Tag Archives: fame

Lessons from Ken Dodd

Image from RuddyMuddy on Twitter

Phil: I can’t claim to have been one of the late Sir Ken Dodd’s showbiz friends, but I did meet him a couple of times while working at a local theatre.

Once, while minding the stage door at some time past midnight, he came off stage and pointed at my shoes.

“Crikey”, he said, “Those are fine feet, are you a policeman?”

I replied that I wasn’t to which he added, “Well, you know what they say about blokes with big feet…” and then swept off to his dressing room with a chuckle.

The amazing thing about Ken (never Mr Dodd) was that he’d arrive at the venue looking every bit of his 80 years. A small, quiet old man.

Yet the moment he got on stage, he came alive. The Ken in my anecdote was buzzing, almost as though there was electricity flying off him. This was after a 6-hour show too.

So, lesson 1 – If you are doing something you really love, you’ll never feel better or more alive.

In all the tributes, it’s been said by many people who you never knew when a Ken Dodd show would finish. The rumour was that every night management would have to haul him off the stage so the staff could go home.

This is a good story, but not strictly accurate.  Yes, the performances would go on a long while. No other act gave a longer show, but the staff knew when he would finish. Usually 1am on the first night, 12:30 on the second. Hidden from the audience in the wings was a clock which Ken kept an eye on.

Lesson 2 – If you want to be good at something, you need a professional attitude.

Ken didn’t just hang around telling jokes until he got bored. He honed his act through the study of comedy. Learning to play an audience, he only kept the jokes that got a laugh. Yes, material stayed in the act for many, many years – but only if the audience enjoyed it. In many ways, this is just like editing a novel. You take out anything that doesn’t add to the reader’s enjoyment. After a while, you are left with pure gold.

Legend is an over-used term, but it’s appropriate here. There will never be another Doddy, but if you aspire to his status, you better put the work in like he did.

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Nearly ready for Books Showoff tonight!

talkcheckingPhil: Last Friday was the final meeting ahead of our appearance tonight at Books Showoff tonight.

Sitting down in an artisan bakery, Candice started to tell me about potty training, so I quickly changed the subject to the slides prepared for the evening entertainment. As anyone who has friends with small children knows, the obsess about the topic and there are some things that can put you right off your hot chocolate.

All words have been expunged from the slides. It was just left to sort out what we are going to say. The audience needs entertaining, not just a selection of pictures to look at.

Doing a two-hander talk is a bit of a challenge. We don’t want to talk over each other, but there must be banter. That’s easy when you are sitting opposite each other and stuffing some delicious sandwiches and cake in your gob. I’ll shut up when I’m eating for a start, but you can’t rely on that on stage.

So, we have a sort of script. Not a strict one as that would be rubbish, but an idea what we’ll be filling our alloted 9 minutes with.

Now, if you excuse me, I need to write a rant to accompany a certain photo. Come along to see if I manage it.

Books Showoff, London 28th Sept at 7pm

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Nerves of steel…?

CaptureCandice: So D day is nearly upon us. Phil and I will be hanging out with the Shakespearean lovies on Thursday and doing out bit to talk  about the trials and tribulations of writing a book at Stratford Literary Festival.

To be honest even the thought of it makes me fell slightly sick.

I don’t mind getting up in front of audience to talk.  Over the years I’ve done a lot of drama and presentations and once I get going I’m fine.  But is the build up I hate.  Thursday morning I will be a wreak and am trying to fill it with other things so I don’t think about it all.  By the time 2.55pm comes about I’ll probably be being sick in the loo.

Saturday night I was watching RSLive.  It was a brilliant show celebrating 400 years of the Bard with a raft of stars showing how many ways he has influenced people, from Duke Ellington to Cole Porter.  It was very clever in showing us the breadth of Shakespeare’s catalogue and its not all the boring text that you had to study at school.

However, the show went on for a few hours and as the actors came on to do their bit one of the things I thought of was, ‘they must get nervous waiting in the wings’. Lets face it, does Dame Judi Dench still get stage fright?

But I have learnt over time that sometimes adrenaline does you good.  I have literally been throwing up back stage before going on to do a play, and then once I am on stage I can remember every line because I need the adrenaline to help me.

Luckily, Thursday is more off the cuff but we have our cue cards ready and have planned a talk that we hope people will find interesting.  Roll on 3.30pm and I can relax with a cuppa.

And  if you are coming don’t hesitate to come and talk to us after, when I’ll  be feeling much more chipper!

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Are you being safe today?

Candice: No, this is not a reference to Fifty Shades of Grey (I am not going to see the film even though Phil seems to think I should) but an unashamed plug for a project that I worked on.

Last year I was working for the Farm Safety Foundation (aka Yellow Wellies) encouraging people to be safer when they farm.  Being a highly dangerous profession (just check out the HSE stats) I thought this was a worth while cause.

One of my projects was to find a way to connect with the younger audience – and between us on the team we came up with re-recording a song that struck a chord with the farming community, ‘I’ve got a brand new combine harvester’ by The Wurzels.

Well with some negotiating and an trip to their recording studio, we came up with a new version. In fact I had a lovely day hanging out with the lads making their part of the video (and being invited to get ‘scrumpied up’ with them!) I then left for pastures new and hoped my little project would come to fruition. And this week it did.

