Throughout 2005 I gigged extensively around the UK, both with the Hercules show and with stand up gigs. After a shaky start in the autumn of last year I found my feet in the clubs and started to take risks and enjoy what I was doing. In January I did the first live version of the yoghurt routine that would form the basis of my Edinburgh show. In February my run of the Hercules show in Hammersmith slowly picked up an audience during my two week residency and got some good reviews (You can read about it starting here).
In February I also took part in Celebrity Poker Club 3 for Challenge TV. I acquitted myself reasonably well, despite being a bit green around the gills and came 7th out of 40 or so competitors winning £800 and starting a poker addiction that stayed with me for the rest of the year (You can read about it here and the next day). Despite a subsequent good showing at a proper Scrabble tournament later that month, poker was soon to usurp the nerd's word game for me.
In February I also recorded some talking heads for the Vic Reeves programme The Best and Worst of God. This was broadcast a few months later and inevitably they used all my most rubbish bits and didn't use my wittiest comments.
In March I recorded several episodes of the daytime nostalgia quiz Back In The Day hosted by Clive Anderson that were shown on Channel 4 in the summer and autumn. I also served a brief stint as the script editor for the third series of Little Britain. People seemed to love or hate this show when it was broadcast in November, but either way I had very little input so can not really be congratulated or blamed. I was also script editor for a stage version of Grumpy Old Women, which opened in Cheltenham in November. This seems to have been a massive success in previews and will tour extensively in the Spring of 2006.
On 29th March I recorded two episodes of self-satisfied game show Quote Unquote and failed to steal Germaine Greer's bra.
In April I started to review the Sunday papers for the Andrew Collings' show on 6Music, the digital radio station, which has been terrific fun, at least for the two of us. We seem to spend most of our time giggling at our own puerility. On the 12th I made the first of two appearances on the Richard and Judy show, this time talking about poker. You can read about both guestings here and here. Around this time I also wrote a couple of columns for the Guardian and Broadcast magazine. But neither of these seemed to lead to anything.
In May I made a brief and unusual appearance on BBC Leeds radio coverage of the election results. and then headed down to Oxford to interview Greg Raymer the WSOP champion 2004. I think this shows how diverse my life is. This month I also filmed my starring role in the short film A Very British Cult. I also shot a promotional insert for Channel 5's poker coverage, which I still insist was not an advert because it was part of the programme, but this is still the closest I have ever come to sucking Satan's corporate cock.I was as you can see playing too much poker, but I was making money off the tables, if not on them. I was asked by Virgin to write a book about my poker experiences, called The Poker Joker, but later in the year decided not to do it as I was not getting paid enough to cover my tournament entry fees and because I decided that my comedy fans are not interested enough in poker and poker players wouldn't be interested in my amateur views on the game. But I was also approached by Pokerzone to present an interview show, in which I would chat with professional players and poker loving celebrities. The show was called Heads Up with Richard Herring and was recorded in September and started broadcast in November. We did ten episodes, but the channel does not want any more of them. Which is a shame because it was quite good.
In June I recorded two episodes of Gyles Brandreth's quiz show Whispers which was broadcast in the autumn on Radio 4. I was also very busy previewing for my 20th Edinburgh show, which was called Someone Likes Yoghurt and I received a copy of my book Talking Cock in Russian which was a bit of a kick. As if that wasn't enough, the stage show version premiered in Iceland in the autumn. I also hosted the BBC7 Breakfast show for several weeks over the summer.
August was of course dominated by the Edinburgh Fringe. Go and look at the August entries of Warming Up to get a taste of the pain and the paranoia. In the end the reviews and the audiences were pretty good (see Press section for full reviews) and despite a handful of walkouts I feel most people enjoyed it (though you'll see it was selected by the Daily Telegraph as the worst comedy experience of the year, which is at least some kind of award so I am not going to throw it back in their face). I also did a lot of stand up gigs this year, and faced my demons by performing at Late and Live. Late in the festival I even did a couple of late night hour long versions of the yoghurt routine which were irritating and fun for all who witnessed them. I also appeared in a Radio 4 pilot for a new quiz show called Banter, hosted by Andrew Collings. Unusually for such projects it was really good and entertaining and was almost immediately commissioned. We started recording the series in December and I am in every episode. It will commence broadcast in late January 2006.
