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One taste of the high life is enough
I must start by bidding farewell to actor Philip Madoc who died recently after a long and distinguished career.
Philip was always a great supporter of film and TV celebrations I staged and it was a pleasure to have known him over the past 28 years.
The last time we met was when he joined in the launch of the successful First Impressions project last May, which celebrates our local motion picture heritage.
It was also nice to hear from my old mate actor Andrew Lancel, who you may remember appeared in The Bill for several years and has just been murdered in Coronation Street as the soap’s latest villain to bite the dust.
Andrew hopes to have a break and perhaps do a few gigs as a singer, which he did at the beginning of his showbiz career and even won an edition of Celebrity Star In Their Eyes a few years back.
About seven years ago I went as his guest to a recording of Dancing On Ice at Elstree Studios and it is certainly a different experience than going as a member of the general public.
For a start there was a free bar and then you were escorted to reserved seats. During the long interval between the show and the results show we were able to escape to a drinks party held by Bradley Walsh, who thought he recognised me but I suspect he was mixing me up with someone doubling as a murderer on Crimewatch.
We then filed back in to see the finale followed by more drinks in the studio bar and a chat with Torvil and Dean and one of the contestants Chris Fountain who is also now in Corrie.
At the end of the evening a silver Mercedes awaited outside to whisk me home. I am afraid the whole experience spoilt me and I have only been to one other TV recording since.
A year later Andrew invited me to an awards ceremony at a plush London hotel which required hiring a minicab and putting on my dress suit, so I was a bit reluctant.
However, he insisted so I went and we sat a table with other actors from The Bill and veteran actor and singer Jess Conrad, who looked little different from when he was voted face of 1960.
Thankfully I was able to avoid the terrible bar prices at these places by concentrating on the large quantity of free wine on the table.
Then Andrew was called up on stage to present a special award for services to film history preservation. It was only when he was half way through his intro that through my mellow state I realised I was the recipient. I think it was presented to me by an ex Chelsea player and Bobby Davro and was a lovely surprise.
Andrew has been working on a TV series idea with a well known scriptwriter inspired by something I was involved in years ago but I cannot tell you more in case somebody pinches the idea. Showbiz is a ruthless profession.
I must say, unlike many youngsters today, I have never yearned for the life of a celebrity. My ideal job would have been a gossip columnist in the golden era of Hollywood whereby you enjoyed all the freebies without having to do much.
The perks of a celebrity lifestyle can be tempting. I once had the cheek to suggest I should be considered for a first class upgrade on a flight to Los Angeles even though I am a nobody. Surprisingly worked and, believe me, it is the only way to travel long haul. The trouble is, spoilt by that experience, I have never been back so it probably backfired on me.
My other problem is after hosting events for 32 years I now make a bad guest as I get bored sitting back and doing nothing.
You might be pleased to know that in a few weeks time, as a fundraiser for the Borehamwood Museum, my 50 years of star encounters and film set visiting will be recorded in a new, lavishly illustrated book.
I hope it will sell well into double figures and the profits are going to a worthy cause, so watch this space.
In this section
- Looking back to One Million Years BC
- The wages of sin? £6,000 a time for a Hammer Horror flick and £1,000 for commanding the Death Star
- From Borehamwood to Hollywood
- Before they were famous
- Staying one step ahead of the obituary writers
- Roast beef, the Clitheroe Kid, pea soupers - and only two television channels?
- Remembering Richard Griffiths, The Devil Rides Out and the days of 'straight to video' films
- No need for big budgets - all you need is a good story
- The day I proved James Bond wrong - you can beat big business
- Why a street in Elstree bears the name of a Hollywood great