A few years ago the BBC Radio legend Steve Wright started one of his shows a bit like this... “I was standing outside the studio the other day when this bloke came up to me in the street and said, bold as brass “I’d like to come on your show and talk about gardening with you.” He seemed like a nice bloke so I chatted to him for a while and he talked me into it. So here he is...”
The bloke he was talking about was me.
I was running a gardening business at the time and a few weeks earlier, completely out of the blue, I was contacted by BBC Radio 4 to talk about a gardening issue on their lunchtime programme.
Ever since I was a boy I’d been listening to Steve Wright in the afternoon. His shows were brilliant. Every show made me laugh. Never in my wildest dreams did I ever think I’d get to meet him, let alone be on his show. He was one of my heroes; and normal people don’t get to meet their heroes do they?
On the morning of the Radio 4 programme, I went up to broadcasting house near Oxford Circus and went into the studio. The programme went well and afterwards one of the production assistants showed me out. However, the building is a veritable labyrinth and the door I came out of, was not the one I came in through. The excitement of having just been live on national radio had given me a sudden rush of blood to the head and I was momentarily lost.
Across the road I could see the entrance to the other broadcasting house building so I went over to ask for directions. Outside the entrance were two men leaning against the building, smoking cigars. I didn’t recognise either of them. I asked one of them for the directions and as soon as he started speaking, I knew who it was. It was Steve Wright, large as life giving me directions to the tube station.
Although I had listened to him many times on air I had never actually seen what he looked like and after a while I decided I didn’t want to know. That was part of the magic. I had already built up my own image of what I thought he looked like. So the man in front of me was just another member of the public as far as I was concerned, until he started to speak.
Anyway, I don’t know what came over me but in a moment of bravery and opportunism, after he’d given me the directions I said to him “I’ve just been talking to your producer about coming on your show to talk about gardening”.
To say this was a fabrication of the truth is an understatement. I had been thinking about contacting his producer and had got as far as finding out her name. This however was just enough crucial information for me to sound confident.
“Yeah, Julia and the team are all really keen for me to come on but she says it’s up to you” I smiled enthusiastically. He looked at me, paused and said “Ok but I have to let you know, I hate gardening!” “Well if you hate gardening you must be doing it wrong” I chirped. Luckily he laughed. We chatted some more and fortunately we clicked.
“Ok I’ll have a chat with Julia, see what you want to talk about and I’ll get in touch. Have you done any radio before?” “Yeah loads". Again not quite accurate but I was on a roll and I'd got an ace up my sleeve. "I’ve just been on ‘You and Yours’ programme across the road” I said pointing to the Radio 4 studio. “Oh right, so I can have a little listen." He said. "Ok friend let’s see how we get on.” We shook hands and he went back inside the building to chat to Julia.
Two words; excitement and fear. I quickly phoned his producer Julia and told her ‘I’d just been chatting to Steve and he’s keen for me to come on the show, I hope you’ve received my emailed ideas about the feature and the gardening factoids?’ Unsurprisingly she hadn’t. “Ok don’t worry I’ll send them over to you again. Steve is keen and he’s on his way now to talk about it.”
Amazingly my ruse worked and two weeks later I was sitting in the studio recording a programme with Steve Wright, Tim Smith and The Old Lady. Sometimes dreams do come true. They must have liked me because they asked me to come back on two separate occasions.