I met a TV celeb the other day. Not just any celeb mind you, but a bonafide Pussycat Doll. Here I am with Kimberly Wyatt, ex-Doll and now a judge on Sky’s ‘Got To Dance’ (which is what she was promoting that gave me occasion to meet her)
Meeting celebs is a funny thing; being a bit of a miserable old cynic one would think it wasn’t my thing but, on the odd occasion when the opportunity has presented itself, I’ve got a weird little kick out of it. It’s a giddy little thrill for a few minutes that’s a bit fun and nice to share with others as a conversation piece.
I’ve met quite a mix of celebs through the years; although sadly did not always have a camera (thank The Lord for camera phones in more recent years!), a bit of paper to collect an autograph, or had the funds to meet their fee for a signature and/or photo. I’ve met actors, playwrights, comic book artists, musicians, general TV personalities, and even a sportsman – all of varying degrees of celebrity.
Some celebs I have met were an absolute joy to meet and some have been little divas. The cast of Red Dwarf for example, who I’ve met a number of times now on different occasions, were warm, charming, and hugely entertaining (on two separate instances Chris Barrie has happily said both “smoke me a kipper, I’ll be back for breakfast” and his Kenneth Williams impression without hesitation for me). David Prowse, on the other hand, was a complete n*bhead, utterly affected and behaved in an unfriendly and almost confrontational manner.
My first few celeb encounters were facilitated by my involvement with School Theatre and our entry to a national performing arts contest. The contest had a number of celebrity sponsors and on our performance day Alan Rickman, Josie Lawrence and Neil Hannon (The Divine Comedy) were hanging around the theatre and did various MC-type bits of work on performance night. The only one I properly met was Josie Lawrence, who made a few silly jokes (we where, after all, a cast of school kids) and gave us handshakes – sadly while Alan Rickman and Neil Hannon were around (at times no more than two feet away from me) I did not formally ‘meet’ them; mostly as they were occupied and I lacked the courage to interrupt for my handshake & autograph.
I’ve met a number of celebs under formal convention set ups or organised meet & greets. I went to a ‘drinks with Darth Maul’ event once hosted by a wonderful bar in Manchester called ‘Fab Cafe’. It was a great, relaxed Q&A with Ray Park about his experiences on Phantom Menace and X-Men over beers – possible no more than 25 of us hanging out and firing questions at Ray about George Lucas, Bryan Singer, make-up and lightsabers. I also attended a Q&A with Rob Grant in a Waterstones in Manchester upon the release of his novel ‘Incompetence’. He was such a warm, friendly and accessible guy who gave witty and entertaining answers to our questions. He was willing to sign a bucket load of books, DVDs and posters for all the attendees without question or charge, which is so often the practise at organised conventions and events. It’s usually between £10-20 at conventions; for example here’s a picture of me with Julie Benz after forking out a tenner for the priviledge of a signed piccie and this photo!
Some celebrity encounters are just random or by sheer coincidence – and these can be more thrilling than meeting celebs at an organised event. I once bumped into James Walsh (lead singer of Starsailor) in the loo at a Muse gig. Manny from the Stone Roses lives just up the road from me and drinks in a few of the places I drink in – including a couple of great live music places. While he’s not a personal friend he gives me one of those male acknowledging nod (“Alright”) whenever I pass him in the pub.
I was once conducting a job interview in the Hilton Hotel completely oblivious to the fact that I was surrounded by Mancini and the Man City team just relaxing around us with in tracksuits and drinking brews! I thought my candidate seemed a bit distracted!
Once, in one of these live music places I frequent (The Blue Cat in Stockport, if anyone’s interested), I had gone to see a live acoustic gig performed by Ian McNabb of the Icicle Works. Shortly before the gig started a couple, who my pal sort of knew (same gym, I think), came and sat with us. Turned out; that the guy sat with us was in fact Chris Layhe, the bassist from The Icicle Works, who now lived locally and had come to see his old bandmate perform. During the interval Ian came off stage and sat at our table for a natter with his old pal and we got to chatting with both of them – the entire club was staring at us and, I’ll admit, me and my mate enjoyed the envy of all the hardcore, long standing Icicle Works fans who were watching us chew the fat with two thirds of their favourite band! Here’s a vid from my YouTube page I captured after the interval where Ian invites Chris on stage and they have a little reunion; much to the enjoyment of the crowd, some of whom had travelled from far and wide just to see Ian! It’s not great quality but you can hear the crowd getting into it and Ian & Chris having a ball…
So – celebrity encounters are a funny thing. I’m not going to sit here and name drop every single celeb I’ve met (local celeb panto stars, sci-fi b-listers and comic book artists motly!) but my recent meeting with Kimberly had me reminiscing and reflecting on some of these past encounters.
What about you bunch of loyal readers? I would love to know about your celebrity encounters – care to share? Anybody got any real major-leaguers they’ve met, maybe a big Hollywood star or an awesome British Rock & Roller? Let me know…