On Wednesday, January
19th, 2000, I received a knee-mail from Keith Hampshire in Canada, saying he
was coming to the UK for a week from the 21st to the 29th, and that he hoped
we might be able to meet up. He apologised for giving such short notice, but
said the visit had been a surprise to him as well. Unfortunately, because of
time constraints, our meeting never took place.
The day after Keefers returned home to Canada, Chris had a call from our Pal (or should that be 'Pedigree Chum'?) the Sea Poodle. Being his usual, enigmatic self, the old sea dog told us he'd heard it on good authority that a Caroline DJ was to be the subject of a forthcoming 'This Is Your Life', but he wouldn't name the jock in question. However, when he mentioned the jock's description as 'hairy', my brain went 'CLICK' (or possibly 'BOING') as all sorts of things fell into place.
Which hairy DJ had Keefers previously told me he'd remained close friends with since the Caroline days? Dave Lee Travis, of course! I ikneediately realised the reason why Keefers had rushed over to the UK at such short notice.
There being no secrets in radio, the news of DLT being the subject of TIYL had swiftly appeared in the Radio Magazine, although it had mistakenly reported that Mike Ahern was the old pal who'd been flown in specially from Canada
It was most unfortunate that Keefers and his wife Cathy didn't get to visit the Radio London webmasters. The ironic thing is that when they were at DLT's home, they were only a few miles away from here. I have, however, persuaded Keefers to send us the following report of the event.
My Dear Mary,
So glad you were able to see "This Is DLT's Life". It really was great fun
I received a phone call on Monday, January 17th, 2000, sussing me out as to whether or not I would make a suitable guest and if I was available to come over on the Thursday of that same week for the taping of the show on Friday 21st. So, as you can ascertain, I had no prior knowledge of the program at all. In my haste to accept, I forgot to ask whether or not my wife, Cathy, could join me and I forgot that our passports had expired.
Later that afternoon, when Cathy returned home from her job as a teacher, I told her of the call (thinking in the back of my mind that it may be a cruel joke). We then phoned my sister the travel agent and enquired as to the availability of some reduced fare flights. I thought if they were willing to pay full pop for me to fly over for a day or two, then they might be open to the suggestion of my wife joining me, if it cost them about the same. Then we went into Barrie to have our passport photos taken and pick up the application forms.
The next morning, I heard back from Thames TV and they agreed to my airline proposal. Then I came to realize the offer was legit. Later that same day, I had to drive all over Hell and back to get our passport request in the proper hands. Getting a valid passport in Canada usually takes at least a week, let alone 48 hours. It's not who you know, it's who you... Then Cathy had to see about getting someone to cover her class in her absence and also we had to arrange for someone to move into our new house to stay with our three Jack Russells, one Australian Shepherd and our noble kitty cat. Cathy's parents were, luckily for us, up to the task.
After a great deal of scrambling, we flew out of Toronto Airport at 8:30 Thursday evening, to arrive at Heathrow at 8:30 Friday morning. We were met at the Airport by a driver who was very curious as to who I was and what I did for a living. Soon we realized that everyone was trying to figure out who was the featured party on that week's show! We arrived at Teddington Studios in time to be shown to our secret dressing room. Turns out it was Des O'Connor's. (A privilege indeed! - Mary)
We had an hour or so to freshen up and then we were taken down to the studio to begin rehearsal at 11:30am.
Backstage I ran into my old friends Mike Ahern and Mark Sloane. It seems they too had been asked to be on the show. Then I ran into another old friend, Ed Stewart. He had a little trouble putting a name to the face. I can't understand why, I haven't changed at all in 33 years and we had only met a couple of times in London, and when the tender pulled alongside Big L on our way out to Caroline! Everyone else was a complete stranger but there was a great feeling of levity in the air. We did a mock run-through (of course sans DLT) and I think they were beginning to have second thoughts about my validity as a guest when I corrected Michael Aspel on my introduction and then had very little to say to wrap up the show in rehearsal. Everyone else was scripted, but I was expected to ad lib something profound. I did manage to rise to the occasion when it mattered most. Showtime!
Dave had been surprised on the air at work that morning, and was genuinely unaware of the goings-on. I think, because everything is done last minute, they have a better chance of catching their victims off-guard. It was great to see DLT again and I hope they keep their promise to send me a North American compatible VHS copy now that the show has been on the air. Cathy and I managed to spend a day or two at Dave and Marianne's beautiful new home before we had to leave to play catch-up with all my relatives. So many people, so little time. We did manage to visit most of them and we even managed to squeeze in dinner with Johnnie Walker. A Friday afternoon reunion at the Red Lion off Curzon Street was not very well attended, but one can expect no more on such short notice. It would have been great to see Tommy Vance, Tatty Tom Edwards, Roger "Twiggy" Day, Mike Ahern, DLT, Johnnie Walker, etc, together again. Oh well, maybe next time.
This epistle is probably more information than you cared to know, but you did say you wanted to hear all the grisly details!
Thanx for your interest.
For listeners who missed 'This Is Your Life', pictures are included in Keefers Konfesses, the story of Keefers' own showbiz career.
clearly retained undiminished skills in ad-libbing. His message to Dave from
'behind the door' was:
"'Ere, Dave... How about some finger-snappin', toe-tappin', KNEE-knockin', thigh-slappin', knuckle-crackin', finger-poppin', leg-pullin', wrist-twistin', tongue-tiein', foot-stompin' rock 'n' roll music, huh?"
Amazingly, when he came through the door, he STILL had sufficient breath to tell Dave:
"Who'd have thought, thirty years ago, that instead of being institutionalised, you'd BE an institution!"
Keefers, we really appreciate having such a great 'insider' report. It appears the concept of jetlag is unknown to Thames TV! Well, having gone to so much trouble to get that passport, you can't waste it. There's no excuse for you not coming back to see us soon!