Eddie Mair: "I literally can't go to the toilet without passing Richard Arnold"

"The only signs of life and colour remaining in the tumbleweed-ridden corridors of Television Centre are the posters advertising Strictly Come Dancing"

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Eddie Mair: "I literally can't go to the toilet without passing Richard Arnold"
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Eddie Mair

Readers, I owe you an apology. It concerns my recent trip to a gig by Joan Rivers. (Yes I know I’m almost 50 and I should no more use the word gig than wear trainers or high-five people, but old habits die hard). The show was classic Joan. Very naughty, very funny and an astonishing insight into the energy a woman in her late 70s can have. What’s she on?

I laughed pretty much continuously for an hour and a half and resolved during the show to remember some of the best printable gags for you, and relay them here on this page. It would be a real treat for you, I thought, to have proper funny jokes here. Time after time she delivered hilarious zingers and I thought – “Pop that one into the Radio Times memory bank.”

My apology to you concerns the fact I cannot remember a single joke. I’m almost 50. I’ve searched my Radio Times memory bank and it just has images of Joan darting about on stage and the sound of laughter. It’s pathetic and I’m sorry. My solitary recollection is of Joan’s completely visual impression of Michael J Fox in an earthquake. But, really, you had to be there.

No top brass and no queues

Less than a month now until PM and other Radio 4 news programmes move from TV Centre to New Broadcasting House. I will keep you posted with tales from the front, of course. But one effect of the gradual movement of hundreds of people from W12 to W1 is that TV Centre is suddenly rather empty. The car park that people used to drive round for days in search of a space is now so empty I park diagonally across three bays just to make it look busier. The coffee concession where people would queue for a latte and a muffin for a very reasonable £25, has closed. I sometimes lie diagonally on the floor where the queue used to gather, just to make it look busier.

One other effect of the move is that the building is pretty much devoid of executives. It’s not just that they’re all giving evidence to inquiries – they have gone from their seventh-floor office suites to the brave new world of Broadcasting House where, I am told, even very senior people no longer have an office to call their own.

It’s all supposed to be open plan and convivial, you see. This is fine for plebs like me, but I imagine if I was management class I would want a bit of privacy – my own office, shielded from view in which to fire people/sob at my desk about the state of the place/have a fist fight. All of this has to be done in the open now. Entertaining for the rest of us? Naturally. But I do feel sorry for them.

The ghosts of TV Centre

The only signs of life and colour remaining in the tumbleweed-ridden corridors of Television Centre are the posters that festoon the walls advertising Strictly Come Dancing.

There they all are in their dancing finery, smiling warmly for us as we battle the cold winds that howl round the chasmic corridors. They’re cheery company in the barren wasteland we stalk in search of a morsel of sustenance. It’s impossible to go for a sandwich without passing Johnny Ball, and I literally can’t go to the toilet without passing Richard Arnold.


Eddie Mair co-presents iPM on Saturday at 5:45am and hosts PM from Monday to Thursday at 5:00pm - both on Radio 4

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