RIP 2008

Sunday 28th December 2008

A salute to a few TV Cream heroes who have died this year.

There’s a higher quality version over here.

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The Secret Diary of Alison Graham: part two

Friday 26th December 2008

TV Cream continues its exclusive serialisation of the memoirs of the Radio Times TV editor.

PART TWO: JULY-DECEMBER 2008

2nd July
I don’t believe it. No, Victor Meldrew’s not been to see me! Rather I have just read in my column that Catherine Tate is leaving Doctor Who! Am I bovvered? You bet that I am! Why wasn’t I told? “Maybe she got tired of always doing the real work but being treated as the number two,” David said sullenly. I didn’t know what he meant.

10th July
There is a new detective programme called George Gently about a detective called George who solves crime gently. It got me thinking what I would call a detective programme in which I was playing the main character and where the title would have to say who I am and what I was like. “How about Hopeless Case?” said Gill, misunderstanding the point completely. “I am not talking about the challenging kinds of work I would take on,” I replied, “I am talking about me – my name.” “I’ve got it,” piped up David. “Alison Graham: A Criminal Employment.”  Everyone laughed, which I thought a little inappropriate: it was a good suggestion for a very serious subject.

16th July
I must say I am enjoying this new adventure show on the BBC. It is called Bonekickers and it is about archaeologists who fight crime. I think the BBC is onto a winner here. It’s so camp it’s classic!

17th July
I rang Mark to tell him how much I am enjoying Bonekickers. “Shitkickers, more like,” he replied. I was shocked into a momentary silence. I admonished him for his bad language and had to remind him he is a BBC employee. “I’m a freelancer, Alison,” Mark responded, “which means I get to think for myself.” “Oh, I could never do that,” I answered. “Precisely,” he replied, and hung up.

18th July
Gill wanted to see me before I left for Santa Barbara. Over a working lunch at the Jade Dragon, she told me she is planning “major changes” at RT in the autumn! I can hardly wait. “I love surprises,” I told her. “Great – perhaps you’ll start delivering your columns on time,” she replied. It is wonderful that someone at the top of her game has still got a sense of humour.

5th August
There is a rumpus about the number of BBC personnel who have flown out to China as part of the coverage of the Olympics. I agree. It is shocking the amount of staff who are out of the country on what seems to me to be a two-week jolly. I said as much to Gill on my first day back in the office after my fortnight’s working holiday in Santa Barbara. She gave me a watery smile.

9th August
I have seen a few episodes of a new programme called Who Do You Think You Are? where celebrities, each of whom had a relative in a concentration camp during the Second World War, talk about their memories and cry on camera. It has aroused my interest in my own history, and I am determined to find out what my illustrious forefathers got up to.

14th August
My quest to find out Who Do I Think I Am (as I am referring to it) has come to nothing. When I rang up the National Archives they claimed not to know who I was, even when I repeated my name twice. So that is the end of that. “Who knows,” I said to David while munching on a croissant, “one of my ancestors might have been a top journalist whose name was respected across the country.” “That’d be a first for your family, then,” he muttered, strangely.

18th August
There is a war between the USSR and the American state of Georgia. I decided to scrap my column – I was planning on talking about why there aren’t enough shows with happy endings on television anymore – and write about the hostilities. Maybe I will be the new Kate Adie!

19th August
My new column, Why There Aren’t Enough Wars With Happy Endings Anymore, was vetoed by Gill. I sulked in my office for the rest of the day, before putting on my favourite CD – Hello I Must Be Going by Phil Collins – which made me feel better. The first track, I Don’t Care Anymore, certainly hit the spot!

26th August
I have fetched up in Edinburgh for something called the Edinburgh TV Festival. Lots of famous stars are here, including my friend Mark and my other friend Ricky. “I’m so looking forward to seeing Andy Millman back on our screens this autumn,” I told Ricky while he signed my DVD copy of The Extras. “You’re inviting the whole country round to your living room to watch this, then?” he replied quizzically, before asking me to make way for the 5,000 people waiting in the queue behind me.

27th August
I can’t believe I’ve never been to the Edinburgh Television Festival before: so much gossip and so many exclusives for my column! Apparently my new favourite programme, Celeb Air (so trashy it’s terrific!), will be coming back at Christmas bigger and better than ever! Who knows – yours truly might get an invitation!

