April 12, 2015
Ok, here’s today’s mission, should you choose to accept it:
Strangeness in Space is well under way. At this moment we have £13113 of our £15000 target! That’s amazing, and we are well on our way to getting the first episode made. But (and sorry to keep pestering) we won’t stop there because another £7000 will get the second episode made too!
A lot of you reading this will already have backed us. And a huge thank you to you all! (If you haven’t, and you want to, just click here). But today’s mission is simpler, easier, less taxing on the pocket. I am just determined to get a retweet from Richard Branson.
Let me explain:
Ok. Retweeting. It’s a Twitter thing. Some people are Twitter, some are Facebook. Facebook people don’t get Twitter, Twitter people don’t get Facebook. People who get neither are people with lives, and people who get both are people with no lives. Most of us fall in the middle. I’m a Twitter person. (We do have a FB page too, and I do go there; I just don’t know how it works).
Anyway, the Mission. Before it self-destructs.
Years ago, when we did Live and Kicking on Saturday mornings on BBC1 we did a sketch where we came up with a spoof product called “Branson Pickle”, and we thought “wouldn’t it be great if we got Richard Branson to do a voiceover for it?” Well, if you don’t ask… (see my past blog post).
Our producers got in touch with Richard’s producers (or whatever he has) and they said “Sure!” So, one Friday, during rehearsal, we went up to the sound room (sorry, I don’t know the technical terms) and we called Richard Branson so he could do his voiceover “down the line” (technical speak – I believe – for over the phone). It only turns out that he’s at his private island, somewhere off the coast of Saundersfoot!* And he’s playing tennis! With Obama!**
So, we are interrupting his tennis game! And he comes on the line and he does the voiceover for us! Thank you Richard.
And now, years later, I am pestering him again. Just for a retweet. See, he’s got over 5 million followers (it’s a Twitter thing, nothing sinister) and if his 5 million saw our Strangeness in Space kickstarter thing I reckon it could bring in a bob or two. And! We are off into SPACE! That’s Richard’s kind of thing.
So… The Mission. Help me out. Let’s get a retweet from him. If you get him to retweet our Kickstarter link we’ll give you a prize of some kind. Don’t know what yet. Something or other. What!? Stop asking! It’s just- you should be doing this for the love of it! Not for some damned reward!
Here’s a Space related pop song to allow us all to calm down a little.
* His private island is not off the coast of Wales. I am not allowed to divulge it’s actual location. it is is a well-guarded secret.
** Ted Obama
Everything else is true.
June 10, 2014
In the early 80’s me and Trev met at Manchester University. We were doing degrees in Drama (one each). I can’t speak for Trev, but I was hardly the most academic of students. Nor was Trev. As our friendship developed, so did our interest in comedy, more commonly known then as mucking around a bit and getting up late.
We were blessed with having tutors who not only indulged our experiments in comedy but also actively encouraged it. (Every Monday night students would perform their latest experimental pieces at the department’s Stephen Joseph Studio, a converted church where we once tried an ‘alternative comedy’ take on Chekhov).
One of our tutors was Dr David Mayer (later to become Professor David Mayer). David’s daughter, Lise, was the girlfriend of a former student, Rik Mayall. The two of them, along with another former Manchester student, Ben Elton, had just written a new sitcom for the BBC called The Young Ones.
We had no TV. We were students; we had no money. Any money we did have had to be spent on beer. And tins of Goblin Dumplings (50p at Oobidoo. Everything at Oobidoo was 50p. That’s why their slogan was –Don’t ask the price. We always did.)
The Drama Department had a TV. And a video player! Every week David Mayer would video The Young Ones for us. And I do mean us, the two of us. Others may have come along too, but David, gently pushing us in all the right directions, knew it was important for us to see this show.
There’d been nothing like it. And it was made by students from Manchester! Not Oxford, not Cambridge. Manchester! It was the most ground-breaking Mancunion contribution to comedy since Frank Randle (and, if you have four minutes to spare to watch this clip from Somewhere On Leave, 1943, you’ll see that Frank would have fitted very nicely into the world of The Young Ones).
Sometime shortly after this, in 1983, David said; “Lise, Rik, and Ben are going to be at my house over the weekend. Would you like to come and meet them on Saturday night.”
Ok… stop. Take a big long break in reading. I’d like to leave a big long gap on the page but that’d be daft. Just imagine the time it’s taking me, even now, for this to sink in. Would we, two stupid students, barely out of our teens, like to meet the creators of The Young Ones? At our tutor’s house?
