That's it. I've finished the marathon session of filming that's gone into making my new TV show Fool Britannia. Over the past 15 weeks or so I have travelled across the UK in order to dress up as curious characters and harass the general public. It's not what my parents would have wanted me to do, but it's a living.
There hasn't been too much trouble. I was nearly head-butted by an angry man while dressed as a vicar. He calmed down when he found out that it was for TV … until he remembered that the lady he was with was not his wife and quickly refused all consent. This was rather a common theme. You would be amazed at the amount of ordinary-looking people wandering about the country who are not with whom they are supposed to be. I got into a spot of bother in Scotland as well. I was nearly assaulted by an extremely irate Scotsman who did not appreciate my overly English academic character who required an interpreter in Glasgow. Apart from these two, however, the general tone of the show has been very jovial and most people have seen the joke.
Sometimes the tables are turned on us. While filming a scene as a village idiot in a gorgeous hamlet in Essex, I was approached by a lovely old lady, fascinated at my claims to be the village idiot. We had a long chat in which I proceeded to prove the fact in an indisputable manner. As always, when we'd finished talking, a member of my team told her what was going on and asked her to sign a consent form allowing us to use her image. She was very happy to do so and signed on the dotted line. Twenty minutes later, the team member who'd got the signature found that her mobile phone was missing. She searched everywhere but couldn't find it. In despair she dialled her own number from another phone, and was surprised to hear her mobile ringing in a nearby coach. And on the coach was the lovely old lady, with the phone in her pocket. She was puzzled as to how it got there and we left it at that. I thought I was quite good at reading people, but obviously not.
In Benidorm, on a week of foreign filming, I believe I observed the lowest moment of human evolution so far – a queue of drunken British women waiting to ride a 11ft mechanical "Bucking Penis" in an English pub. I was surprised at just how acquiescent the good people of Benidorm had been to the conversion of their town into a permanent happy hour for tattoo addicts. The local authorities were very cooperative when it came to our filming, so possibly they viewed it as a subtle opportunity for revenge for the past 30 years of package tourism.
I shall not miss the two hours of make-up every day, as false noses, wigs and teeth were applied. What I shall miss, however, is the team. There is a bonding and banter that comes with being so intensively involved in a project that is very special. I loathe goodbyes and always find it very difficult to walk away from these lives. All I can hope for is that Fool Britannia is a hit and that we can all reassemble next year to start touring the country annoying people again.
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