I have quite a large fan base Down Under, and am always delighted when work comes winging my way from my Aussie friends.
Last night's broadcast was my biggest ever to the land of the koala, Mark Conroy and dear old Lizzie Birdsworth--I pulled in 7 million listeners.
Normally, I stear clear of phone-ins. Some years ago I did a couple in London with Pete Murray. During the second it was announced that Justin Fashinu had hanged himself after being hounded by homophobes of the press, and because I was taking calls about a gay actor, Rudolph Valentino, we received a few cranks. Then we had another one harping on about Dorothy Squires and Linda McCartney, who had recently died. She wanted to know why I had described my friend Dot as Britain's greatest ever singer, when it should have been Linda. Tosh! That's like comparing a dandelion with a rose. It's sad that she died, but let's not get carried way by making a purse out of a sow's ear!
Last night's 60-minute broadcast, which I co-hosted, was primarily about Elizabeth Taylor, though Valentino and Mario Lanza got dragged into it. Needless to say, despite the sterling anecdotes shared by some of our listeners--Edna had worked at a hotel in London, when Liz had stayed there with first husband Nicky Hilton, and witnessed the bruises, and what she recalled brought a lump to my throat--there had to be the cranky old biddy who looked like she might become abusive. Well, she did--very--off air, and to the producer. Yes, they have homophobes and bigots in Australia, too, and 'genteel' who are fond of the F word.
I knew, of course, when the ad went out for the programme that we would get all the usual nutters ringing in, and to a certain extent who these would be, which was why the telephone operator was forewarned of these Poison Penelopes. They have nothing better to do.