Let’s deal with David Mayer’s house first.
It was a Mansion of Myths. We’d never been there, but we’d heard the rumours. Apparently he had a shower with three heads! And a Picasso! And we were being invited there! To meet The Young Ones! (I know exclamation marks should be used sparingly, but… come on!!!)
Now, the meeting. Of course we went. We even prepared: We spent Saturday afternoon scooting around Oobidoo, looking for fun items and generally asking the price. We settled on a wind-up spider. 50p.
And so we headed off on Saturday night to our tutor’s home in the posh part of Manchester armed only with a wind-up spider. (I don’t know at what age we learn to take wine, but whatever age, we hadn’t reached it yet).
We arrived at the house. And whatever you read from this point onwards, I assure you, did happen. David greeted us and showed us into a huge half kitchen, half dining room, with a small dividing wall about three feet high in the middle. In the dining room half there was a circular table. And there was Rik, Lise, Ben… and possibly someone else (sorry someone else). David didn’t introduce us… oh, he may have said something like “this is Trev and Simon”… but he didn’t explain who we were or why we were there. The one other thing he did do was to ask us to keep an eye on some steaks he was grilling in the far half of the kitchen.
This of two idiots whose diet consisted of tinned Goblin products.
And David disappeared! Where did he go? To this day no one can answer that. But the best bets are ‘to have a look at his Picasso’ or ‘to have a shower’.
So… we kind of stood around. The others, at the table, carried on talking to each other. At one point we wound up the wind-up spider and let it have a little walk. It didn’t get much of a reaction. But then, why should it? These fellows had demolished a house in their first episode.
We hadn’t been asked to do much by our tutor. Just keep an eye on some steaks. But that wasn’t our forte. We did our best. We wandered over to the cooker. We looked at them. And then they burst into flames.
How can a steak catch fire? I’m sure it’s easy to burn a steak, to ruin it; but for it to catch fire?
Trev struggled to get the grill out. He did, eventually, but not before the fire alarm went off.
The rest is a blur.
On Monday night we did a daft bit of comedy at The Stephen Joseph Studio. It ended with us dropping some kind of large object off a balcony onto our wind-up walking spider. The spider was smashed to bits. And Rik, and Lise, and Ben were there.
Afterwards we talked about Saturday night. They had no idea why we were there or who we were. They said they hadn’t realised we were ‘comedians’. Which could have been a compliment or not, but either way we had a long chat with our comedy heroes. And for the next few days they were around and about. One night I played cards with Ben and Rik (Ben insisted on giving me money for a taxi home. I insisted on refusing it. I walked the three miles home in the rain. What an idiot student.) Another night we sat chatting with Rik in the bar at The Contact Theatre (the theatre connected to the drama department). He gave us lots of advice and he even gave us his phone number (before mobiles… this was Rik’s home phone number!) and told us to phone him whenever we wanted. He also gave us a quote to use on our publicity for our first Edinburgh show. He told us to use, “My favourite act!”
Up in Edinburgh, doing our first ever show in 1984, we walked past a poster for a band. I can’t remember the band, but I can remember the quote: “My favourite band”, Rik Mayall.
RIP Rik. Thank you. x
December 12, 2013
it’s the countdown of the Top Ten comedy DVD’s! It started yesterday! It’s fun! And it overuses exclamation marks!
Yesterday we kicked of with number 10- Channel 4’s Comedy Gala 2013!
The rules are simple. I’ve picked the Top Ten from Amazon. I don’t watch them. I simply judge the DVD’s by their cover. This may, or may not, help you sort out your Christmas pressies.
So… here we go with number 9. And it is…
This is a fascinating cover. Without having a copy of it in my hands I’m going to hazard a guess that the outer box is made of leather with embossed gold leaf lettering. Inserted into this almost Biblical presentation are two smaller DVD covers showing Peter Kay at his chirpiest best (the comedians fall into two categories- grumpy or smiley- and Peter Kay is one of the smiliest, currently rating 4th Smiliest Comedian in the Land).
(I cannot help but think of a high court judge seemingly reading The Times during his lunch break only for his cover to slip and reveal he is actually smiling at a topless beauty in The Sun. Or perhaps something even cheekier; a copy of Knave found under a bush in the park as he cycled into work, or a Donald McGill postcard of someone holding a garlic baguette in silhouette and a passing mother superior mistaking it for a cock.)
