Thursday 25 July 2013


We met at a student party. He was intervening in a cider fuelled dispute over a girl. He was calm. Rational. Possibly brave or just plain foolhardy. I was impressed. he went on to save me life on several occasions. The first time was 24 hours later.

The next night we went to the Aston University Geordie Society night which boasted Ray Stubbs the amazing one man blues band and comedian Mike Elliot and compere.

After watching the turn and also a sweaty man shouting "Gateshead" every few minutes the evening was over. I staggered drunkenly up to the compere to ask where the comic was.

"It's me yer"

Clive intervened. Calmly. Rationally. Or then again he may have just been being brave or more probably foolhardy and we tottered into the night.

So what sort of man was he was back then?

Without a doubt the Funniest most bizarre and possibly scruffiest human being I ever saw.

Old beyond his years and to me very worldly wise.

We discovered mutual love of pub and conversation. Birmingham in the late 1970's boasted dozens of horrible down at heel seamy boozers and we visited them all. One game we'd play was

Pub toilet bingo

Door. Lock. Seat. Paper. Lighting. Full house. Paper was known as Bathroom stationary he explained due to an elderly aunt terming it thus.

He was so inventive. We would spark off one another. With me the junior partner struggling to keep up. Strangers would edge their seats closer to eavesdrop.

He was a storyteller.

He also had the most wonderful sense of the absurd. As well as the ability to laugh at his physical imperfections.

Once after visiting the cinema to see Slade in Flame in Birmingham one cold and rainy winters night. He wandered into what he thought was a chip shop where his glasses promptly steamed up.

"Savaloy and chips please" he said.

"Sorry mate this is a taxi office." Came the reply.

Then there was his family.

He always spoke in glowing terms about his parents Bert and Molly and how they were the perfect team when they ran their business. How they had started with nothing and had done it all on their own and how he could never hope to emulate the success they had made of their lives.

We traded family stories of eccentric aunts who would turn the tv on to "look at the news" and a scary centenarian woman swaddled in blankets who he was left alone with in the front parlour. Just her. Him and a dinky toy. Her only utterance being "woo hoo hoo hoo". I don't think he ever found out her name as she was just known as "Little Auntie".

I tried to trump his tale with mine of a great grandmother who appeared to be made entirely of woollen shawls and talcum powder and the horror of the visit to her at the Fleur de Lys Nursing home which always entailed the kiss at the end of the visit.

He would talk about an idyllic childhood growing up in Rosniegr then Ashford With him tricycling up the street to visit the neighbours so they would make him tea. He once said happiness was a new toy car a new pair of plimsolls and the summer holidays stretching out in front of him.

A year or so after I met him and we were swapping tales as usual and he told me about his brother Mark. Four years older than he. Who he adored although Molly told me they fought a lot as siblings do.

As he was talking about him. He started to weep. He then told me Mark died very young before he had a chance to fulfil his obvious potential.

Clive would often mention him. He was always with him. I think his brother informed many of the decisions he made in his life and he was never forgotten.

If we were together he would often mention it was his brothers birthday or some other anniversary.

In fact last February Kerry my wife tweeted that we were up in Morecombe for the weekend and Clive immediately texted back that one of his favourite memories was of visiting his brother who was doing his teachers training up there and walking round the bay together doing impressions of TV nature programme commentators. Every observation ending with the line "and they make such a magnificent sight" or something similar. Clive had a mind for these observations and would always be 100% accurate. I was always rather less so. I got used to being corrected over the years!

Such was his brain. He was able to recite poetry. Song lyrics. Advertising slogans and tv dialogue at will. This probably explained one of his many strengths. He loved to write parodies.


Work was everything to Clive. He had ambitions to be a writer. He succeeded although not perhaps in the way he perhaps intended. It was glaringly obvious when we were at college doing our Communications Studies Diploma. An early form of the now discredited Media Studies degree that he was the star of the show.

He excelled at every module.

TV. He was a natural. However he knew that looking as he did a tv presenting career was out of the question.

Radio. He was a leading light in hospital radio and during his early freelance career did many voice overs for radio commercials. Using one of his many voices. Being a gifted impersonator.

Advertising. We had to write the copy and design a campaign for a men's underarm deodorant. The best I could manage? Blue collar rather direct campaign for "No Sweat"

Prevents perspiration... No sweat.!

Clive elegantly crafted a campaign around Abatis! The Greek word for an obstacle or a barrier.

Now that was a class act.

It was little wonder that writing beckoned. He was supremely gifted.

He started out writing for the Henley in Arden Digest. He was in his element. It was a tiny village magazine he wrote and produced it. He would ride off from his dingy bed sitter in Birmingham each day on his Honda 70. It was the closest he ever got to learning to drive. All the better for other road users with his eyesight frankly.