28th August
Mark tells me Celeb Air has been cancelled because ITV think it is rubbish. I never liked it anyway, and I would certainly have never wanted to appear on such a pathetic show.  

2nd September
I was writing my latest column, why there are too many shows with happy endings on television, when the phone rang. It was somebody called Charlie Brooker, who apparently writes for The Guardian and has a show on BBC4. I told him I hadn’t heard of him, because I don’t trust The Guardian and never watch BBC4 because it is too elitist. He asked whether he could quote me on that. I said that was fine, and then rang off. Most peculiar!

5th September
I am in the doghouse! Gill has been contacted by that journalist Brooker, who told her what I said about The Guardian and BBC4. I said I could not remember speaking to him. “I do not have Perfect Recall, like Terry Wogan,” I added, which was a joke about a show that is currently on Channel 4. Gill did not seem to find this funny. “Well, we all know what they say about new tricks,” she replied. “Yes: that it is one of the BBC’s most-loved programmes,” I said. I think Gill needs to consider retirement. She has been at Radio Times for a long time and maybe this place needs a bit of a shake-up!

6th September
Terrible news! Gill has decided that Radio Times needs a bit of a shake-up, starting with the TV editorial department. I rang Mark immediately, in order to get hold of some exclusives with which I could impress Gill. He told me Tucker Jenkins was coming back to Grange Hill. Perfect! I’m sure this kind of tip-off will persuade Gill of the importance of my department and warn her off making any sudden changes!

7th September
I am not speaking to Mark. He was right about Tucker coming back to Grange Hill, but neglected to mention this was only for the very last episode of the show ever! “Yet another TV institution bites the dust,” I said to Gill. “What, have you already seen my plans for a personnel shake-up?” she replied.

16th September
I have fetched up in Canberra, Australia where I am taking a refreshing autumn break. And yes – I’ve found time to watch a bit of TV! They have lots of shows from the UK, even Neighbours. It looks like they’re quite a long way behind us, though, because Paul Robinson is still in it!

30th September
During a working lunch at Panama Hatties, Gill told me some shocking news. Apparently David has quit! He said – in his own words – he “didn’t think he had any prospects at the Radio Times, not while that old witch is still hanging on.” I told Gill I thought this was a disgraceful way to talk about someone in her position. At this Gill started choking on her pickled artichokes, and I had to call a member of staff to perform the Heimlich Manoeuvre. 

1st October
David hasn’t quit after all! He was back in the building as usual this morning, looking in remarkably good health and full of beans. I know this because, when I stopped by his new office, he let me come inside, but only after the light above the door had changed from red to green. This took about two hours, so I think there must be a technical fault.

7th October
I have discovered the most amazing thing. All the programmes which were nominated for BAFTAs earlier in the year were ones which I like! How wonderful – they must have read my column! “At least someone does,” said David during a working lunch at Giovanni’s Pizzeria.

10th October
I have been invited to appear on television with Richard and Judy! This is a dream come true. Perhaps if there’s time I’ll get to have a go on Fred’s weather map.

11th October
Richard and Judy have resigned! There was something in the papers about them having quit Channel 4. I am convinced Channel 4 is now the country’s worst television station. They never seem to be able to hold onto anyone good: first Peter Sissons, now this! 

12th October
It seems Richard and Judy have a new show on a channel called Watch This. It is called The New Position. I told David I wasn’t sure I wanted to put my name to something that wasn’t likely to be seen by any more than half a percent of the country. “Why change the habit of a lifetime?” he replied, bizarrely.

17th October
I am a bit puzzled by this new series of Phoenix Nights. Brian Potter has become a woman who enters a reality TV competition in order to raise money for his club, and Paul McCartney joins him to sing the theme from Home And Away. Still, Peter Kay – garlic bread!

22nd October
Channel 4 really is in trouble. That idiot Brooker is presenting a new version of Big Brother where that wonderful hostess Davina McCall has to pretend to eat some of the contestants! British television has sunk to a new low. Thank heavens for Peter Kay.