So you can see the new version ‘Farm Safety is the Key’ on You Tube. So if you know anyone who works in a dangerous job, farming or otherwise, send them this funny video and let them think a bit more next time they want to cut corners. And if you watch it to the end you might just see my name in the credits.

Enjoy!

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Cashing in on Christmas

Candice: I watched an interesting program last night on Christmas singles.  There is a big thing in the UK about getting a Christmas number one.  Some have been very successful with it over the years and managed to record a Christmas hit which is still being bought and played 30 years plus later.

A few years ago a had the pleasure of meeting Noddy Holder, the man behind “It’s Christmas” in of the most well-known and well sold Christmas records ever ‘Merry Christmas Everybody’.  Noddy had been presented with a star on the Walk of Stars in Birmingham, the West Midlands equivalent to Hollywood Boulevard (though with less hookers).  We coupled his celebration with one of the Christmas events happening in the city, and nearly caused a riot.  Noddy knew exactly what that record had done for him, he called it his ‘retirement fund’.  And he was happy to pose for photos and shout that famous line as many times as we wanted him to.

Watching this show it demonstrated how the Christmas single had actually been a very clever ploy for certain bands and record companies. This is before the days of X Factor where Simon Cowell just uses it to line his pockets.  Jona Lewie’s ‘Stop the Calvary’ wasn’t written to be a Christmas song but by including that one line about, “…wish I could be home for Christmas”. tipped it into that favoured slot.

The same can be said for films, ‘Elf’, ‘Home Alone’, even ‘Die Hard’ have a Christmas connection, meaning they get bought year on year.

Our book finishes at the Christmas party, with a spectacular entrance by the KOD team and spiked punch.  Should this ever make it into a film I can see the pounds rolling in as it gets shown on ITV7 (or some other obscure channel) every year for time immemorial. Not that this was planned at all…

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You don’t understand being famous

Glasses

Phil: This is the first blog post I’ve written whilst wearing a new pair of glasses. It’s very exciting.

We’ve discussed my deep joy at having to find a new pair of glasses on here before. It’s a reflection of the time we’ve been writing this blog that I’m changing them yet again. Another opportunity to pick a major facial feature. One that I only half got right as purely by chance my “everyday” pair turned out to be identical to the last design I’d picked a couple of years ago. Mind you, the ones in the photo are my “high days and holidays” pair so calm yourselves ladies…

Anyway, this time, there is an extra consideration. After my Aussie trip I’d wondered if some sunglasses might be a good idea. Then an advert planted the idea that some reactor lights lenses that automatically change would be a good idea. I love a bit of technology and don’t relish carrying glasses, a spare pare of glasses AND sunglasses around.

Fortunately, I discussed the idea with the optician and we hit a snag. You see, when I’m in the studio filming for a DVD, the bright lights in there will set off the lenses so I’ll be facing the camera looking a bit like Bono and no-one wants that.

How did being a celebrity become so difficult? Will there be other things like this to trip us up in our inexorable rise to A-list status?

You can laugh but just remember, when you watch Nativity on BBC2 Saturday December 20th at 4.45pm, La Nolan didn’t dominate the scene with Pam Ferris and the chocolate fountain without some serious hair dressing!

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The life of a celebrity

Candice : I’ve been hanging out with the rich and famous this week. I’ve met a few celebs over the years due my different jobs and you can draw a lot of similarities between them and their lifestyles. The people I have met have come from very different celebrity sets – from one hit wonders to long term famous.  Interestingly its often the one hit wonders (or reality celebs) who are the worst for thinking the world owes them a favour (Leona Lewis, any one?) Rather than the jobbing acts who have been around for years are much more aware of the fickle nature of celebrity and acknowledge what their place in the world means.  Noddy Holder was lovely, completely aware that he pulled a blinder when he wrote ‘Merry Xmas Everybody’ and quite happy to shout ‘Merry Christmas’ very loudly for all and sundry.

The chaps I was hanging around with this week have also been around since the ’70’s: The Wurzels.  For those of you who don’t know them, they specialise in a type of music called ‘Scrumpy and Western’.  They hail from the west country and have been around for years as a comedy act, parodying main stream tracks.  They were helping me out with promoting something for my current job and we did have a laugh as they tried to lip sync over and over again to the version of the track we had written.

It made me think about how Phil and I will be when we get our slot at the limelight.  For years I’ve been on the periphery with my dabbling in TV work (another interesting bunch, the more famous the actor, the nicer they are) but this is our chance to be front and centre.  I’ll have a rider of course – free Mulberry handbag at each venue, LK Bennett shoes etc.  And I’ll be wanting my hair and make up done.  I do love it when I get that done when I do a period drama.

Phil, well I think he’ll be taking lots of photos (I’ve seen his Flicker account since going to Oz) but I’m not sure if he’ll want to be in too many, being shy.  But he has got previous of interviews and TV so he’ll probably be more comfortable in front of the camera than me, as I am usually playing a character.  Rider, I’m not sure, muffins, tea and a railway magazine perhaps?

This time next year, perhaps we’ll be able to answer that question.  What would be on yours?

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