Each weekend he would regale me with stories of pompous and very camp members of the cast of the Archers who lived in the village and his favourite. The local copper Sgt Scudder who would ring him with the latest police report.

Occasionally if there had been an accident on the A34 he'd start the conversation with "Hello Clive. Scudder 'ere. I've got a nice fatal for yer"!

He ran the magazine with a bloke called Beamon who so he told me seemed to be made up of a kit of parts. Lifts in his shoes. A bad toupee. False teeth and a selection of nervous twitches. Brought on he reckoned by this blokes suspicion that his wife had tried to kill him by putting ground glass in his food. One day Beamon disappeared. With the money. For years after. The police would call asking if he'd heard from him.

So Clive needed a job and the only one he could find was at Mayfair magazine. Where he honed his writing style. He crafted wonderful articles about steam locomotives. Second World War bombers and the like. Secure in the knowledge that no one would read them as they only bought the magazine for the naked girls.

When he wasn't at Mayfair he sat in his flat writing furiously carving out a freelance career which included the Real water sketch for the Two Ronnie's. He often described himself as a hack. Anyone who has seen that sketch would tell you that wasn't the work of a hack.

One day his life changed. At Mayfair they used to make the letters up as no one wrote in. So he invented one about a slapstick fetish where people would cover themselves in custard.

To his surprise and delight he had a deluge of genuine letters. He needed a name for this and Splosh was created. He also decided he needed another name for his freelance work and Bill Shipton was born.

He started Splosh as a magazine and then moved into films.

So he was able to combine so many of his talents. Writing. Producing and helping.

Clive or Bill if you prefer as a man was always drawn to the underdog. He always wanted to help people. One summer for instance he helped build a kids adventure playground.

With Splosh he not only provided top quality fun and entertainment. He was the first person in the world to do so. How many of us can say we started something that had never been seen before?

He also created a community. Many people from the Sploshing fraternity had felt isolated and alone. He brought them together and showed them that it was alright. It was normal. It was fun. It was life affirming. The world took on a rosier hue after a pie in the face,

Which goes part way to explaining the large numbers of people who have been saddened by his death. Their tributes pouring in to his and other websites.

Off duty he was the life and soul of the Marina Fountain. Writing the newsletter and holding court. It was a place he loved as it was full of fascinating characters. He liked nothing more than to sit there talking about anything and everything with anyone. He held no prejudice.

It was a side of him that many didn't realise existed.

He was in many ways an intensely private man. I knew him 36 years and I didn't know everything about him.

His Crohn's disease hindered him latterly and he found it difficult to travel. So working from home was ideal. He preferred to meet on neutral ground. So the pub it was. Not that I was ever complaining about that.

How do you sum up a life like Clive's?

He wasn't a rich man. That didn't worry him. He would have liked to have done more writing and we are all the poorer for that. I think had he lived we would have seen an hilarious autobiography. He had intended to write about his time at Mayfair. The stories he told were magnificent about a demoralised work force and their petty revenge on the people in charge.

Everyone who met him immediately found him riveting and the best company.

No one who ever met him could ever forget him.

He was the hit of my wedding.

His best man speech was the voted the best ever by experienced wedding goers.

When Kerry my wife and I retired to bed for our wedding night hoping for our very own Mayfair moments. All we could hear were great gusts of laughter from the bar downstairs as Clive held court and recounted tale after tale to a rapt audience of new friends who had only met him a few hours before.

I could go on all day about this man. But he's probably fretting to get to the pub.

So now this is going to be the hard bit: To sum up.

He is irreplaceable. There was only one. There will never be another. The world is a darker sadder certainly less funny place for his passing.

All this has made him out to be a bit of a saint hasn't it?

Well he wasn't perfect.....

Twenty years ago when he was first hospitalised with Crohns he asked me to go get him a couple of pairs of pyjamas.

"I'll pay you when I get out" he said.

I'm still waiting!!

Frankly I think this is a rather extreme way of getting out of paying a debt. Don't you?

Wednesday 17 July 2013


I mentioned on Facebook last week that my best friend of 36 years standing, one of the two wonderful people who agreed to be my best man at my wedding to the Dark Lady in 2011, had died suddenly.

It is a bitter blow. A far bigger blow to his parents who at this late stage in their lives have now lost both their children, (his older brother died 40 years ago as a student). How cruel life can be. They are a lovely couple are Bert and Molly and this is not the way things are supposed to be.

