What’s Your Claim to Fame? Part 1

The celebrated British light-hearted entertainment magazine, Viz, used to have various sections in the letters page about celebrities.

  • Celebrity [expletive deleted] for anyone who had ever had a celebrity be rude to them
  • Stars in the Toilets (fairly self-explanatory)
  • Star Watch (readers write in about when they spotted a celebrity (or distance friend or relative of the celebrity) doing something mundane

So here are my contributions…

  1. In 1979 I stood five metres away from Margaret Thatcher.  I was nearly ten years old at the time.  She was reviewing Sovereign’s Parade at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst.  It was pouring with rain.  (Well, it was England.  What do you expect?)
  2. in 1983 Tommy Boyd (one-time TV-am WACADAY presenter) gave me his autograph when I was on a TV news quiz show.
  3. In 1987 Bob Holness (the one and only) leapt at my, invaded my body space, and shook my hand.  Mind you, I had just won the fifth Gold Run on TV quiz, Blockbusters.  Context is everything.
  4. A few hours before that, I bumped into Tim Healey (Dennis off Auf Wiedersehen Pet) and shook his hand.  We ended up having a good chat about Redcar, where I was living at the time.  Ironically enough, 25 years later, I moved to Düsseldorf, where the series was set.
  5. Also in Nottingham, in 1989 comedian and broadcaster Mike Harding came up to me at a bus stop at Nottingham train station and asked me for directions to the theatre.  Not being a local, I was unable to help him.  Why he, on his wages, could not take a taxi, was beyond me.
  6. Darlington train station: Christmas time 1989 – I saw Lord Leon Brittan at Darlington station having a coffee in the waiting room.  I did not speak to him.  I was still thinking of an essay I had to write on Russian literature, as you do.
  7. Back to  Nottingham, this time in 1991, I gave an interview to Central TV news about a murder case (or if you’re a Taggart fan, a “moddah” case). Then twelve years later I gave another interview to ITV about the same case on a series called Real Crime.  I did get a few “haven’t I seen you before?” looks off people after the 2003 appearance.
  8. In 1994 I crossed the road just metres away from Clive Anderson of Whose Line Is It Anyway in Central London.  He was carrying a Rymans carrier bag, but did not come out with any witty remarks.
  9. Also in 1994, I was working as an interpreter at a business conference.  I translated the welcome message from the compere, Stuart Hall, of It’s a Knockout, not the sociologist.  Is that more a claim to notoriety?  He had just stepped into the gents’ toilets of the Natural History Museum as I was walking out.
  10. In 1998 I was five seats behind William Hague, then  MP for Richmond, on the evening flight from Heathrow to Teesside Airport.  He had a very shiny head.  Almost blindingly so.  As he walked past me on arrival, I greeted him with a cheery, “Good evening, Mr Hague.  How are you?”  He replied with a cheery, “Good evening,” but did not advise how he was.
  11. Train stations.  I love ’em.  At Paddington station I spotted Lord Douglas Hurd, former Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth affairs.  He was reading The Times.  I told him I’d been a member of the Conservative Party since I was 14 (cough cough), and asked he would sign a book I had.  “With great pleasure,” he replied with a voice just like his Spitting Image puppet.  Duly he took my ballpoint pen and signed my copy of Tokens of Trust, by the then Archbishop of Canterbury.
  12. In recent years I have visited the graves of:
    1. Former Prime Minister, Lord Palmerston (Sutton Courtney, Oxfordshire)
    2. George Orwell (same churchyard)
    3. Richard Whiteley of Countdown (East Witton, North Yorkshire)
  13. Oxford train station was also a great meeting place.  There in 2010, I met Judith Hann of Tomorrow’s World.  I told her how very much I had enjoyed the show in my younger years and we duly shook hands.
  14. In summer 2015 I met Peter Hitchens, the great polemicist, and told him I agreed with an article he had recently written about Putin’s Russia.  In reality, I didn’t agree with him, but I was in no mood for a discussion.

Over to you.  The more the obscure celeb connection, the better!  Eg,

“David Beckham’s cousin used to babysit for my boss’s kids.” 

“I once served Terry Wogan fish and chips twice, when he called into my Dad’s chippy.”

You get the idea.

Have a celebrity-packed day, won’t you!


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