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Why I'm ditching my chat show; After 1000 interviews in 250 shows, Channel 5's king of late-night quips reveals the reasons behind his decision to zip his lips.

Jack Docherty's found the kind of fame he hadn't experienced since some big boys at school dragged him on stage for their end-of-term show ... as the star-turn in a sketch called Scottish Poof Of The Year.

It's allowed him to get up close and personal with heroes and villains, has-beens and wannabes, a handful of the world's most beautiful women ... and people he'd walk over broken glass to avoid meeting ever again.

But Scots star Jack has confessed he is SICK of four-nights-a-week-fame as a chat- show champ.

As his Channel 5 take series prepares to celebrate its first anniversary next month, Jack revealed: "It's been a completely bonkers year and it's all been too much."

Edinburgh-born Jack, 35, will stay on as host for another series but insists he will then say "goodnight and goodbye" after two years in the hot seat.

He said: "I've done more than 250 programmes and interviewed more than 1000 people. But there have been some nights when, half an hour later, I couldn't remember who I'd been speaking to.

"One guest blurs into another and it's like I've been sitting through an endless conversation with a multi-headed monster, plugging movies, records, books - everything!"

Jack admits the show's problems have been twofold - too many editions, too small a budget.

Some of the guests have been distinctly F or G-list in status, and there have been times when he's had to drag celebs off the Street to get the show on air.

He said: "I don't think I've failed as a host, but there aren't enough people with an interesting story to tell and there isn't enough money at my disposal.

"All we're doing at the moment is just getting the show on to the screen.

"On two occasions, we were still scrabbling around for guests half an hour before the start. Sir Robin Day was just up the road, so we pressganged him into coming on. The other time, Tony Benn helped us out at the last minute.

"But, thankfully, things have never got so bad that we've had to wheel on Gordon Kennedy!"

Quip-on-the-draw Jack is still best mates with former Lottery star Kennedy, Moray Hunter and Pete Baikie, despite them dragging him into that Scottish Poof Of The Year skit.

The fab four went on to star in Absolutely, the zany Channel 4 sketch show, which produced several spin-offs.

The other three have all had a hand in The Jack Docherty Show, and now the host is about to team up with Hunter again in The Creatives, a BBC2 sitcom set in an advertising agency.

Jack said: "I want to act, I want to write, I want to do lots of different things. I'm not saying I'll never do a chat show again, but I don't want to do it to the exclusion of everything else. If you're going to host a talk show every night, it has to be the only thing you've ever wanted to do.

"The American hosts David Letterman and Jay Leno probably dreamed about being chat hosts from the age of nine. And, of course, they're paid about Dollars 60 million for doing it, which must help."

There's another reason why Jack is giving up the chatathon - he's just become the father of twins, doubling the size of his family.

Speaking about Cammy and Tulula, now 12 weeks old, for the first time, he said: "Twins are double the mess and double the worry, but they're great - I've got a boy and a girl, the complete set."

Jack and his Greek girlfriend Chrysoula - they also have a four-year-old son Nico and look after her nine-year-old son Jack from a previous relationship - have extended into the roof of their London home to accommodate the enlarged brood.

Jack added: "Cammy looks like me and Tulula looks like Chrysoula - just as well it's not the other way round.

"The downside of a big family is I've had to buy a people carrier. It must be one of the most dispiriting moments in a man's life when you're forced to trade your flash sports car for a bloody great bus.

"Not that I had a flash sports car, but you know what I mean. But I've always wanted a large brood because I love the idea of lots of little versions of me assembled round my deathbed asking `daddy, who was your least favourite guest on The Jack DochertyShow?'."

So, Jack, who WAS your worst guest - the one you'd cross town to avoid?He laughed: "Well, we'll never have Jerry Lewis back, that's for definite. He was rude, he threw things and he treated the backstage staff abominably.

"When one of the crew tried to fix him up with a mike, he flew into a rage about how he'd been in the biz `60 goddam years'. A lot of Americans stars were quite difficult. They claim not to have a class system over there but they expect to be waited on hand and foot." Jack wasn't too enamoured by another American funster, Mike Myers, especially when he saw the size of the Wayne's World star's entourage.

