Mid afternoon I got a call from my evil and mendacious PR people asking me if I would like to appear on the Richard and Judy show to talk about the popularity of poker. I didn't have to think twice about it and within an hour I was in a car heading for their studio.
I had been on their old morning show once in the mid-1990s when we were promoting our Fist of Fun tour show. Excitingly on that occasion we had been on with the Spice Girls who had just made it big. Weirdly Scary Spice recognised me and Stew off of an MTV show we had briefly hosted and was very excited to meet us. She rang her boyfriend to tell him she'd met us and got us to sign a post-it note for her which she then stuck to her bare stomach. This was a bit of subversion of my expectations of the meeting. Posh Spice kept apologising to us for not having known who we are. "Don't be ridiculous," I told her, "You are the Spice Girls."
We'd just started doing the routine about the way the Spice Girls represented the five different types of women in the world and they when they found out about it wanted to know all about it. Sporty Spice (who I actually fancied the most) was most keen to know what type of woman she represented, but we didn't feel we could tell her it was "ugly women, who can jump", so just omitted the "ugly" bit and got away with it.
Anyway on top of that we also got to meet Richard and Judy who were daytime heroes of ours (at this point we had done an Edinburgh version of "This Morning With Richard, Not Judy" - though we were to do another version the next year and that's what the poster is from).Again we had done some off colour material about them - probably including the gag that me and Stew were an alcoholic and a shoplifter and unlike some TV presenters not ashamed to admit it. But we did really like them. Just like we really liked the Spice Girls. We're comedians. It is our job to destroy our idols.
The interview back in the 1990s was not very good from what I remember. They showed an edited clip of the moon on a stick routine that more or less cut out all the jokes and Judy said, "Your stuff is really comedy about nothing, isn't it?" a very perceptive comment which we later used on our publicity. Then we were supposed to be talking about things for kids to do in the holidays and had some stuff prepared including a thing about the internet, but inexplicably Richard decided to say, "I bet you two could make up a joke about anything.... do a joke about the internet!"
As what we had prepared wasn't exactly a joke as such this all fell a bit strange and flat. But I remember Stew making a joke about Raj Persaud who earlier in the programme had been sitting under a little pyramid for some reason. Afterwards Raj Persaud ran up to us as we were getting in the lift to thank us for mentioning him. He was very excited.
I hoped there would be no bad blood between me and Richard and Judy over our subsequent TV show, though to be honest wasn't sure they'r associate me with it, even if they remembered it. I know Stewart had been on and Richard had said he'd been cross to begin with, but never seen the show and then Su Perkins had told him it wasn't really a parody of them at all. But he had been upset about the promotional photo we'd used and the use of the shopping trolley, because he'd had a hard time over that whole thing. I could understand that.
I arrived stupidly early and was led to a dressing room with my name on it, which funnily enough was right next to the separate dressing rooms of both Richard and Judy. There was even a card thanking me for coming on (see picture) in which Richard looks like he has just crept up on Judy and might be about to strangle her. There was also a bag with a bottle of champagne in it. Clearly I was forgiven and I didn't even think of making a joke about where Richard might have acquired the booze. I didn't want to open old wounds or to hurt him again. They had reached out the hand of friendship and I was really glad to be here.
I was going to be on with a woman who gave up her job to play poker professionally and my old nemesis Grub "Rat Syphillis" Smith who like me enjoys the odd game and has been involved with the celebrity poker TV show.
We were led into the studio as Richard and Judy were discussing the Michael Jackson case with a couple of guests. Then there was a very swift turnaround as they played a clip of Johnny Vegas on the Celebrity Poker programme and we were on.
Judy was just as perceptive as she had been a decade ago. She said she knew nothing about poker, but wasn't playing it on-line a bit of a waste of time if you couldn't see the other players. She'd got to the heart of the matter. She carries Richard, she really does!
No, like any double act they both have an equal part to play. They are both marvellous at what they do and Richard Madeley, intentionally or not, is still one of the funniest people on the TV.
The chat was quick and relaxed. I managed to get another dig in about Raj Persaud, who was coincidentally on the show again and we'd met in the green room. He'd been complaining about a hand of poker he'd lost two years ago (again on the celebritu poker). Grub suggested it was time for him to let it go.
Richard said Raj was a brilliant player. I replied that he was a bad loser and the green room incident was recounted. "He's a very clever man," said Richard, "Do you know he's got nine degrees?"
"Yes," I replied, "But you can buy those on the internet now."
Gratifyingly this made the cameramen and crew laugh. That's always a good sign. I didn't go on to wonder what other things he'd managed to acquire through spam mail on the internet, reasoning that, "Does he also now have a nine inch cock?" might have spoilt the jovial atmosphere. After being sacked by Lorraine Kelly I was not about to make the same mistake again.
Afterwards we had a glass of wine in the Green Room and some nice little canapes. Richard and Judy were there, but I was typically too shy to go and say anything to them, or apologise or anything. As they were leaving they came over to shake my hand.
"Nice to meet you," said Judy - not surprisingly not recalling that we had met before. I kind of over-lapped her saying, "Great to see you again," and Richard, sharp as ever managed to change tack and say "Great to see you again too," and make it look like he remembered. One-nil to Richard.
Raj Persuad was in the green room too, but this time he didn't bound up to me to thank me for mentioning him. I think maybe I'd upset him.
I shared a cab back to West London with Grub. Another man that I have unjustly defamed. But even though the rat syphillis thing was my own invention I still found myself avoiding skin contact with him just in case.
But after our battle in the boats we have become friends now, just as I am friends with Richard and Judy again. Only Raj Persuad and Sporty Spice to bring round then.