How do you define a celebrity? During the nearly eight years I was at the BBC I met a lot of people who would like to think of themselves as celebrities. I met Sophia Loren once, she was on the Pebble Mill @ One show and I had to clip her microphone on. Not exactly a long encounter but I did get to speak to her. I had a much longer conversation with Robert Wagner and the late Natalie Wood when they appeared on Saturday Night at the Mill who were absolutely charming. I have no doubt Basil Brush was a celebrity because he had a stand in who used to do all his rehearsals for him, he was called Fred.
Meeting a celeb at work is an odd experience, we were both there to do a job, them promoting something, usually a book and me wiring them up for sound. The people who really got in the way were the entourage, the hangers on and the researchers who booked them, desperate to ingratiate themselves to the star. Oliver Reed was interesting, he arrived well refreshed as they say and told me he was on a diet, Vodka and Smoked Salmon. Sounded fine but I thought he might have overdone the Vodka as the first thing he did once on air was to take his trousers off.
I suppose I’m slightly unusual in that I met a lot of famous people through my work, so my encounters didn’t involve asking for autographs or queueing up at the stage door. We treated them as people who had a job to do and our mission was to make them sound and look good on camera. It was a team effort. There did seem to be a correlation between the degree of famousness and how normal they were. More often than not the really famous were the nicest. It was the jumped up, one hit wonders, who didn’t understand the rules and it will still be exactly the same now.