Ask

February 20, 2016

“Ask me I won’t say no, how could I?”

I’m having a deja vu moment. I’m pretty sure I used this Smiths line for a blog post before. Most probably about the same thing. But I’m not going to check, because it’s just right. Ask. Always ask. What’s the worst thing that could happen?

We asked Rufus Hound if he would be in Episode 2 of STRANGENESS in SPACE. He said yes. As did Peter Guinness. Oh, and Carol Cleveland. You can hear them in Episode Two, Featherheads, here. And at the risk of just too much repetition have I told you, it’s free, so what have you got to lose? (Ok, about 24 minutes of your time, but if you feel it wasn’t worth it I will refund you the cost).

Last weekend we launched Episode 3, Step Back in Time. We asked Alexei Sayle if he’d be in it. You can hear the Episode here.

We are now funding Episode 4. It is called Pet Shock Boys. Our main guest will play a character called The PuppyMaster. Any more news would spoil it. But who could we ask to play The PuppyMaster?

I’d had someone in mind from the beginning, and when Sophie said she’d once worked with him on a Big Finish Dr Who audio drama, we just had to ask.

We didn’t hold out much hope. It can take a while to get an answer from an agent; and we do need a bit of luck on our side… all our eps are crowdfunded, all of our guests are paid the same. It helps a hell of a lot if they want to do it. If, indeed, they would enjoy doing it.

Things were silent for a while. And then Clare (our producer) received a succinct email that said “he’s in”.

So. Episode Four, Pet Shock Boys, will guest star Paterson Joseph as The PuppyMaster.

If you’re thinking ‘I don’t think I know him’, well, I bet you do. He’s a great actor. Here is is in one of his more well-known comedy roles:

I was thrilled when Paterson said yes. The last thing I watched him in was The Leftovers, where he played ‘Holy’ Wayne. If you haven’t seen it, do track it down. It’s amazing and moving and manages to be that rare thing; groundbreaking TV.

Paterson in Episode 4 is incredibly exciting, and I’m still getting over the shock of the yes! Ask!

Now I’m going to ask you folks to help us get it made. If you’re as excited as me at having Paterson Joseph take part, please help us fund this episode. We aren’t crowdfunding through Kickstarter (as we did to get STRANGENESS in SPACE off the ground in the first place). We’re crowdfunding it through our own website. Please take a look at our ‘shop‘ and see if anything takes your fancy. We have some new items now too! Episode 1 will be available on CD, remastered by our sound maestro Dave Palser, and also with lots of extras including remixes of the songs, interviews, bloopers etc. (I put etc. because they are all to be confirmed; but I promise you, you won’t be disappointed). We also have a new T-shirt bearing the logo of our (fake) sponsors Thorleigh’s. Dave designed this, and it’s lovely. Thank you Dave.

Thorleighs-black-distressed

And how did we get Dave to do these great sound designs, to make our logos, to help us way beyond we could have expected?

 

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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.

The football starts up again with the third place play-off, but is this a match anyone can get too excited about? Oh go on then, let’s do our best. Here we reluctantly go:

BRAZIL (@Mojorainbw)  v HOLLAND (@Braggovic)

9pm. ITV. Estadio Nacional de Brasilia in Brasilia. Coach Luiz Felipe Scolari is expected to make some changes for this match… ideally he’d be best off changing himself, and that may well come about within the next few days. Brazil’s captain, Thiago Silva, is back after his one match suspension, but will that be enough to help the team recover after their devastating 29-1 defeat at the hands of Germany. (Ok, I exaggerate, but not that much).

The Dutch coach, Louis van Gaal, sees the match as an irrelevance. He said: “There is only one award that counts and that is becoming world champions.” However, he also said: “The worst thing is that there is a chance you are going to lose twice in a row… And in a tournament in which you have played so marvellously well you go home as a loser.”

So, despite the irrelevance, both teams will no doubt find the idea of defeat unbearable. There’s only one option for this game and it won’t be pretty. It will be a 0-0 draw. And the same after extra time. And the same after penalties. The two teams, heartbroken in many different ways, will just keep on missing and missing and missing. There will be no goals. No celebrations. They will still be taking failed penalties when the next World Cup starts in 2018.

