Man's world: Andrew Martin

TO ANY readers disappointed by the fact that this column is not written - as every other column in Britain is - by a television celebrity, I can only apologise, and point out that I have at least tried to break into the broadcast media.

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.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
Life and Style
love + sex
Arts and Entertainment
Victoria Wood, Kayvan Novak, Alexa Chung, Chris Moyles
tvReview: No soggy bottoms, but plenty of other baking disasters on The Great Comic Relief Bake Off
Sport
Ashley Young celebrates the winner for Manchester United against Newcastle
footballNewcastle 0 Man United 1: Last minute strike seals precious victory
Life and Style
Tikka Masala has been overtaken by Jalfrezi as the nation's most popular curry
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
Seth Rogan is one of America’s most famous pot smokers
filmAmy Pascal resigned after her personal emails were leaked following a cyber-attack sparked by the actor's film The Interview
News
Benjamin Netanyahu and his cartoon bomb – the Israeli PM shows his ‘evidence’
people
Arts and Entertainment
80s trailblazer: comedian Tracey Ullman
tv
News
i100
Life and Style
A statue of the Flemish geographer Gerard Kremer, Geradus Mercator (1512 - 1594) which was unveiled at the Geographical Congree at Anvers. He was the first person to use the word atlas to describe a book of maps.
techThe 16th century cartographer created the atlas
Arts and Entertainment
Stephen Tompkinson is back as DCI Banks
tvReview: Episode one of the new series played it safe, but at least this drama has a winning formula
News
i100
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Recruitment Genius: UI / UX Designer

    £25000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This firm are focussed on assis...

    Recruitment Genius: General Processor

    £7 per hour: Recruitment Genius: A vacancy has arisen for a General Processor ...

    Recruitment Genius: Outbound Sales Executive - B2B

    £18000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A great opportunity has arisen ...

    Recruitment Genius: Online Sales and Customer Services Associate

    £14000 - £16000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Full time and Part time positio...

    Day In a Page

    War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

    Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

    Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable
    Living with Alzheimer's: What is it really like to be diagnosed with early-onset dementia?

    What is it like to live with Alzheimer's?

    Depicting early-onset Alzheimer's, the film 'Still Alice' had a profound effect on Joy Watson, who lives with the illness. She tells Kate Hilpern how she's coped with the diagnosis
    The Internet of Things: Meet the British salesman who gave real-world items a virtual life

    Setting in motion the Internet of Things

    British salesman Kevin Ashton gave real-world items a virtual life
    Election 2015: Latest polling reveals Tories and Labour on course to win the same number of seats - with the SNP holding the balance of power

    Election 2015: A dead heat between Mr Bean and Dick Dastardly!

    Lord Ashcroft reveals latest polling – and which character voters associate with each leader
    Audiences queue up for 'true stories told live' as cult competition The Moth goes global

    Cult competition The Moth goes global

    The non-profit 'slam storytelling' competition was founded in 1997 by the novelist George Dawes Green and has seen Malcolm Gladwell, Salman Rushdie and Molly Ringwald all take their turn at the mic
    Pakistani women come out fighting: A hard-hitting play focuses on female Muslim boxers

    Pakistani women come out fighting

    Hard-hitting new play 'No Guts, No Heart, No Glory' focuses on female Muslim boxers
    Leonora Carrington transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star

    Surreal deal: Leonora Carrington

    The artist transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star
    LGBT History Month: Pupils discuss topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage

    Education: LGBT History Month

    Pupils have been discussing topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage
    11 best gel eyeliners

    Go bold this season: 11 best gel eyeliners

    Use an ink pot eyeliner to go bold on the eyes with this season's feline flicked winged liner
    Cricket World Cup 2015: Tournament runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

    Cricket World Cup runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

    The tournament has reached its halfway mark and scores of 300 and amazing catches abound. One thing never changes, though – everyone loves beating England
    Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Heptathlete ready to jump at first major title

    Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Ready to jump at first major title

    After her 2014 was ruined by injury, 21-year-old Briton is leading pentathlete going into this week’s European Indoors. Now she intends to turn form into gold
    Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

    Climate change key in Syrian conflict

    And it will trigger more war in future
    How I outwitted the Gestapo

    How I outwitted the Gestapo

    My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
    The nation's favourite animal revealed

    The nation's favourite animal revealed

    Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
    Is this the way to get young people to vote?

    Getting young people to vote

    From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot