John Walker's Electronic House

RIP Jeremy Beadle

by on Jan.31, 2008, under The Rest

It seems that anyone I worked with in the radio days is doomed.

I only met Jeremy Beadle very briefly, but it seems enough for the apparent curse I have. He was producing the dreadful (but very popular) OK! To Talk on Talk Radio – an OK! magazine-sponsored celebrity somethingorother, that was part of Dear Kelvin’s plans for the station. It meant that Beadle would be in the Talk office a couple of days a week at the point I was working day shifts.

I guess Ok! To Talk captured the Beadle Confusion. Every radio or television project he was involved with was two things: utterly hateful, and a massive ratings success. And because of this, I think he’s fairly villified. However, speak to anyone who worked with him on anything, and they’ll tell you what an extraordinary nice guy he was. I don’t know about nice – I never felt entirely comfortable around him – but he was ferociously clever. The sort of clever that you have to respect. He knew how to create television that would work, and saw no reason to let notions of quality get in the way. Which I think was a great shame. Were he less canny and more creative, he might have produced some fantastic stuff.

The show segment I was working on was a consumer complaints sort of thing – Watchdog on the radio – that when it first started wasn’t quite working. It didn’t gel, and it wasn’t good radio. Beadle one day in the office walked over to the team and said, “Call it Scambusters”. And they did. And it immediately took off. Not just because it was a catchy, silly name, but because it gave the hour an identity. Quickly they realised their three producers (oh, remember when radio shows had three producers?) were called Tom, Richard and Harry, and it became “Scambusters, With Tom, Dick, and Harry”. The behaviour on the show changed – they started adding increasing amounts of nonsense, including sound effects, on-air arguments between the team, and some excellent irritating treatment of companies who were screwing people over. (For instance, we’d phone the CEO of Time/Tiny computers on air every single day, finding new ways to lie our way past his secretary, and then ask him the same question – ooh, he hated us). It was a nice thing to work on – we got people their money back, or their goods replaced. And we got to piss off the bastards at Time/Tiny. And it all sprang out of one simple name change. And that seemed to be Beadle’s schtick – an uncanny knowledge of what works.

So I only blabber on to say, don’t only remember him as the cock who presented Beadle’s About. He was a really brainy guy, who just didn’t seem to have much care how he used it. Dunno if that’s a good thing of course.

Could people I met in radio stations stop dying now please? It feels like a really grotesque form of name-dropping.

I think it’s only inappropriate to finish: A big hand for Jeremy Beadle.

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