Monday, 7 July 2008

Project: Richard Hammond


The huge disappointment I feel every Sunday evening cannot be easily put into words of less than nineteen syllables. When eight o’clock arrives, my intense hostility towards Richard Hammond becomes a quite evident fury towards anything or anyone that might get in my way.

‘Goddamnmotherfreakingcelebritymyarsefreakshowuntalentedhack’ is often heard over the ‘Jessica’ theme tune that should otherwise make me excited in many mysterious (and sometimes sexual) ways.

‘It’s only Richard watching "Top Gear"’ is what you’ll then usually hear Judy say to visitors unfortunate enough to have arrived at the house during the hour of the show.

It was during the show, a week last Sunday, that Sue Lawley became the latest innocent victim of my Hammond wrath. I had been walking to the kitchen to top up on nacho cheese for my dips when I lashed out at a plant pot which took an unexpected rebound off Sue’s chin. It was then that Judy took me to one side and told me that I needed to sort out my ‘issues’.

‘You can’t go kicking every plant pot you see,’ she said as Sue sat sobbing in the kitchen with a bag of frozen king prawns held to her rapidly Bruciefying chin. ‘Have a word with Jeremy and find out if he can do anything to help. Because, quite frankly, Richard, this can’t go on. And I wouldn’t blame Sue if she changes her mind about inviting you onto Desert Island Discs.’

Judy was right and Sue did have a change of heart. Spite was the only reason she had to ask Richard Hammond to choose his favourite songs instead of me. It’s not the insult to the Madeley name that bothers me as much as my concern for the wellbeing of the Radio 4 audience who aren’t ready for a whole show dedicated to the boys from Westlife. And that’s why I decided to say something when Clarkson made his regular trip over to the house last week to play our usual games with petrol and gas canisters.

‘Jeremy, I want a word in your ear,’ I said to him after I was done filling milk bottles with lighter fluid. ‘You’re recording the new series of Top Gear on Wednesday?’

‘We are indeed,’ he said as he lit a canister of Judy’s favourite underarm deodorant. I watched from the recliner as he hurled the deodorant into the shrubs. The dumb sound of the detonation was followed by the heavy scent of lilac. ‘I love the smell of lilac in the morning,’ said Jeremy, topless but wearing his favourite US Cavalry hat. ‘You know that smell? That light lilac smell... It smells like Judy.’

‘Indeed it does, Jeremy. Now tell me this: is there any chance that there might be room for one more on that Top Gear sofa? I hear that a few contracts are about to expire...’

He looked at me surprised. ‘You surely don’t mean you?’

‘Of course I mean me. I’ve always wanted to host a show with men of similar intellects.’ I shrugged. ‘But I can tell you think it’s a stupid idea. You wouldn’t want me on the show...’

‘No, no,’ replied Jeremy. ‘I think it’s a great idea. Only...’

‘Yes?’

‘Well, I know James would welcome you with open arms. In fact, I’d have to warn you about that before you came on. You shouldn’t wear any strong aftershaves otherwise he might get excited and try to get you involved in a run to Brighton. It’s just that Richard might be a problem.’

‘You mean the Hamster? Can’t you just put him in a wheel? I’m sure I have a cardboard box he’d fit into.’

‘I wish it were that simple,’ said the Great Clarkson. ‘You see, he seems to think that he’s now the star of the show.’

I laughed one of those scoff-shaped laughs, all scoff and very little chuckle. ‘That’s crazy,’ I said as I felt my ill feelings towards Hammond take hold of my mouth. ‘You’re the only star of “Top Gear”, Jeremy. James is the foil to your mannish silliness and Richard is only there for the ladies who like small unthreatening men with mild narcissism issues. I have to tell you, Jeremy, but Hammond is letting the side down. All that looking towards the camera isn’t the way we professionals do it. I’d call him "Richard Hammy", if I were you. He's more gonk than man and an insult to petrolheads. And I don’t know if you notice this but he’s started to wear a necklace. A necklace on “Top Gear”! I thought the hair gel was bad enough but now he’s got a child’s activity set hung around his neck.’

‘You don’t need to tell me,’ said Jeremy. ‘Isambard Kingdom Brunel never wore a necklace, not even a child’s activity set made of iron bolts. But what will little Richard do if another Richard came on and showed him up for what he is? You’d out-tan him, out-smart him, out-handsome him, and you can reach to the top of the cool wall.’

‘Which reminds me that I wanted a word about that cool wall,’ I said. ‘I think you should move BMWs back into the cool category. All the cocks who used to drive beemers are now driving Audis...’

He looked at me, shocked for a moment, and then nodded. ‘You know, I think you’re right.’

‘And that’s what I can bring to the show,’ I said. ‘I have so many ideas, Jeremy, I could help take Top Gear to the next level. Have you thought about doing a regular feature called “Reasonably Priced Stars in Expensive Cars”?’

‘We haven’t but how would it work?’

‘It’s quite simple,’ I said. ‘Instead of paying a fortune to get these Hollywood types to drive a crap car around the track, you pay cheap celebrities nothing to drive high performance racers.’

‘Can’t see how that’s interesting for the viewers,’ said Jeremy.

‘And there you go. You lack the Madeley imagination and that’s why the show is stagnating. Which would you rather watch? Bill Oddie drive a reasonably priced Suzuki Liana around a test track or one of the Nolan Sisters driving a dragster around Alpine roads littered with deep ravines? How about Charlotte Church in a Ferrari hitting a crash barrier at a hundred and forty?’

Jeremy was clearly overwhelmed by the possibilities. He dropped his Molotov cocktail to the ground unlit. ‘I’ll speak to the producers immediately and I’ll get back to you on this, Richard,’ he said.

That was over a week ago. Plant pots throughout the house were feeling uneasy last night as I watched Hammond move BMWs into the cool category. Jeremy still hasn’t got back to me about my proposed move from Channel 4 and into the ‘Top Gear’ offices but I don’t expect to be asked to appear until the next series. I’ve already suggested to Judy that she might be happier with a slightly smaller Richard joining her on the sofa on UKTV Living. She sounded quite excited by the prospect of my losing weight. I haven’t the heart to let her in on all my real plans.

10 comments:

Lola said...

He'll never replace the Depp in my heart, but I do have a soft spot for the Hamster. Although I agree with you about the necklace.

Princess said...

I agree with you completely on the richard hammond situation, but do you really enjoy cars that much to do Top Gear ? Maybe have your own show simply called Richard Madeley, I think that would be a better show.......

Dick Madeley said...

Lola, you still have Depp in your heart? I thought I'd replaced that weedy excuse for a pirate... And yes, that necklace is the worst thing about the new series.

Princess, I know pretty much everything there is to know about anything. Cars are a specialty of mine. I must say that I'm a bit disappointed that you can't see how good Top Gear would be with me in the team.

Princess said...

I think you would be well suited working on Top Gear, I think it would be a vast improvement compared to RH, I just never knew you were interested in cars so much...see you learn something new every day ! :)

mutleythedog said...

I watched Top Gear on your behalf and snarled at Hammond a lot - but you have to admit he is funnier and cooler than you....

Princess said...

I have to disagree Mutley, Hammonds jokes are dry....and as for being cool...I have no words.

Richard Havers said...

If you squint when you look at the picture of little Dickie H he looks a lot like Rod the Mod. Strange.

Dick Madeley said...

Richard,

You are right about Richard. He does look like Rod.

Richard.

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