Graham – Fantastic, thanks! Your close connections with these papers are working a treat for us.
Philip Lovett, Nottingham City and County Enterprise and Skills Board, August 2012
After Dinner speaking
Thank you so much for your fascinating and funny talk... "Best talk ever”, members were saying as they left. Well done! It was great to see so many members asking you questions. There were 134 members in the audience, which is a really good attendance.
All good wishes.
Kay Williams Bourne U3A
Copywriting and Journalism
Superb piece, thanks so much Graham, have sent copy on to head of Military History Channel who I’m sure will be thrilled. We’ve got a few more coming up this year so hopefully we’ll be able to do more together very soon.
All the best
Steve Humphries, MD Testimony Films, Bristol
THANK-YOU – it looks fantastic!
Vicki-Sue Brotherhood, proprietor of Indian Summer, re the feature about her life and business on www.newarknotts.co.uk/
Article - Persuasionists Daisy Haggard
New BBC2 sitcom The Persuasionists takes a rise out of the advertising industry without showing much affection for it – the original title was The Scum Also Rises… GRAHAM KEAL mingled with the cast and crew at the programme’s London Press launch.
Sitting opposite the lovely Daisy Haggard in the bar of one of London’s latest boutique hotels, recently converted from satellite offices for MI6, we’re supposed to be talking about her new BBC2 sitcom The Persuasionists.
Daisy, 30, whose credits include Green Wing and comedy shocker Psychoville, plays coolly superior advertising exec Emma in the six-part series from the production team behind The In-Betweeners – but talk has turned distractingly to her bosom.
That’s because Daisy also starred in BBC3 sketch show Man Stroke Woman, and in one sketch co-star Ben Compton took the series title rather literally.
In a well-acted re-working of an old joke (still viewable on YouTube), a visitor to her boyfriend (who’s upstairs showering) offers Daisy £200 for a fleeting feel. At first she’s shocked but eventually agrees. Her fondler then departs in haste before boyfriend comes downstairs saying “Did he bring that £200 he owes me?”
“That sketch has chased me round the globe,” laughs Daisy, then tells of an unseemly approach during a flight from Toronto to Montreal:
“This very drunk Canadian businessman offered me $200 and I didn’t know what the hell he was on about. The sketch was one tiny moment of my life and I’d forgotten about it. Then he said ‘Can I have a go on your boobs?’ and I realised what he was saying.
“He was sitting in front of me and he wedged his face between the chairs, and was just looking at my boobs…”
Sounds like aversion therapy for doing risqué comedy, but Daisy remains undaunted: “It was a funny sketch and I still don’t regret doing it.”
A courageous statement, especially since these incidents keep on happening: “The other day I was on a Tube platform and a man came up to me and said “Oh, I recognise you!’ So I said ‘Oh well, yes, maybe it was in this or that,’ and we couldn’t figure out what he’d seen and I walked away.
“Then he came up to me and said ‘I know where I know you from – you were in that sketch where you got your boobs felt for £200! I’ve watched it 35 times!’
“At that point the tube train arrived and the doors opened and we had to get on. There were only two seats and I don’t like standing when I’m wearing heels, so I had to sit down and we sat next to each other. He was really red in the face because he was embarrassed about admitting he’d watched it so many times…”
Daisy’s previous roles have seen her dating an obsessive dwarf admirer in British Comedy Award winner Psychoville and guesting as a blowsy gangster’s moll in Ashes To Ashes. And although Psychoville did cast her as a dim-witted Snow White, her role in The Persuasionists puts her firmly back on the naughty step:
“Emma’s a naughty girl, definitely a boys’ girl, not a girls’ girl at all. She’s the kind of girl I probably wouldn’t cope with – spoiled, neurotic and self-obsessed. Whenever she gets any power she loses control of herself – like a character in Lord of the Rings.
“She’s great fun to play but she was quite a challenge for me. I tend to rely on being quite low status and silly and warm, and Emma’s high status, cool and mean. She generally minces about the office, undermining the boys and thinking she’s better than everyone else.”
Emma’s first power-trip comes when she is appointed ‘Head of Handsomeness’ and starts relegating less well-favoured workers to the boiler room. But as the youngest of six children, Daisy is much more down-to-earth.
Her father is English film and TV director Piers Haggard, who spent his formative years growing up in Dollar, Clackmannanshire, and went on to direct Dennis Potter’s 70s telly classic Pennies From Heaven and cult horror movie Blood on Satan’s Claw.
The family is descended from Victorian novelist H. Rider Haggard, creator of She and King Solomon’s Mines, so fame is in the gene pool.
The ensemble cast of The Persuasionists also features Adam Buxton, Iain Lee and the improbably tall Simon Farnaby (around six foot four, not counting the vertical hair) whose manic mop will be familiar to Mighty Boosh fans.
Simon plays Keaton, the vaguely Eastern European ‘Head of Global’. He roams the office making young women swoon and parading his sexual prowess – until the episode when Keaton loses his mojo after making the shock discovery that women are people too:
“That’s one of my favourite episodes,” says Simon. “He goes to a video shop because he wants to impress a girl by hiring a non-porno film. He’s never seen one before.”
So Keaton watches a film about women working on a tapestry and is so struck by the emotional impact of his discovery that it quite unmans him.
On the other hand, in episode two he strides in to work wearing only a glittery wizard’s hat, sparkly cape and multi-coloured underpants:
“It’s not like The Office. It’s not about the minutiae of office life – it’s pretty big and bold. In another episode Keaton goes around with a red velvet bag, stealing other people’s happiness to give to his boss…”
But according to actor and BBC Radio6 DJ Adam Buxton, who gained a cult following for his stuffed toy movie parodies in the 90s on C4’s Adam and Joe Show (with comedy partner Joe Cornish), advertising’s real-life characters are not that different to their comedy counterparts.
And Adam should know. He does lots of voice-overs for adverts, as well as playing hapless, hopeless, mild-mannered advertising executive Greg: “Advertising is one of those industries that is almost beyond parody, like the fashion industry.
“It’s so populated with morons and over-the-top t**ts that it’s hard to take the mick out of them, because they almost seem to be taking the mick out of themselves.
“I’ve been involved with advertising myself and I see how hard they work, but on the other hand you also see the ridiculous aspects, the huge amounts of time and money wasted over pathetic, stupid decisions that no one’s going to care about.
“I suppose that’s where some of the comedy in The Persuasionists comes from – all this energy and anxiety expended over things that are completely unimportant.”
Series creator Jonathan Thake presumably agrees, since he gave up his high-flying, award-winning and exceedingly well-paid ad executive career to become a comparatively underpaid TV writer with an uncertain future.
Jonathan was the man who created the controversial “Pot Noodle – the Slag of all snacks” campaign, which made eating instant noodles look as decadent as a sleazy night in Soho.
And you can guess Jonathan’s view of the advertising industry by the title of the pilot show which spawned the series – The Scum Also Rises.
Executive producer Iain Morris explains the change: “We liked the original title but the BBC thought it was ‘too negative’ and said we should change it.”
Then the BBC boss who ordered the switch moved to Sky and she asked Iain and co-exec producer why they had changed the show’s name. “She said she really liked it as it was!”
It could only happen in TV. Or in advertising
After Dinner Speaker
Fresh and funny
Showbiz journalist Graham Keal developed his flair for entertaining audiences early, compering student revues, appearing at folk clubs and auditioning for Opportunity Knocks. He is now an experienced speaker performing at dinners, conferences and club events all over the UK.
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