I first met Clive at a student party in a grim house in an even grimmer suburb of Birmingham. He was in the year above me and we bonded immediately. I can still remember saying to him the next morning when having slept on the floor of this vile house, unwashed and with a horrendous hangover waiting for the bus into the city centre.

"Nothing beats a good evening’s bullshitting"!

We decided that night due to our mutual interest in comedy and also my interest in music to go and see "Ray Stubbs the amazing one man blues band. Comedian and compere Mike Elliot".

It was for the Aston University Geordie Society. We were at the lowly Birmingham Polytechnic but we shared a campus so that was alright.

This was the first of several times he saved my life!

At the end of the evening as we were leaving having witnessed Mr Stubbs and a sweating compere shouting "Gateshead" every few minutes I staggered up to this bloke and asked where the comedian was. Not realising it was comedian AND compere. Rather than COMEDIAN. And Compere.

Clive saved me from a kicking on several occasions over the years.

I moved into radio, he into journalism and freelance comedy writing. He was the founder of a tiny magazine called The Henley in Arden Digest, which was notable for the local copper phoning him up with crime and accident tips. He delighted in the name of Sgt Scudder and would occasionally ring and mutter conspiratorially down the phone:

"Clive? Scudder 'ere. Got a nice fatal for yer"!

If someone had met their end on the busy A34.

1979 dawned and Margaret Thatcher was elected Prime Minister. His business partner did a runner with the money. Recession arrived and the magazine was finished.

By this time I was with the BBC and travelling round the local radio stations, mainly in the North of England. Clive loved to travel by train and would come and visit. The visits were broadly similar; Pub and conversation. In fact over 36 years we have done little else. Just in a variety of different locations.

He needed a job. They were hard to come by. Eventually he landed a job on soft porn magazine Mayfair. Ever after he blamed Maggie for his descent into a life of pornography.

Even if we were apart we would be in constant touch. He had ambitions to be a comedy writer. He was a very good one and the funniest man I have ever met. When we were on a roll, sitting in the pub firing out ludicrous ideas, people would edge their chairs closer to hear what nonsense we were talking.

As well as being a scream he was also very clever and well read. He was also good and free with his advice. This was useful as he picked up the pieces after a series of romantic failures on my part.

We didn't always agree. Occasionally there was the odd wounding word. He may have been slightly jealous of my perceived "success".

I never understood this. Here was a man who had not only written the "Real water" sketch for “The Two Ronnies” but also the excellent "Lester's Lists" for me which we repeated a few to celebrate my 26th anniversary on Radio 2. This was a man who had also started an entirely new fetish!

During his time at Mayfair one of the many editorial jobs was to make up the letter for the letters page as they received so few genuine ones.

One day for a joke he invented a letter from someone who claimed they really liked pouring custard into their knickers!

To his surprise they received a flurry of genuine letters from people who were into this but thought they were alone.

Sploshing was born!

It started small with magazines. Then there were films and latterly websites. He became a celebrity in this world. If ever there was a sex show on TV up would pop "Bill Shipton" (his pseudonym) with a bucket of gunge and a posse of scantily clad women. Far from being "filth" it was Carry on style slapstick comedy where the woman always came out on top!

"Belle de Jour" with Billie Piper featured Sploshing and got in touch to find out how to do it properly.

"So that's when the guy has sex with the gateau? No No No. The woman sits on it"!

He loved thinking up ludicrous plots and making his messy movies in his own studio. He was adored and feted the world over. Home Box Office from America did a big piece on him. Film Director John Waters waved a copy of his magazine on the David Letterman or was it the Jay Leno show?

Trouble was this took up all of his time so he wasn't able to do as much comedy writing as he would have liked.

Not that he was unhappy. True he could be a grumpy sod. However that may have been partly due to the Crohn's disease he suffered for the last 20 years of his life, restricting a lot of his travels and sapping his strength.

He was the life and soul of the pub: The Marina Fountain in St Leonard's on sea. He did the newsletter for them which was full of information about the bands due to play, and scurrilous gossip about the regulars.

When I went to meet him it was very difficult to talk to him uninterrupted as a constant of stream of friends would drop by his table to chat.

He hadn't enjoyed the best of health over the last few months but last time the Dark Lady and I saw him he looked a lot better and was in good spirits. So his sudden death is a terrible shock.

He is irreplaceable and leaves a massive gap. Everyone who met him adored him. He always had time and loved nothing more than a good conversation. If it involved pub… So much the better.

I often see things, think of things or you tell me things and I think

"Clive would love that"

Who can I tell that too now?

My life is less colourful. There is less laughter. Still I have the most wonderful memories of the funniest and most generous man I've ever known.

