I went to take a look at the new Serpentine Pavilion – slinky, shiny, sexy. Must go back. Then to the V&A for a bank busting bagel and a quick trip round the Telling Tales show. The dark roomÂ the back is full of stuffed animals – avoid. Across the road for a nostalgic look at Eagle, replicated in Blue Peter style splendour, Couldn't find the Apollo 10 command module though – disappointing.
And so to Kings Place last evening to attend a recording of Radio 4's Chain Reaction. The idea is that one well known person interviews another. In the following episode the previous interviewee becomes the interviewer. Last night's 'chain' was Robert Llewellyn (AKA Kryten from Red Dwarf), Dave Gorman and Frank Skinner. As a radio show, the recording process was deliciously understated. Just two people on a bare stage with a microphone each, talking interestingly for the best part of an hour. Having been to a few TV recordings I'd been previously surprised by the almost instant hysteria which emerges from the audience. It's almost as if they've filled the auditorium with guffaw gas and I'm wearing a gas mask. I wondered if the same effect would be seen at a radio recording. It was. Almost as soon as the producer walked on stage to tell us where the emergency exits were, the bloke behind me started whooping with glee. When Robert Llewellyn and Dave Gorman emerged from the wings he sounded as though he was having an asthma attack and that was before they'd barely said a word. The producer had primed us to go a bit mental when the Green Light was switched on during the opening theme music. Before he'd even had a chance to finish his "shall we try it out now" everyone was clapping obediently like trained sealions, whistling and cheering. Hearing overexcited audiences on Radio Four behaving like this, I'd always assumed that the crazed applause they use at the beginnings is edited on afterwards having been recorded later on in the show when the audience have warmed up. But no, it's all authentic mass medicated mirth. Dave Gorman in the hot seat was well paired with Robert L prodding him gently into telling his stories. The two have worked together before and this seemed to give the conversation a very natural feel even though Robert appeared toÂ be working from a chunky looking script. Gorman came up with some great anecdotes and perhaps his funniest remark of the evening was the story of his tandem parachute jump in New Zealand; without giving too much away, the punchline is "I'm buggered" and he very well might have been in a very literal, terminal way. I'd not known previously that Dave Gorman had had a spell of 'going off the rails', he calls it a breakdown. It seemed to arise from procrastination on a grand scale which lead to him blowing a publishers advance and then creating a stage show to pay off the debt – as you do. There were a few moments when talking about himself, and later when interviewing Skinner, that he revealed a pretty thin skin. A sensitivity to criticism I've noticed before. I quite like this.
Skinner got a great reception. I've mixed feelings about him. The whole Fantasy Football / David Baddiel thing leaves me cold. Baddiel, especially, irritates me. I met him once, but that's another story. The big thing, which was obvious with Skinner, is his star quality. Gorman was clearly in awe but held it together with some clever questioning allowing him free reign to roam around comedically to great effect. He was relaxed, feet up on the sofa relaxed, and it felt like overhearing a very funny conversation. At his most enjoyable for me when talking about his early life and career. At his least when dropping names, going on a lot about that Three Lions single and regaling us with details of his three in a bed session/s. Skinner has a giggly,Â naughty little boy, quality and he's very engaging. Some of this comes from his self knowledge; he appears to have accepted his vocation as a smutmeister. Funniest moment, his short a capella performance of his Formbyesque song about a suicide bomber. Not funny? You had to be there. Should be broadcast around September time – well worthÂ a listen.