May Day walk in Rivington

Well today’s been the 4th bank holiday in 2 weeks which is rather odd!  We obviously had Easter last weekend, but on Friday it was the Royal Wedding, which I actually managed to avoid watching at all, and instead went and did some shopping at IKEA, which was probably the quietest I’ve ever seen it! I’d planned to buy some storage furniture for my new bathroom, but I’m struggling to find something I like – I did find a unit there that I thought might work, but when I went to collect it I discovered that they’d discontinued the shelves needed to go inside it! So the search continues!

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Anyway, today was May Day bank holiday and I found out that there was a walk being arranged for the Vinelife / Reach crowd, so I headed up north of Bolton to tag along.

We all met up at Rivington Hall Barn, which really is in the middle of nowhere! I got a little bit lost – my SatNav first tried to take me across a golf course, and then eventually led me to a random collection of cars amongst some trees! Luckily, as I was pulling up, Dan and Gemma arrived as well, along with a few others, and we took an educated guess at which direction to take to get us to the main barn where everyone was meeting.

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There was quite a crowd really – I knew a reasonable proportion of the people there, but I did feel quite an outsider to be honest.  I guess I shouldn’t be too surprised about that really!  It was nice to get out into the countryside though, and we all made our way up to Rivington Pike which is the top of Winter Hill, and has a great view of the surrounding area stretching for miles and miles. It was very windy up there – it’s all quite exposed, and it felt at times like you could get blown off the hill!  Luckily there’s a tower at the top you could use a shield when it got a bit intense!

There are some photos of the walk here on Facebook.

On Easter Sunday I went down to Tamworth to visit family – the first time this year!

In the morning, I went to church with my mum, sister and the twins, and then in the afternoon, we took them down to the fair in the Castle Grounds. It was a proper old-school funfair, and Chloe went on the teacups ride with Vicky, but Brandon wasn’t really up for trying any of them! He’s not quite as adventurous as his sis!

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Then afterwards, we took them to the kids’ playground nearby and they played there for a bit before we grabbed some ice creams!  And then we headed back tomum’s to break into some Easter eggs!

One final thing – I finally ordered myself a new washing machine yesterday! It’s been over a year since my old one died, and I’ve been using the launderette ever since!  I’d decided to wait until I’d got my kitchen done before replacing it, and I now have done… only a few months late!

New Year, and dM work on Five

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Tonight sees two programmes with titles and graphics done by doodledoMOTION on Five in prime time!  First off, ‘Paul Merton In Europe‘ started last Monday night at 9pm, and we did the title sequence for the show (which has had so much work and detail put into it!), as well as the maps which show Paul’s journey across Europe.  It’s the 3rd travel series of ‘Paul Merton In…’ that Tiger Aspect have done following on from his documentaries about China and India, and so far the reaction to this new series seems really positive.

And then the second show for Five we’ve been involved in is also a Tiger programme – ‘Celebrity Quitters‘.  It’s a ten-part reality series that’s going to be on every week-night for the next 2 weeks, and features Linda Robson, John Burton Race, Chloe Madeley, Paul Danan and Derek Acorah as they all try to give up smoking.  We’ve done the titles and graphics for the main show, as well as their online content.

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The programme starts at 7.30pm tonight, and to promote the show, Linda Robson, one of the Celebrity Quitters, appeared on BBC’s Breakfast this morning for an interview, where they showed some clips from the series.

It was a good promo for the show, but the best bit was that the main title graphic that we’ve produced appeared on the big screen behind them throughout the whole interview which is really cool!

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Back to the beginning of the month, and on New Year’s Day, I went for a walk over at Alderley Edge with a group of Reach guys.

I went there a few years ago with James and Helen for a birthday walk, so I recognised quite a few places we went to.  It was pretty chilly, and we were wandering a bit aimlessly at times, but it was a really nice walk.

Then afterwards we stopped off at a really nice pub in the village called The Merlin for a meal.  It wasn’t that cheap, but the food was great, which kind of made up for it!  There are some photos of the day here.

The only other thing I’ll quickly blog about is the crazy snow we had at the start of the month.  We had a little bit of snow the day after our walk, but then on the Tuesday morning, I woke up to a crazy amount of snow outside!

It was a bit of a nightmare getting into work – luckily I’d parked on the main road rather than in my actual street, otherwise I wouldn’t have been going anywhere!  All the buses had been cancelled, so the only way I could get in was by car, and the drive in took nearly an hour compared to my usual 10 minutes!