This is a Double Bumper Comedy Compilation including a previously unreleased documentary entitled Stand and Deliver. I have no details on the documentary, but, going off the title alone, it’s likely to be a documentary about Stuart Leslie Goddard.
As for the two DVD’s that make up this double bumper comedy compilation, the first is called Stand-Up UKay. Now, the title alone requires some in-depth investigation:
Firstly, Peter Kay is a stand-up comedian. That’s the ‘stand-up’ part dealt with. That’s the easy bit. Understanding ‘UKay’ is a little more complex: The ‘Kay’ part of ‘UKay’ refers to the comedian’s last name, Kay. But before that is a ‘U’. This can only be in reference to Edgar Rice Burrough’s fictional creation, Tarzan The Apeman, who was known for his primitive speech patterns, his most famous being “Me Tarzan, You Jane”. But why then hasn’t the comedian referred to himself, and thus the DVD, as “Stand-Up MEKay”? It’s a puzzle. The only clear conclusion we can reach is that Peter Kay was raised as a feral child by The Mangani.
So to the second DVD, Special Kay. Here we are promised ‘Golden bite-sized chunks of comedy’. And the photo shows Peter Kay eating these bite-sized chunks of comedy. This is unusual.
Having said that, just look at the size of him on Stand-Up UKay! He’s got one foot in the North West and another foot in Dorset! He needs to stop eating TV’s!
A few weeks back my mum went to hospital for one of her regular check-ups. While she was in the waiting room Peter Kay walked in. My mum couldn’t help but smile at him, and he smiled back. And then he went off for his appointment. My mum phoned me as soon as she could. She was excited. She wanted to tell me who she had seen and who had smiled at her. At the end of the call she said,“he was dressed just ordinary, like any man, nothing fancy, just in a shirt. Like a shirt from Primark.”
I should stress that what my mum was saying was a good thing. She was letting me know that, despite him eating miniature TV’s of his own shows for breakfast, here was a man that was not highfalutin or full of airs and graces.
The one thing that she didn’t say was that he was fifty miles high!
And I do wish she’d said to him, “You Kay, Me Pat.”
Oh! I’ve somehow drifted away from a DVD review. So… a 15 certificate on the left and a 15 certificate on the right. Suitable for 30 year olds.
And you can get it at Amazon for just £7.50. A Christmas present bargain.
Tomorrow, number 8.
September 21, 2011
Damn my ignorance! @ShowbizSimon on Twitter makes some comment about killing Keith Chegwin as a movie, I think ‘that’s a great idea’ and, in an Ernie Wise fit of fifteen minute screenwriting, I bash out my take for a film called Kill Keith.
Damn it all! Then, I go and find out it exists! Who knew? Well, many of you I guess. I didn’t know. Or I’d forgotten (Trev thinks I’d forgotten and he knows my mind better than me). So, I write it this morning (like I say, 15 minutes… let’s not get too precious over this) and send it over to Trev. He gets in touch to tell me it’s real. There is a film. It is called Kill Keith.
Damn it to high heaven! And we didn’t even get a part in the damned saga!
So, for entertainment purposes only, here’s ‘the film what I wrote’. Let’s call it Kill Bill Vol.2
All of the ‘real’ people referred to are made-up, including myself. Though the beginning knocking on the door stuff is true.
KILL KEITH Vol 2
Everyone loves Keith Chegwin. He’s had his ups and downs – whether battling alcoholism or accusations of joke theft on Twitter – but as long as he does something cheeky soon afterwards – whether getting nuddy for a low-rent quiz show, opening a supermarket in Stoke, or laughing on a morning chat show – he always comes up smelling of roses.
Everyone loves Keith Chegwin. Apart from Simon Hickson.
The early 90’s. Simon is asleep in bed. Well, a kind of a bed. Simon, despite being a regular on Saturday morning’s kid’s TV, lives a squalid live. Like Keith a few years before, he’s battling his demons. Even in his sleep.
As he dreams, he hears the squeaky voice of Cheggers. Just a dream. A nightmare. And then his door bell rings and Simon is awake! Keith is at his door. All part of those jolly early morning wake up calls he does for the live Channel 4 show, The Big Breakfast.
This is horrible! Surely this kind of thing only happens to proper celebrities, like Linda Lusardi. What can Simon do? He calls his agent but it’s 7.30am and she doesn’t get in until noon. He calls Trev. Trev’s wife answers and refuses to believe Simon’s story; she knows he’s delusional, mad, not good in the mornings. She hangs up on him, refusing to disturb the slumbering Trev who deserves a lie in after a late night watching Bid TV.