In September I probably reached the pinnacle of my career, when I opened the Cheddar Big Event. If that was not enough I performed part of the play Hamlet on the stage of the RSC, during some comedy workshops I took part in.
After a raft of meetings with TV executives in the spring I was commissioned to write various scripts and treatments. A pilot script for BBC1 called "You Can Choose Your Friends...." occupied most of my time throughout September to November. I finally got a first draft finished and the response from the BBC was very positive. BBC4 have also expressed some interest in a televised version of Warming Up (which celebrated its 3rd birthday in November - I have still not missed a single day) called Blog. We will be recording a taster tape of about ten minutes in January 2006 and if that gets the approval of the bosses, a series might follow in the autumn. The project is still with BBC LE radio as well, but I haven't heard anything from them as yet. I also have another two drama treatments to write (one for Channel 4 and one for the BBC) so next year could be a very busy one indeed.
At the arse end of 2005 I also appeared on one episode of poor BBC3 or 4 show The Comic Side of Seven Days, as well as a couple of documentaries, one about dark humour and the other about 90s comedy. I don't know what they were called or when they will be on.
Just before Christmas I also got a phone call from the producer of last year's Radio 2 show That Was Then, This Is Now telling me that the controller of the channel wanted another series in the autumn of next year. So if there is time to fit that in there should be more of those too. I am also planning to continue with the stand up and hopefully will do another Edinburgh stand up show.
Overall a very successful year, with exciting progress on TV drama scripts, radio work and my stand up act, as well of one of my most enjoyable Edinburghs ever.
There were some disappointments. The TV version of "Warming Up" (which I had hotly anticipated in December 05) failed to materialise, partly due to the fact that the BBC felt Jack Dee's sit-com was too similar to my idea (I can think of something it was more similar to). But plenty of good things to make up for this.
In January we recorded a series of the panel show "Banter" for Radio 4. This was terrific fun and I loved working with the series regulars Will Smith, Russell Howard and Andrew Collings. I also carried on reviewing the Sunday papers for Collings on his Sunday 6Music show and I actually got to host the whole show on the 14th May and the 24th December.
Despite the Daily Telegraph's disapproval, I did carry on performing, "Someone Likes Yoghurt" around the country, starting with a very enjoyable run at The Battersea Arts Centre. The show kept on improving throughout the year and was actually all the better for becoming an almost two hour experience by the time I finished doing it. I will be recording a DVD of the show in January 2007 so you can all decide whether it was brilliant or rubbish. Opinion seems divided. Which was kind of the point.
In February I did a brief stint on an ill judged comedy version of the More 4 show The Last Word, though I enjoyed doing the film inserts.
On 12th February the Sunday Mirror printed a picture of Daniel Craig's head on my body. Yes you read that right. It was that way round. It is one of the proudest achievements of my life.
I did various recorded stand up spots including a minute on 28 Acts in 28 Minutes for Radio 4 and also the Paramount TV Show,"Edinburgh and Beyond." And the stand up gigs were getting steadily more enjoyable and proficient as I worked towards my new Edinburgh show.
In April I performed in a short film called Hard To Swallow. I played a mashed potato eating man and was actually quite pleased with my performance when I finally got to see it, which is quite an unusual occurrence.
I also somehow got to attend the Deal, No Deal party in Bristol which comes second to the Daniel Craig thing.
In May I knocked the then World poker champion Joe Hachem out of a poker tournament. Which more than made up for the thousands of pounds I spent playing the game on line instead of working.
The thing I was meant to be writing was another draft of the sit-com "You Can Choose Your Friends" for the BBC. We did a reading of the new version in June, but the BBC were dragging their feet a bit and it looked like it wasn't going to happen.
I had also been commissioned to write a comedy drama for Channel 4 called "Double Act", but was struggling with that too.
I took a holiday in June in Tobago to try and recharge my batteries and during this attended the wedding of a man who had once fainted during a performance of Talking Cock who I had never actually met. It was good.
The stage version of Grumpy Old Women had a successful tour in the Spring, followed by a run in the West End in June. Then in the autumn it toured again with a largely new cast.
