Review: What a lark, ascending to fame

He is an ordinary man, seen going about his humdrum job - yet millions of TV viewers have taken him to their hearts. Jeremy Spake takes it all in his stride, but tells Anthony Clavane that fame's a fickle game, and he won't be caught on the hop when Anne Robinson turns her steely gaze upon him.

In the future perhaps everyone will be famous for 15 minutes of a docu-soap. But, as Radio Times proudly announces the "next generation" of fly-on-the-walls, and all bright, young, media things dash off to shopping malls, ski slopes and zoos hoping to get a piece of the actuality and discover the next Driving School or Vets, one man has emerged as a true star, a natural-born performer, a legend in his own check-in time.

Step forward Jeremy, from Airport. Until he shot to stardom in a series only pipped from topping the BBC's ratings by EastEnders, he was simply a natural-born baggage-handler, a vaguely irritating official who seemed to enjoy taking money off passengers with overweight luggage. Now he is cuddly, lovable Jeremy from Airport, known to millions of couch potatoes as the laid-back Aeroflot chap who once misplaced the entire string section of the Moscow Symphony Orchestra.

"Bless 'em" chuckles the human, giggling face of air travel as he opens the door of his semi-detached house to the strains of Vaughan Williams's "Lark Ascending". "That'll be my epitaph: 'The guy who lost an orchestra'. Come in. I was just sitting here imagining the bird going up into the sky."

His own feet, he is quick to point out, remain firmly on the ground. "Let's be honest here. The media build you up, then the next day they pull the rug from under your feet. People are already writing to Points of View complaining about Maureen from Driving School." Ah yes, Maureen from Driving School, his great docu-soap rival. "Bless her," he sighs. "She makes me laugh, she really does." The public backlash against the learner-driver from hell provides a salutary lesson for all would-be fly- on-the-wall TV stars. One minute you are the subject of This Is Your Life, the next you are getting the Anne Robinson wink.

Jeremy sinks into his comfy sofa and muses at the fickleness of fame. Dressed in lime-green grandad shirt, blue jeans and trendy Caterpillar trainers, he comes over as a cross between a tubby Lenin and an even camper Dale Winton. Women of a certain age may ask him to sign their stomachs, and he may get "regularly mobbed on the streets of Ipswich", but "the bubble could so easily burst". Which is why he has taken professional advice and intends to pace himself to avoid burn-out. "Maureen says it could all end tomorrow, so make the most of it. But my agent has told me to look at it more long-term."

An agent may seem an unusual acquisition for a humble Heathrow ground- staff supervisor, but for 29-year-old Jeremy Spake, from the Essex village of Great Bentley, opportunity just keeps on knocking. The darling of daytime TV - today he makes his second appearance on BBC1's quiz All Over the Shop - he has, in the last month, flirted with the "two lovely ladies" of Light Lunch, been grilled by David Aaronovitch for On Air and been approached to do a documentary on ordinary Russian folk. This last project is closest to his heart, for his mother is Russian and he has a cat called Lenin.

"Lenin," he coos. "Ty khochesh ookhodit? (Do you want to go out)?" Does he always converse with his puss in fluent Russian? "Oh yes. We used to have Trotsky, but he disappeared." An icepick through the head? "Oh no. There's been a lot of stealing around here. I have my suspicions. He had a lovely coat on him - bless."

Airport addicts watching him failing to move a walkway close enough to the plane for passengers to disembark, or trawling the bars of Heathrow for AWOL Muscovites, may be surprised to hear of his great interest in Soviet history. However, his professed admiration for Communist dictators is, on reflection, in keeping with his on-camera declaration that passengers should have little devices attached to them so they can be "buzzed in appropriate parts of their bodies".

TV insiders, however, have advised him to stick to light entertainment. His wife, Lorraine, is a bit miffed by the showbiz lifestyle, but he loves schmoozing with celebs, appearing on the front cover of Radio Times and signing autographs at the National Television Awards. He got on famously with "Vanessa and Thingummy", especially when she said that he, rather than Maureen, should have handed out a gong. Not that he's bitchy about Mo. "I've said to her: 'You wanna watch yourself, love. I know lots of little black Ladas with smoked glass and they will run you over.' But I love her dearly, really."

He agrees that there are too many flies and not enough walls, and that the British public will soon be suffering from soapumentary fatigue. "But after a stressful day at work, you come home, sit down and see someone having an even more stressful day. And you take comfort in that. I get thousands of letters from people saying: 'You've brightened up my Thursday evening'. If the country didn't have people who were slightly mad, such as myself or Maureen, it would be a very boring place to live."

Jeremy Spake appears on 'All Over the Shop', today at 9am on BBC1.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookA delicious collection of 50 meaty main courses
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.

SPONSORED FEATURES

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Recruitment Genius: Warehouse Team Leader

    £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This industry leading company produces h...

    Recruitment Genius: Business Development Manager / Sales - OTE £40,000

    £20000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This IT provider for the educat...

    Recruitment Genius: Front End Developer / Web Designer

    £20000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This leader in the e-cigarette ...

    Recruitment Genius: PHP Developer

    £30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This leader in the e-cigarette ...

    Day In a Page

    The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

    The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

    Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
    House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

    The honours that shame Britain

    Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
    When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

    'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

    Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
    International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

    International Tap Festival comes to the UK

    Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
    War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

    Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

    Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border
    Doris Lessing: Acclaimed novelist was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show

    'A subversive brothel keeper and Communist'

    Acclaimed novelist Doris Lessing was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show
    Big Blue Live: BBC's Springwatch offshoot swaps back gardens for California's Monterey Bay

    BBC heads to the Californian coast

    The Big Blue Live crew is preparing for the first of three episodes on Sunday night, filming from boats, planes and an aquarium studio
    Austin Bidwell: The Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England with the most daring forgery the world had known

    Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England

    Conman Austin Bidwell. was a heartless cad who carried out the most daring forgery the world had known
    Car hacking scandal: Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked

    Car hacking scandal

    Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked
    10 best placemats

    Take your seat: 10 best placemats

    Protect your table and dine in style with a bold new accessory
    Ashes 2015: Alastair Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

    Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

    Aussie skipper Michael Clarke was lured into believing that what we witnessed at Edgbaston and Trent Bridge would continue in London, says Kevin Garside
    Can Rafael Benitez get the best out of Gareth Bale at Real Madrid?

    Can Benitez get the best out of Bale?

    Back at the club he watched as a boy, the pressure is on Benitez to find a winning blend from Real's multiple talents. As La Liga begins, Pete Jenson asks if it will be enough to stop Barcelona
    Athletics World Championships 2015: Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jessica Ennis-Hill and Katarina Johnson-Thompson heptathlon rivalry

    Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jess and Kat rivalry

    The last time the two British heptathletes competed, Ennis-Hill was on the way to Olympic gold and Johnson-Thompson was just a promising teenager. But a lot has happened in the following three years
    Jeremy Corbyn: Joining a shrewd operator desperate for power as he visits the North East

    Jeremy Corbyn interview: A shrewd operator desperate for power

    His radical anti-austerity agenda has caught the imagination of the left and politically disaffected and set a staid Labour leadership election alight
    Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief: Defender of ancient city's past was killed for protecting its future

    Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief

    Robert Fisk on the defender of the ancient city's past who was killed for protecting its future