Not everybody at the BAFTAs at the Grosvenor House on Sunday night was Surprised when I told them about BAFTAS new ruling that there has to be a life assurance salesman on at least one jury. In my case for this years Best Comedy Programme.
“It makes a lot of sense to me, ” Neil Robinson Dir. of progs at Border TV, said to me as Sacha Baron Cohen asked me for my autograph.
(Sorry Sacha, but I never do autographs or photos when I’m out of Character out of my Allied Dunbar office)
“They’ve needed to inject a bit of glamour into the event for a long time..And of course I suppose you’d have been able to tell them how many people who watched really died of laughter wouldn’t you?” he continued as I told Greg I wanted to be the very last person to congratulate him on his appointment as D.G. He seemed really thrilled. (I make a point of congratulating people.. as a friend of mine in Hollywood ..A BIG Star.. Life Insurance salesman.. once told me.. the only time people congratulate you there is if they’ve just heard you’ve got a terminal illness).
I’ve been a life insurance salesman for 20 years so when I got the
Invitation to sit on the BAFTA jury for best Comedy Programme I naturally accepted immediately..in case it was a mistake..and they’d meant Claudia Rosenkrantz(ITV network head of Entertainment)..I’m mistaken for her all the time.
I assumed I’d been recommended by the Head of Entertainment of a major TV co.(who I wont identify)that Id had lunch with last year who had laughed at the quintessential Jewish joke Id told him (Punchline..”He had a hat!!). I didn’t think it was that funny. We’d never met before, I just like meeting strangers and inviting them out for lunch, and after a couple of hours he said,.. over his 5th double espresso.. “So what do you want to pitch me?” I actually didn’t have any idea to sell him anything.( I was totally out of stock of life policies..there had been a run on them) but asked him if he thought Id make a good talk show host.
“No” he replied “for 3 reasons”. (Have you noticed how people always say they have 3 reasons?..but if you ask what they are they only ever have one).
“So what are they Nigel?” I asked.
One you’re Jewish..
2) your age.. (I am an incredibly young looking 53..when
I shave I look 3 days younger)..and
3) you’re successful.”
I couldn’t believe it..he really did have 3 reasons.
“Does the name Jerry Springer ring a bell?” I asked him. (I am not making this up.) ..He leaned back in his chair as I puffed my Cohiba smoke into his soufflé.
“Tell me all about life insurance Peter” he said.
Anyway, when the comedy jury assembled in the Run Run Theatre at BAFTAS W1 headquarters in March, our chairman, Sky BsB Director of Programmes, Jamie Roberts, opened the meeting by suggesting we should all say our names and what we do..”Hallo..I’m Paul Whitehouse..I’m a comedian.” Hi I’m Josie Lawrence ..I’m a comedienne” I thought I’d wandered into a meeting of Comedians Anonymous. So when it was my turn I said “Hi! I’m Peter Rosengard and I’m a life assurance salesman, and I haven’t touched a policy for 7 whole days now.” For some reason that got a few puzzled looks..don’t ask me why. Jamie then thanked us for viewing all the programmes.
That’s when I realised that I’d never heard of “People like us.” I’d watched all the videos back to back the previous night..or at least I thought I had.
“So what do I do now ?”. I asked myself. An ethical dilemma and so early in the evening. An appearance on The Moral Maze for Peter Rosengard. Jamie explained we would all be giving our views on every programme..Do I bluff it out?(” Brilliant!!.I laughed till I cried./”hated it..never even smiled once” total rubbish!”)or did I OWN UP and TELL THE TERRIBLE TRUTH? “Ahhem.. Look I’m really sorry ” I said ..but somehow I don’t appear to have seen ‘People like us’..maybe I was so exhausted I didn’t have the strength to insert it in to my video last night..I’m really really sorry.” I got the feeling that my fellow jurors weren’t entirely happy with my explanation. (I seem to remember the words “Wot a tosser!” coming from somewhere on my right. How did anyone there know my middle name. Jamie adjourned the meeting for 45 minutes while they set up a special
screening just for me in the Run Run…and the others trooped off to bar. Then we got down to the programmes.. I m still not sure what the phrase production values kept coming up so often particularly from the lady members of the jury. I had no idea how much it costs to buy or sell a comedy show. Finally we got to vote. “So what if it IS a compilation?” I’d shouted..” I’m sorry.. I thought we were only here to say which programme we thought was the funniest?”.
As I recover today from last nights partying (Allow me apologise in Writing to my guest ITN Ch5 newsreader Andrea Catherwood..for being away from the table so much during the awards. But people in TV seemed addicted to buying life insurance).
I still cant understand how the comedy phenomenon Ali G. didn’t win an award..especially as he had a life assurance salesman on his side.
Next year it will probably be the accountants turn.
Now that will be REALLY exciting.
Peter Rosengard. May 26th 2000
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