Still, chin up, and good game everyone.

Let’s end on a bit of fun. Who doesn’t love Lawineboys? Hell, they’re the Netherlands answer to Trev and Simon! Here they are eating raw fish and enjoying a drink or two as they sing Glass Omhoog (Voor Nederland):

To balance things out, here’s one for Brazil. It’s from Agridoce, a Brazilian folk duo also known as Pitty and Martin. Here they are singing, appropriately, The Smiths’ Please, Please, Please, Let me Get What I want. Though if they do, it won’t be the first time.

An exciting day yesterday with some near shockers (and my predictions up the spout). First up:

ARGENTINA 1 IRAN 0

Of course Argentina (@joyfeed) were expected to beat Iran (@Freig). And they did. But only by one goal. And even then it took them until stoppage time. And Iran should have possibly had a penalty. And it took Messi to win it for Argentina. If there is a way of winning by losing then Iran did just that. Hard luck.

GERMANY 2 GHANA 2

Another surprise result (not that the above is a ‘surprise’ result, but you know what I mean). Germany (@DareenK73) were expected to win. Ghana (@fiona_bulter) came from behind to take the lead before Germany drew level. Klose moved closer to being the World Cup’s all-time record scorer (he’s joint all-timer at the mo; him and Ronaldo – the Brazil one not the Portugal one – on 15 goals each). Germany should go through, but all eyes will be on USA v Portugal late tonight; a USA win will put them top of the group! As this World Cup is showing us; anything can happen.

NIGERIA 1 BOSNIA-HERCEGOVINA 0

Sorry to say that Bosnia-Hercegovina (@jaq421) are going home. Having no points, even in they win their next and last match, they cannot pass Argentina on 6 and Nigeria (@redorbrownsauce) on 4. And they have a right to feel aggrieved, having a perfectly good goal from Manchester City’s Edin Dzeko disallowed.

Iran, on 1, are still in there (they just have to beat B-H in their last game, rely on Argentina beating Nigeria, and have a greater goal difference than Nigeria, who only have the 1 goal, so it’s perfectly do-able).

Top points go to @jaq421 and Sybil for their headtastic support of Bosnia-Hercegovina:

Jackie

@jaq421

Sybil

Sybil

This should have secured them the victory, but then @redordrownsauce (Nigeria) had a secret weapon. He went and fashioned his own magic headgear. And this, and this alone, secured Nigeria victory.

@redorbrownsauce's winning hat

@redorbrownsauce’s winning hat

And congratulations both of you on your lovely wall things.

The presence of Pjanic in the Bosnia-Hercegovina team led to me making a feeble late night Smiths song pun on Twitter. Just as I was heading off to sleep Twitter was bombarded with #worldcupsmithssongs. The unofficial winner is @jewkesyno4 with “The More You Ignore Me The Klose I Get” (technically Morrissey, but hey, I never even meant to set this all off. You could say I started something I couldn’t finish).

So, on to today’s matches:

BELGIUM  (@hbnm1985) v RUSSIA (@chislehurst)

5pm. BBC. Estadio Maracana, Rio de Janeiro. It’s still early days for this group. Belgium have 3 points, Russia just 1. They remain the favourites to go through from Group H, the other two teams being South Korea and Algeria, who play their second game just after this one. I haven’t got a clue, and so I am going to follow Mark Lawrenson’s prediction of a draw, but I will up the goal numbers. My prediction:

Belgium 4 Russia 4

 

SOUTH KOREA (@anna_borowski) v ALGERIA (@lolers)

8pm. ITV. Estadio Beira-Rio in Porto Alegre. South Korea (having drawn with Russia) have a point, and so they will be desperate to win this game. But then, on no points, so will Algeria. It’s going to be the craziest game of football yet. Or the dullest. My prediction:

South Korea 14 Algeria 9 or South Korea 1 Algeria 0

 

USA (@Lindaannbown) v PORTUGAL (@ali_spencer)

11pm. BBC. Arena Amazonia in Manaus. This is the big game of the evening, annoyingly on in the bedtime zone. I’ve checked with Mark Lawrenson and he agrees with me; USA will win. Portugal are relying too much on Ronaldo and he is not in a good head-space, having had his toiletries stolen by a Avon rep). My prediction:

USA 2 Portugal 0

The charity bit. I’m writing all this (well, for fun) but also to raise money for Alzheimer’s Society. My ‘goal’ is £1966. So far you have donated an amazing £905, 46% of my target. And many of you have donated more than once. You’re all fantastic, and all of you in the Tweepstake will receive a prize. If you’re not in the Tweepstake you are still welcome to donate; I can’t guarantee a prize, but I can guarantee that you will be helping someone, somewhere (and their family) who is battling this awful illness. And, if I have any prizes spare, I promise you will get one, if you ask. You can donate at my Just Giving page here.

