EXETER College student Nick
Hancock met his comedy heroes, made his television debut and got stopped by the police
twice - all in the same day.
He was told to wait in the wings
Until he was brought on to tell his story to presenters Stewart Lee and Richard Herring.
Taken from page 14 of Wednesday March 24 1999's City and County Edition of the Express & Echo
Shame they made most of it up and the show was on Sunday and not Saturday.
image scanned by Matt
(c) Express and Echo Publications Ltd
On TMWRNJ Episode 9 - A tribute to Rod Hull
It's a quarter past four in the morning on the 21st of March 1999, and I set off in my car for a half hour drive in to Exeter in order to catch a bus at five o'clock for another four hour journey to London before catching a taxi to Riverside studios to watch the first in a brand new series of BBC2's Lee and Herring's This Morning with Richard not Judy. Nothing could be simpler. Or so I thought. But, of course I hadn't allowed for the fact that all police are bastards. Perhaps I should explain.....
Having arrived in the outskirts of Exeter about, oh - 20 minutes into my planned schedule, things almost immediately begin going not exactly swimmingly. For, as I had expected what with living in gloomy old Devon, it was pissing it down with rain. "Not a problem", I though as I drove down through the back streets of Exeter heading towards the main high street. Moments later, as if by magic, my windscreen wiper takes it upon itself to fly off the car smashing into a nearby wall and leaving me with no visible view what so ever of the road. So of course I pull over. And waste valuable minutes scrambling around in the pissing rain trying to find the wiper, place it back on my car, make sure its secure and drive off again. Great. Five minutes behind schedule. "Oh well." I thought. "You've got to laugh".
So anyway, here I am in Exeter high street, not more than 6 or 7 minutes away from the bus stop - windscreen wiper in tact - with at least twenty minutes before the bus is due to leave and I stop at a red traffic light. But I was the second of a line of two cars at the lights. The first being a police car. And he wasn't alone. Facing back down the hill in the opposite direction is yet another police car. The lights go green. The two police car drivers give each other the knowing nod and a wink, before the car in front of me pulls away and turns off, and the one facing in the opposite direction leisurely cruises off down the hill. So off I drive. The car that has just gone down the hill does a 180 hand-brake turn skid, wheel spins off up the hill cuts across in front of me and slams on his breaks. God knows why he did that. Obviously he had decided that this would be a lot easier than simply stepping out of his car and walking over to question me back at the lights. "Twat" I think to myself, as I turn my music down to find out what's going on. The two police officers step out of their car, put their hats on and walk over. Next, they accuse me of committing a burglary on the grounds that I have a ponytail and a black coat. And so did the criminal. So that was that then, guilty as charged. As far as they're concerned they've got their man. So I decide to tell them that I didn't do it. Having done this the policeman asks me to "Step out of the car". He then proceeds to ask me one or two standard questions along the lines of these:
1.Where are you going?
2.Why are you going there?
3.Where have you come from?
4.Where do you live?
5.What do you do for a living? (I say I'm a student)
6.Do you have a part time job? (yes)
8.If we ring your home will somebody vouch for your story?
9.Is this your car?
10.Have you ever been in trouble with the law before?
11.Can we see some form of identification?
Having met all of his demands, answered all of his questions and listened to him crack a few pathetic jokes about my name being the same as the guy from the sports based comedy quiz program They Think Its All Over, they are determined to find something illegal about me and so decide to check my tax disc etc., before radioing back to the station for them to run a check on my registration number. Whilst waiting for a reply another car pulls up behind us, but gets waved through by the officer who then asks me what time my bus leaves. "Five o'clock" I tell him. The time is about quarter to five. "Oh, that's all right then" he says. "Plenty of time". The station report back with the supprising news that the story checks out and I am innocent. They let me go.
So, off I go with them driving just in front of me checking to make sure that I do actually go to the bus station, before turning off at a roundabout to go and park somewhere else.
So I park my car, buy a 24 hour day ticket, get out of my car and begin making my way towards the bus station with about ten minutes to spare. Anyway, I get to about 60 yards from there when I see another police car go past. The guy looks at me and carries on driving. I can see what's coming. He does a 180 hand-brake turn skid, wheel spins off up the hill cuts across in front of me and slams on his breaks. Sound familiar? What is it with police hey? At this point a police riot van that is also in the area pulls up along side. "Could you step up on to the curb please sir?". Remaining in the road, I protest that I've already been stopped and I haven't done a burglary. I give him my name and ask him to radio through to the other police in the area telling him that they will be able to vouch for me. But, no. This, it seems, would be too simple. He wants to know who I spoke to and what they looked like (a man and a woman wearing police uniforms) and what type of car they were in (a police car). He looks at me like I am the scum of the earth (so much for being innocent until proven guilty) and then radios to the other officers who, as I predicted, back up my story. He lets me go.
Having made it to the bus with literally minutes to spare, I take my seat and await the most boring four hour bus journey to London that anybody could ever imagine. I meet my friend Matt who has been waiting ages and informs me that he had already seen me being questioned by the police on his way to the station. It turns out that he was the guy in the car earlier!
Anyway, once in London and totally and completely lost, my next task is to find the studios. I wonder back and forth for about ten minutes before cutting my losses, admitting defeat and catching a taxi there. "Riverside Studios please" I say. "Certainly" the driver replies before driving about 30 yards round a corner that I'd not already noticed (the equivalent of about a minutes walk), stops outside the studios and says "That'll be 3 quid please". The bloody cheek. I felt like asking him to drop me back where we'd started and telling him I'd walk it. Oh well. I suppose its my own fault for being a fool who doesn't know his way anywhere. Anyway £1.50 each between me and Matt wasn't to bad. Even on top of the £17 train tickets. After all we were about to witness a live performance of TMWRNJ!