“He he! I’m here outside Simon out of Trev and Simon’s house! He’s not answering. Yet! He he!”
Simon’s in a panic. What to do? Then he knows. He’ll scare Keith and also get Trev and Simon some well-deserved notoriety. It’ll do them good to cause a bit of an uproar.
Simon answers the door to Keith. Naked. Waving a replica firearm.
It didn’t work out.
It stopped Trev and Simon’s career in its tracks. Keith had a breakdown, went into a home, and emerged a few months later, loved by the public more than ever.
Years later. Simon can’t let it go. He’s met Keith since, at showbiz do’s here and there, and Keith has apologised. He was only doing his job. So were the Nazis Simon points out.
Simon decides his only option is to kill Keith. Trev, aware that he slept through the whole thing after a long night of Peter Simon watching, feels just a tiny bit guilty. He reluctantly agrees to help out. And then Trev and Simon approach the comedians whose jokes have been stolen by Keith on Twitter… discreetly… direct messaging.
A cabal is formed. An elite team of comedy assassins dedicated to ridding the world of Keith Chegwin; Trev, Simon, Ed Byrne, Lee Mack, Milton Jones, and Jimmy Carr.
They meet and form a plan.
They put their assassination plot into action.
Keith Chegwin is tied up in a basement. Jimmy Carr’s basement, full of suits. It’s his suit cellar. The team argue over who’s going to kill Keith. And how.
But Keith is wily. And cuddly. He he! And the asinine assassins find it impossible to carry out the vile task.
This wasn’t the way it was meant to be.
They hated Keith, but, after holding him captive they’ve all developed Stockholm Syndrome in reverse. They love him now, and he has grown to love them.
Keith understands, he empathises. Irritating celebrities should be dead. His team are just targeting the wrong people. Keith has been wronged too along the way and he has a revenge hit list. Between them they draw up a list of ‘celebrities’ who really do deserve to get it! He he!
Kill Keith has become Keith Kills. Headed up by their new honcho our team of crappy killers see off deserving celebrities one by one.
No one knows who is behind the mystery murders of some of the most despised and undeserving ‘celebrities’ on TV… from the original Nasty Nick through to poor old John Stape from ‘Corrie’ – heck, he’s only an actor, does he really deserve to die? The public can’t tell fact from fiction and are happy to scream ‘Yes!’
Murder after murder… from game show hosts to reality ruffians to bad actors… the team are inventive with their killing ways, making the death suit their TV crime.
Eventually they make a mistake and the mystery murder team are exposed. Like Taxi Driver or The King of Comedy though, they go unpunished. They are just too loved now by a public happy to see the demise of those least loved. Those who now go by the names of ‘Killebrities’.
All films should have happy endings, and Kill keith is no exception. The team get their own prime time TV show; Killed by Keith – a gameshow where ‘game’ celebs go through a pretend execution if they fail to win viewers votes.
But why’s it called Killed by Keith? Lee Mack’s not too happy. Resentment starts to brew in Milton’s hair. Byrne by name burn by nature. Carr wants to push Keith off a cliff. Trev and Simon suggest a new plan… to be continued… ?
And here’s the real thing…
July 31, 2010
A few weeks back I was a judge at Literary Death Match. You can read about the build up to it here. Yes, I was anxious about it, but I needn’t have been. Everyone was lovely, all the performers were top notch, and I did my best to be be whatever I was meant to be.
Ok, yes, well, there was one moment of trauma. I think that is why I haven’t been able to write about it until now. I’d hidden it away. But, today, thanks to the guardian, it has come back. Reading the Review section I came across this.
Anyways, you’ve read that now. Go on, read it. No, do.
So back to my trauma. When it came to voting, we (the judges), maybe we didn’t pick the crowd favourite. In fact, when we announced Lee Rourke, author of The Canal, as a semi-final winner over Nikesh Shukla, author of Coconut Unlimited, there was silence. Did we hear right? Can that be? Simon, repeat what you have just said. Yes, he did say Lee. Well… ok… if that’s who you’re picking… idiot… pant-swinging fool…
Made worse by one of the judges saying “Simon had the deciding vote”. I did not! I just voted. The same way as you! Two to one. I decided nothing! Nothing! I’m no Cowell! Please, let me leave. (No, not the event; that was weeks ago. Just let me leave leave).
