Some of you may be aware of STRANGENESS in SPACE, the new audio sci-fi comedy drama we’ve made with Sophie Aldred (Ace in Dr Who). If I’ve been a little bit neglectful of my own blog here, the poor old Mummified Fox, it’s because I’ve been putting all that good stuff that some folk call content into another area: The STRANGENESS in SPACE WormHole!

The WormHole is a members only area giving those who join up Access All Areas passes to all that is STRANGENESS. So far there’s over 70 posts of photos, stories, interviews, and videos. Membership is for… well, a long time. We’ve never really pinned that down. Somewhere between a Year and Life… more likely falling towards the Life end (it’s not like we’re internet librarians with stamps and stuff).

Now here’s the thing. Normally Membership is £20. But this week is WormHole Week, and we’re making Membership only £5 for the first 100 to sign up. So, if you fancy it, please spend a fiver to gain access to some really funny stuff. And if you do, that money will go directly to funding the next Episodes of STRANGENESS. If you’ve not listened yet, please do. It’s free, and we have two completed episodes featuring me and Trev, Sophie, Doon Mackichan, Barnaby Edwards, David Annen, Sarah Madigan. And also special guests like Carol Cleveland, Peter Guinness, and Rufus Hound!

You can hear Episodes 1 and 2 here. They are FREE! Please take a listen. If you like them, that’s lovely. And if you’d like to hear more, please help us. Please take a look at our shop. It’s our own version of crowdfunding. We’ve got the cut-price WormHole membership, and we’ve also got badges, hats, bags, and scripts and all sorts of ways you can help us get these crazy episodes made.

Here’s a one minute version of a video in the WormHole. It’s when Rufus met Sophie.All improvised, with none of us having any idea what could happen. It’s funny. Very funny. And the full version is four times as long and even funnier… with some rude words. Easily worth a fiver. I hope you enjoy it. And if you do, please spread the word and help us hit our target.

ASK

April 6, 2015

It’s one of the great pop songs. And since hearing it, it’s one I’ve always tried to take to heart. Yes, shyness is nice and (more often than not) the antonym is hideous. So, it’s always worth an ask.  “Ask me, I won’t say no, how could I?”

Years back, last century, when I worked with Trev Neal on Saturday morning TV, we’d get to perform daft sketches with the stars of the day (Big Fun, Craig Machlachlanchlachlan, Nathan from Brother Beyond) and sometimes the stars of many days (Kylie, Cher, Mel Brooks). When it came to the Christmas and New Year shows there was always an attempt by our boss, Chris Bellinger, to up the ante, to aim high, to get the big guns in. And we would always ask for the top bananas. Year after year, for ten years, we’d hand in our wish list. Always the same names. And always, at the top of our list, the same two. We never did get Eddie Murphy or Gorbachev. But the point is, ASK! Always ask.

During one series of Live and Kicking we had a weekly feature called Every Loony Wins*. It was a daft phone-in quiz and we had a band as part of it, all played by kids from the audience. The leader of the band was called Des Tindeby (The Des Tindeby Band). And during their musical performance (miming to the very real Spike Jones and his City Slickers) a character would jump on stage (again one of the kids) as The Lone Yodeller (a Lone Ranger type, in a mask, yodelling like a loony). And each week we would end the segment by looking into the camera and saying; “Just who is the Lone Yodeller?”

When we reached the end of the thirty week run it was time for us to reveal just who was the Lone Yodeller. The obvious way to do this was for it to be one of the guests of the week. The only problem was (me and Trev being a picky pair) none of the guests were up to the task. (Anyone remember Little Danny Mangrove? or Nu Boxxx? Or Jennifer Bush?** No, I thought not.) And so we went to Chris… and we asked… we begged… please, please, can we get another guest. One worthy of the title of The Lone Yodeller? Chris wanted it to be Little Danny Mangrove. Little Danny, who was actually 6’2″, had just won Pop Zinger on ITV and his record company, BIGPUSH, were desperate for him to be the Lone Yodeller. They’d even recorded a special yodelling version of his current hit, A Pocketful of Promises, for him to mime to. We couldn’t have it though. We insisted; the Lone Yodeller had to be a bigger name. And then we asked Chris this; “if we can get a big name to play along will you let them be the Lone Yodeller?” This, of course, depended on who the big name was. We said to Chris; “if we can get Jonathan Ross to be the Lone Yodeller will you let him do it?” And Chris said yes.

Just one snag. We didn’t know Jonathan Ross. Not really. He’d been a guest before on the programme, but it’s not like we played tennis with him or anything. It’s not like we’d been to his house, or had his telephone number. All we had, on our side, was the ability to ASK.

It’s time to get to the races now so… we asked… we found a phone number for his production company and we asked… and they said “we’ll ask”… and we waited. And he said YES!

Jonathan turned up on the Saturday morning, played the Lone Yodeller and also brought along a friend of his who went on to declare “No! I’m the Lone Yodeller!” Our second Lone Yodeller wore a shoe hat, made from two shoes and a coat hanger. That was was Vic Reeves.