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And when I got to the office, I made the mistake of driving into the car park, where I discovered James had already done that and had been stuck there for nearly an hour trying to get back out up the slope!  Then someone had the genius idea of using some carpet tiles to build a track for the car to drive on, so we were eventually able to get out, and so we then parked on a nice flat bit of road on the front!

Luckily it’s pretty much gone now, so life is back to normal!

A busy Christmas week

It’s that funny time between Christmas and New Year when generally nothing really happens – so the ideal time to do a blog update!  And since I last posted a week and a half ago, I’ve actually done quite a lot of stuff in that time!

Last Wednesday night, I went over to Liverpool with John Roberts to see a production of ‘The 39 Steps‘ at the Liverpool Playhouse.  He runs a theatre reviews website called The Public Reviews, so we we got free tickets which was pretty cool!  It was actually a really good show – it’s a comedy and was performed by just 4 actors, who changed roles continuously throughout the play, which surprised me at how well it worked!

The show culminated in fake snow being showered on the audience, and then as we left the theatre, we discovered that there was real snow falling – and I’d have been really impressed if that was part of the show as well!  We’d already had a bit of snow in Manchester a couple of days earlier, but there was none in Liverpool when we arrived.

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We got back to the car, and within a few minutes we were driving through a pretty intense blizzard, and the snow really started to build up on the roads.

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Pre-Christmas catch-up

Just thought I’d do a quick catch up before Christmas. I’m currently at James and Helen’s house babysitting Jess, and there’s nothing decent on TV so I thought I’d do this!

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We’ve had quite a bit of snow these last few days, and yesterday a few of us went for a walk in Macclesfield Forest. It was freezing cold, and we walked quite a way – and seemed to be going uphill a lot more than downhill – but it was a really great afternoon.

We were kind of busking it a little bit, since we didn’t have a map or anything, and the cloud came down quite quickly as we made it to the top of one of the hills – but Penny had been to the forest before, so had a rough idea of where we needed to go! Though there were times when I wasn’t convinced we were ever going to make it back to the cars, especially when we’d been walking so long that it got dark!!

There are some photos I took of our walk here.

Work’s been quite busy recently, and we’re trying to wrap some jobs up before we finish for Christmas. We’re working on graphics for two shows on that will be on Channel 5 early next year, so really need to try and get them pretty much sorted by Wednesday at the latest.

On Thursday night, me and James went out with a couple of the other businesses from Houldsworth Mill for Christmas drinks down at the festive markets, and then onto some bars. We did the same last year, and it’s a pretty good way of doing it, because it would be quite a small event if it was just us!

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Anyway, we ended up in probably one of the most pretentious places I’ve been to! I’d heard of the Circle Bar, but had never actually been in there, and to be honest, I don’t think I’d be that bothered if I never went there again! The beer was nasty, the music was rubbish, and the other people there were just really strange! It was like they were all people who thought they were something special, but weren’t at all!

The only positive think was that there was a sofa that we’d managed to grab, so at least I was able to get a comfy seat!

Whodunnit?

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Well, another bank holiday yesterday – it only seems a few weeks since the last one!!

I went for a walk in the afternoon with some guys from Reach – we drove over to the Peak District and parked up by Derwent Reservoir, just off the Snake Pass. It’s actually where I went with Jamie a couple of years ago for my first bike ride in 16 years(!), and I’ve realised it’s certainly a lot quicker to go round on 2 wheels rather than walking!

We only did about 4 miles – we got quite a bit round one side of the reservoir, but soon realised that it would take us ages to get round the next one and back down to the car! So after examining if there was anywhere else where we could cross, we turned around and walked back pretty much the way we came.

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The weather was pretty rubbish – it rained a bit – but it was just really nice to do something different. Not been out for a walk for quite a while… we used to do them a lot more regularly, and I guess I miss it a bit. But this was good and hopefully I’ll get to do it again.

Something I’m not sure that I’ll be doing again too soon is what I did next! It was John Cieszynski’s birthday on Friday, so last night he had a murder mystery party!

dsc02935Now, I’ve never been to one before, and it’s never been something I’ve been in a rush to try, but since it was for John’s birthday I decided I should go. The big problem for me was that it’s all taken very seriously! Basically from when it starts, you’re supposed to then stay in character for 3 hours until all the different elements are solved! Add into that the fact that there were 27 people there in character – most of whom I didn’t even know in real life(!) – and it becomes my biggest nightmare!!

To be fair, pretty much everyone else seemed to like it, and maybe if I was doing it with a much smaller amount of people, and if I actually knew them well to start with, I might find it okay. But it really wasn’t my kind of thing, and luckily my role wasn’t an important character so it didn’t matter that I kept a low profile!

