see: pic, taken at St David’s Hall last time Richard and I were in town], seems poetic and apt. I hope we get as many enthusiastic volunteers at the end – we’ll have to see whether the modest camera crew will encourage or discourage volunteers!

Anyway, I’m looking forward to it, and I hope that my decision to lay the show to rest will make Cardiff more of an “event”. It will certainly be a packed day.

We think our gig in Bristol is sold out, but worth checking, if you’re in the vicinity. I won’t be doing Secret Dancing there, as Richard and I will be sharing our pre-interval duties, and I’ll only have 20 minutes to play with. I might do the Mitfords if that seems like a popular option. If not, I’ll do an excerpt from Secret Dancing, the bit about moving to Surrey.

In other Go Faster Stripe news, my audiobook, Where Did It All Go Right?, has been reduced in price to £10, so if you haven’t bought it yet, now might be a good time. I’ve had some really nice responses to it, and people ask me if the other books will come out as audiobooks, to which the answer is: it really depends if we sell enough of these, which we haven’t yet. It’s clearly a niche product. We probably should have done it as MP3s, which would have meant less discs, and less packaging, although for my first and possibly only audiobook, I’m rather pleased with the way this one feels. It’s a beautiful item. Anyway, plug over.