Miles Kington: Behind the studio scenery: tales to expose your illusions

Chez Patrick was as far from Gordon Ramsay as it was possible to get. No rage, no shouting, no panic, no haste. All good humour and smiles
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The Independent Online


1. The most unusual thing about Hannah Worthington, apart from her wonderful novels, was the way that she loved being interviewed on TV and radio, but absolutely hated being visited at home.

Her radiant, slightly bouffant hairdo was a familiar sight on the TV. It was so radiant that sometimes the light shone through it, like sunlight breaking through stained glass windows, and her smile was so dazzling that she seemed to illuminate the interviewer.

But nobody had ever interviewed her in her home. Indeed, nobody was quite sure where she lived.

Intrigued by this, ace reporter James Manifold spent some weeks unearthing her address, which was in the wilds of Wales, and then paid her an unannounced visit.

"Hello!" he called through the open farmhouse door.

"Hello," said a small bespectacled woman, appearing from nowhere and making him jump.

"I was looking for Hannah," he said.

"Hello," she said.

In the slightly confused interview that followed, he stumbled on the well-kept secret that the real Hannah Worthington, being plain and shy and tongue-tied, had gladly agreed to be replaced on TV by a glamorous actress who could play the part of Hannah Worthington as everyone imagined her to be.

"If you reveal my secret," she said, "I will hate you. More importantly, so will everyone else."

And he saw that she was right. And kept mum.

2. In an age of celebrity chefs, Patrick Marmont was perhaps the greatest of them. He had an Irish charm which the ladies loved, and a way with wine which men could relate to. Best of all, when the cameras went into the kitchens at his showpiece restaurant, Chez Patrick, they showed us a world which was as far from Gordon Ramsay as it was possible to get. No rage, no shouting, no panic, no haste. All good humour and smiles. All Irish charm and jollity. It was only when a rival TV company did an investigation into the celebrity chef cult that the awful truth came out. There was no restaurant called Chez Patrick. There were no behind-the-scene kitchens. It was all set up in the studio. And the reason that everyone was so calm was that there were no customers waiting for the food.

After this exposure Patrick's TV ratings doubled, for at last the public had a celebrity chef at whose restaurant they could not afford to eat, but nobody else could either.

3. The writers of the series Lord Aldous Investigates knew that TV viewers loved period crime thrillers set in lovely country homes with brilliant detectives coming along and solving the murders which always took place in them.

So why not, they reasoned, create a detective who actually OWNED a country house?

A titled detective! With murders on the premises.

And thus was born Aldous Towers, the stately mansion in which so many murders took place, all cleared up by the brilliant Lord Aldous.

So popular was the series that the public flocked to see the house where it had all been filmed. Which was a shame, because it had all been filmed in a studio, and there was no such house.

But the demand to see the location was so great that someone had the bright idea of building a fake Aldous Towers!

Yes, they actually set about building a house which only existed fictionally...

A reader writes: Dear Mr Kington, come off it! These modern fables are all exactly the same, suggesting as they do that nowadays nothing is real, all is fake and the public perpetually hoodwinked!

Miles Kington writes: God bless you, squire, there is no such person as Miles Kington! All his pieces are written by a team of work experience youngsters sitting in a cold draughty attic at his place. The real Miles Kington died years ago and is only preserved as a tax dodge!