After 50 years writing comedy for most of the UK’s highest profile comics and performers, Colin takes a behind the scenes look at his career, inspirations and the road to Steampunkery in a weekly series of podcasts.
Vision Mixer Carol Abbot's TV life - Part 2
Michael Palin, Roy Castle and Sir Ralph Richardson. As promised, here’s Part 2 of top British TV Vision Mixer Carol Abbott’s Behind the Scenes Podcast in which she chats about bringing up family while holding down a high-pressure, full-time, irregular-hours job at the sharp end of TV. Carol shares her memories of rushing to the Old Vic to work with Sir Ralph Richardson while she was still dressed as a bridesmaid, her involvement in the 1974 multi award-winning Horizon drama-documentary ‘Joey’ and how, while filming ‘Ripping Yarns’, almost sharing a bathroom with Michael Palin. She also fondly recalls ‘Record Breakers’ with Roy Castle and Cheryl Baker along with last-minute calls to Vision Mix ‘The Pride of Britain Awards’ and the opening of the 2012 London Paralympic Games. Add to that Carol’s memories of working at BBC Television Centre during its Golden Age and with the legendary Producer-Director Yvonne Littlewood, this catch-up is a listening must.
From The Young Ones & Red Dwarf to Come Dancing and Top of the Pops. Taking us Behind the Scenes this time: one of the most admired, versatile and experienced British television Production Assistants/Script Supervisors to have ever graced a studio control room or gallery - Anna Staniland. Anna shares her memories of an astonishing 40-year career at the BBC and in the freelance world, including live broadcasts, music specials and entertainment series. She’s worked with legendary producers Paul Jackson, Ed Bye and Geoff Posner, and her broad range of experience includes everything from Come Dancing to President Reagan’s state visit. With recollections of Denis Norden, Sir Terry Wogan - and what it’s like to train at the BBC and work within those hallowed portals of Television Centre - Anna’s stories of this historic Golden Era make for a listen-must.
Top TV vision mixer Carol Abbott
Only Fools & Horses, Noel’s House Party, Top Gear, Q.I. and much more. This time we’re going Behind the Scenes with one of the most experienced and accomplished Vision Mixers working in television – Carol Abbott. Carol’s name has rolled up on our screens at the end of most of the major TV light entertainment shows of the past 40 years. Quizzes, chat shows, situation comedies, music, variety galas, not forgetting live Royal and national occasions, there’s nothing to which this supremely talented professional cannot turn her hand – or fingers. The funeral of Princess Diana, Tops of the Pops, The League of Gentlemen are just a part of Carol’s amazing career.
The magnificently versatile Claire Winyard
From directing Going Live and The Big Breakfast to Death in Paradise and Vera - in this episode of Behind the Scenes we meet one of the busiest Directors working in British television - Claire Winyard. Just off the back of wrapping her latest episode of the hit detective series ‘Vera’, Claire talks about what it’s like at the helm of one of ITV’s most popular shows, beginning her career at the BBC, directing all manner of multi-camera studio entertainment such as ‘Top of the Pops’, ‘The National Lottery Live’, and ‘Today with Des and Mel’ alongside myriad location dramas including ‘Eastenders’, ‘London’s Burning’, ‘Casualty’, ‘Our Girl’, ‘Call the Midwife’ and ‘Death in Paradise’. Didn’t I say she was versatile!? Claire’s career story is an incredible listening must.
TV king of Saturday nights Paul Daniels, Strictly Come Dancing royalty & the queen’s jubilee – the magical world of Debbie McGee. This time on Behind the Scenes, TV presenter, performer and personality, also the Honorary Vice Present of the Magic Circle, Debbie McGee, reflects on an action-packed show business career, including her life and times with the country’s most famous stage and television magician Paul Daniels, along with what it takes to reach the Grand Final of Strictly Come Dancing and to be selected as an official National Treasure for the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee parade.