I never wanted to judge anyone. I’m sorry ok? You were both great. If I could, Like Cher, turn back time, I’d make it a draw… or just not judge. I’d abstain, tear up my ballot paper, go to the toilets and throw up, not arrive, stay at home, go back to Salford, regress, back further, to Hope Hospital. I’d ask them, plead… don’t let me be born. Not today.
It’s too late for that. Good luck with the books. Well done Clare Pollard, Milly McMahon, Lee and Nikesh. You are all winners. And losers. And thank you LDM’s very own Tyler Durden, Todd Zuniga, and Nicki Le Masurier and Suzanne Azzopardi for inviting me along.
Here we all are, having fun.
July 14, 2010
I’m off tonight to be a judge at Literary Death Match. How did this happen? Well, I was asked by Suzanne on Twitter. But I don’t mean that. I mean how did this happen!? Or maybe I don’t even mean that. Maybe I mean why did this happen?
I scrape by doing bits of writing, here and there. But judging others? That’s not for me. I was always taught, by someone or other, judge not others lest ye be not judged by thee thyself but by those. Something like that. Just don’t judge, ok? Leave that to judges. In wigs.
Now I see what’s happened. I’ve been mistaken for a judge because I’ve been known to have a thing for wigs. Ok, I’ve worn a few in my time. But still. How? Why? When? Tonight. Where? Concrete, below Pizza East, Shoreditch.
I hope I get a pizza.
What do I know about writing?
I’m nervous now. But I might enjoy it. I may enjoy it. I don’t even know the difference between the two. I can’t judge!
And I’ve got to dress in an 80’s style. That’s because we’re celebrating the launch of Bret Easton Ellis’s new book and even though it’s new it’s 80’s set because that’s what he does best.
Books of his I’ve read: Less Than Zero, American Pyscho, Lunar Park. Oh, and I’ve seen the film versions of The Rules of Attraction and The Informers. I wrote about that here.
I hope they don’t quiz me. All I can remember is the rat in the tube and Phil Collins.
I’m naked at the moment becuase I have no 80’s clothes. I have to leave soon. I once had a “Frankie Says… Nay, nay and thrice nay” T-shirt. This was Frankie Howerd’s jokey version of the Frankie Goes to Hollywood T-shirts. I wish I had it. I’d wear it. I do have it. It’s in storage. I don’t have the time, or the stomach, to face my belongings.
I’ll have to go in a suit. That’ll do. I don’t have an 80’s suit for fancy dress times, I just haven’t bought a suit in a while. If I turn up the sleeves I’ll look like Crocket and Tubbs (is that right? I’m getting confused. I’m panicking. I’m messing up Miami Vice with The League of Gentlemen.)
I’ve got to get dressed. I’ve got to go. Hell, I am a judge but I’m starting to feel like the accused.
It’ll be fine. I’ve just been picked as a judge for my novelty value. All I have to do is say “swing your pants” every now and then.
Swing your pants. I wrote that (along with Trev). Two people writing three words.
At least back then I knew how to edit something. Can’t say the same of this post.
November 7, 2009
A year ago today I wrote my first blog entry. You can find it here. It’s a test one really, not about much; though in saying that I do Bobbin and Tess a disservice.
A year ago I was full of crazy excitement. Blogging was a new adventure. I hadn’t got a clue what I would write. I felt that bit by bit, writing at least a post a day, I would find my feet and discover why I was doing this.
A year on I’ve slowed down a bit. No post every day, but I try for a couple a week. And I’ve expanded. We’ve got the Trev and Simon blog on the go, and I’ve started 20th Century Mummified Fox– a blog where I can indulge in my love of films.
I still don’t know why I’m doing this. I haven’t found my feet. Of course it’s an indulgence; no doubt I am showing off, but showing off what? It’s not a comedy blog. It’s not some kind of confessional. I’m no film critic. Nor a photographer. But this blog is made up of bits of all of these. And lots of animals.
And it keeps me busy when times are tough. I enjoy it. And so, sometimes, do some of you. All of the people who come here and read or look, thank you. I know there’s lots of blogs out there, blah blah blah airline appreciation speech.
And thank you all for your comments. I enjoy reading them and I enjoy the interaction. And, to my pleasant surprise, the comments over the year have been thoughtful and considered, even when being critical. I haven’t, as yet, had to delete any for taking the chance to hurl abuse at me. Still, there’s time. My blog is just a baby.
Since the whole blogging thing is one enormous indulgence, for Mummified Fox’s first birthday I am going to pick some of my blog favourites from my 234 posts. One from each month.