To those who have given so generously, I don’t want to pester you anymore. You’ve done your bit way and above the call of duty of the World Cup Tweepstake. But, if you have a mo, please do spread the word. Should we get to 50% my wife, @Zoleipar, has promised to recreate the John Barnes World In Motion rap. What it will be like? Who knows! That’s the gamble.

Here’s someone else having a go (no relation of mine, by the way).

I’m an old misery and I rarely get excited by things. What is there to be excited about when the best thing you’ve seen in your life is a monkey washing a cat in a sink?

But occasionally things come along that surprise me. And when they are computer related I’m even more surprised. Twitter, Facebook, blogging, they’re all good for a bit of a daft laugh but if they weren’t around we’d all get by with a few friends, a few books and a few drinks.

Then along comes Spotify. It took me a while to sign up. The name meant nothing to me and I didn’t know what I was getting into. I fear that every website or web thing is out to get me, to rob my bank accounts. Though I should know better. Any cyber criminals looking into my doings would more likely take pity and deposit rather than withdraw.

But Spotify has earned my love at the moment for this:

Popchor Berlin – How Soon Is Now (The Smiths)

popchor berlinWhen a song that meant so much to me in my youth can still mean so much to me in my old age maybe it’s time for a big rethink. Or just too late. I love this song and I love this version. I want to be in the Popchor Berlin (translation; Popchoir Berlin… or Berlin Pop Choir). I want to be their friends and I want to live in Berlin. I want to be called Herr Hans Hickson.

If you like this listen to their version of Devo’s Mongoloid. I like it. And I’ve never heard the original.

And why not try this slightly Flying Pickets style version of First of the Gang to Die:

Robin Danar – First of the Gang to Die

I know that sounds bad, and maybe it is, but I like it.

And this:

The Lancaster Orchestra – Please Please Please Let Me Get What I Want

That’s enough for now. Give them a listen. drag yourself down and cheer yourself up.

thanet-1As I race against time, wasting it when I should be packing to go to America, I manage to confuse Stars in their Eyes with The Fast Show. And also, when did Matthew Kelly last present Stars in their Eyes? What nonsense will I type next? Will I summon forth the ghost of Leslie Crowther? No.

Here’s Trev, my comedy partner, with his band, Thanet City Rockers… Like Clash City Rockers except they all live in Thanet. And as you can see, he is Welleresque. This photo was taken as they sang “Down in the Tube Station”… Just at the point where Alan the drummer went mentaler than Rick Buckler… just before that bit that goes “the last thing that I saw as I lay there on the floor was Jesus saves painted by an atheist nutter…”. This was their Christmas gig. Happy Christmas one and all. Just for friends and family mind. And so it came to pass that Trev’s mum heard him sing, “I’m down in the tube station at midnight, the wine will be flat and the curry’s gone cold”.

It wasn’t all Jam. There was The Clash, Bowie, The Buzzcocks, The Who, T Rex, The Smiths (Metal Guru merges into Panic). Yes, Trev’s kids, that’s your dad singing, “Hang the DJ”. Happy Christmas everyone.

Well done Paul, Trev, Alan and Dave. A great gig and a great night. Happy Christmas to all friends and family, and anyone out there.

Finally, some lyrics from Rebel Rebel.

“Doo doo doo-doo doo doo doo doo
Doo doo doo-doo doo doo doo doo
Doo doo doo-doo doo doo doo doo”

Yes kids, it’s your dads singing doo-doo over and over again. I don’t know, the parents of today!

Paul, Alan, Trev & Dave- Thanet City Rockers

Paul, Alan, Trev & Dave- Thanet City Rockers