Man's world: Andrew Martin
Journalist and novelist Andrew Martin is the author of the 'Jim Stringer' series of novels based around railways. He has written for the Independent on Sunday, the Evening Standard, the Sunday Times and the New Statesman among others.
Sunday 25 October 1998
My flirtation with the airwaves began in the mid-Seventies. For some reason best known to themselves, Woman's Hour had decided to do a feature on the York Mystery Plays, of which I was a child star, playing Herod's messenger. The interviewer asked me: "What do you think of the fact that the Mystery Plays are subsidised by the rates?" - an odd question to put to a 12-year-old, I would have thought. In any case, my reply - "I didn't know that they were subsidised by the rates" - did not make the final cut.
After university, I - like everyone I know - applied to be a trainee assistant producer at the BBC, and when they acknowledged the receipt of my application form my hopes irrationally soared. But then came the rejection letter. Not even an interview! I convinced myself that I must have been vetted because, for about two weeks, I was once a member of the Young Communist League.
Weeks later, I responded to a newspaper ad soliciting researchers for The South Bank Show. In the back of my mind was that idea that, having literary aspirations, slightly too-long hair and a Northern accent, I might one day displace Mr Melvyn Bragg, as he was then. These thoughts made me feel vaguely guilty and I inwardly acknowledged that I had received my just deserts when it became clear that my application would receive no reply.
Things having gone a bit quiet on the TV front, I tried radio. I wrote to Loose Ends, and was interviewed in the BBC canteen by an amanuensis of Ned Sherrin. Afterwards, she said, "Right! I'm going to go away and tell Ned all about you." Even now I cannot bear to imagine how that conversation went; suffice to say that I never got to banter with Ned, and have not laughed at a single thing he's said ever since.
Then I had a novel published, and was summoned to appear on a cable TV show for adolescents. Now this, I thought - taking the train to Norwich where the station was, slightly disappointingly, based - could be the start of something big. But I began the interview badly, embarking on Michael Foot-like sentences, only much longer; then the amiable host uttered the ominous words: "And now over to our teenage reviewers to hear what they thought of Andrew's book."
The first teenager said that she "really loved" the first page of my book, but that it went downhill thereafter; the second opined that it was "pretty boring, really". Well, I went to pieces, alternating between pompous self-righteousness and unfunny flippancy, twitching and actually, at one point, brushing dandruff off my lapel. "You were great!" said the presenter afterwards, but I knew that, at 36, my TV career was a mirage that had faded. I walked into a twilit Norwich and got slowly hammered.
Life & Style blogs
Alexander McQueen at auction: What makes a really great piece of fashion?
A bottle of wine a day is not bad for you and abstaining is worse than drinking, scientist claims
No female ejaculation, please, we’re British: a history of porn and censorship
Stressed nurses are 'forced to choose between health of patients and their own'
Pornhub: Kim Kardashian's sex tape is the most-watched porn video of all-time
Disgruntled RBS worker writes hilarious open letter to Russell Brand after anti-capitalist publicity stunt leaves him hungry
Nigel Farage defends Kerry Smith 'ch***y' comment: 'If you are going for a Chinese, what do you say you’re going for?'
Nigel Farage's approval rating hits 'record low' as popularity suffers in wake of Ukip sex scandal
Rozanne Duncan: Ukip expels councillor for 'jaw-dropping' comments made in BBC TV interview
Sony hack: Angelina Jolie branded 'seriously out of her mind' in further embarrassing leaked email saga
Panic Saturday: 13 million Britons spend £1.2bn – while 13 million others across the country live in poverty unable to afford food
- 1 Nigel Farage: Me vs Russell Brand on Question Time – he's got the chest hair but where are his ideas?
- 2 Harry Potter fans can apply to the Hogwarts-inspired College of Wizardry
- 3 Jessica Chambers: 19-year-old woman 'doused with lighter fluid and burned alive' in the US
- 4 Russell Brand calls Nigel Farage 'poundshop Enoch Powell' in BBC Question Time debate
- 5 Orange Wednesdays are no more
Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: Exeter - An excellent opportunity for a Solici...
£17000 - £20000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Helpdesk Support Technician - 12 ...
£28000 - £32000 per annum + pension + holidays: The Jenrick Group: Maintenance...
£30000 - £38000 per annum + pesion + holidays: The Jenrick Group: World Wide S...