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Monkhouse Encore 275x406   MONKHOUSE ENCORE

BOB SINFIELD salutes a great comedian.  Front cover illustration by the brilliant JAYNE TUNNICLIFFE.

BOB MONKHOUSE died just over 15 years ago but if he were still here, I’m sure he’d be making us laugh at the age of 91, just like his comedy heroes George Burns and Bob Hope.   From 1999 to 2003, I wrote comedy sketches, jokes and documentary narrations for Bob as well as interviewing him for BBC Radio 4.  He was a modest and generous man, blessed with the gift of the gag.

In MONKHOUSE ENCORE, you’ll find my recollections of working with him on radio and TV projects, extracts from stage routines and my thoughts on how he’d react to the hilarities of 21 century life: Brexit, Trump, Amazon and of course, smart tech:-

VOICE-ACTIVATED DEVICES: I’ve got one called Alexa Sayle.  When I give it a command, it tells me to sod off in a Scouse accent.

LAPTOPS: They’ve been left behind by technology.  Before that, they were left behind by government officials in wine bars.

THE INTERNET: If only they’d invented it sooner, we might have had songs like ‘Thanks For The Memory Stick’ and ‘The Boogie Woogie Google Boy’.

MONKHOUSE ENCORE is out in paperback at £7.99 from Lulu Publishing http://www.lulu.com

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DR SIN’S HOT CLUB (MAY 2020)

Just when you thought lock-around-the-clock was all about peace and quiet, here come 20 minutes of sonic disturbance from Louis Armstrong, Billie Holiday, Dave Brubeck and other troublemakers. I insist you will like this. Feel free to share with hipsters, flipsters and finger-poppers everywhere.

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LIFE AFTER RADIO LOGO

LIFE AFTER RADIO

Losing your wireless gig might seem a major blow – but there’s more to life than talking to yourself in a soundproof box.  BOB SINFIELD knows.

When I was told the station I’d been on for some while could no longer afford my show (for the second time in three years), I began to think they should install a revolving door just for me.  But I’m not alone: most freelance presenters have a very clear idea of where the door is, having been shown it many times.  And if you work in radio and this hasn’t happened to you yet, be prepared: it will.  That’s the law.

I’m not trying to pretend that taking this sort of news is easy.  You’re probably going to feel, as I did, like a toddler whose grumpy governess has just stormed into the nursery, grabbed all your toys and taken them down to the crusher.  If you care about the kind of work you do, it’d be weird if you didn’t react that way.  Don’t hold that thought for too long, though: you’ve got a career (of sorts) to get on with.

So it pays to be grounded – and the best way to achieve ‘groundedness’ is to surrender any sense of entitlement.  Radio stations do not owe broadcasters a living.  Those who tend to forget this are the Monday-to-Friday mob.  Putting the hours in, five days a week, leads them to believe they’re as much of a fixture as the water cooler or the shredder (you know: that thing that’s just eaten their contract).

And then there’s the audience.  It can come as a shock to realise that their listening lives carry on perfectly well without you.  Recently, I was emailed by a musician, asking me to mention her new project on my show…which hasn’t existed since 2015.  At one time, I might have taken umbrage at this lapse of listener loyalty but as it was, I just laughed.  And if someone in the business hasn’t noticed my radio silence, there’s not much hope that ordinary members of the public – with real lives to lead – have spotted it either.

So if no one else is upset, why should I be?  I’ve still got a voice, which comes in handy for stage acting, giving talks and narrating audiobooks (where the punter’s far more likely to give you hours of undivided attention under the headphones).  Granted, these lines of toil are just as precarious as hosting a radio programme – but luckily, I don’t have young mouths to feed, just my own old mouth…and I could probably do with losing a few pounds (losing the other sort of pounds has always come quite easily).  It’s different for those whose families rely on the monthly BACS transfer but they too have to live with the knowledge that they’re not flameproof.  Some, though, seem to be in denial.  One such former colleague told me he’d ensured his continued employment by making himself indispensable to the station.  Nice try but – tough love alert – as an old-school BBC  producer once pointed out, many years ago, “The graveyards are filled with people who thought they were indispensable.”

Still missing that show?  You could always podcast if you fancy knocking yourself out for no money.  Or worst case, try another radio station.  But do keep an eye out for the grumpy governess.

 

© BOB SINFIELD 2019

Logo © LINDLEY GOODEN 2019

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40 YEARS IN THE RACKET

FLASHBACK #1: 1994 – WEST ORCHARDS STUDIO, COVENTRY.

Note the antiquated gear (reel-to-reel tape machine and, er, gramophone) plus the slanty BBC logo (later modified to a right-angled one at enormous expense…for the licence-payer).

