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A day spent interviewing footballers, then being interviewed by a transvestite comedian

Posted on 1 July 2009 | 2:07pm

Just missed the train from Preston by a few minutes, so time to knock out a quick blog. Not seen a paper or the news for two or three days, and worried the internet connection won’t last, so not risking dipping in and out of news sites to find out what if any ‘news’ I’ve been missing.

Have spent a couple of days filming for a BBC North West documentary on what Burnley’s promotion to the Premiership means to the town. Interviewed a couple of former players, Paul Fletcher and Martin Dobson, in the home dressing room today. Not sure what the multimillionaire superstars of the top clubs will make of the baths, which Fletch says have not changed much since his days.

Daz the kitman was getting all the new strips ready for Burnley’s pre-season tour of America. To save money, he has swapped the stencils for logo printing with Middlesbrough, who went down as we went up. He says his Man U equivalent has a staff of five. ‘There’s just me.’

In the film we are speaking to all sorts of people connected with the club, managers and players past and present, fans, businesses.

The buzz around the club and around the town is fantastic. I spent a bit of time in the local tattoo parlour, which is doing a roaring trade in club crests, with the lower leg the favoured body part. A local butcher, who taught me how to make sausages, is similarly benefiting from having named three of his sausages in honour of Burnley FC’s exploits.

Also spoke to our greatest ever player this morning, Jimmy McIlroy, now 78, who said he had never felt so excited about the arrival of a new season.

On the way back to London now to record a radio programme called Chain Reaction, in which somebody chooses somebody they want to interview, who then chooses someone they want to interview, and on and on it goes.

Tonight they are recording Frank Skinner, who has chosen to interview Eddie Izzard, who has chosen to interview me. At a later date, I will interview someone else, and the producers asked me to provide a list of comedians I like (you can see from the first two on the list that they like a strong comic element to the programme).

I think my Number 1 choice would be John Cleese, but he might be busy, or away, or both, so any other thoughts welcome.

  • Paul Wilson

    Jeremy Hardy ?

  • Craig, Oxfordshire

    How about Dave Cameron for the interview?

    He’s the biggest comedian I know…

  • Nick

    Lord Hutton ?

    Sir John Scarlett

    Andrew Gilligan

  • Jim Dodd

    Ian Hislop! How cool would it be to hear AC skewer him for 30 minutes?

  • Em

    So much cultural overlap between the UK and NA and yet there are two paragraphs in there that were Chinese. Daz the kitman???? I genuinely find such disparities interesting.

    I think you should interview Russell Brand. I predict you would both get on like a house on fire.

    I LOVE Catherine Tate and you could ask her about that bit with TB for Red Nose Day in which he stole the scene.

    Please don’t interview the guys from The Mighty Boosh. I hate that show and everybody around me likes it. I can’t get away from it.

  • Colin

    Peter Kay… you could talk about the north, and northern football teams. What about Simon Cowell? Does he count? He is not a comedian but he is funny and laughing all the way to the bank

  • Chrissie Marsh

    Please tell me you got a tattoo done. I want one and I am trying to persuade my mum it is not a terrible thing to do. If I can say Alastair Campbell’s got one, she might ease up a bit … she loved your novel and thinks you’re the bees knees. So can I say you did???

  • Stewart

    Robin Williams, the funniest man on the planet

  • Paul Taylor

    My school ‘claim to fame’ has always been sitting next to Gary Lineker, but as I mellow, you in full highland regalia playing the bagpipes in assembly whilst fronting Prog Rock band Magalith(?) now form part of my ‘claim to fame’ tale. I can see it and hear it like it was yesterday.

  • Colin Morley

    I’d love to hear you interviewing Ben Elton. Not because I admire Ben Elton – quite the reverse. A pseudo-socialist who really sold out to capitalism – it would be good to hear the two of you arguing over Blair etc! Jeremy Hardy would be good, too – for the opposite reason. A highly intelligent comedian who has not yet sold out and retains his socialist principles. But I love Eddie Izzard, too so hope you can tell us the broadcast times so I can tune in.

  • Paul Willis

    Homer Simpson?

  • Cal McLeod

    Billy Connolly? I’d like you to ask him about hiw muh of his wife’s sexual guidanc in the Grauniad has been applied to their on relationship.

  • Daniel Bentley

    Owen Coyle? Though I’m not sure of the mass appeal.