In June I did a little bit on the Ben Moor radio show Undone and also started work on an unexpected second series of the Radio 2 show "That Was Then This Is Now" which started broadcast in September. We had a lot of fun with it this time round and I think it was a big improvement on the first. I've just heard we have been asked to do a third series, predictably in the same weeks in September and October of 2007, but for our own sanity I am hoping they will change that.
I also did four weeks of filming in about three days for the ITV2 version of Capricorn One, "Best Man's Speech". It was kind of fun, but left an unpleasant taste in my mouth, which was partially masked by the money they gave me to do it. I never saw it, so don't know how it turned out.
In August I went to Edinburgh and had a lush time with my show "ménage a un". I got good audiences, a great response and was rewarded at the end of the year with the NOTBBC award for best live show of the year (I also won best website too - Ker-ching!)
I also managed to finish the first draft of "Double Act" in the first week of August and at the end of the month got the news that ITV were interested in doing "You Can Choose Your Friends" as a 90 minute comedy drama. Channel 4 came back saying they wanted a second draft of the double act script and so the month after Edinburgh was especially packed as we recorded and wrote four episodes of "TWTTIN" as well as a second series of "Banter". A decision on "Double Act" is dependent on a second script which I will start writing in the New Year. But the re-write and casting of "You Can Choose Your Friends" went really well, culminating for the moment with a much more satisfying read through in December. We are filming it in February 2007 and it will go out in June.
There were to be a few humiliations to help me through to the end of the year, such as my appearance at a gig at my old school in Cheddar and a unpleasant afternoon recording an episode of Never Mind The Fullstops for BBC4. But generally everything seems to be moving in the right direction. I had a nice holiday in Africa and lost over a stone in weight between September and December on a new health kick which will hopefully stretch into the New Year.
In November Warming Up celebrated its fourth anniversary and I gave away a PSP in a tough competition to mark the fact. I also began writing a blog for The New Statesman website. I also guested on a Channel 4 Radio show.
I ended the year with lots more gigging and writing, culminating in a gig in the town I was born, Pocklington. It was satisfyingly anti-climactic. I think that's everything. It seems quite thorough! 2007 is looking like it could be a good one too. What crazy antics will I get up to next?
The first part of 2007 was taken up with the re-writing and filming of my 90 minute comedy drama, "You Can Choose Your Friends". We ended up with a top notch cast including Anton Rodgers, Julia McKenzie, Robert Dawes, Rebecca Front, Claire Skinner, Gordon Kennedy and Sarah-Jane Potts.It was broadcast in June on ITV1 and we were unfortunate enough to be up against the Big Brother where a girl was being kicked out for saying a bad word, which dented ratings a little bit, but it was still very respectable and got some good reviews (as well as a couple of stinkers). As the year ends there is still the possibility of ITV giving us a series, though it seems unlikely.
In February, I appeared at a benefit night for the comedian Ted Chippington, Tedstock which included some amazing acts, but was notable for including the first live performance by Lee and Herring for almost eight years. It was a terrific buzz!
On March 31st it was the last Andrew Collings' show on 6Music and thus my last review of the papers. It was a shame, but all things must end.
As soon as filming of YCCYF was over I was off on a 40 date tour of the UK and Europe - my favourite leg being Hull, Paris, Milan, Keswick - performing my 2006 show "ménage à un". It started with a very satisfying two week run at the Arts Theatre in central London, actually selling out for half the run, which was a big surprise. I recorded the show for a DVD for the good people at go faster stripe in June, having also popped down to Cardiff in January to film "Someone Likes Yoghurt". The company also released a previously filmed version of "The Twelve Tasks of Hercules Terrace".
On the last day of the tour, in Liverpool, I was involved in a street brawl, which not only made for an entertaining Warming Up, but also formed a part of my new show "Oh Fuck, I'm 40", which I had to work up in the six weeks after the end of the tour and the start of the Fringe.
During the tour I had written a second script of "Double Act", the comedy drama that Channel 4 had commissioned. However, by the time I got the script in the people who had commissioned it had left, so it is not going to be made (for Channel 4 at least).
In July I also headed back to the Montreal Festival to perform a few ten minutes slots. I didn't really enjoy it.
