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Saturday 23rd January 2010

Up bright and early to head down to Broadcasting House to do 3 and a half minutes of Hitler Moustache on Radio 4's Loose Ends. These days the show is prerecorded, mainly so they can ensure accommodate actors, musicians and comedians who will probably be working (or preparing to work) when the show is actually broadcast. It gives them the opportunity to snip out any unmentionables, but I don't think they often do this and the producer was quite keen for me not to overstep any lines so that she didn't have to do the work.
I was first on this show back in the 1990s when Stew and me were guests, when Ned Sherrin was the host. Alas he has gone now, but Clive Anderson does a fine job at the helm, and today was on good form, both quick off the mark with witty quips and pretty knowledgeable about all of his guests. David Threlfall looked like he might be a bit of a prickly guest at times, but Clive managed to keep things running, even though David did at one point, jokingly and hilariously mouth the word "Twat" after one of his questions. I doubt you would have heard it at home, but it was a nice moment. You can of course listen again for the rest of the week.
And one of the great things about Loose Ends is that you are sharing the studio with some truly interesting and amazing people. I am a big fan of Threlfall and this was the first time I have met him and that was a bit of a buzz. Even more exciting perhaps, Sir Ian Mckellen was also being interviewed and afterwards I had a brief chat with him about Hitler's moustache and the history of the toothbrush moustache in general and "Waiting for Godot" as I once played Estragon at University (though I imagine Mckellen's interpretation might be somewhat more impressive than my own). As I looked across at the pair of them I realised they would be excellent casting for my new play (if it ever happens). Threlfall would make an excellent Rasputin and Mckellen would have a ball playing the elderly Yusupov (and in my idea Yusupov is old, whilst Rasputin still haunts him). I didn't suggest it to them at the time as I suspect TV and film commitments might make them a little busy to come and perform at the Edinburgh Fringe, but then again Mckellen seemed to be touting for a job on Shameless, so you never know.
It was a fun little fantasy to be engaging in, as I sat there, waiting to do my bit.
The other guests were, as always, fascinating folk - with brilliant music from Marcus Bonfanti and Fyfe Dangerfield chat from former Loose Woman, Jo Bunting who interviewed Katharine Hibbert about spending a year eating food out of bins (amongst other things) to highlight the wastefulness of our society and geek goddess Dr Aleks Krotoski talking about the internet.
I managed to get through the gauntlet of autograph hunters untroubled - let's say it's because they were distracted by Gandalf as I made my escape (a bit like in the film now I come to think about it) and got to the pub for the traditional after show lunch. It was a real privilege to get an extra hour chatting with these talented people. Luckily David and Ian had to go or I would probably have embarrassed myself by asking them to be in my play. I had had a pint and a half of Guinness. Thank the Lord for Radio 4. I am not sure how useful the programme is for selling tickets to the tour to listeners, but the other guests seemed keen to attend and I think I am going to try and catch "Waiting for Godot" so hopefully we all sell a few tickets or albums or books within the room!
But my brush with celebrity was not over. This evening I went to a small Thai restaurant in a back street of Notting Hill and found myself at the next table to cricketing legend Michael Atherton. I played it cool and didn't say anything, even though our tables were very close together and part of me wanted to comment on what he was eating and say, "That looks nice, Michael Atherton. What is it?"
My girlfriend was wearing a new and impressive bra and as we sat down I jokily commented "Blimey, look at that cleavage!" and then exhaled loudly. Michael Atherton overheard me and looked a bit unsettled and gave his partner a bit of a funny look. He himself was very well behaved throughout, though I think I saw him raise an eyebrow at a couple of my more outlandish comments (laced with irony) as our dinner progressed. I don't know if he knew who I was (I would assume not) but if he has a blog then his entry might be about what a boorish prick I turn out to be in real life. But I was only joking for the benefit of my girlfriend. I didn't expect to be overheard by an ex-England captain.
So don't listen to his lies. Whatever he writes about me.
I was polite enough not to listen in to his conversation, but then again he was talking quite quietly, which perhaps I wasn't.

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