25th October
Free packets of biscuits have been disallowed at Radio Times staff meetings! Well, what with the credit crunch, everyone is having to cut back and tighten their belts. I told Gill that despite the gloomy times she would not see any change in the content of my column. For some reason she did not look that pleased.

1st November
There is a new programme on ITV called Britannia High that I feel sure is going to be the smash of the winter. It’s so corny it’s crucial! It will be the perfect tonic for the credit crunch, and I said as much in my latest column. Nobody is interested in programmes that are about money and glamour anymore.

2nd November
Britannia High has been beaten in the ratings by Antiques Roadshow where they found a million pounds of money in a special edition hosted by the glamorous Fiona Bruce. Apparently Britannia High is a ratings flop. I’m not surprised. I knew it would not be a hit. Just as well I have my finger on the pulse of credit crunch Britain!

5th November
I have fetched up in the Cape Verde Islands on a late autumn break to escape the doom and gloom of the credit crunch. This time of year is usually very pressured, what with Christmas coming up, so I always try to get away in order to recharge my batteries and think up new ideas for my column. This year I think I am going to do a piece about the number of repeats on telly over the holiday period: just the sort of bold, new thinking which Gill has been asking for!

11th November
Apparently my idea has been vetoed by Gill because it is what everyone else writes about during Christmas. “What a pity,” said David in a live video conference link-up from his office, “maybe they could have all given you a few hints. Like how to write a decent column.” He’s so witty and perceptive, he’s wasted as my assistant!

15th November
I had an epiphany this morning. The TV programme Heroes is no longer any good. I always knew this would happen. I will have to use my column to tell the country about my bold new theory!

16th November
While on the phone to Mark, he mentioned how much better is the latest series of Heroes than the last. Apparently it is a hit with the critics. I do wish Mark wouldn’t keep changing his mind. He then mentioned that the BBC are bringing back Survivor, that rotten ITV reality show from the start of the decade where members of the public have to try and live on a desert island. The BBC is clearly in trouble if it is resorting to stealing ideas from the opposition!

17th November
I am going to try and write my next column from the point of view of a jaded misanthropic thirtysomething male. It was something I saw done in The Guardian. I am sure it will bring Radio Times a whole host of new readers!

20th November
During a working lunch at Country Joe’s Chicken Shack, Gill told us all how she’d like to experiment with dropping my new ‘Angry Alison’ column and running a few “classics” from the archives. “You could call them Golden Grahams,” quipped David, and everyone laughed, obviously realising how generous Gill had been in her offer.

22nd November
That idiot Brooker has been on the phone again to complain about me stealing ideas from his column. “Tsk,” I told David, “if he is resorting to ringing me up, no wonder he is such a miserable person.”  David responded by asking me for Brooker’s number, claiming he was a “kindred spirit”. How odd.

24th November
This new series of Survivor is certainly a departure. One of the contestants has to live in a jail where everyone can come and go as they please and there are no guards! “It almost makes you wish you were in prison!” I told David during the regular 10-second catch-up he allows me to have with him every morning.”We can but dream,” he responded, generously. “I wonder what kind of proper sentence I’d get?” I mused out loud. “In your case, any kind of proper sentence would be a first,” David replied.

30th November
Des O’Connor has been sacked from Countdown! I can understand why. He never seemed happy having to work with all those stuck-up co-presenters and female assistants. “Who wants to spend every day hanging around with a load of sour-faced old crones?” I mentioned to Mark, when I bumped into him in Waitrose. “By the way, how is David?” he replied, strangely.

4th December
Hooray! The Christmas edition of Radio Times is done and dusted and the holidays can begin! Or rather, the holidays can continue! Gill was so thoughtful the way she decided to cut my special column about why the new series of Survivor has proved that reality TV isn’t dead after all, and therefore allowed me to begin my vacation ever earlier than normal! I’m now off to Tenerife for four weeks of sun, sea and sauciness – by way of the local cuisine, that is! My tips for 2009: Phoenix Nights (a brilliant twist having Brian Potter turn into Briony Potter and go on a reality TV show!) Noel’s HQ (I’d vote for him anytime!) French and Saunders (I saw the stage show – I laughed and laughed and laughed) and Mark Lawson getting his own programme.