November 2008- This and That’s Entertainment. Every year I go to Great Yarmouth to play pool. But which is best, Great Yarmouth or Las Vegas?
December 2008- Tommie Smith and John Carlos. I drag my family to see the Tommie Smith and John Carlos statue in San Jose.
January 2009- Murderer. Me, Trev and Cyndi Lauper have a close shave with Coronation Street murderer Tony Gordon.
February 2009- Deal or No Deal on the Dole. Ok, a bit of a weird one. this is a story about Deal or No Deal, Noel Edmonds, a luckless contestant, and Cosmic ordering.
March 2009- The Nazis. I drew them at school and only got a B+.
April 2009- A Nightingale sang in the 100 Club. A sort of review of the Nightingales and Ted Chippington.
May 2009- “Yes, I spent money on furniture”. Shadow Education Secretary Michael Gove and the elephant lamps we bought him. Including comments from the man himself (or so it seems).
June 2009- Pigs, a goose and a sheep. Just as it says.
July 2009- I’m going to cheat here and mention two posts. I’m not quite sure why it’s cheating; there’s no rules, it’s my blog. But at the top of this post I did say I’d pick one from each month, so yes, I am cheating. First Like the circles that you find– a guide to reglazing windows. And also RIP Rob. Rob sold the Big Issue outside Hither Green station. He died in July.
August 2009- Little and Large. My mum and dad used to go to The Talk of the North in the 70’s and see all the top acts. Years later I get to meet one of them.
September 2009- The Rogers Brothers and the Cox twins. The real life inspiration for two of our characters.
October 2009- Bigmouth strikes again. Possibly my most personal and indulgent post and also my most commented on.
So there’s some of my favourites for the year. If you click on any of them I hope you enjoy them. And if you do, please look at some of the remaining 221 posts.
I was going to use the blog’s first birthday to say why it’s called Mummified Fox. but I’m going to save that for next year.
February 19, 2009
This gormless idiot is not me. He just looks that way. And his name is not S.M. Hickson, he just pinched that name for the sake of this picture. At the moment he doesn’t have a name. But he will now. let’s call him Ted Dancin. Not to be confused with Cheers heartthrob Ted Danson (“are you Ted Danson? Are you askin’? I’m askin’. Then I’m Ted Danson”). No, this Ted Dancin could only ever dream of being a fake barman. The closest this Ted ever got to Hollywood was when some kid asked him if he was the Laurel out of Laurel and Hardy.
Anyway, this is all by the by, as this story is the second in a series of feelbad stories based around the downfalls of various contestants from popular TV games shows, and all possibly inspired by the success of Slumdog Millionaire.
Deal or No Deal on the Dole
Ted was lucky enough to get onto Deal or No Deal; Noel Edmonds’ chance-fancying what’s-in-the-box extravaganza. He turned up on the day of his destiny, looking forward to the time he would spend with the other twenty one contestants. He’d heard they all lived together in a hotel. And they did. But unfortunately Ted’s room had been besieged by a plague of weevils. He was offered alternative accommodation a mile away from the three star hostelry, in an underground bunker below a pig farm. It wasn’t too bad. The bunker had been converted. But no one knew into what.
Ted fell asleep to the sounds of pigs mating and the far off disco-partying of the other Deal or No Dealers. He slept well though, for he knew that tomorrow night he would be in the warmth of the hotel, and that within 22 days time he would be a quarter millionaire. He knew this. And he knew this because he had cosmic ordered it.
Yes! Ted had spent too many years on the dole and he was fed up. So he cosmic ordered change. It was Noel Edmonds who had brought cosmic ordering to Ted’s attention. As a boy Ted appeared on Noel Edmond’s Multicoloured Swap Shop (as a swap) and had since become a keen follower of Noel Edmonds. Sometimes literally. And when he heard of Deal or No Deal and of Cosmic Ordering, Ted ordered himself the biggest Deal he could.
He’d written it down, because that’s what you have to do. You have to write down what you want and then submit it to the cosmos. The first part was easy. Ted wrote a list:
- Meet Noel Edmonds
- Meet a nice lady contestant
- Win £250,000
- Marry nice lady contestant, with Noel Edmonds hosting the event
- Get off the dole
He was only asking the cosmos for five things. He didn’t want to be greedy. He fancied a dog, but he thought he could get one of those if part 3 of his list… woooaaahh! Not if! When! When part 3 of his list comes true. It’s like ordering from the Woolworths Big W catalogue; you order, and it is sent (Ted didn’t keep up much with the news).
