We had some hairy moments. For example, when I was invited to present Micronet 800 on Pebble Mill at One, on the same day that its funding was to be voted upon by the main EMAP board. Richard arranged for a large screen TV to be set up in their boardroom so that they could pause and watch me on live TV.
Much of this Pebble Mill programme was dedicated to computer developments and of course being live added tension to the occasion. Imagine my horror when I tried to use an acoustic modem and when I logged in, was rejected on live TV. I managed to bluster across that attempt and tried again. I was rejected again. I was the only one in the studio who realised that a third rejection would be final. Fortunately, I got in at the third attempt.
See the BBC Pebble Mill at One Clip
Intriguingly friends, family and the EMAP Board were all the more moved by the emotion of the problems and would have been less impressed if it had all gone off slickly. We got voted the money.
|ASIDE: Robert Carrier, the American chef and restaurateur, was on the same show and we met in the green room. He asked, as I was clearly into technology, what video recorder should he buy? I explained that it depended on the number of programmes and the time period he wished to cover. He was confused by that and asked why. I said the programming could be just one event, or multiple events across say a week or fortnight depending on the choice. He smiled and said that he didn’t need that, he just instructed his valet to switch it on and off as required! I realised that there was no appropriate advice I could offer him.|
One of our first tasks was a formal launch and we booked BAFTA in Piccadilly for it. We had decided that humour would help to get across the fairly complex technologies and booked Kenny Everett for both a video and for being involved in the live launch.
Kenny was amazing, but he had some foibles that you may not have noticed, he disliked sharing a stage or a set with anyone. So we had to create approaches where he was on screen, or I was, but we were never on-set together. This led to interesting out-takes which I still have. Several include him telling a lewd joke to warm me up before a segment.
|ASIDE: I believe the joke was about a Native American indian village. A squaw had given birth in the night, the Chief came into the tent and said ‘I name this child Morning Cloud’. His side-kick asked how he always managed to come up with a name. He repled that this morning coming to the tepee he saw a morning cloud and that was the name he provided. He carried on, ‘Anything else you want to ask me Two Dogs F—ing?|
But this was as nothing compared to the live launch. The set-up was that we would play the video and he would come out on stage and do a stand-up routine. I would then appear on the big screen behind him and we would have some banter, stage to screen. I would then, still blinded by the camera lights, run down a dark stairwell onto the set as he left it. He would be up behind the audience and when I said ‘So there you have it’ he would call out to me and this would culminate in me introducing the next speaker.
Just prior to going on Kenny held out his hand and showed me that it was rock steady, he got me to do the same, and there was an evident tremor. He smiled, and it was clear he had something planned. We did our on-screen bit and I made it down the stairs onto the set.
He was throwing press kits out into the crowd, I waited until this subsided and did my rather dull technical bit, particularly dull after all his anarchy. I delivered his cue and looked up to the back of the audience to see him there. He slowly counted on his fingers to ten, it felt like time had stopped before this large and prestigious audience. Eventually he asked, ‘Would you like me to say, hey Bob just who is the star of this show’ and I breathed out saying ‘Yes please’. He delivered it again and I introduced the speaker from Prestel, then quickly got off.
ASIDE: While in the midst of launching Micronet 800 I noticed that the car registration plate RSD800 was available for £595 and bought it. It has been on every car since, including several of Matt’s cars while we lived in Spain. On a plate this number is very balanced, and of course it means I have never had to learn a new number for over 35 years.