WARD'S WORLD: Sutch was life
Time certainly moves on quickly nowadays, although while possibly of no major significance to many people, on June 16, 1999, David Edward Sutch (perhaps better known as Screaming Lord Sutch) died at his home - he had committed suicide.
I was reminded of this as I was contacted some months ago regarding an invitation to take part in a television documentary about his life as to my involvement with him, that had turned up via their research, although the fact this was being made by an American network was intriguing.
Initially I had no idea I would ever be meeting him but we were both individually booked to appear on a late night television chat show some years ago - rather inspiringly called The James Whale Radio Show - that went out late from (then) Yorkshire TV in Leeds, live on a Friday night which ran for several years.
It was when I arrived in the studio that I realised we were among other guests, but the odd thing was he knew more about me than I seemingly did myself (it seems that people ‘know’ more about me than I do and I was there for most of the time but never met or saw them, but why spoil their fun?) but regardless we got on okay as we did the show, which suffered a minor power cut live on air due to a blizzard hitting the area but we coped as afterwards we eventually got back to our hotel at about half past one in the morning, going through snow drifts, global warming plus our driver complaining he was cold but he had a fur coat on!
Back at the hotel we realised there was no chance of getting a bite to eat at that hour but as we had rooms opposite each other we took our kettles out onto the landing, plugged in and then brewed up a cuppa each, nibbled on the small packets of complementary biscuits as we chatted and put the world to rights - it seems to work better sitting on a decent bit of floral patterned carpet and supping tea.
After an hour or so, actor Keith Baron - then starring in the TV sit-com Duty Free - wandered up as the cast and crew were having a ‘wrap party’ in the main ballroom/whatever to celebrate the end of the then current series they had just finished, who said hello and then sat down with us with he in his ‘penguin suit’ as in DJ and dicky.
He started eyeing the remains of our biscuits up but we pointed out it was all we had so he suggested we follow him back and join the party but due to a shattering evening prior, we declined as we both clambered into our respective beds as the blizzard was still howling outside and we both had other engagements the next day - assuming we could get out of Leeds okay.
We both got up bleary eyed, sub-zero temperatures outside, had a quick breakfast then we took different trains ‘back south’ as the saying goes - his journey took five hours and mine just under nine hours but we both left at gone seven that morning so yet another long day but my journey was to be the stuff of Carry On films that both defied logic and common sense that might be worth mentioning another time as I was on a train possibly heading for the Twilight Zone.
Not long afterwards, after phone calls and assorted meet-ups he made me his ‘Minster of Inventions’ as he was then the leader/instigator of the Monster Raving Loony Party (..if only he was in charge of the ongoing, never ending Brexit malarkey) but for the life of me I could not work out why or how I had upset him that much that he would bestow such a title on me, but in fairness I never asked.
Our ‘best’ achievement between us – his idea, my design - was a ‘Manifesto Muncher’ that he used to throw other political parties written manifestos into as it churned them out in the form of toilet rolls so at least the end product was something to go on so to speak.
He used to ring at odd times - once he rung to ask me if I was busy as he put the phone down his end, then I heard things being moved about which lasted about five minutes or so as he then came back to the phone to tell me he had moved his mother's sideboard around, then her display cabinet she had her china pieces in, then proudly told me he had decided to have a ‘cabinet reshuffle’.
Lovely sense of humour - why can’t all politics be like this?
One rather memorable time was our local school sent two of their finest sixth former's - enter Giles and Rupert - to interview me for the school magazine as being a ‘local personality’(?) but it was obvious from the start they felt lumbered - and it showed.
It was a Wednesday evening, about quarter to seven as they were looking bored as the phone rang but being a speaker-phone they also heard the following that went something like this: "Hello mate - Dave here (Sutch) - just to let you know that I am on This is Your Life tonight - not me personally - but I am the second guest on as they have collared Paul Nicholas who was in my band (the Savages) years ago, so tune in if you can - ta-ta!’
Giles and Rupert looked like stunned polecats gawping at each other after he rung off as I explained that it was Screaming Lord Sutch as I put the gogglebox on in readiness - the programme started at seven - but at that point they thought it was some practical joke judging by their smirking.
Seven o’clock arrived and so did This is Your Life with host Michael Aspel as he then surprised Paul Nicholas during a performance of Barnum he was starring in and yes the second guest on was indeed Dave.
I looked in the direction of Giles and Rupert as I asked them if they wanted their jaws picking off our carpet and their eyeballs re-sited in their sockets - that certainly enlivened the proceedings a tad after that but I can still see their faces now - priceless.
Another occasion he rung to ask if I knew we were both on the same page (bless!) of a Time-Life book, part of a series titled Library of Curious and Unusual facts but a complementary set of them had just arrived as he rung as I was about to open them but he pointed out he didn’t mind sharing the page with me!
Even though he is no longer with us, the interest in him now 20 years after his death, never ceases to wane although we live in an age where supposed ‘celebrity’ is now seemingly a everyday commodity as no sooner do we get used to one supposed ‘cleb’ then another comes along but no sign of there being another David Edward Sutch so far or even anything like him, as like him or not it’s a safe bet he will still be remembered in years to come.