By August, miraculously, I had got the new show together and had another successful run at the Underbelly in Edinburgh, with what is for me, my favourite pure stand up show. It was the 20th anniversary of my first Edinburgh appearance.
After a short holiday (and my first chance to draw breath this year) I was back at the Arts Theatre for a slightly less well attended fortnight run of "40". I also performed at the Brighton and Manchester comedy festivals.
In a slightly less fraught autumn, I got back together with Emma Kennedy, Dan Tetsell, Danny Robins and Christian Riley and the band for an unprecedented third series of Radio 2's "That Was Then This Is Now". These began broadcast in November and the second half of the series will recommence in January 2008. I was also back on the London stand up circuit, doing around four gigs a week and really noticing an improvement in my performance. And in October I started up a Sunday night comedy club at the Lyric Theatre, Hammersmith, with big name guests including Harry Hill, Phill Jupitus and Chris Addison.
I also made a few one off appearances on TV and Radio shows including Annually Retentive, Charlie Brooker's "Screenwipe", Radio 4 Stands Up and BBC4's "The Late Edition".
In December the BBC commissioned a new script from me - a sit-com about Scrabble, with the working title of "Absolutely Scrabulous". But, of course, that may never see the light of day.
In November I also celebrated an unbroken five year run of my of my blog "Warming Up". I have written something for every single day since 25th November 2002, and hopefully will continue to do so for some time yet. And it's more or less five years since this website went live as well, so there's another cause for celebration. Indeed for the second year running it won the NOTBBC award for best comedy related website!
In the first few months of an incredibly busy and productive year I recorded a third series of Banter for Radio 4 and toured my 07 Edinburgh show "Oh Fuck, I'm 40". My friends at go faster stripe recorded that show in March and it was released in December, along with a collection of the first few months of Warming Up in book form, called Bye Bye Balham.
I also wrote a sitcom for the BBC about Scrabble players called Absolutely Scrabulous. Despite what seemed like a funny read through in June, the powers that be decided not to give us a series.
In February I got together with my old mucker Andrew Collings to record the first of (what was then) a fortnightly podcast. This quickly became a weekly event and by the end of the year we had done 45 official podcasts, plus a bonus one at the Radio Academy and another bonus one for the extras disc of the OFIF DVD. On December 16th we teamed up with Phill Jupitus and Phil Wilding to record a special fourway podcast.
I was doing lots of regular stand up gigs as well as touring. In March I did a set at the Wam Bam club in Soho, in which I was interrupted by a persistent heckler. By the end of the year the edited highlights on youtube had been viewed over a quarter of a million times! I also compered two more successful seasons at the Lyric, Hammersmith, including a TMWRNJ reunion gig in November, where there was a closing set from defunct double act Lee and Herring and a surprise appearance from the Curious Orange.
I was back in Edinburgh in August for my 24th show at my 17th Fringe, The Headmaster's Son. It was my most successful year, certainly since Talking Cock in 2002 and I garnered several five and four star reviews. Andrew Collings also came up for a couple of days to record our first live podcast. In worse news I cracked my rib during some high spirited hi-jinks in a show called We Need Answers. It hurt. For months.
In Edinburgh I also recorded an Andrew Collings style talking head appearance on the new Dave show Batteries Not Included, which I was later also to write the links for.
My hectic gig schedule continued until the end of the year, with successful appearances at the Brighton and Manchester comedy festivals and even a visit to Belgium. I feel I am improving with my stand up all the time and gratifyingly more people are coming to see me year on year.
In the autumn the Guardian published Catherine Tate's Guide to comedy. She was kind enough to allow me to make a small contribution.
Post Edinburgh I appeared on many TV and radio panel shows including Argumental for Dave, Clive Anderson's Chat Room for Radio 2, What the Dickens for Sky Arts, Never Mind the Buzzcocks for BBC2 and the 5Live Christmas Movie Quiz.
I also fronted and wrote the links for a short radio 4 series called Bad Habits.
I script edited a sitcom called Shush written by Rebecca Front and Morwena Banks and wrote my own sitcom script for ITV, a new outing for the characters from You Can Choose Your Friends, which is now called Relativity. As yet there is no news of whether this will become a series.
On 15th December I was filmed for the ITV Tonight show for a piece about swearing in comedy.