The Thoughts of Broadcaster John Foster
Showbiz, comedy, life after the BBC. In this episode of Behind the Scenes we’re chatting once again with John Foster - radio broadcaster, disc jockey and voice artist who is one of the most experienced in the industry. In a non-stop 30-year career in local and national radio, including BBC Radio 5 Live, he’s interviewed almost every major international actor and entertainer from either side of the Atlantic - a joy for someone with such a passion for comedy coupled with an unrivalled knowledge of showbiz history.
Andy Walmsley's Career at the Top
American Idol, Who Wants to be a Millionaire? – Mega TV designer Andrew Walmsley. This time on Behind the Scenes we’re back to United States to chat with Andy Walmsley, the busiest and most successful designer in the history of theatre and television. He’s designed more Las Vegas spectaculars than anyone else and was the youngest scenic designer ever to work in the West End, on Broadway and in television. His name, along with his company A1 Sets, has been seen on TV credits the world-over winning design awards for comedy, variety, music and chat shows, not forgetting the biggest blockbusters on television, “Who Wants To be A Millionaire”, “American Idol” and “America’s Got Talent”. Not bad for a lad from Blackpool.
Multi BAFTA Winning Kay Benbow
The challenges and triumphs of a BBC TV channel controller. This time on Behind the Scenes we are in the company of a former BBC Television Channel Controller. Between 2010 and 2017 Kay Benbow was the top flight commissioning exec at the heart and helm of the pre-school children’s network CBeebies. In those seven years she navigated the channel through dramatic shake-ups within the BBC, changes in viewer habits and into the new highly competitive, digital age, resulting CBeebies winning 5 BAFTA Awards for Channel of the Year. Kay chats about setting up the CBeebies Arts portfolio which introduced the under 6 age group to the joys of ballet, classical music and Shakespeare, along with recommissioning The Clangers; of hiring Michael Palin and Tom Hardy, her friendship with the great Bernard Cribbins and how she coped with the pressure of programme making decisions which could influence the lives of an entire generation. Oh, and let’s not forget her passion for football, and in particular - Arsenal.
International TV Mega Producer Jeff Thacker
Feature length L.A. special. In this gala edition of Behind the Scenes we chat with one of the most successful ever television entertainment Producers, on both sides of the Atlantic. In the U.K., as ITV’s Head of Music Programming, he oversaw international television spectaculars starring most of the biggest global star names including Sir Elton John, Luciano Pavarotti and Cher, while Executive Producing highly rated music special editions of An Audience With… as well as many a Royal Variety Performance. Since moving to the U.S. 20 years ago, he’s become one of the busiest Executive Producers on network television’s blockbuster shows such as “So You Think You Can Dance”, “American Idol” and, most recently, the breakout hit “Come Dance With Me”. Sharing fond memories of his early days as a dancer-turned-choreographer working on Bruce Forsyth’s Generation Game, Wogan, Noel’s House Party, and the opportunity he was given by great Dougie Squires, Jeff’s incredible career story, in his own words, is a listening must!
Back by Popular Demand - TV Legend Keith Lascelles
Keith Lascelles returns to captivate us with further fascinating Behind the Scenes revelations, stories and recollections from his 40-year career as one of the most experienced and best-loved Floor Managers and Production Managers in British Television. Royal Variety Performances, Diana Ross, Liberace and more memories of Keith’s life and times in the personal company of TV icon and pioneer Noele Gordon.
A special tribute. In this 2-hour Special Edition, former ITV Controller of Entertainment Mark Wells, along with actress, comedy writer and performer Jayne Tunnicliffe share their personal Behind the Scenes memories of one of Britain’s greatest entertainers and biggest personalities – a true Man of the People and comic genius - Paul O’Grady. Mark, the Executive Producer who oversaw Paul’s golden entertainment years at ITV and Jayne, a close friend from those early days of Lily Savage who worked extensively with the great man, recall their remarkable times on stage and screen with the nation’s best-loved and now, sadly, much missed headliners.
