Spare a thought for The One Show

One Show studio

I’m a sucker for live television.

I know it may not seem like a big deal but if I know that I’m watching something as it’s being “done” then I do tend to get a little bit excited regardless of the actual problem. That’s almost certain why I love listening to the Proms, why I nearly had a heart-attack actually attending a Eurovision Song Contest and rather enjoyed watching Blue Peter “go out” a couple of years ago.

The other thing which almost always gets me excited is the prospect of “an occasion”. Tell me that there’ll be some kind of royal event (a death preferrably) and I’ll be glued to the TV screen. I can’t explain it. It just is.

Tonight sees a smallish “ocassion”. It’s the start of a new series on BBC One called “The One Show”. From what I can make out it’s a return to the classic magazine programme 30+ somethings will almost certainly remember, Nationwide. The One Show was “pilotted” during the summer last year and now, finally, it makes its return.

I don’t think I ever watched it and suspect I probably won’t be watching it past tonight (mostly because I don’t normally get home in time), but tonight is different. I wander past the building where it’s broadcast from every single day and having experienced the personal thrill of working on projects where there’s a definite start and end time, I can’t help thinking of everyone who’s working on it. Will they be excited? Will they be worried? Will they all share a collective sigh of relief when the first show is over at 7.30pm?

If you’re in UK and you’re around at 7.00pm show your support by tuning in. I’m sure everyone who works on it will appreciate it.

The One Show, 6.30pm BBC One

Leaving the kid at the nursery

My bike

I didn’t do the usual cycle route. The thought of traffic careering past me in Acre Lane at that fateful spot was sufficient to undermine my previously resolute determination. Instead I followed the quieter route past the Cutty Sark, through the Greenwich Foot Tunnel and past Canary Wharf this morning. I finally emerged in central London around Tower Bridge.

Quite justifiably, London Transport don’t allow people like me to take their bikes on to the tube network. (If I was cycling on a fold-up bike then I would be able to, but really, I do want to preserve what butch-image I have and cycling on a fold-up bike isn’t going to achieve that.) My remaining options were either to pedal the rest of the way from Tower Bridge to White City (it’s an additional 6 miles which would make my total for the day a staggering 24 miles – that isn’t going to happen) or to chain it up somewhere.

Despite having spent £30 only the day before on a second lock for my bike, paranoia still kicked in. I needed to find somewhere where my bike was seen by as many people as possible. Perhaps outside a reputable City company, I thought. In a position like that no opportunist thief is going to entertain the idea of trying to break both bike locks and walk off with my slightly damaged bicycle.

I still felt a little bit of fear. With lorries and buses thundering past and this being a relatively unusual part of London I started to feel a little bit sorry for my bike as though it was a member of the family. I didn’t like the idea of my bike being in an unusual place. I didn’t want it to be on it’s own. I didn’t want it to be intimidated by some thug looking for a thieving opportunity.

I checked the locks four times and then shuffled off in the direction of the tube station, feeling for the first time ever like I had left my non-existent child at the nursery for the day.

Time to dig out my therapist’s telephone number, I think.

Nothing to do with the Tour de fucking France


It is exactly two years ago that I bought my bike. The one I’d had before that had been stolen from our back garden, but this one is a testament to the 7th July bombings London. It was after that rather bizarre day I resolved to buy myself a bike so that I could avoid the crush of tube life in the mornings.

Well, the reason was that I had been scared off somewhat by the tube trains. It was only a matter of time before terrorists would target London’s tube network. In fact, I’m not entirely certain why they’d never done it successfully before then.

Many people dismissed my sudden purchase. Amid the cries of “you’re not paying for that with a credit card, are you?” there were a multitude of raised eyebrows and wry smiles. “So, you’re going to cycle all the way to White City from South East London, are you? What, so that you can avoid being blown up by a bomb?”

They were right of course. I was replacing one risk with something far greater. While Ken Livingstone and his team spend hundreds of thousands of pounds on promoting a healthier lifestyle in order to reduce the burden on London’s overstretched transport system, those of us who brave the capital’s busy streets have an entirely different experience.

Buses, lorries and white-van drivers are the worst contributors to a feeling of unease on the road, so too London’s black cab drivers who are, for the most part, largely intolerant of cyclists. One cab driver pushed me against his vehicle in a bid to demonstrate to me and all of the other motorists in the queue of stationary traffic around him exactly who was boss.

Regular readers may remember too that a recent cycling trip turned into a bit of an accident as I pedalled my way along Acre Lane near Brixton only to find myself pushed off the road by a driver who’d spectacularly misjudged the amount of space available to him. Over the handlebars I went, my bike falling on top of me. A great deal of soreness ensued – my knees were a picture – although a full recovery was made within a few weeks.

It’s only now – a couple of months after – that I feel able to hit the road again. It’s got nothing to do with the cyclists charging through the Kent countryside on the first leg of the Tour de France. No, the real reason can be found in vanity.

The scales in the bathroom say I’ve put on half a stone (I’m now skirting 12 stone) and I’m convinced my shorts aren’t quite as baggy on my arse as they were a couple of months ago. It’s time to get on my bike and work off some of the calories.

I’m undeterred. The same gruelling bike ride from Lewisham to Clapham Junction and back again for afew weeks should just be enough to raise the heart-rate and burn off all that unwanted fat. I won’t be scared off by that scary spot on Acre Lane. I’ll keep looking behind me as much as I possibly can and I’ll be wearing my cycle helmet the whole time as well.

And yes. I’m a gay man in my 30s. Of course I’m neurotic about my waistline.

Hard-disk TV

Sensitive Skin

Simon and I have seen a few good things on the hard-drive this week. We include them for you here:

Sensitive Skin
Joanna Lumley stars in touching new comedy
BBC2, Episode 2, Tuesday 3 July 2007

Inventive, fresh and entertaining take on prank calls

Graham Norton Show
Cagney and Lacey join Graham Norton
BBC2, Thursday 5 July

Cherie’s Story
Fiona Bruce talks to Cherie Blair
BBC1, Wednesday 4 July

Classic Britannia
Excellent introduction to “classical” music in Britain
BBC4, Saturday 7 July

We’ve scheduled in the following gems from next week’s schedule:

Doctor Who (The Runaway Bride)
Another chance to see Catherine Tate’s Doctor Who debut in this repeated Christmas special
BBC3, Monday 8pm

Thoroughly Modern: The Typewriter
BBC4, Monday 8pm

James May’s 20th Century: 747
New Series guaranteed to appeal to boys who like to understand about things.
BBC2, Tuesday

Bernard Manning
Channel 4, Thursday

First Night of the Proms
Elgar Cello Concerto and Walton’s Portsmouth Point Overture
BBC2, 8pm, Friday