Wednesday 3 July 2013


26 years! My time (so far I hasten to add) at Radio 2 has flashed by. The pudgy fresh faced youth that arrived here in the summer of 1987 has given way to a pudgy slightly more weathered middle aged man. However despite the passing of the years I still have all my own hair and all my own teeth. OK I lost half a molar 17 years ago biting into a kebab but with a little invisible mending you wouldn't know.

When I first arrived I'd been a DJ for over ten years so it wasn't exactly new but it was big. It was important. It was national. It's what Radio presenters dream about. It was the Man U of the wireless. I say wireless. For back then Radio 2 was a very different beast. I was too young for the demographic. By nigh on 30 years.

It meant that when I was on the air presenting programmes such as "Nightride" or "The Early Show". It was very difficult to know what to talk about. I couldn't talk about my life otherwise I'd sound like the audiences grandson. Nor could I pretend that I had their life experience.

"Remember the Blitz?" would have sounded ludicrous coming from me.

The language we used would also have to be tailored. We never used the term "gig" for when we went to see live music. It was "concert" or even "recital"!

When I first started at the BBC. There was a firm ruling:

"Do not mention alcohol as some listeners do not drink and may be offended"!

My first show came about sadly as a result of the lovely Ray Moore being taken ill with the cancer that killed him at an early age. It was bittersweet that the start of my national presenting career coincided with the end of his. He was unable to continue and so the schedule had to be reshuffled at the 11th hour. I was around and on I went. I was terrified. Well outside of my comfort zone. I have the cassette of it somewhere and more than a quarter of a century later I still can't bring myself to listen to it.

After that I started to do shows on a regular basis, alternating between the after Midnight slot and the early morning show which I do now. Then in 1995, huge ructions. The BBC decided that it would be good to move my show (as it had now become) to Birmingham.

This was an upheaval. Do I sell up and buy a house in the Midlands or stay put and commute? I chose the latter and for 10 of the next 13 years I lived on a canal boat. I was closer to my parents and sister and brother in law so there were advantages. It also meant I got to see my Mum a lot more over the last years of her life.

Then having sold the boat and moved into a house. The phone call came...

"The Controller wants to see you. I can't tell you what it is about"!

What would it be. A higher profile show? The axe?

"You're coming back to London"

So in 2008 I upped sticks and moved south once more.

By this time and since our move to Birmingham 13 years before there had been a seismic shift in the target audience coupled with my advancing years. The music changed. It started to reflect my own tastes. Stuff I had bought rather than my parents’ generation. The language changed. We became more informal. You could use the word "gig" without the management having an attack of the vapours. In fact we used a whole lot more words and began to sound like the person you would talk to over a pint in the pub. We could even mention the pub without fear of a deluge of complaints from the offended. (Although I can't recall ever having a complaint along those lines anyway).

Then in 2011 another change. The shows production was put out to tender. It would no longer be made by the BBC. I had no say in the selection process but to my great delight to was won by Wise Buddah a company who make a number of shows for Radio 2 such as the Terry Wogan, Johnny Walker and Michael Ball programmes. So I was in pretty exalted company.

Looking back over the last 26 years I've been very lucky.

I got to spend time with me old Mum. When I came back south I met the Dark Lady who in a moment of aberration agreed to become my wife and I get to fool about and play nice tunes on the radio.

For a boy from Walsall who started out as a filing clerk at the D.H.S.S I know I've been very lucky. OK so I've not exactly set the TV world alight. Maybe it would be nice to have a higher profile time slot. However with age comes wisdom...(even to me) and I've learned you can't have everything.

I can still remember those long tedious hours filing Case Papers in A-L. I didn't even have the whole alphabet to go at!

In general I've worked with many kind clever and talented production staff who have added a lot to the shows I've done and continue to do so. Dr Strangelove has moved on and is missed. Jade the Unnatural is doing a brilliant job and will move on soon herself and will also be missed.

I have every confidence that between the two of us, myself and the new person will continue the tomfoolery and the tunes. In many ways it’s now more fun to do the show than it’s ever been. As long as you are up for it. We most certainly are.

A huge thank you to you for listening and taking part.

Roll on the next 26!


Whenever anyone writes anything like the above. Pimply Herbert's on message boards put two and two together and come up with the following:

"He's leaving"

"He's been fired"

"He's ill. Probably dying"

"Obviously major changes afoot on the station"

In response to these rather overexcited posters.


Then in response to the following cyber mutterings:

"We'll they always say that. I've heard from a "source" (imaginary). That he's going/Ill/fired/abducted by aliens"


Not saying I expect to do another 26 years. I have no reason to think that I'm going any time soon and as far as my health is concerned. I think (hope) I'm good for a while yet.
If you are up for it lets continue to Ride the Night Horse!