Up to one of the best venues in the world, the Leeds City Varieties, which is not only a great room for comedy but has an efficient and likeable crew, all familiar faces from past trips, full of sardonic quips. Of course I love Yorkshire, because it’s where I first breathed air (and better air than you get elsewhere), but I love the people here too (the ones who aren’t sex pests, murderers and terrorists, but there’s always a few bad apples in every bunch). The stereotype of the bluff Yorkshireperson holds some truth, but it doesn’t quite get down to the essence. They say what they think here, with an admirable brevity, but there is a half-smile behind it all and a knowingness. It’s a great attribute to have. I am biased as Hell and as Hull. But Yorkshire rocks.
It turned out to be an extraordinary evening in many ways and during the first interview the audience did have a few occasions on which it could demonstrate its bluff wit, but I am not going to go into too much detail. For one reason or another (and for once not because of me) the interview was a bit of a car crash, and some broadcasters would be rubbing their hands with glee about what they’d got in the can. But at RHLSTP we do things differently and we’re not out to embarrass anyone but me or to add to anyone’s problems. If we don’t care for our guests then people will not want to be guests on the show. But it’s a good indication of why you should come and see the show live. I don’t think anyone who was there will forget this evening. I don’t think I could do it justice in print even if I wanted to.
We are losing another episode from this series too, in much more inexplicable circumstances as it was genuinely one of the best podcasts we’ve ever done. But we do give guests the right to edit out anything they wish (because there’s something about this format - and may genius as a low status interviewer- that makes people open up) and that includes the whole thing. We’ve lost one by mutual consent in the past (when Michael Eavis hadn’t really understood what a podcast was), and loads of smaller sections from other shows when libel was committed, or secrets told or booze led people to behave like fucking arseholes for protracted periods. We have a duty of care, I think, because (even though I keep forgetting it) this is a very demanding and nerve-wracking experience for many people. We’re making up 60+ minutes of material with people I’ve often not met for more than 5 minutes and no attempt to brief them or even have more than the loosest of plans of where it’s going to go.
I mean, Christ, we’ll save all this stuff up because some of it will be fantastic unbroadcast footage for the documentaries about the downfall of whichever famous person falls down (and in the case of the other lost podcast from this series, I am really hoping they will relent - it’s such a good one). But I am glad that I have a team whose first thought is with what’s right and fair and not what might get them a few clicks and likes.
I am getting very good at this job and I think I rode this tidal wave as well as could be expected. Though afterwards I likened it to having a heckler who was somehow on stage and in the show, but that I had to be slightly more polite to. It was a fascinating and only mildly frightening hour. But I couldn’t have loved the audience more. They were pretty much of one mind. It’s an amazing thing to witness that unspoken union.
And RHLSTP is always a show of two halves (though obviously we only have one guest a week - something that will be easier to carry off this time) and the chat with Mark Charnock and Dominic Brunt (Marlon and Paddy from Emmerdale Farm) was a joy from start to finish. Mark is my main celebrity fan, often coming to my stand up shows and also being sweetly supportive of my acting efforts and he spoke passionately and eloquently about the snobbishness towards soap actors. Both men were remarkably down to earth, but also explained why they had to be. I’ve seen fame do some very odd things to people - quite recently as it happens- but Dominic and Mark have a perceptive and contentment that again, exemplifies the best of this part of the country.
RHLSTP is a lot less lonely (if less predictable) than a stand up tour and after the show we returned to our hotel for a drink with Chris Evans (not that one), Neil the cameraman and James the producer, plus my niece and her housemates and had a drink (orange juice for me) within a couple of feet of where Jimmy Savile had lain in state after his demise.
Somehow that seemed appropriate. I hoped his ghost would not find me in the night. But if it did it might not be the worst thing that had happened to me today!