Long before Paula Yates invited people On the Bed, Emma Freud was doing the same on Pillow Talk, part of ITV’s late night programming Night Network. And who did she have on the bed in 1987? None other than a certain Chris Barrie, who spends much of the interview looking fairly uncomfortable. They should have just had sex in multiple different positions and had done with it.
A few things to ponder, then, before I reveal the real MEAT of what has turned out to be a rather remarkable little time capsule.
- (0:21 – 0:30) Watch Barrie’s face falling in real time, as Chris slowly realises he’s been accidentally insulted.
- (0:42) Emma not recognising Barrie’s Kenneth Williams impression makes me wish the ground would swallow me up. Luckily, Chris’s response is amazing.
- (2:17) I’m presuming the odd cut to the CHRIS BARRIE caption is part of the yoof house style of the show. (“I’m cutting randomly to a graphic, because that’s what this programme is all about – shock.”)
- (7:05) I can’t decide whether Emma broaching the subject of Chris’s wealth is amazing, or amazingly unprofessional. It’s not really the kind of question you ask… which is perhaps exactly why it should be asked. Either way, it’s highly entertaining to see Chris genuinely flummoxed for a few seconds.
- (9:15) The funniest bit.
- (9:24) Quite possibly the worst piece of transmission I have ever seen, and I have presided over a few.
But all that is secondary to the real point of this video – at least, for us. At precisely five minutes in, Emma tells Chris “Brian Clough is someone Craig Charles has been begging me to ask you to do.” And at 5:28 comes the rather distinctive laugh of the Scouse git himself. Now, this video is dated by the uploader as being from “1987” – with no more specific date than that. Which brings up the inevitable question: why exactly is Craig Charles hanging around? Is this just coincidence, with him and Chris being part of the same scene? Is this after the first series of Red Dwarf was recorded in late 1987, but before its TX? Or is this actually from 1988, after the first series had been broadcast?
Ladies, gentlemen, and skutters: unlike most of my questions I foist upon you, here I can actually provide you with an answer. Towards the end of the interview – with a little help from Emma – Chris says the following, in the guise of Ronnie Corbett:
“What I’d like to do is inform you of what I’m doing, fairly soon, and it’s called Thing-a-Thon… and – where is it? Quickly? It’s at the Piccadilly Theatre, tomorrow night, and I’ll be there – Ronnie Corbett, not Chris Barrie – Ronnie Corbett, Thing-a-Thon – be there. And it’s a sponsored sing…”
As the transmission cuts out, you can helpfully hear Emma prompting him that it’s for the Terrance Higgins Trust. All of which gives us enough information to do a nifty Google search, which comes up with this information on a site about Louise Gold, and this forum thread. Which reveals that the fundraiser took place on the 13th December 1987… meaning this interview was broadcast on the 12th December 1987.
Which suddenly makes this video very fascinating indeed. Series 1 of Red Dwarf was recorded between the 27th September – 8th November 1987. So this interview went out after Series 1 of Dwarf was recorded, but before it was shown in February 1988. Explaining why Craig Charles was there… and providing a little time capsule of Dwarf‘s two stars just on the cusp of the show being broadcast to the nation for the first time.
Incidentally, that Louise Gold site also clears up another mystery – it really was Ronnie Corbett performing at the Thing-a-Thon, not Chris Barrie. And why does Emma Freud seem so keen on him promoting it? Because she’s also part of the same charity event. It all seems a little weird that Chris Barrie is promoting an event he isn’t even part of, even in the character of Ronnie Corbett… but certainly explains why he needs so much prompting from Emma. Chris Barrie may be many things, but being unclear about something he’s actually part of isn’t his style. Him being co-opted by Emma to promote something she’s doing makes far more sense.
But it does raise further questions. Why is Chris actually there? And was Craig Charles interviewed in the same show? Surely he must have been, if he was there? And if he was, was there any mention of their brand new upcoming sitcom, even it is being shown on the other side?
Alas, I have run out of answers. But maybe somebody out there has a full copy of the show. You do, don’t you? And you’re going to send it to us immediately, yes?