Saturday, January 16, 2010
My Next 15 Minutes...
I was sitting at work on Wednesday (day job = editor of Simpsons Comics), worrying about my leaking radiator at home, when the phone rang. “Hello, yes, this is Jack from BBC Breakfast, we’d like to do a spot on the Simpsons’ 20th Anniversary tomorrow morning...” (nooo, I know what’s coming, don’t say it, don’t say it) “...would you like to appear on it?”
I wouldn’t say I’m a shy person, but I don’t like being centre of attention. I’ve been asked to do interviews at work before and I’ve done the occasional radio interview. I don’t mind them because some of them are just like having a phone conversation. But I don’t like seeing or hearing myself on things, I don’t really like everyone I know seeing it or crowding round TVs at work to see it (when most of them wouldn't do it themselves), I don’t like the fact that I don’t even know if it actually benefits my magazines so what’s the point, I get extremely nervous, and to be honest, I’m busy at work and could do without this kind of thing.
However, after doing a few Spandex interviews on radio and TV, I’ve been getting used to it, and to be honest I was more worried about my leaking radiator and getting better after a nasty 24-hour bug than a TV appearance. Maybe I’d be more nervous if I watched BBC Breakfast, and if I went in there blind, not knowing what to expect, I might be better. And don’t research into how many people watch the show.
So I checked with my bosses and they said okay, so I agreed it all with the Beeb and they said they’d send a car for me at...7am the next day!
So anyway, still not really nervous, except for one confession. I think they expect me to be a Simpsons expert. Well I’m not. I know the Simpsons really well, I’ve watched it from the start, well, before the start, when it was on the Tracy Ullman show as short sketches. I’ve seen tons of episodes, but in the last couple of years, I’ve been busy, I don’t have Sky, I don’t get home in time to see it on Channel 4, whenever I do see it, it's one I've already seen about 30 times – so I haven’t seen it for a while. What if everything has changed on the show?? I just have to hope it hasn't - and I doubt it has...
Anyway, I don't get much sleep, mainly because I'm actually quite excited - which is unusual for me in this situation! Alarm goes at 6am, get up - huge puddle on floor! No, I haven't wet myself, my leak has got worse!! So I have to sort this out, plus iron my clothes, get ready etc. Phone call at 5 to 7 - your BBC car is here! Aargh, my flat is getting flooded!! I have to leave a big bowl down and hope for the best...
My 'call time' is 8.15, so leaving the house at 7am might seem a bit over-cautious, but it makes sense, as we had so much snow the day before. Turns out we get there at around 8.10, so the timing is good. I'm busy taking the photo you can see above and don't notice the security guards asking me who I am etc hehe. I start to panic that they won't let me in!
I'm met by runner 'Angus' who is young and polite (he's teamed with an older guy who is also polite and really efficient). I'm taken to a very small 'green room' where a group of people are waiting, all guests on the show. I find out later that these include 'dog people' and a woman who painted Harry and William's first portrait or something. There's food and drinks available, but I just drink water. Amy Lame is there so I introduce myself and we chat - she's so nice! My new celeb bud! I had no idea she did a radio talk show with Danny Baker! We talk about the Simpsons a lot and her career, and after a while I show her my Spandex comic and give her a copy too. She seems to like it.
I nip to the loo, and on the way back I notice that 'Nicholas Hoult' who's on before me, has his own dressing room! When I return I'm met by a producer lady who tells me that we've been put back from 8.40 to after 9. It's fine, I'm still not nervous, I have no idea why. I guess if it was an evening show, I'd have a lot more time to get nervous and get myself worked up.
I return to Amy in the green room, she's a bit quieter, nervous I think, and she's written some notes down - pointers of what to say, I guess. I haven't bothered to do any of that as I know I'll just get flustered anyway.
I sit down but then this rather attractive middle-aged lady tells me she wants to powder me up. I'm taken to the tiny make-up room where there's another attractive lady, and I'm touched up briefly...
We watch Nicholas Hoult and the painter lady on TV, but I'm not really concentrating. Soon enough, it's our time! We're led through a couple of doors - one of which is the 'be quiet, live recording' door, although i don't realise this and I'm still wittering away to Amy!
So this is it - I don't watch BBC Breakfast, but it looks like an impressive huge studio - all white and glass, with people milling around behind them.
