Monday, 22 September 2008

Standing At The UKTV Urinals

I was over at the UKTV studios where Judy and I had just finished giving the press conference for our new show, ‘Richard and Judy’s New Position’. Only my new position was with my knees to my chest and balancing on the edge of a porcelain toilet seat. I’d been taking a few moments from the launch party to compose my thoughts when I’d heard my name mentioned outside the stall.

‘The problem with Madeley is that he’s nothing without Judy.’

So said a voice at the urinal. It had the brazen confidence that some men find in a public bathrooms. Thankfully, I am not one of those men. That’s why I was squatting there, fearing that the slightest sound might alert them to my presence. Not that I was bothered by confrontation but this wasn’t the day for scenes played out in bathrooms. Not unless I wanted my name breathed in the same sentence as that of George Michael.

‘The problem with Richard,’ said the other voice, deeper and with a slight lisp, ‘is that he’s nothing without Bill Oddie. I’ve heard that Bill’s the real creative force in that relationship.’

‘Bill Oddie?’ cried the first.

‘Hey!’ said the second. ‘Watch where you’re pointing that thing!’

‘I’m sorry but you can’t say things like that and not expect a person to be surprised. Bill Oddie isn’t really the force behind Richard and Judy, is he?’

‘So I’ve heard,’ lisped the second. ‘You’ve seen the ad for their new show? I suppose you’ve noticed how all the men are wearing cravats? That was Bill Oddie’s suggestion.’

I almost snorted in disgust. How could bathroom gossips get things so wrong? The cravats had been Nige’s idea and I’d agreed to them in order to help Nige get his break in big time choreography. That he’d been harbouring a life-long wish to put the steps to Broadway shows had come as a shock to me but I’d been only too happy to give him the opportunity to try his hand with real dancers. Not that facts such as these were standing in the way of the two men at the urinals.

‘Bill Oddie holds such a powered over Richard that it’s quite worrying,’ said the second, sounding more ‘in the know’ with every passing trickle of his diminishing stream.

‘But what about Judy?’ asked the first. ‘Surely she can’t agree with all this?’

I didn’t get the answer. Taps ran and towels were pulled from their dispensers. The bathroom door opened and closed and I was left alone. I slipped down from the toilet and opened the cubicle door. Nobody. Just I, Madeley, left alone with a particularly handsome reflection in the mirror.

Outside, the party was still going strong. Judy was dancing in the middle of the room, giving it the full mustard with Nige who was wowing the crowd with a display of South American dance steps complete with realistic bird calls. I wandered around, trying to recognise the voices of the two men that had been gossiping in the bathroom. If they worked on the show, I’d have their badges for what they’d just said about me and Bill Oddie.

I was on my second circuit when Judy broke out of Nige’s conga line and caught up with me.

‘I’m so glad we’ve made the change,’ she said, breathless. ‘I think this is going to be so exciting. Isn’t it good to be working with new people in new surroundings?’

‘I don’t suppose you’ve met a man with a slight lisp,’ I asked.

‘A lisp?’

‘Just a slight lisp.’

‘I’ve not,’ replied Judy. ‘But why are you looking for a man with a lisp?’

‘Because I want him fired. I’ve just heard him saying some terrible things about Bill Oddie in the bathroom.’

‘What’s Bill Oddie doing in the bathroom?’ asked Judy.

I really didn’t have time to explain.

‘Richard, you’ve only been here ten minutes. You can’t really want somebody fired.’

‘We have to know that we can trust the people we’re working with,’ I answered. ‘We’re entering into a new contract and it’s important that people can trust us as much we can trust them. I’m not working with men who stand lisping lies about Bill Oddie at urinals.’

Judy placed her arm around my shoulder. ‘Richard,’ she said. ‘For once, let it go. This is a new beginning. Let’s start out with a clean sheet. You have to remember that we’re no longer on terrestrial TV. The name Bill Oddie doesn’t mean as much to these people. Some of them won’t even know who he is...’

It was then that the reality of the situation hit me. A sledgehammer on my brogues couldn’t have done more damage to my composure. The old girl was right. We are no longer stars of terrestrial TV. We’re in a different league. We’re playing by different rules. As I stood there, watching Nige whistle the mating call of the Venezuelan purple grebe with accompanying three twists and a heel kick, I understood that my outlook has to change.

It explains my silence of the last few days. You find me this morning a different man with a different mission. I’m going where no Oddie has gone before. This is missionary work, my friends, and it’s a brave new world that we’ll encounter from October the seventh.


Nige said...

Ah Dick Dick what a party it was - my vocal cords and most of my ligaments are still recovering... A new age dawns - for R & J, for choreography, and for the cravat. Cravat and tails - God it looked good... Shame about those Oddie lies - good for you rising above them. But who's that chap Conan claiming to be your body double? The nerve of the man!

Dick Madeley said...

Nige, I'm afraid it comes down to what's commercial. Judy listened to the ad men and they seemed to think that a handsome young thing would send out the right message. It's why they dropped your piece to camera. I'm not saying that you're not a handsome young thing yourself, but, let's be honest, the duck calls aren't for everybody.

Nige said...

Fair enough Dick - at least I got my way on the cravats (and thereby changed the world)...

Anonymous said...

'I’m going where no Oddie has gone before.'

Do we take this to mean that Madeley is going to drop those who helped contribute to the making of the man?

I note with some concern that your neighbours make few appearances in your reportage, of late. I urge you never to shake a fist at folks on the way 'up' to the heights you dream of. The way down is often an ignoble experience, Dick.

Per procurationem, Birdwatch.

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