Fun for Some; Episode One
In 2007, having moved back to Radnorshire after 17 years away, ten of them in Lancaster, I got a call from an old schoolpal of my daughters, asking if I’d like to present a TV documentary about the great engineer Thomas Telford. Her name was Holly Blackwell, and I knew her because she was lead guitarist and singer in an excellent Lancaster band, Angelica. I’d first seen them at a Lancaster Girl’s Grammar School end-of-year concert, and they blew me away. I didn’t know that Holly had become a TV producer after Angelica split (not before they played at Leeds Festival immediately before Slipknot).
Holly is an original, a one-off creative genius. Asked to make a documentary about Telford, she wanted someone from very much outside any kind of imaginable box to present the thing. She told me that she thought, ‘What about Esme’s Dad’? This is me. I was right in the pomp of my career as one half of edgy light entertainment duo ‘Your Dad’, and had often been asked to compere Lancaster events, so I guess Holly must have seen me in action, stripped to my string vest and telling children to fuck off, and thought, ‘Yes, he’s the very thing for Sunday afternoon viewing’.
I got the gig, and we made the doco. It must have been alright, because it was long-listed for a Royal TV Society award for Best Regional Documentary. I don’t have a copy, as readers of this blog will have suspected by now. The still photo at the top of this post is taken from the shoot, though.
But we did get to have another go. In fact, we got to make a four-part series, ‘Fun For Some.’ In those far-off days of 2008, there was stll such a thing as regional ITV. On Sunday afternoon’s, the 13 or so regional ITV stations would ‘opt-out’, and show locally produced content so that there was always something shit on the other side from ‘Songs of Praise’. Holly, well aware of the limitations of the broadcast slot, wanted to make something that was just… fun. So for six weeks or so, we wandered round the Border ITV region, meeting people enjoying themselves doing their thang.
This was my sole foray into TV presenting, because I have such a great face for radio. But when Jolyon Jenkins first approached me a few months later to ask if I’d ever done any radio presenting, I could point to ‘Fun for Some.’
There are four episodes in total, and I’ll post one a day over the next few days. If you watch, and gain any amusement from the shows, perhaps you’d consider dropping a pie or two into my Just Giving page, link in the top right corner. Macmillan have been beside me every mile on my voyage through the choppy Sea of Cancer. They are just a good thing.