The Incredible Career of Exec Producer Peter Gwyn
From TV glamour & glitz to Britain’s brainiest quiz. This time on Behind the Scenes our guest is one of British television’s most experienced Executive Producers who, for the last 3 decades, has overseen the nation’s best-loved and longest-running intellectual quiz programme University Challenge along with, more recently, Channel 4’s perennially popular word challenge hit, Countdown. Peter began his career on glitzy light entertainment at the BBC and Granada starring Cilla Black, Lily Savage and Bob Monkhouse. Along the way he was also involved in putting together Coronation Street Anniversary Specials and that spectacular singing talent series Stars In Their Eyes. Peter’s fascinating, laid back and dryly hilarious memories are a listening must.
Paul Wheeler - A Career Filled With Laughter and Music
For decades, stand-up comedy director Paul Wheeler’s been at the helm of the U.K.’s sharpest, long-running comedy shows “Live at the Apollo” and “Have I Got News For You?”. And if you look at the credits at the end of giant specials with Lee Mack, Dara O’Briain, Jason Manford, John Bishop, Frank Skinner and Russell Brand – you’ll see this gentleman has worked with every major comic of the past 30 years. Prepare to be surprised and uplifted when you listen to the versatile, spiritual Paul Wheeler.
The TV Life of Keith Lascelles
Sir Elton John, Rudolph Nureyev, Shirley MacLaine & his own on-screen portrayal in ITVX's drama "Nolly" . This time we go Behind the Scenes with a television Floor Manager turned Production Manager Keith Lascelles, who shares his recollections of a 40-year non-stop career at ATV, BBC and LWT working on innumerable Royal Variety Performances along with An Audience With…, Tiswas, Bullseye, Spitting Image and The Golden Shot. He also tells how his close friendship with soap superstar and national favourite Noele Gordon was so much more than we see in the new 3-part series ITVX drama “Nolly”.
British entertainment superstar Des O'Connor CBE
Fond memories shared by his great friend and personal assistant Nick Fox. In mid-November of 2020 we lost one of the best-loved, most versatile and talented entertainers the U.K. has ever produced – Des O’Connor. Des was one of the biggest names in British show business. With his variety and quiz series and ratings-topping chat shows, he was a permanent face on British television screens for more than 50 years. As a solo artiste, Des gave more than a thousand performances at The London Palladium. As a singer, he released 36 albums and scored 2 number-one hits. His final long-running hit entertainment series “Today with Des & Mel” redefined lunchtime TV. He even hosted the great British television quiz show “Countdown”. During that time, the one man who knew Des best was his great friend and personal assistant Nick Fox. Now, for the first time and to mark the second anniversary of Des’s passing, in this specially extended Celebration Edition of Behind the Scenes, Nick shares with us his happy memories of travelling the world and working closely in theatres and TV studios with a true all-round master of entertainment and one of the greatest names in British show business – Des O’Connor CBE!
The remarkable career of singer Gilly Hamilton
Memories of Max Bygraves, Larry Grayson and Bernard Manning. This time we go Behind the Scenes with the fearless, highly talented singer Gilly Hamilton, whose career spanned 3 decades and encompassed the halcyon days of show business and variety. As a key member of the pop-music close-harmony trio The Kaye Sisters she appeared alongside most of the major entertainment stars of the 1970s through to the 1990s. Supporting Max Bygraves, the Kayes appeared in the 1978 Royal Variety, shared a long-running residency in London’s West End and performed regularly on many of Max’s top-rated television series. With recollections of ATV’s live ‘Saturday Variety’ with Larry Grayson, not forgetting Bernard Manning on Granada’s ‘The Wheeltappers and Shunters Social Club’, plus the travails of working cabaret all across Britain and the Middle East, Gilly’s career is a remarkable eye-witness account of what it was really like to be treading the boards during the Golden Age of entertainment.
The unstoppable career of international sports executive Charles Balchin
BBC, IMG, and everything from football to formula 1. Taking us Behind the Scenes this time is one of the most experienced, versatile and senior international sports executives in television. For the past 13 years he has held various senior roles at IMG Productions, the globe’s leading sports and events company, and he now is their advisor on special projects. Beginning his career at the BBC, he rose to the role of Senior Producer on Grandstand, Sportsnight and Match of the Day, while also covering every major sporting occasion including Grand Nationals, football, athletics and rugby World Cups, along with Commonwealth and Olympic Games. Even if you have but a passing interest in sport you’ll still find this gentleman’s remarkable career story is as fascinating as it is phenomenal.
