Tuesday, 2 October 2012

All in the best possible taste

Maurice Cole probably wouldn't have made you laugh. But Kenny Everett did. Dear "cuddly" died just over 17 years ago.

On Wednesday night BBC4 will be screening their drama All In the Best Possible Taste - also billed as The Kenny Everett Story. Like any bio-pic, this will have to be heavily abridged - Ev crammed more into his 50 years than most.
Born Maurice Cole, he never found fame in his first job - cleaning the trays used for making sausage rolls - but he became Kenny Everett and, with the help of some incredibly creative recording skills, he awoke Britain from the slumber of the BBC. Luxembourg, pirate Radio London - and then 247 National Radio 1.
I first got to meet him in the late 70s when I joined London's Capital Radio. His notoriety at that time centred on him being unemployable. He had been sacked twice by the BBC, for offences which would now get you a whole new series. (Given what's now emerging about certain people at the BBC in the 70s, Ev was the least of their problems.)
He was Marmite - love or hate. I loved him for his audio creativity and his waspy gentleness. Capital gave him the chance he needed, working with people he loved. Ev, to me, was Beatles, ELO, Queen - big melodic musical performers whose tunes sat very well next to his own layered sounds and sketches.
I also loved him for his complete childishness in the office. Our open plan production office - called The Playpen - was where Ev ran wild on Fridays. If you hadn't been soaked by Ev doing a run-by with the plant sprayer, you simply were not part of the fun.
Then, I went off him a bit.
It was 1980 and I was hosting the Capital Breakfast Show. Ev had stepped down from his Saturday slot due to the increasing amount of time he spent on his tv shows. He was a massive star. I was told by the Controller that I must - must - carry an Ev creation on the Breakfast Show every morning.
Captain Kremmen and The Star Corps was a masterpiece from his Saturday shows.
To keep Ev's name on the station, Capital ordered new episodes of Kremmen to be broadcast every morning after the 8am news - peak listening time.
So - I would wait for these new episodes to arrive. These days, you'd wait for them to be recorded, listened to by a room of legals and then transmitted, once the pages of Compliance Forms were signed-off.
Then, it was different - the 8am news would come. A 3 minute bulletin. No sign of Kremmen. Take an early ad break. Still no sign of the spaceman - or even a taxi with a tape. Play a record. During record, cab arrives with tape. Tape gets rewound and transmitted without being checked.
This was not a rare occurrence. Daily I chewed my nails waiting for bloody Kremmen to arrive.
Ev's box with my added date of tx. Thanks @thisisclive Clive Warren

Sometimes we transmitted old episodes that we had. Nobody really noticed.
Because, by this time, Ev was not in a good way inside that head of his. He was being paid stupid amounts by both ITV and the BBC. He had become a hermit on a Welsh hill with animals. He was chemically altered - and he simply wasn't delivering on the deal.
Kremmen got worse and worse. On some days it would have such a long intro from a previous episode, with an even longer outro repeating it, that the new "original" material was only seconds long.
It was a nightmare for the management. And I was losing faith in one of my genuine heroes.
I will watch on Wednesday. And I will remember a stunning talent - a man who never lived long enough to see the real positive effect he had.
My thanks to Simon Booker for spurring this. "Betty" was a great friend and producer of Ev at Capital and beyond. He sent me the photo above recently - it's how we all remember Kenny.

And if you want to hear some tales of Ev - try this on iPlayer

YouTube is brimming with Ev. Remember Reg the DIY man? 

4 comments:

  1. I feel a VERY good book coming on...
    X

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  2. Hi Mike, Just seen your blog about Kenny Everett from the 2nd October 2012. Could you let me know where you got the picture of Kenny in the Capital Studio or who was the photographer.
    Thank you. Chris
    chris@chriswoodstudios.com

    ReplyDelete
  3. Hi Mike, I had another read of your blog and missed the last bit when I first read it. I guess that I should contact Simon Booker about the Kenny Everett image. Do you have a email for Simon.
    Thanks, Chris

    ReplyDelete