Ask.

We’ve been asking again recently. We are working on a new thing. A Sci-Fi audio comedy adventure with me, Trev, and Sophie Aldred. Some of you reading this will already know about Strangeness in Space. ***

And we’ve been asking people to help us out with it. We’ve given up on Eddie Murphy and Gorbachev, but we have asked two top people who have only gone ahead and said YES!

YES! Doon Mackichan has said yes to being our narrator, Bounty Flightingale.

YES! Rufus Hound has said yes to being Atrocious Knocious, an alien hoverbiker who’s never even heard of Evel knievel!

All from asking.

* based on Nick Berry’s hit Every Loser Wins. We had a minor battle with some BBC bigwigs to get them to accept the use of the word Loony. I’d grown up with it, reading the works of Spike Milligan. It was accepted in the end when dictionary definitions, on the whole, gave the word two meanings; one meaning (and our one) was silly, the other mad.

** Ok, I’ve made all these acts up. And the ongoing business with Little Danny Mangrove. Other than that, this story is true.

*** A final ask. Please help us get this made. We’ve loads of perks available if you join us: T-shirts, badges, scripts, signed photos and artwork, etc. We’re not far off our target now, but the more money we raise, the more episodes we can make. You can back us here.

Two of our lesser known characters from the days of Going Live! would most likely be The Rogers Brothers. Randolf and Rudy Rogers, an old musical hall act, sons of the popular seaside variety act, Bucket and Spade. Bucket and Spade, both dead, survived only as a framed photograph on top of Randolf’s piano. Rudy, played by me, was prone to awful bouts of depression over the death of his parents. It would descend upon him as a black cloud and the boys would declare “Mr Gloom is in the room”, or “Mr Glum has come” or “Mr Misery is in the vicinity“. Trev, as Randolf, would attempt to cheer his brother up with a jaunty “Hey ho! Pop pop!” As in sketches so in life.

Quite why this was allowed to be on a Saturday morning childrens show is bewildering to me. Obviously we must have sat around and thought, what are the kids into these days? And the answers that came back were hippies, barbers and old-time music hall acts singing vaguely rude songs and weeping openly over the death of their parents. Hey ho! Pop pop!

One of our songs was an old music hall ditty called Carry Your Little Belisha Beacon Everywhere You Go. We’ve sung this song throughout our career in a variety of guises; the Eggrobats- bald men in nappies, The Rogers Brothers, and a scout leader and his boyscout friend.

The Eggrobats- Simon Hickson, Phil Dennison, Trev Neal. Accompanied by Sophie Aldred, Kath Jones and Doon Mackichan.

The Eggrobats- Simon Hickson, Phil Dennison, Trev Neal. Accompanied by Sophie Aldred, Kath Jones and Doon Mackichan.

Here we are accompanied by The Doves from Dan and the Doves. The Doves being Sophie (later to be Ace in Dr. Who), kath, and Doon, (later to be big comedy cheese in The Day Today, Smack the Pony and the recent Taking the Flak). Poor Doon is obscured by the big glowing end of Trev’s beacon.

If you’d like to know the lyrics to this rude song you can find them here. I’ve tried to find out who it’s by but everytime I do a search I come back to me. I promise you, we did pinch it.

Nothing’s new and nothing’s original. We based the Rogers Brothers on The Cox Twins. However weird our creations were, the real deal were even weirder.

The Cox Twins

The Cox Twins

You can find out more about Frank and Fred here. But sadly not much. They married twins, Estelle and Pauline Miles, and then they all lived together in one house. The first time I saw them I was astonished. I can’t remember what they did, I just remember thinking they were nuts. In the nicest possible sense. They were funny and weird, but what did they do? They appear briefly in Funny Bones, Peter Chelsom’s film starring Lee Evans and Jerry Lewis and set in Blackpool. Truly, what more could you want from a film. The only clip I could find isn’t a performance, but you might like it anyway. Here they are being interviewed on TVam. With their twin wives.

Even less survives of the Rogers Brothers. They’re on our live video, the Blimey That’s Good Tour, but who has videos? Even I don’t have it. I used to hate watching it. The day before the show was recorded I had some jabs for a forthcoming holiday in The Gambia. I was given the wrong dose for, I think, Typhoid. Five times too much! Throughout the show I look like I am about to die. Hey ho! Pop pop!

But I did find something. One of the most bizarre clips I’ve seen. It’s us as the Rogers Brothers taking part in a Comic Relief special; singing along with a host of celebrities to Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody. Everything’s here. It ranges from the apalling, Nicholas Witchell miming keyboards; to the moving, Caron Keating gooning around with her mum. You’ll see other faces that might lead to Mr Gloom coming into the room. And I don’t mean Noel Edmonds. And there’s a few degenerates in there too. I’ll let you figure out who they are.

And remember, nothing really matters. Hey ho! Pop pop!