Midsummer.. a day after the Midsummer parade in fact. It was a new age.. friendships on a knife edge, new alliances and battle lines being drawn after the new dawn/darkness of the Labour run C-wac (delete according to political preference) . Rumours had been all around the city for weeks about the visit of TV legend and acclaimed Eurovision commentator Sir Terry Wogan. Various contacts were suggesting he would be at place X, Y, Z. The Kings head offered a free meal to anyone who guessed which TV star would be filming with them shortly, I was never rewarded for my correct answer, presumably due due to insider knowledge. Chester had become quite a hotbed of TV recording in recent months. From last years visit of the Foyles War film crew , an all day shoot which was onscreen for about 3o seconds.. to Come Dine with me, the previously mentioned Kings Head hosting Most Haunted ( with a spine tingling tap that turned itself on).. to Channel 4’s The French Collection showcasing Becnicks and Minerva Lodge, plus numerous film crews at the Cathedral.. even as I write the struggle of the market against discount retailers has been showcased on Pound Shop Wars. Everyone is coming to Chester .
It was a chance encounter at Chester Fringe with Katie of the Food Assembly that got me a good tip off, and access, as the BBC had advised “no press”.
So off to Telfords it was, for the food assembly, where I waited anxiously for Wogan’s arrival, quite a coup as it hadn’t been publicised anywhere and there was , as requested, no official press present. One of the BBC team chatted to me and asked that the information about the show being filmed, not be shared until transmission so as “not to spoil the surprise”… I agreed, as long as I could tweet a few pictures, which was agreed to. Terry arrived, in good spirits, laid back and friendly with his co host “London Cabbie Mason McQueen” . He stepped down into the food assembly area , to greet suppliers including hot sauce maker Sam Ryley. I stayed up top, networking with the researcher who seemed keen on the lego display- perhaps it could have been combined with a sampling of the fine dining at the market cafe ?? After a short while, it was photographs all round , As Terry proved what a nice guy he was, with plenty of time for his fans.
Months later , food assembly Guvnor Katie Little commented :
“Sir Terry himself came to visit the Chester Food assembly..which was such an honour, myself as an Irish woman, he was like an idol in my house so it was very exciting . To tell you the truth I vomited after it had happened , because I was so uptight and nervous, not in front of Sir Terry luckily! They’re following an old route that somebody did 100 years ago, he came here spoke to some of the producers and he loved it!”
I returned home, a bit surprised to see extensive coverage online of Terry’s earlier visit to Tea on the walls , and Corks out. Press embargo? The same quotes attributed to Terry and revealing the entire theme and contents of the show then turned up in the other local paper : “They sent us a press release!” I was told. Funny how the media works, when “spoilers” for the show could easily be found via google, and also everything appearing n the BBC’s own website. Terry had been quoted in the Chronicle as saying that he loved Chester ” it’s a lovely, lovely city.”
Puzzled, but still another chance the next day, having been told Terry might even do a brief interview.
Another contact had suggested that Terry would be filming at the Cross , I was given the time so we lay in wait for more coverage opportunities, but knowing it might not happen as the plans had already changed that week. Mason and the film crew walked past, and Mason gave a knowing smile in our direction, so we abandoned post and headed down the “28th worst street” ( though when this happened that title had yet to be awarded – i’m playing with the timeline here guys).
Onto the cheese shop , where Terry emerged from his vehicle for some filming on the street. He confronted a heckler who shouted out from one of the opposite pubs “buy us a pint Terry Wogan!”
We waited outside for the promised chat with Terry… and soon he emerged and was happy to pose for photographs, again, with us, even saying we should retake one because of the glare of the sun. There was no time for chat as he was ushered into the waiting car. We overheard that they were off to Conway next. Seconds later, a Wogan superfan came running down the street , desperately searching for him. “Is Terry Wogan here?” she asked the cameraman who was exiting the cheese shop..
“Yeah he’s in there , I think” the camera man lied. The fan entered in a futile search, swiftly realising she had been conned. Seeing the car she knocked on the window, saying she had something really important to tell Terry Wogan. Graciously he lowered the window for a brief exchange.
Our insight into the glamorous world of TV production was over. Wogan’s car drove off into the summer sun.
Terry and Mason’s Great Food Trip (Chester) airs on the 8th September BBC2 6.30.