Watson thought Beeb call was wind-up

JONATHAN Watson's BBC radio show Watson's Wind-Up did exactly as it said on the publicity material; he and the comedy team poked fun mercilessly at the good, the bad and the ugly of Scottish politics and the media.

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Jonathan Watson is a man of many different characters
Jonathan Watson is a man of many different characters

However, last week the man of many voices thought HE was the subject of a wind-up when he picked up the phone to answer a call from a BBC researcher.

"This young lady came on the phone and said, 'Would you be interested in appearing on a Radio Scotland debate about whether we need a political satire show?'" said Johnny.

"Now, I had to laugh, and I did. I asked her if she was serious and when she said she was, I had to point out that for 10 years BBC Radio Scotland did have a political satire with Watson's Wind-Up.

"I had to point out also that Radio Scotland decided to cancel the show.

"But I was taken aback. Here was someone from the Beeb wondering if we needed a comedy that pokes fun at the Establishment? And asking me, who happened to front the show, to talk about it on air?"

The call could have been a sketch from the hit show that lampooned Scottish politics, having a laugh at the expense of politicians from every party.

"The researcher did not even know about Watson's Wind-Up," added Johnny. "I had to say 'Look, you had such a programme and you axed it.'

"But just to make the situation worse, I have heard word going round that we decided to walk away from the radio show, that we had had enough.

"This certainly was not the case. I loved doing the Wind-up."

However, Watson's Wind-Up, produced by Philip Differ, has not gone to that great radiogram in the sky. It still exists, but in theatre form.

This year the show is being staged at Glasgow's Oran Mor, for three nights, featuring Johnny and actors Brian Pettifer and Julie Austin.

"It's fantastic to get to take the show to Oran Mor," said Johnny.

"And it is every bit as cutting as it has been in the past. What is also great about the venue is the audience get all the references, they know all the characters."

Watson's Wind-Up has managed to wind up its targets so successfully over the past decade thanks to the writing talents of Glasgow-born Rikki Brown.

Rikki has been a comedy writer for more than 20 years, producing sketches and gags for the likes of Craig Ferguson, Rory Bremner, Naked Video and Chewin' The Fat.

"Scottish politics is one great stodgy pudding to pick at," said Rikki. "This year, for example, I have come up with a sketch for Johnny as Alex Salmond in which the First Minister turns an innocent conversation about fashion into a statement for independence.

"I am sure it is a joke that will resonate with an audience."

Rikki also has some fun with the Scottish Baftas.

"It's not hard to laugh at that set-up," he said. "We have been a little bit starved of entertainment programming so the joke is to see who the Bafta committee have scraped from the very shallow barrel that is TV production.

"And, of course, what would Watson's Wind-up be without a reference to one of the true stars of television in Scotland, Sean Batty."

Rikki clearly had great fun in creating the Question Time From Easterhouse sketch.

And it goes like this:

Dimbleby: Hello, I'm David Dimbleby and welcome to Question Time. Tonight we're in Easterhouse and joining me on the panel is the Labour MP Margaret Curran.

"Margaret: It's pronounced Ma-grit, Mr Dimbleby son.

Dimbleby: Sorry, Ma...grit Curran. And the SNP Deputy leader Nicola Sturgeon.

Nicola: I pure fancy Alex Salmond, so ah dae.

Dimbleby: And the Solidarity leader and pro independence campaigner Tommy Sheridan.

Tommy: Bretheren, sisteren, comrades, comradesses, swingers and swingeresses - hullo."

And so it continues, with Nicola Sturgeon's rallying call for independence -

Nicola: And Scotland being independent would mean we get our own entry in the Eurovision Song Contest, and I have already got that song wroted. It's called Alex Is Dead Sexy And I Wish He Was My Boyfriend."

Johnny Watson, who will star in football comedy Only An Excuse? again on Hogmanay, maintains Scotland desperately needs a critical voice.

"You need to keep politicians on their toes," he said. "You need an overview of what's going on. And what better way to do it but to have a little fun?"

l Watson's Wind-Up, Oran Mor, December 20-22.

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