I watched a very odd programme on the telly today while thumping away at the gym. It featured Keith Harris and Orville and was a sort of X Factor for kids. The conceit was that various different performers were caught up in some sort of prison where they had to perform to an audience of critically minded kids who would then vote on who got to leave the jail. On it were Mr Methane, a little girl who did Indian style dancing and a bloke who did tricks with a football. And Keith Harris and Orville.
It was odd to see the poor bloke performing his act in such a context. Enduring the kids and their comments on this odd Orville turn they'd had served up to them. I got the impression, perhaps wrongly, that the programme was fixed a little in Keith Harris's favour but still got a little buzz when he won his freedom. "Aha, the old dog's still got it in him," I couldn't help but cheer.
Mr Methane made himself look like a proper tool, farting along to "a tune off my new album". If you're not aware of him, he's a "Superhero" who did a brief tour of various different radio shows in the late 90's. He farts. That's it. It was interesting to watch Keith Harris looking onwards into the foreground as this novelty turn did his "act". You can imagine the story that was written in the lines on poor Keith's face as he assumed the gaze of one who has seen too much. I hope he got a good fee.
It's here that I should declare an interest. As a kid I thought Orville was awesome so I was over the moon when in the late 90's I had the "honour" of introducing him onto the stage at a listeners holiday weekend in Blackpool, Pontins. I have no idea how this all happened but rest assured, it did. I'm a local radio disk jockey from The North Of England, to me Phoenix Nights was a documentary not a comedy.
Anyway, I'm backstage and waiting to meet Keith Harris. I'm actually a bit nervous. He's a little late but not due onstage for a while. He'll be doing his rare "blue adult" material tonight for a sell out audience. Anticipation is high, this new version of his act has had rave reviews. Suddenly he's there, looking a little bit flustered and a lot older than I'd expected. I can't remember if he had two boxes or just one with him but I remember him wrapping on a corset and then knocking a box over and a big green hairy thing fell out of it (SMACK!!) onto the ground. "F#cking thing," he muttered as he picked it up by the plastic tube which protruded from one end of it. It was Orville's head! Two enduring images one after the other, my mind couldn't cope. He'd just whacked on the corset, as casually as you'd wipe your nose. It was the first time I'd ever seen one! Then he'd sworn at the decapitated apparently cumbersome head of one of my childhood icons!
He then said something along the lines of "right mate, you introduce me onstage and I'll give you a bit gip right, then I'll say your cue and you go off". I can't remember the exact details but I think Cuddles the Monkey called me a nob'ead or something. It all went fine and his show, which I went round the front to watch, was brilliant. Really genuinely funny. I was gutted to see him back doing kids TV stuff a few years later. I guess there just wasn't the market for alternative comedy being performed by Keith Harris and Orville.
In the unlikely event that he one day reads this entry though, let me write the following plea: DO YOUR ADULT ACT AGAIN, IT WAS GREAT!!