March 12th, 1997 when Literally arrives at the studio where This Morning with Richard and Judy is filmed, on the south bank of the Thames, the Pet Shop Boys are already there.
They explain that, like Literally, the security guard let them in because they were “with the Pet Shop Boys”. But, right now, sitting in a small make-up room with Dainton, they are far more concerned with the issue of the moment i.e. is the new Radio One breakfast show, presented by Mark Radcliffe and his partner Marc Riley, following the messy departure of Chris Evans, any good?
I listened this morning,” says Neil. ‘To be honest, I thought it was too Northern.” “They’re stupid students,” Chris agrees. ‘They should grow up. They were just talking in stupid Northern accents.”
Neil drinks some coffee. Chris eats an egg sandwich. They both wonder why they got here at 9.30.
“I thought we were supposed to talk through the whole thing,” says Neil. They had been told to expect a conversation with a researcher who would work out some interesting topics to discuss, but clearly that idea has fallen by the wayside.
“Shall we say we don’t want to talk about anything in the past’ Chris nonetheless suggests. “‘They could play all five minutes of the video.”
“‘Why are you here?”‘ says Neil, pretending to ask Richard and Judy’s first question for them.
“To see you show the video.”
We all move into a bigger room. A woman wearing a headset pops her head through the door. “Oh,” she says. “You’re not who I expected to be here.” And she leaves.
Chris leafs through some magazines. “Oh no,” he sighs. “Eric Clapton has made a jungle album.” This is vaguely true; he has made it with Simon Climie who in the Eighties used to be in the duo Climie Fisher.
“It was the name Climie Fisher.” Neil says. “It sounded kind of spooky. It always sounded like an inconvenient infection to me.”
They talk about their Radio One interview the next morning. There been invited to bring one record each to play.
“I love that Better Midler record,” says Chris. “We should take that and Chris Rn.” Chris recently unearthed a whole series of hi-energy pop records, mostly European cover versions of songs like “Wonderful”, “Unbreak My Heart”, “One Of Us” and “I Love You Always Forever?’, which he put together on a tape and gave to Neil. Two of their favorite’s are Better Midler’s “‘1’o Deserve You” and a song, sung by Shrilly Basely but written by (and appearing on an album by) Chris Rca, “La Passione”.
“We’ll take over the show,” says Chris.
‘It’s the new generation of hi-energy,” says Neil. “Everyone will think we’re taking the piss, that’s the problem.”
We watch the opening scenes of Richard and Judy’s show on TV.
“You keep thinking they can’t wait to have sex,” says Chris. ‘They can’t wait for the program to end so they can have a quick one.” The Pet Shop Boys are trailed, with a snatch of the “A Red Letter Day” video, as appearing at 11.25.
“Why are we doing this?’ Neil sighs.
“”Because everyone does it,” says Chris.
“You’ve not arrived until you’ve done this.” They watch the cookery segment, and
discuss what their contribution would be.
“Mine would be Neil’s Way Of Cooking Asparagus,” says Neil. “It’s fantastic. Asparagus with sesame oil.”
“Asparagus,” Chris notes, “should never be boiled or steamed.”
“Well,” Neil says, “it isn’t in this recipe.” A man called Sam, who is hanging round the studio, comes in to say hello. It turns out that he has met Chris before, on the famous night in Manchester when they first went out with Electronic.
“Why aren’t you singing or miming?” he asks Neil.
“We’re showing the video,” Neil says.
“Wouldn’t you rather sing?’ he persists.
Neil looks aghast. “Most certainly not. Why do you think you make a video? Do people sing on this programed?”
“Mick Hucknall and Charles Aznavour did,” he says.
“They’re real singers,” says Chris, dismissively.
Richard and Judy show a little more of the “A Red Letter Day” video. “So cool,” comments Richard.
“‘So cool!’ Richard!” Chris squeals. ‘It’s worth it just for that.”
“We should sample that,” nods Neil.
They discuss what they will actually say. “We should remember to mention Jonathan Harvey,” says Chris.
“Jonathan Harvey phoned me up to say, ‘I will kill you if you don’t mention me on Richard and Judy’,” Neil says. “He left me this funny message with all these voices, asking me if I’d heard this song in the Great British Song Contest, ‘Yodel In The Canyon Of Love’…”
The latest on-screen trail is tided “Pet Shop Perfection”.
They walk towards the studio. ‘Chris,” says Neil, in the corridor. “You’ve got to do most of the talking.”
” I won’t,” says Chris. “I don’t like talking while the program’s on.” Richard and Judy are talking about some-
thing serious on one set. Neil and Chris are led behind the cameras to the set on the left, the one with cosy sofas. During the ad break, Richard and Judy sweep in.
“Hello,” says Judy. “Nice to meet you at long last.”
