Working for Wogan
As I mentioned in my last blog, I used to work as a researcher for Terry Wogan's BBC1 TV show on Saturday nights. In those days Wogan was like Parkinson is now - the biggest hitter in the talk show game. Every week, three "top names" would be wheeled in to meet "the Irishman" as we used to call him (though not to his face). My job was to interview these stars a week or so before they came on the show, with a view to finding out "areas of interest" (and, just as importantly, identify the no-go areas) for Wogan to explore. I would write up a report of my interview, including all relevant background information and then, with the help of the Chief Production Manager (or some such title) - a hilarious guy called Chris Greenwood - I would write the questions Wogan would ask, and try and map out a structure for the interview. The questions were then written on huge idiot boards for Wogan to read off as he went along. Sometimes he followed them to the letter. On other occasions he simply ignored the whole process and went off on a complete tangent, never referring to the planned questions at all.
It was a bizarre ritual, but valuable experience for my later career as a journalist when I had to conduct a lot of interviews of my own. Working for Wogan I got to meet Charles Dance, Rory Bremner, Robbie Coltrane, Roald Dahl, Gore Vidal, Sir Robin Day and loads of others. The nicest of them all was Joanna Lumley. But the biggest eye-opener really was being around Wogan himself. That cuddly, self-deprecating, slightly bemused, soft-as-a-teddy-bear persona that he deploys to such great effect is not what he's like at all. He's actually very quick-witted and as tough as they come, but fairminded and a decent bloke too.
Anyway, the reason I'm writing about this is I got to do an interview this week on Spacecast, in which the discusion turned to my time with Wogan, among various other episodes in my chequered past. We also talked in fascinating detail about my new album Hey
, which is almost upon you!
Spacecast is the brilliant weekly radio show hosted by Alex Leam on MySpace. One click on www.myspace.com/alexleamneedsaradiojob
takes you there. Click on Monday 11 for Part 1 of the interview, then Thu 14 for Part 2.
So check it out when you've got a minute. It's a broadcasting first!