DAVID JOHNSON, ON WHOSE ANECDOTE THIS PARTICULAR BLOG WAS ORIGINALLY CENTRED HAS ASKED ME TO DELETE THE BLOG, WHICH I HAVE REFUSED TO DO – I THINK IT IS A FASCINATING INSIGHT INTO A VIVIDLY REMEMBERED INCIDENT. HE TELLS ME HE HAS ALSO WITHDRAWN PERMISSION FOR ME TO USE HIS DIRECT WORDS – ALTHOUGH, AS HE POSTED THEM ON FACEBOOK, I THINK THEY ARE IN THE PULIC DOMAIN… STILL, ANYTHING FOR A QUIET LIFE, EH?… SO WHAT HE WROTE HAS BEEN PARAPHRASED BY ME… NOW READ ON…
Last weekend in Piers Morgan’s Life Stories, he interviewed Julian Clary, whose TV career faltered in 1993 – well, in effect, it stopped for two years – when Julian appeared on the televised British Comedy Awards show and came on stage joking that he had been “fisting” the then Chancellor of the Exchequer Norman Lamont.
The incident is on YouTube:
Jonathan Ross’ scripted introduction says: “To crown the King or Queen of Comedy, who better than the man never known to go for a single entendre when a good solid double would do? Please welcome Julian Clary…” – so the viewing public was warned (in the unlikely event that they did not already know), that Julian Clary was known for making sexual references during his act.
The result of Julian’s unscripted “fisting” reference, however, was ‘public outrage’ – or was it?
The illuminating memory below was posted last week by theatre producer David Johnson on his Facebook page (SINCE DELETED). David’s productions this year have included shows and tours by Fascinating Aida, Stewart Lee, Piff The Magic Dragon, Rubberbandits, Alexei Sayle and Sandy Toksvig.
David wrote that he had watched the ITV1 Life Stories interview of Julian Clary by Piers Morgan.
He said he found it difficult to watch because of Piers Morgan’s own personal involvement in what had happened at the 1993 Comedy Awards. He said Piers Morgan – who was Showbiz Editor of the Sun at the time – was responsible for the ‘public outrage’ that started in the following day’s issue of the Sun.
David had been in the press room of the London Studios on the night of the British Comedy Awards.
He was sitting next to Piers Morgan in the room. The ITV Duty Log (of viewer’s complaints) was being relayed to a small adjoining room.
To put what happened into context, David pointed out that Norman Lamont had actually been booed by the Comedy Awards audience when he had gone on stage to present an award.
When Julian Clary made the “fisting” reference, everyone in the room laughed and, according to David, Piers Morgan observed that most viewers – particularly Sun readers – would not actually know what the word “fisting” meant.
Some complaints did come in from viewers – but about a joke over (David thought he remembered) a puppy. No viewers complained about the audience booing Lamont nor about the actual Julian Clary “fisting” joke.
However, near the end of the Awards show, comedian Michael Barrymore (who, at that time was at the height of his popularity) mentioned Julian Clary’s joke and accompanied it with a fisting mime.
“We’ll have to run it now!” David remembers Piers Morgan saying and Piers rushed off to phone the Sun newsroom.
The next morning, remembered David, the Julian Clary story was spread over the front page of the Sun.
Several months later, Piers Morgan was promoted to become the News Of The World’s youngest ever editor.
Now, here on ITV in 2013, was the person who had caused Julian Clary’s misery – Piers Morgan – appearing to sympathise with his victim.
When I read what David Johnson had written, I thought to myself: Why on earth did Julian Clary agree to go on the Piers Morgan show – even though all this happened 20 years ago?
Comedy writer Jim Miller asked that very question on David Johnson’s Facebook page. He posted:
“Well, Julian must have known that it was Morgan who ‘hounded him and made him miserable and suicidal’. Yet he chose to do the interview with Morgan. I don’t get your point, other than that everything is for sale in pursuit of a little telly exposure?”
In response Julian’s friend, writer, producer and film critic David McGillivray posted:
“Actually he didn’t. He found out when I emailed him David’s revelation yesterday.”
* * * *
THAT WAS THE ORIGINAL BLOG, AS POSTED. BUT THEN THERE WAS A FOLLOW-UP MESSAGE FROM DAVID JOHNSON WHICH WAS ADDED SEVERAL HOURS LATER…
In this additional piece, David Johnson said it was the Sun’s thuggish writer Garry Bushell who actually wrote the piece which was published the next morning. Bushell’s piece argued that Julian Clary should be banned from live TV. David said this started off a homophobic campaign against artists including Julian Clary and Graham Norton and that it lasted for as long as Garry Bushell was writing for the tabloids.
He said that Garry Bushell’s defence of himself in 2005 – “This isn’t about homophobia. It’s about a fair deal for fellas. We watch telly too” was only to be expected and that he was glad to realise it was Garry Bushell himself – not Julian Clary – who ultimately lost out and became unemployable because of his material. David said Garry Bushell had barely worked since 2007 and was an active UKIP member.
MORE EXPLANATION ABOUT THE CHANGES TO THIS BLOG IN THE FOLLOWING DAY’S BLOG HERE…