The amazing TV career of Script Supervisor Annie McDougall
Almost everything from Strictly Come Dancing to the Duke of Edinburgh’s funeral. This time on Behind the Scenes we meet one of the most experienced and versatile Script Supervisors in British television, the legendary Annie McDougall. In a non-stop career at the top that has spanned more than 40 years, she has worked on quiz, entertainment, variety, game and air shows, not to mention TVam. But I just have. Nowadays, Annie’s the go-to Script Supervisor for any major live show, Royal event or State occasion. She’s just finished working on the Commonwealth Games and right now she’s gearing up for her 12 series of the biggest, most glamorous show on British television - Strictly Come Dancing.
The 40-year career of TV Vision Mixer Kathryn Randall
From Live Aid to Noel’s House Party & The Generation Game to Mock the Week. Our guest this time is Kathryn Randall (latterly Edmonds) who, for the past 40 years, was one of television’s busiest Vision Mixers, specialising in the U.K.’s most popular music and light entertainment shows. At the BBC she was trained to cover all manner of genres: sport, news programmes, drama, sitcoms and children’s output along with national occasions and world-wide events including the funeral of Princess Diana. For the past 10 years she has also been training the next generation of Vision Mixers at the internationally renowned NFTS The National Film and Television School. And that wasn’t enough, before moving to TV, she was also the youngest female producer in BBC Radio Entertainment, rubbing shoulders with Douglas Adams, Griff Rhys Jones, Jimmy Mulville and Alan Nixon.
Maestro Mike Dixon
Leslie Bricusse, Andrew Lloyd Webber, Brian May – just a few of the music legends associated with maestro Mike Dixon. Our Behind the Scenes guest this time is a composer, pianist and music director who has enjoyed a 40 year award winning career working with the most famous performers and conducting some of the biggest orchestras in the world. Mike Dixon has helped launch many of the great modern productions in the West End and on Broadway. He is the go-to-guy for Dame Shirley Bassey, Lionel Richie, Sir Tom Jones, in fact it’s probably quicker to list those who don't have him on speed dial. He’s also worked with a raft of high-profile comic names including Bradley Walsh, Dirk Maggs, Joe Pasquale, Ben Elton and Paul O’Grady. On TV he regularly appears in front of a global audience of billions and he’s just written his eagerly awaited autobiography, a fascinating look behind the scenes of the music industry, published on 28 June 2022, “Turn Around and Take a Bow!”.
The radio career of Garry Richardson
Presidents Bill Clinton and Nelson Mandela, along with every sports hero in the last 50 years. This time we go Behind the Scenes with one of the great voices of BBC radio - an award-winning sports journalist, who The Spectator magazine described as ‘one of the best broadcasters in the country - The Poet Laureate of Sport’. Garry’s remarkable career has spanned half a century, making him the longest serving member on Radio 4’s flagship “Today Programme”. In that time he’s reported on 5 Olympics, interviewed all the famous of international sport, including George Best, Denis Law, Tommy Docherty and Muhammad Ali. A great aficionado of comedy, Garry never misses the chance to slip in a quick quip or pass a welcome witty comment – little wonder he’s also a much in demand after dinner speaker who also produced and presented an acclaimed documentary celebrating Sir Ken Dodd.
The spectacular career of TV Executive Adeel Amini
From Jeremy Clarkson and Stephen Mulhern to Warwick Davis and Rupaul. This time we go Behind the Scenes with Adeel Amini who, back in 2015, was named as one of Broadcast magazine’s Under-30 Hotshots. Now, 7 years on, he’s a Senior Studio Entertainment Producer who’s overseen all manner of highly popular ratings winners including the revamped series of “Who Wants To Be A Millionaire”, “Catchphrase”, “Celebrity Squares”, “Blind Date” and more recently the hit quiz “Lingo”. He’s also worked on sharp, live comedy series including “The Last Leg” and “The Nightly Show”. Out of the studio he is the founder of the TV-industry working group ‘Coalition For Change’, he also sits on the board of BAFTA and 4 years ago set up what is now known as ‘The TV Mindset’, a mental health support group for freelancers in the television industry.