…and introducing TERRY WOGAN as himself

Wednesday 24th December 2008

It’s December 25th 1985, and, in one of the best bits of harmless nonsense ever undertaken in the name of festive telly, Terence jets off to Denver to interview all the cast of Dynasty in character. “What about the Irish one – did we tell him?”

Happy Christmas – from all of us, particularly the DG.


“Switch on to the switchover!” (slight return)

Monday 22nd December 2008

After a short interval, during which a blue screen might well have afforded readers more entertainment than what otherwise appeared on this blog, here is part two of what everyone is starting to realise no-one is calling The Really Big Switchover:

MERIDIAN
WHEN: 2012
WHERE: Southend-on-Sea
WHO: Fred Dineage, Fern Britton, Christopher Biggins, some Fraggles
HOW: Fred single-handedly sails a giant schooner up the Thames estuary towards an enormous inflatable television set-cum-floating harbour, like the ones they used in the Second World War. He docks, steps ashore and is greeted by a gaggle of Fraggles, who sing a song about multimedia cross-platform integration. Elsewhere on the floating telly, Christopher Biggins (as Queen Victoria) and Fern Britton (as Prince Albert) reminisce about The Great Exhibition and how there’s nothing nicer than the taste of Kent. Then just before a three-hour performance of Don Giovanni, Fred deals a hand of cards which, when turned over, reveal the legend SWITCH TO DIGITAL NOW. “You got a problem there?” Fred hails the huddled masses on the shoreline.

ULSTER
WHEN: 2012
WHERE: Stormont
WHO: Ian Paisley, Martin McGuinness, Eamonn Holmes, Gloria Hunniford
HOW: People stand in a row equal distances apart in front of an important looking municipal frontispiece and all cut a piece of ribbon at precisely the same time. Somebody plays a bodhrán in the distance. And that is it.

SCOTLAND
WHEN: 2010-11
WHERE: Arthur’s Seat
WHO: Nicky Campbell, Tony Currie, Viv Lumsden,
HOW: A million-strong crowd gathers to form the legend SWITCH NOW, co-ordinated by Nicky through one solitary loudhailer. Meanwhile Tony spins some easy listening classics, and Viv does traffic reports.

WEST
WHEN: 2010-11
WHERE: The Severn Bridge
WHO: Chris Serle, Shoestring, Michael Praed, Bob Crampton
HOW: Having spent a week in at the deep end working as a television transmitter engineer, Chris gingerly steps up to an unwieldy electrical console to press a button and prevent the whole of the region ever seeing terrestrial TV again. However there is a problem. A circuit blows, and Shoestring has to use his knowledge as a former computer boffin to fix everything before Michael Praed, appearing in the guise of The Spirit Of Ages Past and sporting the colours of HTV Wales (the enemy!), ruins the whole occasion.

CENTRAL
WHEN: 2011
WHERE: The ramparts of Nottingham Castle
WHO: Bob Warman, Gary Terzza, Michele Newman and the Children’s Television Workshop
HOW: Special guest Nick Owen appears dressed as Robin Hood and, on the stroke of midnight, he uses a catapault on the castle wall to fire a giant goose into the milling crowd below. At the same time the Children’s Television Workshop wave from a balcony dressed as the characters of Palace Hill, and Showaddywaddy play Under The Moon Of Love under a moon of love, which rises into the sky until visible by an engineer in Birmingham who presses a button and kills terrestrial television for ever.

YORKSHIRE
WHEN: 2011
WHERE: The Crucible Theatre, Sheffield
WHO: Gwen Taylor, Keith Barron, Anna Walker, Frazer Hines and the Brighouse and Rastrick Band
HOW: Gwen and Keith – in character as Amy and David – arrive back in Britain after a 20-year sojourn on the Costa Plonka. They are confused to hear that their television set will soon be going blank, and have to get Frazer Hines to explain the logistics of the switchover from within a specially-constructed patronisingly-conceived farmyard on the floor of the Crucible. A brass band is heard approaching, and Anna Walker bursts out from the centre of an over-sized snooker table just as they enter the building on the chorus of the Floral Dance. Everyone then sings a special set of lyrics reminding viewers of what to do if they still haven’t got a digital television: “So on with your coat and off the shops/it’ll cost no more than fifty quid tops/a host of shows to view at a glance/all just as jolly as the Floral Dance!”