“Hello, I’m Richard,” says Richard. “Nice to meet you.” Richard and Judy both pour themselves coffee. (It’s not just a prop.) They both have milk; Richard has sugar. Suddenly the cameras are on. “For some extraordinary reason the Pet Shop Boys have never been on this Morning,” says Judy. “But we know that they’ve really been pining for us.” And they play the segment from the TFI! Friday interview where Chris says, “Well, I watch it every day, do you know what I mean, so I’d quite like to go on it.”
“Said without irony,” says Richard, and they cut to the “A Red Letter Day” video. As the video plays they talk – rather spookily, as things will turns out – about Chris Evans and whether he is arrogant.
“He’s got something to be arrogant about, I think,” suggests Neil.
Seconds later, the interview begins. (One of the impressive things about Richard and Judy is the way they seamlessly switch from discussion to discussion, on and off air, from abortion to cooking to the Pet Shop Boys.)
“Did you have to force him?” Judy asks Chris.
“No.1 had to explain who you were though,” Chris replies.
There is slightly nervous laughter. “Must have taken all of five seconds,” says Richard, then he asks Neil about Moscow. Neil and Richard discuss Russian choirs (“it’s kind of a surge,” nods Richard) for a while. Then Judy asks about the nude underwater ballet Neil saw in a gay Moscow Nightclub. “So it worked as an artistic endeavor?” Richard asks.
“You’re very different, you two are,” Judy observes. “Completely different.”
“We’re not like you two are,” says Chris. “Yeah,” she responds, “but we’re married.” Neil explains how he only does most of the talking on TV; Chris talks more in the dressing room. “Neil’s a professional talker,” says Chris. Richard refers to Chris’s “happy suasisilence” and pontificates about the grumpy Mike Nesmith of the Monkees. Neil ripostes with his Bob Dylan interview story, about a friend of his who received the same answer over and over again from him: “yeah, I don’t really get involved in that kind of thinking” and then commented to his manager afterwards, “weird… he kept asking me all these questions”. Then Neil takes the opportunity to talk about the Jonathan Harvey musical.
“What is it about the two of you?” Judy says, looking at Neil. “I don’t know. You sound really learned and educated and artistic and everything and
“And?” laughs Chris.
“He’s the one with all the exams,” Neil points out, and Chris is made to talk about his architecture degree. He quickly steers the conversation towards Blackpool Pleasure Beach, rollercoasters, and the superiority of Blackpool over Las Vegas.
“What? What?” Richard asks Judy. ‘They’re panicking because we’ve over run,” says Judy.
Richard carries on talking about the inhumanity of Las Vegas hotel casinos.
‘They’re going bananas down my ears,” Judy points out, and they move swiftly towards their weddings feature.
Back in the make-up room, Chris sighs contentedly. “We can retire now,” he says.
“I spent the whole time trying to direct the conversation to Chris,” says Neil. But then he adds, “I was so relaxed I occasionally forgot we were on the telly.”
Afterwards, we walk across the Themes. The breeze from the passing lorries nearly throws us off our feet. We talk about rhyming slang, and how “Richard and Judy” should mean something. Literally suggests “moody”, and we resolve to introduce it into the language.
We arrive at our destination: the smart, sleek London restaurant, Bank. Chris and Dainton got thrown out of here one night and so, rather defiantly, they keep returning. Neil phones in to his answer phone for his messages. Jonathan Harvey has already phoned, delighted at his mention.
They talk about claustrophobia. Neil says that one day he’ll face his fear of the Channel by taking Eurostar to Calais and back on his own. Chris says that he wants to go to this art nouveau restaurant he saw in The World Of Interiors. Maybe they should arrange some French promotion. “You always feel like having sex in Paris,” he reflects, “and usually you do.”
We eat a large lunch, and various drinks are consumed. “Drinking in the afternoon – isn’t it great?” says Neil. “Shall we carry on all day till midnight’ This is meant as a joke.
The bills arrives. “That bill’s long, isn’t it?” says Chris. “It’s six inches long.”
“I sometimes wish that throughout my life I’d kept the bills,” sighs Neil.
Neil is due at the Groucho Club at 2.30, where he has to meet Vic Reeves, because he and Bob Monimer may be doing a song for the Noel Coward album, and he suggests we all come. Just after Vic Reeves leaves, Chris Evans and Paul Gascoigne arrive, and invite Neil and Chris up to the snooker room. Everyone stays drinking and having fun, in various parts of London, until late into the night, traveling around in a huge, white limousine which Chris has ordered up. “If you’re going out,” Chris will later reason, “you need wheels, don’t you?” At one point in the evening they end up, at Chris Evans’ instigation, round Justine-from-Elastica’ 5 house (Damon-from-Blur was away in America), and Neil and Chris made up a song in their basement studio with a guitarist who lives at the house and is called Lawrence. “A jam session,” Neil will recount, dolefully, days afterwards. “The tape will never be released.”
Copyright Areagraphy Ltd 1997: All Articles have been
Taken From Literally 1997 Issue 17