DR. SIN'S CONSORTIUM

DR. SIN’S CONSORTIUM from the left: Ben Jackson, Iain Morris, baldy in his dad’s dinner suit, Simon Moody, Verity Pullen, Anne Fessi and Julia Curtis.                                            Aloft, the head of Stevie Price, a stag-like wall-mounted trophy. All of the above went on to radio stardom…with one exception. Still, I’m happy.

 

FLASHBACK #2: 1985 – “BACK IN 5 MINUTES”

A sketch show, airing weekly on Radio 2 (late at night so as not to damage their listening figures too much).

In what I can only describe as the ultimate mini-series, John Langdon and I were given just 300 seconds to send up world events from history (no pressure).

BACK IN 5 MINS CARTOON

While he was waiting for us to be funny, producer Mark Robson drew these cartoon caricatures. Amazingly, I’m the one with less hair.

John was – and still is – one of the best writers in the land of laughs. Soon after our run ended, he went on to be a Punch columnist (under Alan Coren’s editorship) and put witty words in the versatile mouth of Rory Bremner. I take full credit for his success.

 

 

Vintage jazz and the biggest of bands, including Stan Kenton, Duke Ellington and Blossom Dearie (pictured).

An hour of vintage jazz, big band sounds and idiotic remarks from Bob Sinfield.

Featuring today: Dee Dee Bridgewater, Dave Brubeck, Django Reinhardt and the heart-stopping Haywood Sisters.

 

The Great Unwatched

great-unwatched-cover-small-2Wit and ‘wisdom’ on the wireless – out NOW in paperback at Lulu Publishing – and there’s a stage version available (see Book Bob).

Described by actor Gary Oldman as “a wander down memory lane and damn good giggle along the way”, The Great Unwatched takes a wry look at radio and its many behind-the-scenes absurdities.

I’d like to say 35 years of painstaking research has gone into this one … but I had to be there anyway as it was my job.

There are chapters on everything from current affairs (No News Is Good News) to advertising (Give Us A Break) plus one about those unfortunate slips of the tongue (The Bum of the Flightlebee) … and as this is an ad for a book and a show about radio, I shall end it with the kind of interminable disclaimer you get after each commercial.

Available subject to availability offer subject to status quo your seesaw may go up as well as down you will not own the car even though you bought it your home is at risk if you set fire to it 0% finance is what’s in your account APR are the first three letters of the fourth month of the year always keep away from children please drink responsibly excludes Scotland teas and coffees apply.

To hear The Great Unwatched Podcast in all its monophonic glory, kindly pop in to https://www.mixcloud.com/doctorsinuk/the-great-unwatched-podcast-2/

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THE ROYAL COLLEGE OF PHYSICIANS

The story of William Harvey:-

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Bob’s Thought for the Day (broadcast on BBC Radio Kent – 20/11/16)

This is not so much a thought, more of an offer.  An offer to improve your quality of life. Do you remember a few years ago when a new word crept into our collective consciousness?  That word was Mindfulness.  In a nutshell, the practice of living in the now, focusing on the present and banishing all thoughts of past and future anxieties.

I’d like to take that idea one step further and propose that you adopt a state of what I call Nevermindfulness.  Nevermindfulness is based on the principle of ceasing to care about stuff that’s not important.  Now that might sound obvious but how often do we actually put it into practice in our everyday lives?

Just last week I saw two motorists virtually come to blows over a disputed parking space – and that was in Reigate, the sedate middle-class capital of the home counties.

Over the Hallowe’en weekend, I was doing what every self-respecting actor does at that time of year: I was scaring the life out of children at Dover Castle. Stopping over at a B&B near Dover Priory. station on the Saturday night, I awoke in the small hours to the shouts of local youths pouring scorn and abuse on people they took to be migrants.

Is that behaviour to be proud of?

We’re all familiar with the expression ‘live and let live’ yet so many of us choose routinely to ignore it.  And it’s not as though there aren’t enough reminders in popular culture.  I’m not a great fan of Eastenders because every time I put it on, there seems to be a fight kicking off in the Vic…but I’ll say this for them: there’s usually a voice yelling “Leave it! It ain’t worf it!”.  How true.  The makers of Disney’s Frozen put it even more succinctly: just three words – Let It Go.  And that magnificent author Mark Twain had wise thoughts on the subject. “Resentment,” he said, “is like taking poison and hoping the other person dies.”

But back to the songs.  There was one in Oh What A Lovely War! which began, “If the sergeant steals yer beer, never mind” and the war that show describes is probably the greatest and most horrific example of what can happen if you make a bad situation worse.

So if, like me, a storm in a teacup is not your cup of tea, join us and take up Nevermindfulness.  Our motto: mind over matter…because if you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter.

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Dr Sin’s Hot Club …

… an hour of the best from a century of jazz, can be heard on Bob’s mixcloud page. In the box: Tubby Hayes, Tina May, Iain Mackenzie and Cecile McLorin Salvant (below).

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