On the 18th December I took part in the 8 Lessons and carols for Godless People at the Bloomsbury Theatre.
I also began work on a new book for Ebury Press, provisionally called The Milky Bar Kidult about my struggles to grow up, despite my advancing years.
Warming Up continued to celebrate its sixth birthday without a single day missed.
Another frantic and busy year, in which the question on everyone's lips and some people's T-shirts was "Who is Virgilio Anderson?" There was a growing sense that things are on the up.
The tour of Headmaster's Son was my most successful to date, including a very enjoyable run at the Leicester Square Theatre and concluding with a DVD record in Bristol in June (though I did a final, final performance of the show at my old school in November). The DVD will be released in early 2010. The show was nominated for a Chortle Award.
Though I had no luck in getting Relativity commissioned, I made good progress on my book (now re-titled "How Not To Grow Up") which was more or less completed by July when I did the photoshoot for the cover (the book will be published in May 2010). I also made contributions to "Shouting at the Telly" and "The Atheist's Guide to Christmas" which were both published in the autumn, along with a book version of the Guardian "How to Write" series.
The Collings and Herrin podcast rapidly approached it's 100th episode and we had fun at various live gigs in Brighton and Lincoln, as well as a five day sell out run at the Edinburgh Fringe. We also got a couple of paid gigs sitting in for Jon Richardson and Adam and Joe on 6Music.
Early in the year Andrew and I had discussed the idea of growing a Hitler moustache, which provided inspiration for this year's solo Edinburgh outing "Hitler Moustache" in which I attempted to reclaim the toothbrush moustache for comedy and Charlie Chaplin, as well as encourage people to vote to stop the BNP in their tracks. I was sporting the toothbrush moustache through much of the middle of the year and news of the show and an interview with Brian Logan led to a somewhat unbalanced article in the Guardian, which seemed to miss the point of the show.
Fortunately I got right to reply and the publicity generated from the furore made the show one of the most talked about of the Fringe. For the first time in my long Edinburgh career I managed to sell every ticket for the run and also enjoyed successful appearances at the Brighton and Manchester comedy festivals and across the board 4 and 5 star reviews.
I made a handful of TV and Radio appearances on shows such as Never Mind the Buzzcocks (BBC2), Argumental (Dave not yet broadcast), Teenage Diaries (Radio 4), High Tackle (BBC Wales), The Culture Show (BBC2) Hot Gossip (Radio 2), Imagine (BBC1) and the Wright Stuff (Channel 5), as well as Matt Lucas and Charlie Brooker's new Radio 4 shows (both to be broadcast in 2010) and Brooker's TV show "You Have Been Watching" (Channel 4). I was very proud to fulfil a lifetime's ambition and recorded an episode of "Just A Minute" (Radio 4) in Edinburgh in August.
I also narrated a documentary for Radio 2 about David Hasselhoff's part in the fall of the Berlin Wall.
I also briefly worked as a script associate on Russell Howard's Good News (BBC3) but got sacked after the third show, mainly due to other work commitments clashing with the project.
In October I started work on a new audio podcast "As It Occurs To Me" alongside Emma Kennedy, Dan Tetsell and Christian Riley. It was a stand up and sketch show based on what had happened in my week and was recorded for ten consecutive Mondays at the Leicester Square Theatre in front of a paying audience, then put out on iTunes and the British Comedy Guide for free.It got as high as number 2 in the iTunes chart and received good press as well as a nomination for a Loaded Lafta and the final show was performed in front of a sell-out crowd. The experiment was successful enough to warrant the booking of an eight week second series from May 2010.
The Lyric Hammersmith Sunday night gigs started up in September, with headliners in this autumn season including Al Murray, Stephen Merchant, Dara O' Briain and Jason Manford.
In December I was part of Robin Ince's "Nine Lessons and Carols for Godless People" season at the Bloomsbury and Hammersmith Apollo, reading out my childhood stories of the Men of Phise. Other enjoyable gigs throughout the year included appearances at the Colston Hall in Bristol and a mini tour of Switzerland. And I appeared on podcasts including Martha Meets for Xfm, Robert Llewellyn's Carpool and another Festive 12 podcast with Phil and Phill. But fittingly my last work of the year was to record podcast 96 with Andrew Collings.