Behind The Scenes

by David Fleming

David Fleming, who wrote many of the Graveyard Shift quality items, tells us about his contribution to the show.

The story goes something like this: The dates are a bit fuzzy, but then that whole period was a bit fuzzy now I think of it.

By April 1993, I had already written, and had published, four book. One was a teenage novel under my own name, but three others were under my pen name David Hallamshire. These comedy books were, "The Bedsit Survival Manual", "The Aliens Dictionary" and "What With Being Stone Deaf and Everything". All of these books had been published a few years earlier and plumetted without trace, never to be seen again, or so I thought.

Then, on the dole and skint again, I wrote and published (from a bedsit in Sheffield) a book called The Yorkshire Bible Stories. It was a collection of classic old testament bible stories in broad Yorkshire dialect, which just shows what levels of depravity and insanity I had reached by then. It actually sold quite well but not enough to make me rich.

Hit the North, Mark Radcliffe's Radio 5 ShowOne day in April 93 I had a phone call from some bloke with a Manc accent, who claimed to be on a show called Hit The North. This was Marc Riley. All round good egg and sound chap. He said that his partner on the show, Mark Radcliffe, had found a copy of my book, "What With Being Stone Deaf and Everything" and they wanted to read selections from it, on Hit The North. And then he invited me in to the Manchester studio for an interview, as a leader for the item. As I recall, Hit The North was on Medium Wave and had a transmission range of about fifty yards, so I'd never heard of it. So, a little amazed by this (the book had been out of print for three years or more) off I went to Manchester. I didn't have anything to plug, or sell or pomote so I was just doing it for the laugh.

And as it turned out it was a very good thing to do.

We discussed my books, and were just having a laugh because I was pulling more and more failed books out of a carrier bag to show them. When I got to the Yorkshire Bible Stories, that just confirmed their suspicions that there was someone else on the planet as unhinged as themselves. The interview ended with Mark Radcliffe saying, "And there you have it. All David Hallamshire's books are not available at any good book shops or airports. But next week we will be reading from Stone Deaf and Everything."

After the interview I mentioned that I was available for sketch writing, weddings, funerals, one-liners, anything!

Stone Deaf wasn't actually used until a while later, but I got some work from Mark and Marc, doing some sketches for a programme called Glitter and Twisted on Radio One with Noddy Holder. One of the Mark's was producing it I think. It was a seventies retro thing, and there was a comedy break in it with a sketch called "Pathelogical News." This was the original Pathelogical News, with the voice of Lard.

I also did some bits and pieces for a strange alien, space ship thing with Mark Radcliffe. It was called Skyman, or Blue something. Maybe? (That's all I can remember! It was only on for five weeks or so.)It was supposed to be an alien pirate radio station and between records the alien (Mark) would make some phylosophical observation: "If Shakespeare had a juke box, how many plays would he get for fifty pee?"

Stone Deaf was then used on Hit The North, with me writing the adaptations of my book as one minute sketches and Mark and Mark performing them. Mark and Lard did sometimes rewrite some of the sketches to include more up to the minute band names....and farts and swearing, but I got paid for them, so hey...who's going to complain.

Soon after this, they got moved to Radio One and the late night show which became known as the Graveyard Shift. And so I sort of went with them, because they had this material which fitted the show. They did Stone Deaf again, then The Bedsit Survival Manual and then bits of The Aliens Dictionary. I can't remember the timing of this, but in amongst everything was Pathelogical News, of which I wrote about 50% and The Dorricot Files which I also wrote about 50%.

And then some Southern git moved Mark and Marc to the Radio One Breakfast Show, which meant that they no longer could do pre-recorded sketches. And no more fart jokes. And no more swearing. And that, roughly was that. But it was mainly the lack of pre-recording that scuppered things.

I ran behind Lard's limo begging for work, but my efforts fell on deaf ears. When Mark Radcliffe accidentally answers the phone, he does an impression of Mr Burns in the Simpsons. "Tell me Lard. Who is that starving looking fellow with the arse hanging out of his trousers?"

But, who knows. Maybe they will finally get back to where they belong and do the old material again with lots of gratuitous farting, swearing and innuendo. Or is that the afternoon slot? Still. It was fun while it lasted. Musn't grumble.

Thanks to David Fleming for writing this article.

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