Charlie Brooker on Oliver Postgate

Sunday 21st December 2008

His finest hour.


The Secret Diary of Alison Graham: part one

Saturday 20th December 2008

A few years ago, TV Cream was fortunate enough to publish a series of extracts from the diary of the TV editor of Radio Times, Alison Graham.

The insights the diary gave into the life and work of one of Britain’s most prominent television journalists were profound and deeply instructive. They lifted the lid on the world of a TV critic with an unparalled honesty.

It’s with great pleasure that TV Cream is once again able to bring you selections from Alison Graham’s diaries, this time covering the entire year of 2008. Her tales of working with Gill (Hudson, Radio Times editor) and David (Butcher, deputy TV editor), and her relationship with people such as Mark (Lawson) and Ricky (Gervais), paint a picture of a true one-off besides serving as a suitable review of the year in television.

PART ONE: JANUARY-JUNE 2008

10th January
Well, I guess it finally had to happen. No, not me washing the tea mugs at work – I mean taking down my Christmas decorations! “Shouldn’t you have done that four days ago?” Gill asked me, glancing up from an official-looking piece of paper during a working lunch in Tony’s Trattoria. “Heavens no,” I replied, “I like staring at all the twinkly lights.” “I wasn’t talking about your decorations,” Gill snapped and pulled a funny face, before muttering something about having to tell readers I was on holiday again this week. I heartily approve. After all, I always tell readers how it is.

17th January
After watching another episode of my favourite programme Celebrity Big Brother (it’s so bad it’s good!) I suddenly realised it didn’t actually contain any celebrities. I decided to ring Mark to find out what was going on. Apparently Channel 4 has changed the format because of an incident involving a poppadom. I told Mark I once had an incident with a poppadom that left me unable to speak for three days. But when I mentioned how this had “so upset my colleagues at Radio Times”, he made a strange noise that sounded like he was choking and had to ring off. I hope he’s all right.

19th January
I remembered how much I enjoyed watching Extras during my Christmas holiday, and decided to ring Ricky to ask if he was doing another series of The Office this year. It’ll give me something to write exclusively about in my exclusive Radio Times column, I thought. Sadly Ricky wasn’t in, so I rang Mark who informed me that the British sitcom is dead! At this rate I’ll have my column sewn up until Easter!

20th January
Mark has now decided the British sitcom isn’t dead after all. I wish he would make his mind up. Nobody likes a TV critic who constantly changes their opinion about things.

21st January
I discovered that Celebrity Big Brother is doing badly in the ratings. I’m not surprised. It is a terrible programme and I never liked it.

24th January
On last night’s Crimewatch they had that lady who reads the Channel Five news as presenter. “What has happened to Nick Ross?” I asked David in the office. “Haven’t you heard?” he replied cheerily, “the BBC is replacing everyone who has been doing the same job for years and years and giving new blood a chance.” He seemed very excited, which I thought singularly inappropriate seeing as how Nick Ross was a very good presenter. Later, when David told me he was off for a special meeting in the personnel office, I called out: “Don’t have nightmares!” He gave me a funny look.

28th January
I have discovered that Trevor McDonald is back on the News At Ten! It’s only because I watch a lot of television that I notice things your casual viewer would miss. What with Trevor and all these wonderful new shows like The Palace and Moving Wallpaper, I just know this is going to be a great year for ITV!

2nd February
ITV is in terrible trouble! I rang Mark to find out why. “They have forgotten how to make good television drama,” he explained, “and that is why the ratings are so bad”. I didn’t know what he meant. When I tuned in I found that all their programmes were made properly, had beginnings and endings, and even a few famous faces.

5th February
I am convinced ITV is not in terrible trouble. Their programmes are full of famous people, whereas EastEnders on BBC1 is now having to do entire episodes with just one character! “It beats me why anybody would want to spend half an hour listening to one old woman droning on,” I said to David in the office. “That’s a shame, I was so much looking forward to your presentation at next week’s quarterly review,” he replied. I reassured him the presentation was still taking place, and suggested he get a breath of fresh air to clear his head.

