Richard & Judy
So I got the call to go on Richard & Judy. Was I available to talk about the joys of being a rock'n'roll musician and music writer with a page on MySpace? Er, let me think about that... Yes! I think I could be persuaded. What a trip this turned out to be! I've done a lot of guest appearances on radio and TV - mostly Sky News and various bits and bobs for BBC and LBC radio. Usually they send a car, which is nice. But once you are there you get whisked in and out like a pop tart in a toaster - which is basically what you are. Not so with R&J. Arrive at the studio in South London about 90 minutes before the show starts. Ushered into my own dressing room. It's even got my name on the door! Next door along is marked Richard Madeley and next to that Judy Finnegan. Inside there is a TV, coupla easy chairs, basket of fruit, and a lovely carrier bag with a gift and a handwritten card. "David, With love and thanks from everyone at Cactus, but especially me, Amanda x" - and underneath: "Amanda Ross, Joint Managing Director." Cactus is the production company who make the R&J programme for Channel 4. Lots of sleek young women with big plastic laminates round their necks patrol the corridors. I am whisked into make-up where I meet Aleks Krotoski, a broadcaster and journalist who is writing a PhD on Social Networking at Surrey University. She is businesslike, well organised. Then in the Green Room I find Alex Tew, the kid who dreamt up the idea of the Million Dollar Homepage to finance his business management course at Nottingham University - except now he's made more than a million dollars he's dropped out of uni. Well what would you do? Also there is his friend Stephen, who is either talking furiously on his mobile phone or banging stuff into his laptop practically the whole time we are there.
The researcher, Leo, has a clipboard, which he refers to with an efficient air, as he talks us through the subject and explains what we can expect. "It's all very relaxed," he says. "Just chat away at will, interrupt each other, do whatever you want." I used to do his exact job, a long time ago, on Terry Wogan's show, so I know a bit of what he's thinking. We are small fry in this world, but he has also had to deal with Sam Neill, who is on before us - and someone has had to cope with Jennifer Aniston, whose (filmed) interview with R&J is screened after us. Stars of that magnitude are thrilling to meet, but a pain in the arse to be around if it is your job to mother and mollycoddle them through a show like this. I tell Leo about the time I was bawled out in a BBC corridor by Raquel Welch because she objected to Wogan's line of questioning, and his reluctance to show a clip from the rotten Keep Fit video she was plugging at the time. Leo tells me that Raquel Welch swore several times - on air - when she went on R&J, and they had to apologise to viewers for her remarks. Plus ca change....
So, as luck would have it, the finished copies of my new CD, *Hey*, have just come back from the manufacturers. The album is not released yet, but obviously I have got to get in a mention at the very least. With the words of my gorgeous PR, Lisa Agasee, ringing in my ears - "Go in there and plug it!" - I am carrying a copy of the CD with me as I head towards the sofa in the studio. But before I get there, I am accosted by a floor manager who says "You can't take anything on to the set - I'll look after that for you" and whips it out of my hand. It seems that R&J are hyper-sensitive to the plugging power of their show, and take extraordinary steps to prevent people taking advantage of it. Alex Tew (who is on at the same time as me and Aleks PhD) arrived with a logo on his T-shirt, and promptly found a person from the wardrobe department sticking little bits of black tape over it to blank it out. Anyway, we get on and Richard & Judy start talking up the MySpace thing like it has just arrived on their doorstep from Mars. It's all wonderful but far too complicated for them to understand, isn't it? Show a few daft clips - girl eating jaffa cake, etc - that have been doing the rounds for years. Anyway, it all passes by in a blur. Richard, rather nicely, asks me what my band is called. It's called David Sinclair, I said, which was the closest I got to a plug!
After we're finished there is a little get-together in the green room with Richard & Judy. Richard is so thin. He really is. The girls with laminates cluster round while a delegation of management suits congratulate him on the Jennifer Aniston interview. "I felt we could have done better," Richard says. I am handed a large glass of wine and talk to Judy for a bit. She's friendly but guarded, as you would be. Sharp mind. What a wild afternoon.
So here's the thing. Everyone is talking about the power of MySpace and the Internet and how these days you can network your way to the stars. But when you get right down to it, the effect of the mainstream media is still incomparably more powerful. Even as I was saying my name to Richard, people all over Britain were typing it into their computers. Later, when I get to check my site, I find I had about 60 adds in ten minutes, while I was on TV. Also loads of messages, saying hi, saw you on R&J, my you're cute, etc. (well, not *so* many of the latter, but let me reassure anyone out there - flattery will get you everywhere!). MySpace, Bebo, Garageband and all the rest are brilliant platforms. But you do need something else to trigger the effect.