All the recent headlines on the government’s proposed sell-off of Channel 4 has reminded me of one of the most surreal experiences of my time in professional football – the night I was a studio guest on ‘Under the Moon’, Channel 4’s offbeat, late-night 1990s sports show which was hosted by Danny Kelly.
Unfortunately, while I thoroughly enjoyed the show I was on, the format of ‘Under the Moon’ was all over the place and I remember seeing one newspaper article which labelled it ‘the worst programme on TV’!
Anyway, let me take you back to March 1998 and let my diary extract from that day tell you all about my appearance alongside Danny Kelly, Tom Binns, Chris Lewis, Don Goodman and Sophie Lawrence on ‘Under the Moon’.
Wednesday 18th March 1998
…I left my office at The Football League at 5.15pm and headed for Bailey’s Hotel in Gloucester Road, where Channel 4 had reserved a room for me for tonight’s ‘Under the Moon’ show. After I checked in, Helen came to meet me to go for a meal with me. I was pleased she did this as I was getting quite apprehensive but very excited about appearing on tonight’s show.
After Dinner, Helen went home and I then got a couple of hours rest in my hotel. At 11.15pm I was picked up by my own personal driver and taken to the studios of Channel 4, where I met my fellow guest Chris Lewis, the England cricketer. Chris and I were then escorted through to the ‘Green Room’ and introduced to everyone. The other guests joining Chris Lewis and I were Eastenders actress Sophie Lawrence and Wolves’ striker Don Goodman. We all got on brilliantly well and then one by one we were led into make-up! I was in my element; I was loving it and I really felt great and not nervous at all.
When the time came to go on the set, Don, Chris and I were sat on the sofa facing our host Danny Kelly. Then we were all given football-face mugs filled with whatever drink we wanted! I had water…honestly! Then we went live. To introduce me they used a piece of film showing me ‘in action’ in the 1996 Auto Windscreens Charity Match at Wembley. I just felt really at home straight away and it helped that Chris, Don and I got on so well. Sophie didn’t join us until later in the show.
The main part of ‘Under the Moon’ which is hosted by comedian Tom Binns, is receiving calls from the public and I was delighted to receive so many calls about my particular role at The Football League and about The League in general. At one point, Danny told us that Chris Lewis and I were answering most of the questions from the public and that Don and Sophie had to brought in more!
The time flew by, and I have to say that I felt really pleased with how it had gone. In fact, the producers actually told us that this ‘was the best show of the series’. I don’t know about ‘under the moon’…but I was certainly ‘over the moon’ after my appearance on the show.
After another drink in the Green Room, I said my goodbyes and was taken back to my hotel; I finally got to bed about 3.15am!