15th February
While having a working lunch in The 300 Spartans, Gill asked me how I find the time to watch so many television programmes in order to sound so authoritative in my column. “Delegation,” I chuckled, giving her a big wink, before adding, “I only deal with the cream of British television!” “Yes,” Gill replied, “the rich and the thick.” I didn’t know what she meant.

22nd February
I must say I am having trouble understanding this new series of Doctor Who. The Doctor is a woman and seems to spend every episode in a police station in 1981! My suspicions about the BBC being short of money are clearly correct. I will have to be careful to set an example and not mislead my readers into thinking I am living high on the hog.

5th March
I’ve returned from a holiday in the Loire valley to find Doctor Who is still a man and the programme I saw was called Ashes To Ashes. I don’t know why I bother having David as an assistant if he never tells me anything. “Didn’t you watch Life On Mars?” he asked when I raised the matter with him. “Of course I did, I watch everything important,” I shouted. “Does that include your own back?” he murmured, leaving the room. I think David is suffering from job stress. I can’t think why: it’s not like he has to write a Radio Times column full of exclusive TV news and gossip every week of the year!

11th March
I saw from my TV column that I now think the British sitcom is alive and kicking! I immediately rang Ricky to tell him the good news and to ask when The Office is coming back. Instead I got a recorded message telling me to fuck off. He must have confused me with someone else. He’s such a wag!

16th March
It’s great having David Attenborough back on television. Even though he is old, I’m sure he will continue to deliver such extraordinary insights into our natural world for years to come.

17th March
David Attenborough has resigned! It was in last week’s copy of Radio Times, probably at the back somewhere by the letters page. He has said he has just done his final series for the BBC and has “had enough of dealing with old fossils”. When I read this out during our weekly staff meeting everyone laughed, and Gill said “I know how he feels”, which was kind of her.

27th March
I decided to have a little fun with David this morning. When he came into my office I asked him to sit down and, facing him across the desk, I said “David, I’m very sorry to have to tell you this, but I’ve made up my mind and…YOU’RE FIRED!” He turned completely white! He started shouting “I’ll have you! I’m taking this to the union! There’ll be a tribunal!” He didn’t realise I was doing an impression of Sir Alan Sugar, which was a shame as I thought it was quite good. Later on I offered to buy him a coffee but he said “I don’t like bullshitters” which I thought singularly inappropriate. I am glad he is not my apprentice!

28th March
Gill has introduced a new regime whereby some members of staff will act as apprentices to other members of staff for one week. David is my apprentice. He asked me what I thought of Gavin and Stacey. “I’m not interested in your private life,” I replied, “only what you can do for me. I am unique!” – which was clever, because that is a line from the actual Apprentice. “This is not a game, Alison,” he said in a funny voice. “No, it’s Radio Times,” I replied. He clearly has a lot to learn.

13th April
I have fetched up in Venice on a quick spring break. It’s so nice to be away from the pressure of writing a weekly column. It’s not like there’s something good to watch every week as it is! Unfortunately while I was out taking a stroll I remembered I’d forgotten to set my video for my new favourite programme, Foyle’s War (it’s so quaint it’s quirky!). I immediately went back to the hotel and rang David to ask him to put a tape in. Unfortunately Gill came on the line and told me David had just jumped out of a window, but I needn’t worry about coming back and doing my column because nobody is interested in television at the moment. Gill is such a thoughtful boss.

15th April
Gill is such a mean boss. She has ordered me to come back to work because she claims I am having too much time off! Honestly, I can’t watch the television when I’m in the office, can I? To make matters worse, I have found out that Foyle’s War has been cancelled by ITV because they think it is rubbish. I never liked it anyway.

20th April
My new favourite show Heroes is back, and it’s better than ever! If I had a superhero power, it would be the ability to watch television programmes and then replay them in front of my eyes – in other words, a built-in video recorder in my brain. “No danger of that ever becoming full up,” said David. “Exactly, because I would wipe it every week,” I replied. “No change there then,” he added, strangely.

21st April
Mark told me the new series of Heroes is rubbish. It’s so confusing for me being the nation’s number one TV critic! At least he had a tip-off: Frank Butcher is coming back to EastEnders! I can’t wait to reveal this exclusive in my column.

23rd April
I am not talking to Mark. Not only did Frank come back to EastEnders two weeks ago, he came back in a coffin! Selflessly, I thought not of myself, but of Mike Reid: it’s no fun having your character killed off. I decided to send him a little note.

