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For The Evening Gloria!
A review of The Wurzels' appearance
at the recording for the Channel 5 TV show Open House
With Gloria Hunniford (Wednesday 6th June 2001) by Paul
Gunningham went along to see how TV presenter Gloria Hunniford would
cope with The Wurzels as guests!
Never having been to a TV studio before, I wasn't sure what to expect
when I arrived at Pearson TV's studios in London for the recording
of Open House With Gloria Hunniford. The
reason I went? Because Gloria's guests were The Wurzels!
They were there to promote the forthcoming Combine Harvester
2001 "Cowshed" Remix single, and I was keen
to see them and meet up with them again - I had been asked to come
along early, partly because Pearson wanted to borrow a picture of
Adge Cutler to show during the interview, and partly so I could join
the small band of people who were privileged to be invited to watch
the recording of the music, which for technical reasons was to be
pre-recorded separately before the main programme.
I had been asked to turn up at around 5:30pm, but they were running
late and I was taken upstairs by Greg, the programme's researcher,
to my own private dressing room! Not that I had anything to change
into, mind - but I guess they had to put me somewhere. As I followed
Greg along the corridor, I began to feel a little bit like a star
myself (by association, as it were) as I noticed the names on the
other doors - among them "Gloria Hunniford", "Alice
Beer" (it turned out she was another guest on the show) and finally
For the next twenty minutes or so I was left to my own devices and
plied with sandwiches and coffee by Gabby, who was responsible for
the welfare of the audience. When she returned I think she felt a
bit sorry for me being stuck in my "prison cell" and took
me back downstairs, just in time for the arrival of the other "early"
guests, including farmer Tim Gibson who had made the trip all the
way down from North Yorkshire for the occasion - that's true dedication
to the cause! We were ushered upstairs to a reception room for coffee
and biscuits, and offered apologies by Gabby and her colleagues for
the delay. Apparently the rehearsals for The Wurzels' musical bit
were taking longer than anticipated. Funny, we thought - they've been
playing it nearly every night for the last twenty-five years - they
can probably play it in their sleep by now!
After another quarter of an hour or so, we were
at last led downstairs to the studio where the lads were waiting
for the recording to start. I was pleased to get a wave of recognition
from them as I sat down in the front row. From where we sat we could
see the whole set, laid out to represent the various rooms of the
"house". The floor of Gloria's "living room"
had been strewn with straw and hay bales to make the boys feel at
After a bit of warming up, including a bit of Tommy and Pete's
"double act", the countdown started and we applauded as
we had been instructed by the floor manager - not that we needed
much encouragement! The band then launched into Combine Harvester
as they stood among the bales. The surprise (for me anyway) was
that they did the "Cowshed"
(2001 Remix) version of the song. They'd never done
it before, which explained the longer rehearsal time. I'll let you
into a little secret - they were singing live vocals over the backing
track, and miming on their instruments. That probably isn't too
much of a secret though, as Tommy spent most of the time waving
his Wurzel stick in the air rather than "playing"
his instrument! [Editor's note: Don't worry missus - 'tis
legal I tell 'ee! - Zider Ed.]
Although using a bit of technological trickery, it was still a great
performance to watch, with the boys movin' and groovin' like good
'uns, and we didn't need any prompting to applaud enthusiastically
at the end. However, the director apparently wasn't satisfied with
the performance and another take was ordered. For some reason this
was abandoned half way through - although most of us couldn't tell
any difference from the first one. We were asked to clap along with
the third take, and apparently this made all the difference - it
was in the bag, or pot, or pan, or can or whatever they call it!
While the rest of the audience were taken off to a room full of
booze somewhere, I shook hands with the lads and we then went up
to The Wurzels' changing room. On the way up we met the first lady
of TV herself coming down for her own rehearsals - she graciously
shook my hand and said hello although she didn't have a clue who
I was! Back in the dressing room, after a bit of a chat, Dave
and John (who were taking no further part in the show) said
goodbye and headed off to catch the football on TV. Pete and Tommy
then had to wait a while to be summoned back down to record their
interview with Gloria, which gave me a good chance to catch up with
the news and get a few more answers to questions I'd been saving
up to ask. Pete in particular was in high spirits and obviously
enjoying himself - he said he'd found singing the "cowshed
remix" version of the song a bit more tiring than usual, bearing
in mind that he was having to sing it at about twice the speed of
the usual version. As ever, Pete and Tommy were both great fun to
talk to and made me feel most welcome - not only are they great
entertainers, but you couldn't meet four nicer guys than the current
band. While we were waiting, Tommy and Pete were fitted with their
radio mics ready for the show. We had to be careful what we said
after that, just in case!
