Comedy performer Dave Thompson has been telling me more about his new novel The Sex Life of a Comedian, which I blogged about yesterday. Dave famously got fired as Tinky Winky in the TV series Teletubbies because, after a lengthy period playing the iconic purple creature, it was suddenly said his “interpretation of the role had not been accepted”.
The plot of his novel involves a stand-up comedian on the UK circuit who gets a job wearing a blue furry costume in a world-famous television show but then gets fired. The story involves drug-fuelled celebrity sex romps, the Mafia and wild parties aboard luxury yachts.
Dave tells me: “Although the novel is fictitious, I’ve drawn from the landscape I’ve worked in and mixed real events with made-up ones. That’s why one of the main characters is a promoter from Edinburgh with gangland connections.”
So I was particularly interested to hear more about the section of the book in which the central character, at a celebrity sex party, accidentally spurts on a member of the mafia…
“Well, yes,” Dave tells me. “I have done gigs overseas for promoters who were organised criminals. In one country which shall remain nameless, I found myself working for comedy promoters connected to the IRA.
“The local mafia had tried to extort protection money from them, but found themselves up against IRA tactics. The mafiosi came round to ‘teach the promoters a lesson’ for not paying them protection money, but the IRA guys beat up the mafia guys with baseball bats and threatened far worse if they ever came back. The beating was so severe the mafia left them alone after that.
“I had a great gig that night and, after the show, there was a party in the nightclub where the gig was held. I had some business to sort out with one of the promoters and we went back to my hotel room to do this. He and I hit it off and had a convivial chat and a drink from my mini-bar. When we returned to the party, people who knew the promoter looked very anxious.
“As soon as I was separated from the promoter, I was asked if I was okay. I said I was fine and didn’t understand why they were so concerned. It turned out that the man I’d invited to my room was notorious for his temper and they thought we were gone so long because I’d offended him and he was beating me up.
“There’s a lot more about their criminal activity that I can’t talk about because they could recognise themselves and I might end up like the mafiosi who annoyed them.
“I think there’s a mutual attraction between organised crime and show business – each lends glamour to the other.
“At the height of their power, the Kray Twins used to hang out with celebrities in the West End of London and Barbara Windsor was married to East End villain Ronnie Knight, who was jailed for his part in the £6 million Security Express robbery in 1983.
“He escaped and whilst he was on the run in the Costa Del Sol, taking advantage of the lack of an extradition treaty between Britain and Spain, he owned a nightclub called ‘Club R Knights’.
“I was invited to the opening night party and met Ronnie. He was very pleasant and pulled me a pint of lager. Barbara Windsor had already left him because she couldn’t stand the Spanish heat and he had another blonde partner, who looked very similar to Barbara Windsor. I had a long conversation with her and was impressed by how well-read she was.
“I had been invited to the party because of my girlfriend at the time – a pretty blonde actress and singer who appeared in West End musicals. Her mother and stepfather owned a villa near Fuengirola on the Costa Del Sol. The stepfather was from Essex, had a huge black Rottweiler and was a friend of Ronnie Knight’s. He took us to lots of parties thrown by ‘geezers from Essex’.
“We were warned never to ask anyone what they did for a living as this was contrary to etiquette. The stepfather told me that, whenever I took my girlfriend to a restaurant, I should tell them he had sent us. That way, we got the best table, free drinks and the meal was be less than the menu price.
“One evening we were relaxing by her mother and stepfather’s pool and the English language radio station was running a phone-in competition for couples in love. The stepfather told me to phone in and mention his name and, immediately, my request was played on the radio and we won a bottle of champagne.
“I never saw the bottle of champagne because, soon after we got back, the girl dumped me in favour of a criminal, who subsequently beat her up.
“That relationship is long over but she and I are still good friends. Years later we posed naked together for the News of the World. One of the characters in the novel is partly based on her.
“As for Ronnie, the News of The World later paid him £45,000 to stage-manage his return to Britain, so he could see his mum before she died. He was arrested and sentenced to another seven years in prison.”
Dave also tells me:
“I’ve checked the sales figures on the book again and it’s looking very encouraging!”
I am not surprised.
You can buy The Sex Life of a Comedian here.