I’ve been nominated for awards before. But it was different. In 2006 I was very much the surprise nominee for the If.comedy award for Best Show at the Edinburgh Fringe. But I knew I was never going to win. The bookies made me the outsider. On the morning of the award , Daily Mirror tipster Derek McGovern tipped his readers to bet on me. His reason – in the light of recent terror threats , giving the award to an Asian comic would send out the right message. Unsurprisingly the committee didn’t use that as a criterion , the brilliant Phil Nichol won , and I was able to enjoy the ceremony knowing full well that I had no chance.
In 2007 I was up against Josie Long in the “Best Breakthrough Act” at Chortle Awards. Again , no chance. In 2009 I was astonished to find myself up against Rhod Gilbert , Andrew Maxwell and Milton Jones for “Best Headliner” at the Chortle Awards. Not only did I know I had no chance , I did wonder if I’d be the first nominee to pick up precisely no votes. The nomination was announced less than a month after my “worst gig ever” that I described in my previous post. So when I heard about the nomination I smiled wryly and forgot about it.
But last night was different. When I heard that The Chase had been nominated in the “Best Daytime” category of the National TV Awards , for the first time in my life I thought – a win is not out of the question. We were up against the behemoth that is This Morning. A show that has made quite a habit of picking up National TV awards. A show that was bribing the public with free chocolate for votes. We were never going to be favourites. But up against Come Dine With Me – an enjoyable niche show , and Jeremy Kyle – a grotesque series of sub/dom games between an arrogant ringmaster and the working classes – I thought it not unreasonable to consider ourselves second favourite.
Yesterday afternoon didn’t start well. We were meant to get a boat at Westminster Pier at 5pm. The boat left without us at 445. We waited in the Marriott Hotel for cars to take us to the O2. The first pleasant surprise of many yesterday was finding Greg Davies sat in the bar writing a sitcom.Coincidentally as part of celebrated sketch grop We Are Klang , Greg was one of my rivals back in 2006. Greg’s recent rise to stardom has been a joy to behold and it was great to catch up.
We got to the O2 about 1815 I think. The red carpet. In all the time spent discussing with our driver what the directions to the red carpet might be , I had never stopped to think what the experience might be like. I honestly had no idea. Then the four Chasers bundled out of a people carrier and into the gaze of a screaming admiring public. I looked to the left. And I looked to the right. And it was quite clear that very few people had a clue who I was.
Luckily the penny started to drop when people recognized the giant one , the black one and the woman one. And people started asking me to sign things. It was all a bit of a blur. I can remember celebrated film star Keith Lemon flitting in and out of adoring fans. I can remember saying hello to fellow comics Lee Mack and Rob Beckett. I can remember a man who looked like Barry Mcguigan saying hello to me , and me not realising that Mrs Brown had just said hello. And then I realised I was in everybody’s way. Because I was blocking peoples view of Tulisa. Tulisa , pop star , diva , sex symbol , cousin of a prize bell end. I tried to get out of the way , but some people were still asking me for autographs. So I obliged. And then I met my nemesis. A paparazzo. An angry , hateful paparazzo. Who shouted at me “Can you get out of the fucking way !”
At the time I was still signing autographs. Obviously I had sympathy with his position. After all Tulisa is famously reclusive and never poses for photographs. If he missed this shot , he might never get a chance to photograph Tulisa again. But I had no truck with his rudeness. I thought of all the hours of work that I’d put in to get to this position. Hours spent learning US presidents , winners of Celebrity Masterchef , Nobel Literature laureates. Just to be shouted at by a dickhead. I smiled and carried on signing autographs in a position which utterly minimised his view of Tulisa. And it felt good.
Inside was a drinks reception. And almost immediately Joey Essex caught my eye. I am nothing if not shallow at times and I decided to get a photo with him. What there is no defence for was my opening gambit….. “My sister is a big fan of yours”. Kill me.
Once in the main auditorium , it became apparent that I had never been anywhere as star studded as this.We were sat near the front. Around us were proper celebrities. Hoy . Havers . Bonneville. McFly.
I’m glad This Morning’s victory was announced early on. It meant we could just relax and enjoy some booze. Except there was no booze till ten o clock. Apart from a public bar miles away. Me and Shaun decide to trek up to the public bar. Our reward was to meet a sporting legend whose achievements outweigh even Joey Essex. I give you David Weir…..
At about 2205 the show ended , and every single nominee got up to make their way to the VIP post gig bar. And inevitably what I suspected might happen did happen. Luke Campbell started heading to the same part of the queue as myself.
Regular readers of this blog will know that ever since July I have been rather smitten by the brilliant Olympic gold medal winning boxer. Not just his skills and his looks , but also his refreshingly positive attitude towards embracing his gay audience , such a nice change from certain other sports.Everyone remembers “Super Saturday” and rightly so. But I am also a fan of the sequel “Superb Saturday” which started with me at Eton Dorney cheering for Ed McKeever and finished with me drunk and weeping over the twin successes of Mo Farah and Luke Campbell. So last Sunday during Dancing on Ice ,when professional gay Jason Gardiner started delivering one of his withering assassinations on Luke I felt compelled to tweet “Leave Luke alone you vile man”.
What I wasn’t expecting was Christine Bleakley to read out the tweet live on air in front of a slightly confused looking Campbell and Gardiner. I was genuinely mortified.
Seeing him in the queue for the VIP room I thought – I am never going to get another chance to say hello to my hero. Then suddenly he left the queue to go to the disabled toilets. My chance had gone. Then I looked again. He had gone to the disabled toilets to help out a man in a wheelchair who was having trouble with the door. Having done his best impression of Clark Kent he returned to the queue. I asked the woman in front of me “Are you any good with an iphone camera ?” She said yes. So i gave her my camera , walked up to Luke and said “Hello Luke. I am a massive fan , would you mind if I had a photo with you”. And he smiled politely and agreed. And that was that. Or so I thought.
Once in the VIP room I looked at the photo. It looked ok. But it wasnt a photo. It was a one second video clip. Curses. So near and yet so far. In the VIP room were a glittering assortment of stars. But I only had eyes for one of them. “Hi Luke. I hope you dont mind. I didnt get a photo last time , it was a video clip. Would it be possible to get a photo ?”
” You’re the guy that stuck up for me on twitter on Sunday night ?”
Me trying desperately not to look embarrassed “Yep”
“Cheers. I appreciated that”
And then , for the second time in my life I got to chat at length to one of my sporting heroes. ( If you are wondering what happened on the first occasion , tune into episode 4 of the Alternative Comedy Experience , at 11pm 26th February Comedy Central ). He was charming , frank and I think only too happy to talk about boxing. I was just the correct side of drunk. Thankfully.
It was an entertaining evening on a number of levels. I learnt on the red carpet that I don’t think I will ever be comfortable with the idea of calling myself a celebrity – it really isn’t me. I learnt that in a certain light Joey Essex looks more Indian than me. I learnt that people will vote for any old drivel if you offer them free chocolate
And I learnt that sometimes meeting your heroes can be a positive thing.