Of course I am already thinking about the week ahead. We are off to Edinburgh this week. I haven't been there for quite a number of years. The last time I was there I was acting as a talent scout for Granada Television - basically a free jolly which involved me going around and seeing as many shows as I could in the hope that I would spot someone that Granada could persuade to work for them before the BBC or Channel 4 got their claws in to them. The people I suggested were, I seem to remember, two young men who I thought were very funny in their show. Jon Naismith and Tom Hollander. Granada weren't interested. Jon wanted to be a producer, he told me, and I put him in touch with some people I knew at BBC Radio Comedy. I'm delighted to say he became a great producer and is largely responsible for the continuing success of I'm Sorry I Haven't a Clue. Not sure what happened to Tom? He was quite short. I doubt he stood much chance in the cut throat world of acting?
My whole career began in Edinburgh with the Oxford Revue, which went on to become Radio Active and KYTV. That was where I first met and worked with my dear friends from those programmes, including Geoffrey Perkins, who became one of my dearest friends. Geoffrey died suddenly in 2008 and I miss him dreadfully. He was the most generous, funny, brilliant friend that anyone could have.
At his memorial concert, which was held at Her Majesty's Theatre in London shortly after he died, it was very clear that he had left nothing but people who loved him. When you think that he worked in television production for 30 years this is extraordinary. Not one enemy! It also became clear, talking to people on the day and since, that many people regarded him as the person who was responsible for their careers and success. Andy Hamilton told me that it was Geoffrey who first encouraged him to perform and if you know Andy's work then that is something we should all be eternally grateful to Geoffrey for.
The list of people he helped is vast, so I won't mention them all. Without Geoffrey, Father Ted would never have been made, Harry Enfield may not be the star he is, Paul Whitehouse and Charlie Higson probably wouldn't have been performers, Catherine Tate would have gone unnoticed, Ben Chaplin wouldn't have got his first break, Douglas Adams would never have finished The Hitchhiker's Guide, Clue wouldn't have the game Mornington Crescent, Ben Elton would still be doing stand-up in pubs, Only Fools and Horses wouldn't have come back for the final three episodes and I wouldn't have had a career. So, he only ever really made one mistake.
Despite all this, what I and most other friends remember when we think about Geoffrey is laughter. Not at work but, usually, around a lunch or dinner table, red wine flowing as Geoffrey's infectious giggle and twinkling eyes made us all laugh as we rarely did with anyone else.
I shall return to Edinburgh this week knowing that everywhere I look there will be memories of those happy times. I shall try to remain jolly as they come back to me, catching me unawares. However, I suspect that, sometimes, I won't be able to help it. I will be sad, knowing that they will never come again.
|See what I mean? xx|