He had a few problems submitting his list to the cosmos. He didn’t know how to go about it. He didn’t know what the cosmos was. He didn’t even confuse the cosmos with the same-named tour operators, having never heard of them and having never been on holiday. A little research at the local library revealed to him that the cosmos was the universe as an ordered system. But he still didn’t know what that meant and he didn’t know what to do with his list. He considered many options; burning it, eating it, posting it to Santa, posting it to God. In the end he cut it into as many pieces as he could. He cut it into 250 pieces, each piece representing a thousand pounds he would win. And then he took the pieces, and put a piece each in 250 envelopes. And then he posted them all to the third member of his holy trinity. He bypassed Santa, he bypassed God, and went straight to the top. He posted 250 envelopes to Noel Edmonds. It was the best thing, he thought. It made sense. Noel Edmonds is the King of Cosmic Ordering and Noel Edmonds would appreciate the effort. Ted wanted to do 250,000 pieces but both the size of paper needed and the cost in postage stamps made that idea a non-starter. As it was it cost Ted £90. But he knew it was worth it.
Noel Edmonds sits in silence, contemplating the cosmos before breakfast. His doorbell rings, a weak and sarcastic ding-dong as his batteries fail. The postman apologises for such a sack. He hasn’t delivered this much fan mail since the days of Crinkley Bottom. Noel Edmonds forces a smile. He isn’t angry with the postman; he’s proud of his House Party past. His anger comes from his ordering; last night he had specifically ordered no post. He had ordered a day of silence and aloneness, and now he had what looked like hundreds of fan letters to open.
A grumpy Noel Edmonds sits at his desk. He slits open the first letter with a miniature scimitar he picked up on e-bay, and then stabs the dainty dagger into his table top. There is nothing in the envelope. He looks in, searches around, and then a sliver of paper, maybe three or four millimeters square, flutters to the floor. Noel Edmonds stoops, licks his finger and picks up the piece. There is nothing on it. But look! A bit of ink. It is, if anything, like part of a ripped up shopping list found outside a supermarket when its job has been done.
Noel Edmonds plucks his paper knife out of the table and takes it to a second envelope.
An hour, to you or me, may not seem much. Many people waste days away, weeks, treating those measures of time as they would treat an hour, or even a minute. An hour to Noel Edmonds is like a day to these people. Noel Edmonds has handmade diaries that break hours down the way other diaries break down months. And no space is empty. And nothing goes unordered. And every now and then Noel Edmonds orders himself time, peace, aloneness and silence.
An hour later, after the 250th and final envelope has been opened, Noel Edmonds sits amongst a confetti of envelopes and squares, like a newlywed without a wife; his day of silence and aloneness ruined.
The day of filming arrives. Ted wakes early to the sound of pigs crowing. He heads to the hotel and has some toast. He speaks to an old man wearing a cap who keeps saying “eh?” and a young woman named Sue who owns a nail salon. She laughs when Ted asks, “like B & Q?”
Herded onto a small coach, and then into the warehouse that now homes Deal or No Deal, the contestants wait in silence. They choose their boxes and the game begins. Sue is picked. Box number 13. Sue going first suits Ted. He wants his night in the hotel. He wants to meet people, and talk, and drink, and laugh and feel; feel like a man who stays in hotels; a man who can win, will win, £250,000.
Sue tells Noel Edmonds she runs a nail salon. She tells Noel Edmonds she wants to win enough money to open another. Sue tells Noel Edmonds that Box Number 1 thinks a nail salon is B & Q. Everyone laughs and Ted feels queasy.
Sue goes away with £24,000. Enough to dream about her dream. Ted’s box had the penny in it and she gave him a peck on the cheek.
Ted assumes that’s that. Just as he’s looking forward to a night at the hotel; drinks, food, chats with Sue, a bed away from pigs; someone tells them to get ready for show two. They don’t do a show a day, they do three. But they only show one a day on television. And next up, it’s Ted.
Ted has box 11. He’s happy with that. He knows it’s preordained. He has the £250,000.
Noel Edmonds gently teases him in the run up to recording, suggesting that Ted might think a manicure is a male only medicine. Ted smiles, unconcerned as to what a manicure is.
The game goes well for Ted. In the first round he opens four blue boxes and only one red. Even then it was a lowly £3000. The banker makes a decent offer, but Ted turns it down. Two more boxes, both blue, and then it’s time for a recording break; the moment on TV when the show goes to the adverts and Noel Edmonds gets the contestant to give a reason as to why the viewers should come back. Ted’s reason is simple; “I’m going all the way and I am going to win £250,000.”
