Couldn’t give a toss about Russell Brand, but I used to like Jonathan Ross. He always struck me as someone who had a little more behind him than the average celeb. But after this stunt, I’m not so sure.
I haven’t had many encounters with celebs (apart from – God help me – Margaret Thatcher, and I’m not entirely sure that she counts), but I did once receive a phone call from Andrew Sachs. Bizarrely, this means that probably the one thing I have in common with Brand and Ross is that I also have Andrew Sachs’ mobile phone number. This is how it came to pass.
Once upon a time, I wrote a radio play. It was a very strange radio play, and to this day it remains unbroadcast, although I would dearly love to hear it produced. I sent it off to the BBC – which in those pre-Writers’ Room days was a lot more straightforward to get into – and I received an invitation to meet Jeremy Howe, who was then in charge of drama at Radio 3. He basically told me that he really liked it, but it was too short, and did I have anything else? And I admitted that, er, no, I didn’t, apart from one half-baked idea that we kicked around for a few minutes, and that was that. In those days, I didn’t have the tenacity and single-mindedness to follow it up (to say nothing of having a young family to support), so nothing more came of it.
A couple of years back, I dug the script out of the drawer, and sent it off to Dirk Maggs, who also liked it, but said that it was too short, etc. etc.. Then I had an inspiration. Why not send it to Andrew Sachs? One of the lesser-known facts about Andrew Sachs (in fact one that is currently missing from his Wikipedia page) is that he was the writer of the radio drama “The Revenge”. This is an unusual piece, in that it has no words, only sound effects (but it works – especially when you’re wearing headphones, because it’s recorded binaurally). And it was, to a large extent, the inspiration for my play. So I wrote to him, via his agent, enclosing my script, explaining that “The Revenge” was the inspiration for it – and would he be interested in taking one of the parts should it ever come to production?
So it was that one Sunday morning in February last year, I received a phone call from Andrew Sachs. Once I had picked the phone up from where I had dropped it on the floor, we had a very pleasant five-minute chat, in which he seemed extremely down to earth and genuinely interested in what I was doing. He also mentioned that I could certainly say that he would be interested in playing the part that I had suggested. On the basis of this call, I would like to suggest that Andrew Sachs is possibly the nicest celeb on the planet.
And Jonathan Ross, you’re a git.