8ft Wookiees and other celebs by Ann Evans

Do you sometimes struggle to come up with a subject to blog about? Well that was me up until I read Reb MacRath's blog on size (Friday) and Jan Needle's comment about interviewing the Beatles.

I was about to add a comment, when I suddenly realised that what I was going to put, could be turned into an entire blog. So first off, thank you Reb and Jan for inspiring today's blog!

My comment was in response to Jan who had once interviewed the Beatles, finding that three of them were smaller than him. That reminded me of interviewing Chewbacca, an 8ft Wookiee about a month ago. That was certainly a bit of a size difference!

It dawned on me that over the years, I've interviewed some weird and wonderful characters. So I thought I might share a few with you.

Topically, as Star Wars celebrates its 40th anniversary this year, I remember writing an article for a magazine celebrating Star Wars' 25th anniversary. I got to interview Dave Prowse – who played Darth Vader. We went down to his gym in London to meet him. So this photo is me 15 years ago. I bet I've still got that outfit in my wardrobe – but whether it still fits is another story!

A later interview with Dave Prowse took place in Coventry, along with the Texas Chainsaw Massacre character, Leatherface. But behind the chainsaw and leather mask was a really nice Icelandic gent called Gunnar Hansen. Thank goodness!

One or two interviewees were up for a bit of a laugh – at the interviewer's expense, I hasten to add. Such as antiques expert, Eric Knowles. Photographer, Rob Tysall and I were meeting up with him at the NEC some years back. He spotted us heading toward him, and must have read my name tag from a distance because he called out across a crowded hall: “Ann! I didn't recognise you with your clothes on!”

 The rest of the interview was a laugh a minute, with me not sure whether he was joking or telling the truth. I kept having to say, “Really? That's true? You're not kidding me?” Lovely man!

A phone interview with Masterchef's Greg Wallace when I worked as a food writer at the Coventry Telegraph was another interview full of laughs. And again, I found myself asking, “Really? You're not kidding me, are you?” I think I must have a gullible persona.

Certainly Brian Blessed must have thought so. I was interviewing him at a Memorabilia Show when he suddenly pointed to my throat and when I looked down, ran his finger up and flicked my nose – and laughed that wonderful laugh of his.

Then I interviewed Lou Ferrigno alias the Incredible Hulk. And asked him what it felt like to be under all that make up and costuming. “Let me show you,” he said placing his huge hands around my head and squeezing – gently, thankfully!

Interviewing dog trainer and superstar from Crufts, Mary Ray was a delight to meet – as were her amazing dogs.

And Richard Curtis who also puts his dogs through their paces at Crufts entertaining the audience with his Heelwork to Music routines was lovely too. And of course you get to see little bits of their routines.

It's always fun interviewing people with animals, and chatting to Napton farmer Roger Allsop about his Asian Buffalo was pretty special. You just had to keep your nerve being that close to a herd of buffalo!

And talking about fun. My all time favourite interview was with the wonderful Norman Wisdom 11 years ago now. Mid way through the interview, he burst into song and sang Don't Laugh at Me 'Cause I'm a Fool to me. What an unforgettable moment.

Amongst the writers out there, what has been the best or worst interviewing experience of your career – so far?

Forgive me if I don't answer any comments today, I'm signing my latest book, a crime novel, entitled Kill or Die today at Waterstones, Coventry 10am-12 noon; and The Big Comfy Bookshop, Coventry 1pm-3pm. I'm teaming up with author Karen King who will be signing her latest romance, I Do? Or Do I?  If you're in Coventry today, pop by and say hello.


Jan Needle said…
Glad to have been of service, modom. I'm a bit jealous though. Apart from the Beatles (twice) I interviewed hardly anyone of interest. I was a reluctant (and crap) reporter, missing more scoops than Soft Mick. Before I got sensible and scarpered off to subbing I noticed, for example, that Marianne Faithful was pregnant before the world knew, but didn't realise it was significant enough to mention. (That's a secret, by the way; I never confessed when the story broke a couple of weeks later.)
Best of luck this afternoon.
Bill Kirton said…
I used to present The Electric Theatre Show for now defunct (not my fault) Grampian TV. For one show I had to interview Roger Moore and Michael Caine who were shooting the execrable Bullshot, directed by Michael Winner. Moore was charm personified, quite open and forthcoming. With Caine, though, I felt as if he was going through the motions and however I tried to provoke him into some enthusiasm, it all felt dull and repetitive. And yet, when we looked at the tapes in the edit suite, the impression we got was that he and I were great pals. It was my first experience of the power of 'the camera loves him/her' phenomenon.
Umberto Tosi said…
Thank you for sharing these delightful interview experiences as well as bringing up some warm memories of my own interviewing days. Each interview brings surprises!

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