So this is it. FIVE. My NASA moment. FOUR. Countdown to Tuesday, August 10th, THREE. 11.45am, the Wildman Room at the Assembly Rooms. TWO. I am shaking and sweating and starting to gain a glimmer of a tiny, petrified notion of what… ONE OH MY GOD WHAT AM I DOING? Will my tales of ancient publicists strike any sort of chord on the Edinburgh fringe? Is this bungee jump into the critic’s lap what I ought to be perfecting? Does this glorious Barnum-meets-Branson sort of publicity stunt still go on? Still attract an audience?
Pass me The Sun, would you? Ah. Whew. Of course it bloody does.
I’ve haven’t seen anything more blatant since Britney. For weeks, if not months (we publicists enjoy a spot of hyperbole, don’tcha know), the saga has unfolded. It was a National Crisis, a Betrayal of a Great British Tradition, a Tragedy for Sofa Manufacturers, and various other bunkum. It even attracted a (solicited) comment from President George Dubya Bush. And now, Galaxy Be Praised, the decision is reversed! Yes, ‘our’ soaraway Sun has been railing against the BBC’s inability to come to an agreement with Terry Nation’s estate, owners of the copyright on the Spotty Wheelybin Menace otherwise known as THE DALEKS, ahead of the new version of Dr. Who, being written by Russell T. Davies of Queer as Folk fame.
The heads banged together, the sonic screwdrivers whined, but agreement simply couldn’t be reached. The excuses flowed. Too much money. Not enough money. Too old fashioned. Too limiting for the new scripts. Unfair to sink plungers! Anything for a headline. ‘Don’t let the BBC Destroy my Evil Pepperpots’ ran one cracker.
And now? Quelle surprise! The publicity has made the forthcoming show as famous as the original, and LOOK OUT! THE DALEKS ARE COMING BACK AFTER ALL!
And then I thought, hang on…this is what I do for living. This is what Harry Reichenbacher did for a living when he took an orang-utan to dinner at the Knickerbocker Hotel in New York to publicise Tarzan of the Apes. This is what Jim Moran was doing for a living when he flew to Alaska to sell a fridge to the Eskimos in the 1940s or held the premiere of the Mel Brooks film Blazing Saddles in a drive-in cinema with only horses invited (plus their riders as guests – a smash hit!)
Can it be that this was all a stunt in the first place? With the possible exception of Tom Baker’s scarf, The Daleks are the most valuable intellectual asset (just how intellectual is debatable) the Dr. Who franchise ever possessed, and it would take a madman to exterminate them. They live! No, instead put them to work early. Wind them up. Get their little casters oiled and whirling in pursuit of the American dollar, and let’s make this show BIG! Get down, Davros!
That’s what’s been happening here. Who’d get rid of the stars before the cameras even roll? That’s not how you make famous TV. Ask the Doctor. So do trip along to the Wildman. It’s at a pretty decent time of day, a quarter to twelve. And they kick me out and put on Mongolian folk ballards if I over-run, so there’s no risk of missing lunch. Don’t be late. ZERO. I’m cool.