You might know that I’ve never been the world’s biggest fan of Alan Carr since the moment I first heard him speak. He’d just shunted me from behind on Hamstead Heath and his voice reminded me of the howl of a Barbary monkey undergoing hormone replacement therapy. It's why I was so adamant in my refusal when Judy put his name forward as a guest on the new series of The Richard&Judy Show.
‘If he appears then you can find yourself another sofa partner,’ I said yesterday lunchtime as I poured hot water over a leak and onion cup-a-soup.
Judy was scrubbing down the sink at the time and the name had come to her after a rush of others that had included Liza Minnelli, Paul Ross, John Updike, Roger Moore, and David Bellamy.
‘You have to come up with more interesting names, Richard,’ she said, treating me as harshly as the mildew around the taps. ‘You can’t keep suggesting the same old guests.’
‘Same old guests?’ I replied. ‘What does that mean?’
‘Whenever we ask you for suggestions you only ever say Bill Oddie, Stephen Fry, and Jeremy Clarkson.’
‘But they’re my kind of people. Why should I go out of my way chumming up to the likes of Monty Don when we’ve got Bill Oddie? And what can David Bellamy tell us about a subject that Stephen hasn’t already researched?’
‘It’s not the point,’ said Judy. ‘People want a bit of variety in their lives. When we introduce guests, we don’t want to be seen introducing the same faces, week after week.’
I took Judy’s words on board and contemplated them over the course of yesterday when I withdrew slightly from the public eye. Judy probably has a point. I’m just too loyal to my friends and when Stephen breathes an utterance, I want to report it to you without delay. The fact that we’ve begun working writing next year’s ITV hit series, Bunion, gives me even more reason to talk about the Great Man. As, indeed, the coming Spring will see Bill Oddie come out of hibernation and I’ll have many more things to tell you about The Bearded One.
Yet, if Judy is right, I should also bring you news about other people.
Which brings me back to Alan Carr. Was I right to hold a grudge against the man just because he once shunted me from behind on Hamstead Heath?
‘Oooooooohhh, look what you’ve done!’ I remember him saying as he climbed out of his enormous jet black 4x4 with glittered trim.
Back then, I was driving my Jag and I was not best pleased to discover the bumper twisted to hell and back.
‘What I’ve done?’ I laughed, squaring up to the man who’s bigger than you’d expect. ‘You’re the one who wasn’t looking where he was going.’
‘Oh, I can’t be held responsible for that!’ he replied. ‘I can’t be held responsible for that! You just put on your brakes like you wanted me to come up your behind.’
‘If you weren’t tailgating me, it wouldn’t have happened.’
‘Tailgating?’ he hissed, if indeed you can hiss a word made up of ‘t’s and ‘g’s. ‘Is that meant to be some kind of homophobic joke?’
‘I beg your pardon?’ Now it was my turn to sound insulted. ‘Homophobic? Don’t you know that you’re speaking to one of the nation’s gay icons? I’ve been voted pin-up of the year by the Pink Paper for seven out of the last ten years.’
‘Don’t give me a laugh. It’s Judy we all love. Not you. I mean, who’d lust after you?’
And with that, he’d climbed back into his monster truck and drove off without even leaving me his insurance details. Since then, I’ve gone cold whenever his name is mentioned. Or, indeed, whenever I’ve heard a Barbary monkey scream.
These memories were rattling around in my mind last night, until finally, around eight o’clock, I decided that life would be better if I didn’t hold on to my grudges. I rang my agent who soon came back with the number to Alan’s mobile phone.
‘Hello Alan,’ I said, trying to sound upbeat. ‘It’s me. Richard Madeley.’
‘Oh, pin up of the year,’ he said, knowing, no doubt, that since our little argument, I’d lost my pin-up of the year status to the moustached Chuckle Brother. ‘What you ringing me at eight o’clock on a Friday for?’
‘I’m ringing to say I’m sorry about that incident last year and to invite you on the show.’
‘Sorry dear, I don’t do afternoons.’
‘I beg your pardon?’
‘If it’s alright with you,’ he said, ‘I prefer to keep my brand of slightly indecent humour for the evening audiences which will appreciate such things.’
‘This was meant to be an attempt at reconciliation,’ I said.
‘Reconciliation!’ he squealed. ‘l’m sure it is for you but those of use whose stars are rising do not need help from those whose stars are fading.’
‘Now you just listen,’ I began but at that moment Judy and Stephen walked in the room. ‘Listen,’ I hissed. ‘You’ll know what that’s like sooner than you think... I’ve got two words for you, mate. Julian Clary. Julian Clary!’
And with that, I hung up the phone.
‘Did I hear Julian Clary’s name being used as a not-too idle threat?’ asked Stephen, taking his seat next to Judy as they prepared to watch Gardener’s World.
‘Alan Carr doesn’t want to be on the show,’ I said to Judy.
‘Well at least you did the friendly thing and asked.’
‘I did that,’ I said, darkly. ‘I most certainly did that.’