After being misinformed by Apple about an imminent repair which was far from imminent, I found myself with 5 hours to spare in Shepherd’s Bush. I played with the idea of walking to the buildings which were once the BBC, but decided it would only bring on worthless melancholy nostalgia and possible simmering fury. Is it boarded up now? Would I have to peek through cracks in chipboard to see the car park where I once watched intoxicated showbusiness attempt to find their cabs like battling tops, dizzy and mockingly pugilistic from a night at Jools Hollands’ Hogamanay? This was the building where I saw Ricky Gervais fight with the husband of a Blue Peter presenter, it was a delight. He was never so quiet again, as he sat wheezing and bruised as a doctor told him of the 79 symptoms that he should keep an eye out for as they might lead to death by Grant Bovey. It was here that I did warm up for a pre-recorded daytime TV show called Meet The Challenge with an audience of people who only found themselves because the recording of Simon Mayo’s Confessions was oversubscribed. After the round where the contestants had to meet the challenge of packing a suitcase neatly, I was told that I must not allow any of the audience leave to go to the toilet, apparently some were burrowing out through the sewer.
It was here that I argued with the producer of the chat show Up Late…With Ralf Little, asking what exactly was the comic angle of hanging a lap dancer going to be, and discovered there was no comic angle, he just liked the idea of meeting lapdancers.
It was in one of those studios that I presented a pilot on psychology called Right Said Freud. The guests included Nigella Lawson, a Rabbi and the Daily Telegraph music critic. All three were miffed when I showed them footage of a basketball being passed around and none noticed the gorilla in the middle of the screen (if you don’t know what I am talking about, HERE). They refused to believe the gorilla was there first time, and a blanket of mistrust laid over us for the rest of the recording. It was not commissioned.
I stood on the roof of this building to be filmed for an obituary of Christopher Price and saw an impressed Anne Widdecombe witness the comedian Andre Vincent run at her in his pants. Now if all the above facts have not persuaded you of its cultural importance, then what great TV classics that were filmed there have I left out? Many.
To have a pass card that would get me through the revolving gate of TV Centre was a giddy joy. For my generation, it is an icon. We were brought up on images of it from Saturday morning kids TV and onwards. What was this mystical road Wood Lane, where all our heroes must live and Mat Irvine made all those models of space and stars and exploding planets for Doctor Who?
I think of this as I arrive at the Dancehouse in Manchester and see the car park and flattened concrete ruins of the BBC building here. I hope they preserved the foyer posters of the Look North West and local radio presenters than benevolently smiled upon you as you waited for your writer’s meeting, hopes to be dashed or saved.
How happy Leonard Rossiter’s undertaker from Billy Liar would be, seeing a future where “it’s all clean lines nowadays”.
I didn’t intend to write this, until I turned the corner onto Oxford Road I was going to write about The Cornerhouse, a favourite arthouse cinema of my twentysomething years. When I relied on floors to sleep on and a cafe where they wouldn’t chuck you out if you made your one black coffee last two hours, it was the Cornerhouse I came to. I would read of feminism and horror movies (Men, Women and Chainsaws) and look at the buses below (though not thinking of chainsawing the occupants). I will write about watching Nico Icon and the bus ride to Chorlton after this break.
I am on tour – Dorking, Braintree, Leeds, Hull, York, Edinburgh and many more coming very soon. Also the last ever Nine Lessons Christmas shows and Hammersmith Extravaganzas with Brian Cox, all such things HERE
Updated Cosmic Genome app with a vast array of scientists and comics from Stewart Lee to Richard Dawkins HERE