Thursday, April 08, 2010

Rude Kids: The Unfeasible Story of Viz by Chris Donald (HarperCollins 2004)

John was always keen to make a Viz TV programme. It wasn't an idea that had occurred to me, but John envisaged films and TV shows, and all the money and showbiz kudos that came with them. He was constantly on the phone reminding me to write a Viz TV show, as if it was something we could do in our lunch break.

In 1987 I met someone else who also had visions of Viz on TV. I'd never heard the name Harry Enfield until September of that year when the man himself rang me up and explained that he was a comedian and a big fan of Viz. He wondered if he could come up to Newcastle and meet me. He brought with him a producer friend called Andrew Fell and we went to Willow Teas for lunch. Harry was a big sniggerer - he laughed and chuckled a lot - but he was also smarmy. he'd studied politics at York University and seemed to be employing the tricks of that trade to further his career in entertainment. At one point he whispered that I should just ignore his friend Andrew as he'd only been invited along to pay for the train tickets and the lunch.

Harry said he was interested in doing a television equivalent of Viz, a sketch show based around lots of different characters. Would we be interested in helping to write it? As with Jonathan Ross, I nodded politely and said I'd think about it. Not long after that meeting Harry was on tour and performing at Newcastle Polytechnic along with the Scottish comedian and writer Craig Ferguson, who in those days was fat and went by the stage name of Bing Hitler. I'd never seen Harry perform, but from what he'd told me his act was made up of various characters, a bit like Viz. One of his jokes, about him being so sexy that a taxi he was travelling in exploded, had been lifted straight out of our Tony Knowles story in issue 11.

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