So anyway, once in the studios we sat down in a cafe that was absolutely packed to the brim with people all waiting to see the show - hundreds of people. Soon, there were hundreds of leaflets distributed amongst all of the people waiting to see the program for us to write down our name, age, and then complete the sentence "I should be the King of the Show because..." should we want a crack at it. Nearly everybody wanted to give it a go, as did I. It wasn't as if I hadn't already thought about it. I had decided that I would, theoretically speaking, like to be the king of the show ever since the first series. And upon receiving tickets for the show, I had been trying to think of reasons all week. But even the best reasons that I had come up with had been pitiful. But then of course, as soon as I had been stopped by the police for the first time as far back as nearly six hours earlier, I had had a plan.
So I wrote it. I should be the king of the show because I got stopped by the police twice on the way here this morning as they thought I'd committed a burglary at about 4:00am this morning. (I didn't do it)."
I was slightly more pessimistic than I had been earlier on that day as I could now see how many other entries there were going to be, and assumed that I had no chance.
Once in the studios and seated in the audience, the first person to come on to the stage was Carlton (the assistant producer). He was basically there to warm up the audience etc., get them to laugh and shout TMWRNJ a couple of times, get them in the mood for the show (like we weren't already!) and then of course to read out who had been chosen as the king of the show.
And he read out the name. Andrew. "Bollocks!" I thought, even though I had never really expected to become the king. But then Carlton said that there was going to be a new system for the new series, and that there would be two more people chosen that would eventually be narrowed down to one. I became a little more hopeful, but still expected not be picked. Toby was the next name called out. "Well, that's the end of that then", I thought as the second bloke walked down the steps to join the first guy. But then, Carlton said, "And last but not least, They think its all over, but it may very well not be...... ("Its me" I thought).... Nick Hancock! Bloody hell! I was in the final three!
O.K., so Rich and Stu came on next and started doing their warm up bit before the show, and then the three 'kings' were taken backstage. Once there each of us were handed a jumper to wear with the logos 1, 2, and 3 on them, and offered a drink which we all declined. We were then given some chairs to sit on so that we could watch the show being filmed on the monitor in the dressing rooms whilst waiting for our part of the program. Shortly, Paul Putner wondered through with his Orange face, (The Curious Orange) followed by other well know faces to me such as Emma Kennedy (Nostrodamus) and the actor Kevin Eldon. About literally five minutes before the show went on air, Stu came backstage to say hello, wish us all luck and to tell us that whoever was chosen would be asked for a pronouncement as the new king and so we might want to have something funny planned to say. And that was it. The time had come. Now we just had to wait.
After about twenty minutes of show time including hilarious material such as the 'Noel Edmonds' beginning sketch, 'The Lettuce family' and 'When things get knocked over, spill or fall out of cupboards', we were told that our part of the show was coming up and so were all taken to wait in the wings. The program cut to an 'Unusual Priest' sketch and we were put in our positions. When the sketch had finished, it was time for the king to be chosen. We all had our reasons read out why we thought that we should be the king, and the studio audience then got to choose who would be the king by applauding for each of us in turn and whoever got the biggest cheer was the winner. The audience reaction was recorded using a clapometer (Well, Trevor turning a needle anyway). The other two reasons on offer were that Andrew could fit his fist in his mouth, and that Toby had never met his girlfriends parents before, and he thought that them seeing him on TV would be a good introduction!
Anyway, person number one (Fist mouth man)'s audience reaction reached about 50 on the clapometer (out of 100), and person number two (The unknown boyfriend) reached even less at 40. But, of course, the winner was person three, the man who was nearly arrested, Nick Hancock, with the clapometer reaching over 90!!
'Crown the king, Take the fools away!' shouts Rich as Stu leads me towards the center of the stage before Rich begins singing his famous 'king crowning AAAAAHHHs' along with Richard Thomas on the keyboard. Nathalie places a crown on my head (which, incidentally didn't fit me and was nearly falling off the whole time), and Trevor wraps the cloak around me.
"Do you have any early pronouncements as the king of the show?" asks Rich. Now, I'd had about half an hour to try and think up something witty to say, and on top of trying not to move my head too quickly for fear of the crown falling off again, I'm pretty sure I ended up just looking like a twat. Anyway, my new rule as king was that "The death penalty should be brought back, and used on anyone of my choice" which seemed to be good enough and got a couple of laughs. This was followed almost straight away by Stu referring to me as An unpleasant man.... but the king nevertheless, and he's spoken!".
The program then cuts away to another sketch, 'Sunday Hero's', and while this goes on Stu shakes my hand and shows me where to sit for the rest of the show - right at the front, on the sofa, with Trevor and Nathalie! After about twenty minutes I get another interview, which was supposed to last for about twenty-one seconds I think. But the audience were enjoying the show too much, and due to the amount of clapping that went on, it got cut down to six!
Still, it was an excellent day and the police probably felt very stupid when it was talked about on TV.
Anyway, that was on Sunday, and then on the Monday evening, I receive a phone call from my local newspaper, 'The Express and Echo', saying that they had heard about everything that had happened and wanted to do an article on it! HA HA HA, the police not only get ridiculed on National television, but also in the newspaper about a week later. That'll teach the fools to ever mess with me. Actually, I guess I should thank them really. Without them, I would probably never have become the King of the Show!