  • Zelo Street

    Andy Hamilton. Always worth watching when he does shows like HIGNFY. And Drop The Dead Donkey was great TV.

  • gary Enefer

    How about interviewing the very beautiful Ronni Ancona?

  • Katharine T.

    My vote is with Peter Kay.

    Em: I believe a “kitman” is the fellow who is in charge of the soccer uniforms. Correct me if I’m wrong anyone…

  • Jane A

    Like @Craig Oxfordshire, I endorse the view that you should aim for an interview with the comedian Cameron.

    Otherwise (because of course he would refuse, outclassed from the outset) : how about Paul Merton, Stephen Fry, Alan Davies? Can you interview a sports person? Leighton James, Nigel Clough, Lance Armstrong…(in order of importance, obviously).

  • Alan Quinn

    Martin Dobson eh Ally, when I was a boy playing for my school team in Manchester I was told that if ever Burnley FC came and asked you to sign for them as a schoolboy you did it. Not United or the bitters, not the scousers, Everton etc ..Burnley as they had the finest academy in England.
    Martin Dobson was one of their products so was Keith Newton, Andy Lochead, Willie Morgan, Ralph Coates, Leighton James and Dave Thomas. Now our clubs scout Africa and South America instead of Britain. For me that leaves no local connection for us true footie fans.

    As for comedians to interview, can I suggest who not to interview?
    Russell Brand, Graham Norton, Harry Hill, Reeves and Mortimer, Matt Lucas, Dave Walliams, all as funny as metal fatigue in an aircraft’s wing IMHO.

    To interview… how about Paul Whitehouse or any of the Fast Show team? Brilliant!!

  • Alina Palimaru

    So… any tattoo for you, sir? 🙂

  • Trevor Malcolm, Portsmouth Hampshire

    Choosing a guest to interview on radio programme, CHAIN REACTION

    Providing the programme producers with a list of those you’d like to interview, your first setback with the suggestions posted so far, is most such comedy celebrities lack sufficient discernible talent, to warrant someone of your status and interviewing skills, to make the exercise worth your while and effort

    However, there’s always Mr Ken Dodd of Knotty Ash, near Liverpool. He values his privacy when out of the limelight to the point where, even at 82 years, I’m convinced nobody knows what really makes him tick. Convinced, too, he’d turn the interview offer down

    Back to square one. Plus change tactics. Look, if the programme producers wish to obtain their money’s worth, it follows logically you’d need to choose a subject who’d stretch your own considerable interviewing skills to breaking point. Then, they’d have a radio broadcast worth us listening to

    So, for my choice, may I suggest you put forward the Paxman family of Henley-on-Thames, please? Daddy Paxo especially, but with appropriate soundbite comments from his tv producer partner and their three teenage children

    Comedians preferred, you reckon? Well, even the finest Morecambe and Wise skits can’t compete with the already classic YouTube footage, of a sneering Jeremy Paxman, asking a shifty-eyed, uncomfortable Michael Howard MP the selfsame question FOURTEEN TIMES during that BBC Newsnight interview. Compulsive viewing

    One covert purpose of your interviewing JP would be to shed light on his alleged lifelong depressions, and record his best coping strategies, so the rest of us can also beta-test them and maybe benefit

    I sense there’s alot behind those eyes, that would be fascinating to hear revealed, if you could manage it

    Not an easy selection, though. Earlier this year (Monday, 9 February), all we got, here follows, in Mr Paxman’s own words …

    ” … You can save yourself the trouble because I’m not going to talk about it (his alleged long history of depression). Because once you open that door, what happens is you then seem to be craving some sort of special ‘poor, poor me’ attention: I think I’m probably just over-sensitive about it … ”

    Is that all, then? Mmm, worth pointing out that you, sir, Mr Alastair Campbell, did ” … open that door” yourself. But it hasn’t implied any special pleading I’m aware of

    All it took was your colossal quantities of raw nerve and courageousness, yes? It has also proven, invaluably for many of us, the right decision for you to make

    Trevor Malcolm


  • It\’s Me!

    Tommy Tiernan or… Jason Byrne!

    Or…. Russell Brand (don’t think you like him though).

    Good Luck

  • steve

    Armando Ianucci? Peter Capaldi?

    Interview last night was riveting by the way.

  • Wyrdtimes

    Looks like they like to keep it left leaning too. Well it is the BBC.