4th May
A working lunch at the Cactus Café. Gill wanted to know my tips for shows to watch this summer. “They haven’t started yet!” I chuckled between mouthfuls of Venezuelan beaver cheese. “I can’t very well tell you about something I haven’t even seen.” “Why change the habit of a lifetime?” Gill muttered in response. I think David’s job stress is now affecting her as well.

7th May
The current series of Doctor Who is the best ever. When I mentioned this fact to David, he started talking a lot about poor characterisation and lazy scriptwriting and lots of technical jargon. I simply said to him: “Am I bovvered?” Because that’s what the character says in Doctor Who. He looked pale and angry. “Perhaps you need to see a Doctor?” I quipped. He didn’t laugh, strangely.

15th May
Came back from a fact-finding trip to Miami Beach to discover David has completely rearranged my office! He has taken my big desk, the sofa, video, tea and coffee making facilities and the office telephone, while I have to make do with a small trestle table in the corner! He says it’s because I’m hardly in, so it’s a better use of space. “Pity I can’t do anything about that other spare space,” he added. “Oh yes,” I asked, “what’s that?” “The one between your ears,” he replied. How nice of David to complement me on the size of my brain! Even so, I do wish he’d told me first before he re-arranged my room. I have no truck with people who don’t warn you they’re about to do something dramatic.

16th May
Without warning I have decided to ask Gill for a pay rise! Oh yes! “My salary does not equate with my output,” I explained to her over a working lunch in The Pride Of Bombay. “You can say that again,” Gill retorted, giving me a funny look.

18th May
I have a new favourite show: Pushing Daisies. It’s so kooky it’s criminal! It’s about what happened to Beth Jordache from Brookside after she left the Close to move to America. I’m sure it’s going to be a hit. What with that and Britain’s Got Talent, this is surely going to be ITV’s year.

25th May
I am finding it hard to understand the plot in Pushing Daisies. I bumped into Mark in the BBC canteen and he said ITV had dropped an episode to make room for the World Cup. “At least Britain’s still got Talent,” I joked. “Not from where I’m standing,” he replied, curiously.

5th June
When David came into my office this afternoon I greeted him by shouting “OWOOOGGGGOOO!” He almost dropped his cup of tea in fright! I had to explain I was quoting from Gladiators, which is back on ITV. “It’s ‘awooga’,” he replied, “and it’s on Sky, not ITV.” “Don’t be silly,” I retorted, “Gladiators is an ITV programme, how can it be on another channel?” David then started fiddling with something down the back of my office television set. When I asked what he was doing, he replied “just checking this thing is actually plugged in”. He’s such a one!

16th June
Mark tells me that Ricky is never going to write another episode of The Office or Extras again! To me this was clear evidence the British sitcom is dead. Mark, however, insisted it wasn’t dead, but neither was it alive. Instead it existed in some kind of semi-conscious half-vegetative state. I do enjoy Mark’s company; it’s so nice to talk to someone on your own wavelength.

22nd June
I saw in the paper that Ricky is doing a new series after all! I shall never trust Mark again.

23rd June
Mark rang up asking if I could trust him. Naturally I said yes, hoping for another exclusive I could use in my column! Apparently a hot tip for big things in the autumn is none other than my old mate Jack Dee! How nice to think that someone who’s been around for ages and has a reputation for mouthing off unpleasantly week after week is about to get what they deserve. When I mentioned this to David, he started laughing hysterically and ran out of the building.

to be continued…


…just coming!

Thursday 18th December 2008

Hooray for the fantastic year enjoyed by Adam and Joe – in particular, the growing ubiquity of STEPHEN! and the success of Song Wars.

The pair’s 6 Music slot remains the best show on the radio, enduring 12 months peppered by outbreaks of shingles, new babies, trans-Atlantic cross-talks and festival jaunts, plus eggcorns, juvenilia and numerous features involving Adam pretending to be a BBC commissioning editor.

STEPHEN!, meanwhile, continues to gather momentum, recently inspiring a limited exercise in audience participation at a Ben Folds gig, and also the video below. Here’s to an equally trubs-free 2009. Thanks a lot Al Gore!