He said: "You don't need 12 people to come on to my show. I asked him if he was difficult to work with and he stormed off, which seemed to answer my question."

Other US celebs demanded sympathetic lighting and access to the host's dressing-room, and Jack also had a stand-up fight with the camp followers surrounding Kim Basinger.

He laughed: "I wanted a snog and I thought my best chance was to wear an Alec Baldwin mask.

Her people were appalled at the idea, but I did it anyway and she was a great sport."

Jack is enjoying a well-deserved holiday with his family this week while Melinda Messenger holds the fort - and his show has never been short of glamour.

He said: "I fell in love with lots of ladies. Jenny Agutter, whom I've always fancied, and Kylie Minogue, even though she tried to punch me.

"Caprice was another of those guests who came complete with lots of little helpers.

"I said, `okay, Caprice, we're going to do this. " She looked at her PA and said `do I do that?' I thought `why don't you think for yourself?'."

Titan of talk Michael Parkinson has never been allowed to forget his encounter with Emu - and Jack's had a few nights which made him wince. He revealed: "I upset Christopher Lee when he said `good and bad' and I misheard it as `good in bed'. Then there was the time I gave Jack Palance the big build-up and he disappeared through the fire exit.

" I didn't know it then, but that was Jack at his most decisive.

"After he'd been led back to his seat, he couldn't remember the name of his new movie, even though he'd been working on it the previous day.

"Shane McGowan wasn't all there and another rock star, Shaun Ryder, let rip with a string of dirty jokes he'd been told by Keith Richards, all of them totally unbroadcastable."

But Jack's very own Emu was probably Christine Hamilton, wife of disgraced former Tory MP Neil.

He said: "The letters of the Hamilton family motto are WDTT. They mean We Do Things Together, but I wondered if they shouldn't stand for We Don't Tell The Truth.

"It got the lawyers jumping up and down and if you're able to lip read you might have noticed that she called me a `complete bastard' at the end!"

Jack prefers to remember his encounters with boyhood idols such as David Bowie and Michael Palin - but still fancies a tilt at the talk host's nightmare triple- bill - Emu, George Best and Oliver Reed.

He said: "That's if I don't kill off the chat show first. When it's me chatting to me, and me laughing with me about the funny things I've done, I'll know I've hit rock bottom."

JOKER Jack Docherty is about to celebrate his first year as a chat champ. Here are some of his other firsts ...


My earliest memory is getting a bit of sand from North Berwick in my eye. I was taken to hospital and strapped into a chair. My head was put in this strange contraption and suddenly this great big needle edged towards me. It was pretty terrifying and, to this day, I can't wear eye make-up!


As a kid, I couldn't pronounce my Rs properly. After my first day at Carrick Knowe Primary in Edinburgh, I ran all the way home and told my mum in triumph: "Tractor!" Just as well - after Jonathan Ross, one chat show host who can't say his Rs is more than enough.


Eric Morecambe, the funniest man I'd ever seen.


To play football for Hibs and win the 800m Olympic gold medal - on the same day.


Alison Boyd. She's a pharmacist now, apparently, but I haven't seen her since taking her for fish and chips after our Primary 7 qually dance. She hasn't returned any of my calls.


Shirley Eaton, the woman covered in paint in Goldfinger.


I'd like to say I was chucked out of the scouts, but I wasn't and it was camping.


Paper round. I also had a job cutting up old bank notes for the Royal Bank of Scotland and sold jeans in The Jean Machine in Princes Street. I was sacked for telling a woman taking too long to choose a pair that her bum looked big in all of them.


As a grouse-beater in the school holidays, lunch was two cans of McEwan's Export.


On my 18th birthday, I tried to down 18 drinks. My mum eased me back into society 24 hours later.


I'd like to say it was something cool by the Velvet Underground but it was Status Quo's On The Level.


Aged 14, over my heavy-metal rocker hairstyle.


Same age, to Paris. My son Nico had been in six countries by the time he was four months old.
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Title Annotation:Features
Author:Smith, Aidan
Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Feb 18, 1998
Previous Article:Making a fast buck in a world of chancers; LAST NIGHT: CUTTING EDGE - ROGUE MALES CHANNEL 4.
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