TV Cream

Pot pourri


There’s a fantastic bit in Andrew Collins’s new book – one of many – wherein he details the time he and Stuart Maconie unwittingly perpetrated the most heinous broadcasting crime imaginable: double-booking a studio with Simon Bates:

We pulled open the outer heavy door and shouldered open the heavy inner one. Somebody was in there.
“Oops. Sorry,” we said, not recognising him at first.
“Are you in here?” Batesy said, turning to greet us.
“Y-yes, we’re pre-recording some items for Mark Goodier’s programme.”
“Ah. I thought this studio had been booked out.”
“I don’t know. It must have been Fergus who booked it.”
“Don’t worry, loves. Crossed wires. I’ll sort it out.” Meaning I’ll soon have you out of here.
A double-booking with one of the immortals of Radio 1 – this was surely a clash we could not win. Batesy picked up the phone, tapped in an internal four-digit number with his sausage fingers and spoke, one assumes, to his producer or other minion.
“Listen love…” He didn’t even say who he was, confident that the baritone of his voice would be enough – it was. “I think the studio’s been double-booked. These guys are wanting to record something for Mark’s show. OK. Well, we’d better look for somewhere else.”
He put the phone down. There had been enough urgency in his voice to let the person on the other end know he was pissed off, and yet he used the patronising ‘we’ to soften the blow of what was an order: you’d better look for somewhere else.
“I’ll get out of your way,” he said.

Sausage fingers…”loves”…baritone…”I’ll sort it out”: it’s all there. You can’t help feeling that Radio 1 became less of an imperial, swaggering place the day Bates hung up his phone, sealed his dossier on fellow employees, and shut down his gossip network for ever.

Here’s something Chris Hughes found in the PA archives, dated 14th September, 1989:


Radio One disc jockey Simon Bates needed a medical check-up today when he returned to Britain at the end of his round-the-world charity race.

After suffering a severe stomach upset for the past eight weeks, he said he felt weakened and “slightly malariafied” after his travels, which raised £300,000 for Oxfam. Food poisoning, heat exhaustion and a septic foot added to his troubles during the 78-day journey. And on reaching Dover at dawn this morning he quipped: “One thing I have discovered on this trip is there are more cockroaches than people in the universe.”

After visiting 27 countries accompanied by BBC producer Jonathan Ruffle and keeping up live broadcasts to the UK using a portable satellite dish, Bates, 41, may now claim a broadcasting endurance record, a BBC spokesman said. “We crossed 54 borders on the way, which wasn’t easy with a satellite dish under your arm because people at the frontiers kept thinking we were spies,” the DJ joked today.

The voyage, which slashed 48 hours off Jules Verne’s 80-day benchmark, nearly ground to a halt when armed soldiers hunting for drug smugglers surrounded his train in Mexico last month. He made it back to Britain after a high-speed car and ferry chase across Europe this week, which included a 20-hour dash to the English Channel from Venice, Italy.

Asked about his illness, Bates said his most frequent question to people he met during his world travels was: “Hello, can I use your toilet?” “I feel knackered now,” he added. “I’ve just picked up a touch of something nasty. I am slightly malariafied.” Ruffle, who also caught the bug, admitted: “We are both feeling a lot weaker for this debilitating disease. We’ve got permanent trots.”

Port authority officials at Dover welcomed Bates with a bottle of champagne early this morning as a crowd of 100 well-wishers gathered at the dockside to cheer him home. During the trip Bates used a wide variety of transport, including camel and donkey, ships, trains, cable cars and rickshaws in Singapore. His journey also took him across the Caribbean and the Atlantic by boat, through central America by train and across the Pacific to Tokyo.

One of the most moving moments came in Bangalore, India, he said, when a blind farmer at an Oxfam camp taught him to plough a field, using his feet to feel the furrows in a straight line. At one point, Bates needed surgery for his own feet when his leg turned septic after an accident in a rice paddy field.

1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Matt

    May 9, 2007 at 7:13 am

    Er, you better run a line across this one, mate, cös I’m quite liderally göner bring down the BBC; I’m leaving.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

To Top