I had a great time tonight at the Bloomsbury Theatre at a benefit for Bletchley Park
, where nerds won the Second World War. Not only was I doing ten minutes of stand up, but also appearing in a special on stage panel-show about the Code Breakers. It was hosted by Robert Llewllyn and Robin Ince was on the opposing team, but even more excitingly I was teamed up with the lovely Maggie Philbin and Robin was next to an even bigger star from my childhood Johnny Ball. I have written about and his gold bar antics before
and got to ask him about that show and whether the gold bar was real. He remembered it well, but differently than me and said he never put it down his jumper, but only into the lap of one of the audience, surprising her with the weight. My memory of kids TV seems to have let me down again. But it was great to get him reminiscing. He's 71 years old, still in great form and still performing and he encouraged Robin and me to take the mickey as much as we liked. Though it still felt wrong to do so. He is such a national institution and the audience were filled with love for him. He could do no wrong. I think he could have murdered a kitten on stage and everyone would still have adored him. There is little as strong as that nostalgic affection and Ball deserves it as much as anyone. He is a legend.
Philbin is also something of a legend herself and has scarcely changed since her days on Swap Shop. In my stand up set I expressed astonishment that Keith Chegwin had managed to marry this brainy beauty saying that I didn't think they had had Rohypnol back then. But there's no accounting for taste. I'd say that perhaps Chegwin is well hung or something, but I realise I've seen him on that naked gameshow he did a few years ago and he really isn't. But it was genuinely exciting to be sitting amongst these TV Gods and everything was very good natured and fun - Robert Llewellyn is also a lovely and funny man. I think that at some point portions of this evening will be available to listen to, but not sure when or where. I'll let you know. I wonder if they'll edit out me saying "fucking" in the panel show. I was pretty much the only person to do rude stuff on a nerdy night mainly about Maths and Enigma machines, but luckily the audience didn't seem to mind as I turned the air a little blue during my set. And it was one of the smartest audiences I have ever performed for. Most times when I do my pomme de terre routine only a couple of people laugh at the "pomme de terre de ciel" line, but this time it got a hearty laugh from almost everyone which lasted for a good fifteen seconds. I wanted to kiss each and every one of these nerds hard on the mouth. It was one of the most enjoyable sets I have ever done at a charity event.
And I got to have a drink with Johnny Ball and to sit next to Maggie Philbin.
What would the ten year old me have thought it he had known this was going to happen or that one day he would imply that Johnny's string of balls used to determine square roots was some kind of perverted sex toy.
Ah what a wonderful life I lead.
And if you want a little nostalgic blast from the past and to see how enthusiastic and fresh-faced I once was, then here's a clip of me and Stew being sarcastic on one of the two Top of the Pops shows we presented
- no really.
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