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Celebrity Guests

In mainstream television you can have your name in the title of a show and still have no legal rights, so the first thing to say about my appearances on YouTube is that I have no control over them whatsoever. The second thing is that I have no idea how they got there. But while they're running, I would be a fool not to point them out, especially when I am appearing with such distinguished people. Nowadays, when being interviewed about webcasting, I tend to push the line that there is much less palaver when conducting a conversation in one's living room than there ever was in a studio. It's true, but I owe it to my old-time television colleagues to say that we sometimes got some pretty relaxed results, even when surrounded by a thousand tons of concrete and bathing in the kilowatts.

With Michael Parkinson (Clive James, guest)

With the Spice Girls (1997)
I interviewed the Spice Girls on my weekly show just after they hit the top. They weren't yet getting sick of the act, the work, the fuss or of each other. I have my favourite but I'm not saying which.

With Peter Cook
For my weekly show, Peter Cook would kindly turn up as per contract even though he would really rather have been doing something else that day. His motivation had been minimal for a long time, ever since he discovered that he could earn a year's salary with a couple of commercials. Whether on or off air, I was always a bit scared of him. He was just so quick.

With Peter Cook at The Establishment
I don't know which fanatic pulled these two scenes out of my Postcard from London and re-launched them in cyberspace, but he did us all a favour, because this is one of the few examples of a late-period Cook appearance that shows us the actual man, minus the body-armour of an assumed character and quietly proud of his old stamping ground.

With Joanna Lumley (1984)
The cool Joanna is a great centre of guilt in my life because after one of my several interviews with her I stole something from her, as a stalker will break into his target's bedroom and pilfer an intimate garment. She drew a caricature of me and I not only kept it, I featured it without her permission as the centre-piece on the cover of my volume of collected verse, The Book of My Enemy. The book was an unexpected hit and by now she has not been paid many thousands of times. Soon I will have to ask her.

With Kate Winslet
When Titanic came out, Kate Winslet’s star rose faster than the ship sank. My staff having discovered the she was employed as cheese-taster in an earlier carnation, I had the right props ready to put her at her ease, and the conversation took off nicely into higher realms.

With Tony Wilson
Back in the 1960s, Tony Wilson’s So it Goes programme for Granada Television was an adventure playground, and it was very nice of him to include solo guest spots for an old square like me. The old square was younger in those days, as can be deduced from the single jaw-line. My brief monologues looked and sounded like an exercise in racing the teleprompter, but they were crucial practise for my later attempts, when I had a show of my own, to pack as much as possible into a paragraph.

With Alice Cooper
Among a bunch of bright American guests, the brightest of them all was Alice Cooper. My interview with him happened late in the 1990s, when the production values of my weekly show were at the height, the design by then being based almost entirely on electronics. But it wouldn’t have worked without human beings, and Alice Cooper, despite appearances, was definitely not an alien. Indeed he was down to earth in every respect: the ideal conversationalist.

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