Er no. It's all very dingey, with tacky black curtains everywhere. The room itself is just a small dark studio and in one corner of the room are Bill and Sian sitting on a crappy looking red sofa - everything behind them is just a backdrop! The magic of TV eh? What looks very nice on TV is, in reality, very sparse! There's just one camera lady (!) and one producer, a very attractive blonde lady. We're given two little black wheelie chairs, just grabbed randomly to sit on - honestly the place is a wreck!!
I'm immediatley at ease, when I see that all I've got to do is sit on a sofa with Bill and Sian and Amy for 5 minutes and just behave myself.
Suddenly it's our turn, so we're led over, and I'm put in the middle (I don't want to be in the middle!). There's a news item going on, so we've got time to chat - Sian is immediatey warm and welcoming, Bill is fun, very dad-like. I ask him how his tooth is (it fell out on a charity TV show) and give them copies of the Simpsons comic. A woman tells us to put microphones under neath our shirts - I panic - I'm crap at things like this - I can never put visitors badges on lol! But somehow I do it, and then we're live!!!
Bill introduces us and says 'so you are Comic Book Guy!' and I say 'I'm not that fat, am I?' - good start.
It goes okay. I blather on about the start of the Simpsons on the Tracy Ullman show, how new sets of fans come to the show all the time, and I say how all dads are like Homer and tell them the anecdote of my dad hitting his head and going 'D'oh' and us all laughing at him.
A few mistakes though!!
Bill goes on about the Michael Jackson ep, and I admit that I didn't know if it really was him or not - apparently it was! Oops. I've never been one to trawl the internet for facts.... Terrrrrilbe mistake to follow - Bill: 'how many Simpsons episodes have there been?' Now I really don't know these things, because I just edit the comic strip and the mag doesn't actually involve the TV show much (we're not really allowed to). But I'm sure I read it was about 1000 somewhere, so I say that - wrong!!! It's only about 500!
Then Bill asks me which character I'd be. Well, what a strange question, and I find stuff like this hard to answer because instead of going for the obvious answer (Homer or Bart), I always want to go for something that's true. And then my mind tricked me into thinking 'which is my favourite character' so I just said 'Ned'! Apparently Amy looked shocked... Then Bill said 'why'? Oh god. Why the hell would anyone want to be Ned... So I just reply something terrible like 'Oh he's innocent and oblivious to people...' Oh dear.
Well that was it anyway, Bill and Sian wrapped up the show, and I was sorely tempted to wave a Simpsons comic up next to Sian, because I was feeling quite silly, but I'm glad I didn't do it - it'd have looked quite tacky!
I will say that there is so much going on! So many cameras, so many autocues... In the table in front of Bill and Sian are computers with instructions and email feeds and news and Twitter things. You can see yourself all over the place and there is a really big screen of you opposite. If you watched/watch it, you'll notice me glancing in a direction quite a lot - it's just me checking I am not looking too slouched or stupid or fat.
Then Bill starts doing Mr Burns impressions and Bill and Sian get up immediately and walk off lol! Me and Amy go to the Green Room and chat for ages, and Bill wanders in too (he's quite teacher-like, but really nice). Then we're told our cars are here so we head to Reception - Bill is in the distance shouting Mr Burns impressions still... I guess that's that for the day.
I air-kiss Amy (lol) and get to my car and phone my mom and dad. My mom had to rush off to the dentist, but my dad saw it and loved that I mentioned him. In the car, I start to get annoyed that the Beeb are obviously using our license payer money to ferry people around in cars - and then realise I'm being ferried around in a car, so I quite like it.
I get back to the office and all my colleagues are great - they'd all watched it on their computers of course! They say I was cool and looked good, and overall I'm pleased with it. Later on, I chat to my mom who says she's proud of me!
Quite a few of my Facebook chums were shocked to see me on TV, so I chat to them a bit too.
What's funny is that I then go into a Simpsons meeting, where our morale is pretty much ripped to shreds by various things. If only the BBC cameras had followed us into that, eh?
Later on, I get a phone call from Radio Kent inviting me to another interview (I Knew this would happen, but I don't mind) - and I try to arrange it around getting my leak sorted lol. I should maybe have said I had meetings rather than tell the BBC producer about my leak hehe (the interview eventually doesn't take place).
So that's it! A long-winded story, but hopefully an interesting insight into something not everyone gets to experience!