I won’t be too upset if you haven’t seen me already, but I have recently become a bit of a TV star. Well, ‘star’ is perhaps pushing it slightly: I’ve been on The Alan Titchmarsh Show. Yes, he’s the gardener who sells apples for Waitrose. I didn’t realise he had a daytime show either -don’t tell him.
I should clarify, I am not the next Charlie Dimmock. A few months ago, I received a call from a production company, who had been “given my name”, wanting to discuss a series they were making. They were looking for a lawyer who could provide general advice on topical issues affecting viewers.
The key criterion seemed to be me not looking like a lawyer, which I took to be both flattering and concerning in equal measure. Fast forward and I’m now into my fourth appearance on ITV each Monday afternoon.
To say this is a strange and otherworldly experience is putting it mildly. TV is as far from the legal industry as you can possibly imagine, unless you are a defamation or media rights lawyer, I suppose. A chauffeur-driven car collecting me in the morning, a runner tending to my every whim, my own dressing room (usually next door to a ‘Loose Woman’) and make-up are nearly all new ways of working that I have quickly learned to deal with.
Then there are the fellow guests. I’ve already had Rula Lenska, Amanda Holden, Ardal O’Hanlon, Paul Michael Glaser (I am too young to have known he was the original Starsky) and Sandi Toksvig next to me. I’ve poured the tea for Matthew Kelly, Penelope Wilton and Anton Du Beke, and shared Katie Melua’s birthday cake.
As for Alan, no doubt you would expect me to bond naturally with a fellow Yorkshireman and I have. Charming, witty and typically personable with the guests and audience alike, he is just as you would expect him to be. He spends more time in the make-up chair than I do, but that’s only to be expected.
Of course, this isn’t all frolics with famous folk, there is some real work to do. Learning all about new and diverse areas of the law, albeit with only a passable knowledge, has broadened my own awareness. Viewers aren’t calling in, but with guests in the studio and a live audience, I need to be prepared for questions and be able to provide comments beyond the scope of a nutshell guide. The main remit is sound, practical advice and offering something new that they might not have considered.
To date, I have had no diva moments, but I fear that might just be a matter of time. It’s something that my colleagues in the office are helping me to deal with, entirely selflessly, I’m sure. And I’ve not slipped into a drink or drugs hell. Then again, I haven’t been recognised in the street or asked for an autograph yet either.
Don’t worry, I won’t forget my roots. But until next month’s column, catch me at 3pm every Monday on ITV1 until November. You can even covertly watch online at your desk, but I would avoid the HD version.
This article was first published in the Solicitors Journal on 10 October 2013 and is reproduced with kind permission