The star-studded, multi-skilled career of TV Producer Grant Philpott
From Chris Evans via Harry Hill and Sir Bruce Forsyth to Paul Sinha. Grant Philpott is a British television comedy and light entertainment producer whose very first job was writing Q-cards for Bob Monkhouse on “The Big Breakfast”. 25 years later his career came full circle when he was one of the Edit Producers on “Bob Monkhouse: The Million Joke Man”, the UKtv documentary series which celebrated Bob’s life and career. He’s interviewed Sir Bruce Forsyth and Terry Gilliam, worked on series such as “Tarrant on TV”, “TV Nightmares” and “Harry Hill’s TV Burp”, and produced shows starring Seann Walsh, David Walliams and Griff Rhys Jones. More recently he was the Series Producer on the Saturday ITV ratings winner “Paul Sinha’s TV Showdown”. And he’s also an international, highly regarded independent movie maker, film animator, designer and artist whose canvases have been showcased in London.
The TV life of top executive Simon Lupton
From comedy’s Paul Whitehouse, Kelsey Grammer & Red Dwarf to Queen’s Brian May. This time we chat with the magnificent Simon Lupton, one of the most experienced comedy producers currently working in television. In an award-winning 25-year career Simon’s headed up series starring Paul Whitehouse & Harry Enfield, Matt Horne and James Corden, along with British sitcoms ‘My Family’ and ‘Red Dwarf’. Plus he’s worked with Hollywood legends Rutger Hauer and Kelsey Grammer; commissioned the 3-part UKtv documentary series Bob Monkhouse: the Million Joke Man – and for any international television production concerning the rock group Queen, Simon Lupton is the band’s go-to guy.
The career of TV warm-up star & comedian Ray Turner
From Chris Tarrant via Ainsley Harriot and Noel Edmonds to Michael Parkinson. This time on Behind the Scenes we power on through a few technical difficulties to chat with Ray Turner, a comic who has been entertaining audiences for thirty-five years. He cut his comedy teeth working clubs and theatres before establishing himself as one of the principal and most versatile studio warm up artists working in light entertainment television; ranked alongside legends Bill Martin, Jeff Stephenson, Ted Robbins and the great Bobby Bragg. For years he was an integral member of the teams that made landmark series such as “Noel’s House Party”, “Today with Des and Mel” and the entire run of “Who Wants To be A Millionaire’.
Former BBC Radio 2 Travel Reporter Lynn Bowles on working with the Greats
Terry Wogan, Ken Bruce, Chris Evans and Dolly Parton. BBC Radio 2 listener favourite and former travel news reporter Lynn Bowles recalls her 18 laughter-filled years working on the radio ratings blockbuster Breakfast Show with the much-missed great man himself Sir Terry Wogan, then with that iconic whirlwind of the wireless Chris Evans. Not forgetting, how could we, her joyous banter with the reigning King of the Airwaves – the magnificent Mr Ken Bruce. Since leaving R2, Lynn continues to host her own Sunday 3pm-5pm music and chat show on BBC Radio Wales, regularly attracting star name guests and record audiences. Lynn tells how she broke into radio, shares her fond memories of Sir Tel’s kindness and serene eloquence both on and off air, and what it was like to be part of that legendary Wake Up To Wogan Breakfast Show team.
The incredible career of ad guru turned top British TV sitcom writer, Paul Mendelson
From Nicholas Roeg to Martin Clunes. How does a lawyer turned top advertising executive become one of the most successful television writers on TV, creating award nominated comedy series and dramas? This week’s Behind the Scenes guest has done just that. In addition to creating the long-running BBC tv series “May to December” and “My Hero”, plus the American animated comedy “Neighbours From Hell”, he also penned the critically acclaimed “Losing It”. Now he’s a best-selling comic novelist with Hollywood producers knocking at his door. Meet the unstoppable Paul Mendelson.