The Comfy Chair!
downstairs on set, I was allowed to take a couple of photos of the
lads in Gloria's "house" while the floor manager spent
a few seconds explaining to them what he wanted them to do. In honour
of the boys' visit, Gloria's usual comfortable interview chairs
were replaced by the straw bales much preferred at home by the lads
- a thoughtful touch. Even Gloria risked her posh frock by sitting
on one, to the consternation of the costumes manager!
Before the start of the main show recording, Gloria stood in front
of the (by now considerably larger) audience and told us a joke
(using me, for some reason, as a sort of prop!), and then Steve
the warm-up man encouraged us to clap and cheer as the show started.
Gloria brandished a Wurzel stick as a clue to the first guests,
announcing that we were in for some Scrumpy & Western
music, and then sat down on her interview bale and introduced the
boys as they were ushered in through the "front door".
Greg the researcher had done his job well - naturally, since he
had used the Wurzelmania! website as his prime source of
reference! Gloria's questions covered the early days with Adge Cutler
(with my record cover picture shown on screen!) and the 1970s heyday
of the later Wurzels. She also made mention of the Farm Aid
connection. Tommy and Pete were good entertainment value as usual.
During the interview, a couple of clips of the 1970s hits I
Am A Cider Drinker and the original version of Combine
Harvester were shown as a reminder to those who might have
forgotten what they were like. And for good measure Pete gave a
demonstration of some of the many (legal!) uses of a Wurzel stick!
It was an interesting and entertaining interview for Wurzels' fans
and Gloria's knowledge of Scrumpy & Western music was (more
or less!) faultless, thanks to Greg's thorough research.
we applauded at the end of the interview, Pete and Tommy were led
over to Gloria's "kitchen" where the resident cookery
presenter Anne Stirk had come up with a couple of scrumpy-based
recipes in honour of the lads' visit. Anne worked them hard at stirring
the dishes and beating eggs. A gallon jar of Westons' scrumpy
was on hand, a small quantity of which was used in the cookery,
and a bit more was consumed by Tommy and Pete - after all, cookery
can be thirsty work! Pete had to go easy as he was driving later,
but for the audience's benefit he demonstrated the proper Somerset
way to drink out of a gallon jar. The results of their culinary
efforts were judged delicious by the boys - that's yet another talent
of theirs we didn't know about!
The end of the cookery item was the cue for the first commercial
break. In the few seconds available, Gloria kindly let me take a
photo of her with the boys, and that was more or less it, as far
as the Wurzels were concerned. The rest of the show consisted of
interviews with other guests including a couple of women who had
trekked to both the South and North poles; TV presenter Alice
Beer; and Jill Moss, an expert on dolphins. Then at the
end Gloria announced the moment we had all been waiting for - the
first ever TV appearance of The Wurzels' latest single -
and we were able to watch the completed video of the song we lucky
few had seen recorded earlier, on the studio monitor screens. This
appeared to go down well with the rest of the audience who were
seeing it for the first time, auguring well for the record's future
success. Then Tommy & Pete were back on set with the other guests
for the finale while the credits rolled.
And that's yer lot! Tommy & Pete went off to get changed ready for
the long drive back down west, while the floor manager swept away
the straw, the camera crew made sure the rest of the scrumpy supplies
didn't go to waste, and the happy audience filed out. It was an
interesting and enjoyable evening and my thanks are due to Gloria,
Greg, Gabby and the rest of the friendly crew for
their hospitality and for looking after me so well. And thanks also
to Tommy, Pete, Dave and John for being
such great blokes for making me welcome too - and for putting on
an entertaining show!
The episode of Open House With Gloria Hunniford featuring
The Wurzels was recorded at Pearson TV studios, Stephen
Street, London W1 in the evening of Wednesday 6 June 2001,
for broadcast on Channel 5 TV on Monday, 11 June 2001
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