In the break Noel Edmonds praises Ted’s determination. He asks him how he can be so sure. And this is the moment when Ted’s life falls apart.
He tells Noel Edmonds and Noel Edmonds realises. This is the man who spoilt his day of silence and aloneness. This is the man who filled his home with almost empty envelopes. And this is the man that Noel Edmonds will now destroy.
Noel Edmonds has practised cosmic ordering for far longer than Ted. Since Ted placed his cosmic order he hasn’t bothered putting in any more. Noel Edmonds cosmic orders daily. And not just in the morning. Noel Edmonds cosmic orders whenever he needs to. And Noel Edmonds is the King of Cosmic Ordering.
The second half begins and Noel Edmonds is subdued. He even closes his eyes as he speaks. He says “welcome back” but there is a calm and silent ghost in the studio and no one feels welcome. Ted opens another box; a red, £35,000. A big hit. Noel Edmonds smiles, at no one; his smile heading inward towards his own mind. But Noel Edmonds has worked in TV through two centuries. He composes himself and offers sympathies.
The trip to the banker. Another big offer, higher than the first. Normally Noel Edmonds would encourage a contestant to think carefully, these are life changing sums of money. But in this case, he seems eager for Ted to go on. Ted is ruffled, yes, by the loss of the £35,000, but… it’s not how you start, it’s how you finish.
At the finish, Ted is left with two boxes. One of them has one penny in it. The other has £250,000. He has one box, Sue the other. This is exactly as Ted planned it. He has no fear of the penny. He knows which box the £250,000 will be. He is offered the bankers swap; he can swap box number 2, Sue’s box, for box number 11, his box. Normally Noel Edmonds is wary of the swap; he frets over the possibility that it is he who will carry away a large amount of money from a deserving contestant; someone with self belief, someone with courage, someone with the determination to go all the way. But today, now, he seems to be willing Ted to take the swap. He closes his eyes and lifts his head as Ted says “No swap!”
The audience cheer, but Noel Edmonds, he shouts. He shouts, “No! That’s wrong! That’s not whay you say! It’s not what you say! I have to ask you Bankers Swap, deal or no deal, and then you say-”
“Sorry Noel Edmonds. I’m ready for the question.”
It is asked and Ted says no deal. Noel Edmonds closes his eyes again, but this time he lowers his head. Quietly, only to heard by Ted, Noel Edmonds says, “you’re making a big mistake. and I am going to destroy you.”
Noel Edmonds doesn’t do what he’s supposed to do. He doesn’t build things up to the big opening of the box. He stands still, arms stretching out, pulling the fabric of the universe in towards the fabric of his paisley shirt. A floor manager comes on and has a word with him. But Noel Edmonds just stands and stares through closed eyes. After moments, Noel Edmonds says, “I’m not opening that box. Never. This game is terminated.”
Without Noel Edmonds they cannot film the end of the show. And Noel Edmonds has shut down. They will film the completion in the morning.
Ted can’t bear to leave his box. He knows he has she £250,000. He knows. But he has to see. As a production assistant holds his arm to lead him away, Ted turns to the box. He rips off the tag, and the audience, all standing to leave, stop and gasp. The contestants cheer, and as the competitors take over the warehouse Ted raises the roof of his box.
He has the penny.
Noel Edmonds, hearing groans, awakes and arises. “He didn’t want the swap! He’s only won a penny! Yes! Sometimes dreams do come true in my dream factory.”
An assistant explains that they had stopped recording. This game will have to be played all over again. The crowd cheer and Noel Edmonds punches Ted Dancin.
Noel Edmonds is dragged away screaming. But the screams fade, and as Ted Dancin is treated for a suspected broken nose, the ghost of Noel Edmonds voice echoes around the walls of the Dream Factory; “I’m the King of Cosmic Ordering… not Ted, not Ted.”
Ted played his game the next day, with a stand-in host, Mike Read from Saturday Superstore. Ted went away with £5,400. He wrote a letter to Sue the nail salon woman but never sent it, deciding instead to rip it into little pieces.
The Noel Edmonds of this story is not related to the real life Noel Edmonds. No harm is intended towards the programme or its makers. I like it. No animals were harmed in the making of this story. This story was filmed entirely on location in my brain.
Coming next… Maybe. The Countdown ****.