Damn me for these feelings of inadequacy. If you caught the show last night, you might have wondered what was wrong with the man in the cream coloured slacks and the generously unbuttoned shirt. Well, I'd had enough of this crazy monstrosity of a life I've been living for this last month. A straight G&T after yesterday's show set me straight; almost as much as all your generous comments left at this blog over the course of the past few days. Stiffened with so much resolve, it would be right to call me 'lumber' as I marched out of the studio and hailed a taxi to take me to BBC headquarters.
The intention was to set this Michael Jacob character straight on a few things and, especially, the terms and conditions to his 'College of Comedy' initiative. I wanted to know outright if a man with a blog of over 100,000 words could still consider himself a beginner in the world of writing comedy. And even if this blog doesn't count because, as I'm sure you'll agree, it's got less to do with comedy and more to do with spiritual enlightenment like some latter-day religious text, then surely my impression of Ali G must rate as one of British comedy's most celebrated moments of recent years. There is a reason that I co-host the highest-rated husband-and-wife talk show in Channel 4's 5pm slot and it has nothing to do with my immaculate profile and crease-free brow.
Looking back, I know I should have quit the taxi before the driver started to steer me the long way around Shepherd's Bush. Drink and I rarely mix. Add a Shepherd's Bush into the mix and there was bound to be trouble, if not the occasional sexual innuendo involving sheep and clippers. As it was, the fatal imbalance of gin over tonic meant that I was walking straight into an ambush. It had slipped my mind that after my previous spat with the BBC, Corporation executives had insisted that my picture be posted in the little booths that stand guard outside the car park.
And so it was that no sooner had I stepped from the taxi and begun to explain to the guard about the unfair rules of the 'College of Comedy', he had stunned me with his BBC issue Taser and I was on the ground doing the Dance of the 10,000 Volts. He spent the next five minutes trying to extract Channel 4 secrets from me. Naturally, I told him everything he wanted to know but I never really had much choice.
I hope you're never hit by a stun gun. No, I really mean that. I wouldn't want to see it. Even if it was on YouTube and no matter how funny your spasms. The two needles hit me blow the waistline so the pain was more intense once the current started to flow. I doubt if I'll ever get my hair to lie flat down there again.
However, to cut a long story short (much as I've been forced to do with my hair), it was only when a large black Bentley drew up at the gate that the guard stopped torturing me.
The car's window wound down to the whirr of electronic trickery and a face emerged that it was hard not to recognise.
'Is that you Dick?' said Jeremy Clarkson, a glass of champagne in one hand and a copy of Exchange and Mart in the other.
I looked up at him from the gutter. In lieu of the 10,000 volts, the guard had placed his foot on my throat.
'You know this gentleman, sir?' asked the guard.
'Of course,' replied Jeremy. 'This is the man who taught me everything I know about Tunisia. The question is what he's doing beneath your foot.'
'I'm trying to get into the BBC,' I gasped.
'And I've been trying to get out for years,' said Jeremy in turn, 'but they never let me go. They made me sign my contract with blood. Oh, they promised me that I'd have seven years of good luck and become the richest man in the country, but I ask you, Dick, at what cost? What has it done to my soul?'
'What indeed?' I asked and gestured towards the length of shin that was still directing a black shoe toward my windpipe.
'Ah, let him up, will you?' asked Clarkson to the guard, who doffed his cap before he took his foot from my throat.
'Thanks,' I grumbled as I stood up and dusted myself down.
'So, are you coming in?' asked Jeremy.
I looked towards Television Centre. My instinct was to run but I still had business with Aunty Beeb and a Clarkson already mildly greased with liquor and cheaply priced auto parts makes for the perfect companion when setting out to put the world to rights. Ten minutes later, we were walking through the bowels of Television Centre, searching for the famous 'BBC Comedy Unit'.
'I'm not so sure it has a comedy department,' said Jeremy after we'd emerged from the dozenth dusty room full of props. Jeremy had commandeered an Admiral's hat from an old prop basket and, to his great delight, it fitted him perfectly.
'Of course the BBC have a comedy department,' I replied. 'There must be a room in here where we can find the likes of Armando Iannucci, Dick Clement and Ian la Frenais, not to mention David Nobbs and those comedy Gods known in their human form as Galton and Simpson.'
Jeremy opened another door and peered into the darkness.
'At this rate, we're only likely to find by Jimmy Perry and David Croft,' he said and then brightened at a devilish thought. 'Perhaps we might stumble across the people who write Armstrong and Miller.'
'I sincerely hope not,' I replied as I checked behind a large cut-out of Ricky Tomlinson's nose. 'I've had enough trouble with one chimpanzee in my life. I'd hate to get between an infinite number of them fighting over a single typewriter with a dodgy ribbon.'
Another door and another grimace appeared on Clarkson's face.
'Oh, just the production unit for Little Miss Jocelyn,' he said as he quickly shut the door on the sound of a looped laughter track.
I too fed my face the look of a man not happy with his place in the world. 'In that case, we're clearly heading in the wrong direction,' I said. 'Comedy must be in the other direction.'
After another half hour's search, we finally tracked down the BBC Comedy Unit. The portacabin was stuck behind the Terry Wogan Hydrotherapy Annex, right at the back of the BBC lot where they one day plan to built the Bruce Forsyth mausoleum. The place was in darkness when we found it and though I had lost all hope of speaking to somebody in authority, Jeremy insisted on banging on the door.
A moment later, a light came on.
'See,' said Jeremy. 'BBC comedy talent never rests!'
Mine was not a prophesy worthy of Nostradamus when I told him that I thought that he'd spoken too soon. The door opened and a small bald fat man appeared on the step. He was wearing small horns on his head but otherwise looked like we'd just woken him. Perhaps it was the horns that distracted me from immediately recognising Matt Lucas. We'd once done some charity work together but I wondered if he remembered me.
'You can't come in,' he said, giving Jeremy one of his dark looks. 'This is our hut. You can bugger back off to Top Gear.'
'Typical,' muttered Jeremy. 'Another one that's bought into the seven year contract.'
'I'm here to talk to somebody about comedy,' I replied, hoping that he would have forgotten about all the bad blood that once flowed between us. 'Is there somebody in charge?'
'Well there's only me and you're not coming in. Who do you think you are? The Dark Lord himself?'
A shiver ran up my spine but Jeremy patted my shoulder. 'Don't worry, he means Ricky Gervais,' he said.
'I should hope not I'm not Ricky Gervais,' I replied with a smile. 'I'm Dick Madeley.'
'Madeley?' Lucas peered at me and then recognition flared. 'Oh, it's you! You once said that I wasn't funny.'
'And I stand by that,' I answered firmly. 'I said that your brand of infantile comedy was as poorly written as it is performed and that it would never find an audience. I also said that you'd be condemned to satellite TV for the rest of your miserable career.'
He smiled and tapped the sign on the portacabin door.
'BBC Comedy Unit,' he said before he quietly closed it on me and my hopes for comedic stardom.