John seemed to really enjoy it though, which is what’s important… next time though, I’ll suggest to him a night out at the pub!

New Year on Anglesey

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Well just got back from my first proper break in 5 years! A few of us spent New Year in a cottage on Anglesey – I went over there on the 27th and got back yesterday lunchtime.

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It was great weather all week – pretty cold, but dry and mostly sunny, and our cottage couldn’t have been any closer to the sea! You just had to walk out of the garden gate, and within a few metres you were on the beach! I took my bike with me (which to my shame I haven’t ridden since I went out on it 2 years ago with Jamie!) and got on it twice, which is a good start for me(!) although where we were was very hilly, so probably not ideal for someone who hasn’t ridden for so long!

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Altogether across the week there we 9 of us – me, Ajay, Rob, Clare, Tabitha, Steve, Leah, Dave and Danny, although me and Ajay were the only ones who stayed the whole week – the majority left on Thursday lunchtime.

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Catch up

Quite a bit’s happened in the last few weeks, so I thought I’d better do a quick catch up and write about some of them… I’m manically busy with Preview stuff at the moment – got to try and get it all done for Monday because they need it for a presentation in New York, so that should be fun!

In my last post I mentioned that I had a ‘possibly interesting weekend ahead’… well I ended up in Wales at Cefn Lea for the Reach weekend away, which I suppose was interesting in a way! The last time I went on it was back in 2004, and there were quite a few people there who I hadn’t seen for ages, which was quite strange, but I guess in a way, I am glad I went on it, though it was pretty tough at times. I’m not sure what I was really expecting from it all, but maybe that’s something I need to reflect on over the coming weeks.

One cool thing about the weekend was that I managed to catch up with Russ (from uni and who I used to share a house with in Birmingham) on the Saturday night – he lives a few miles from Cefn Lea so popped over to say ‘hello’. We had a really good chat, and I can’t believe it’s about 3 years since we last met!

I may write some more about the Reach stuff in the future because I know I’ve been a bit vague – (or I may not!) – but I think I’ll leave it there or the moment, except to say that I’ve put the photos that I took here.

Then last Friday, I met up with Jamie who just wanted to get out of the city for the evening so we planned to go for a walk in the evening up by Kinder reservoir in Hayfield. But we got stuck in traffic going into Glossop and by the time we parked up the car to walk up to the reservoir it was already pitch black! We’d taken torches because we’d expected it to get dark whilst we were walking, but I wasn’t expecting there to be no light from the start! We did an hour walk, up to Kinder reservoir, where we could see a big house lit up on Kinder Scout (Jamie reckoned they were just showing off ‘cos they’d really gone over the top with the floodlights!), then we headed off west over some moorland to get ourselves heading back towards the village. It was great actually – being out in the middle of no-where (without even a phone signal!) and seeing the countryside only lit by the moon and stars was cool.

We made our way back down towards the village, and the original plan was to get a meal in the pub there, but they’d just stopped serving food which was a bit annoying! So we grabbed a pint and crisps before heading back here for takeaway (which was a bit grim – Jamie’s kebab was particularly rough!) Had a great night though – I’d love to do more stuff like that… it can get so boring just working all the time – although I usually end up feeling knackered after going anywhere with Jamie!! He’s much more active than me!

And finally, last weekend was both James’ and Helen’s birthdays, and I went along to a pub meal they arranged on Sunday afternoon in Didsbury. The plan changed twice because it’s quite difficult to find somewhere to eat for so many on a Sunday lunchtime! But we ended up at the Old Cock Inn and it was actually a pretty nice pub – I always had the impression that it was a bit of a smoky old-man’s pub, but I think they must have done it up recently, because I’d definitely go there again.

There were about 15 of us there altogether, and again it was nice spending time with some of the guys I don’t see all that often really. I took some photos on my phone and they’re now here.

Fiona’s 30th birthday weekend

Spent the weekend in a village called Tideswell in the Peak District for Fiona’s 30th birthday. She rented a cottage out there, and a group of us went out for a walk on the Saturday afternoon, and then stayed over until Sunday.

It had snowed in the Peaks earlier in the week, so we were trekking through snowy fields and the like, and it was really smart. Pretty cold and slippy though! It actually took us a bit longer than we thought it would (possibly because two of the party were pregnant!), and it got dark well before we’d finished! Luckily there was enough light to still read the map!

In the evening, we all went to the pub next door for a meal, and then headed back to the house to chill out.

Then on the Sunday, after most people had gone, we went out for a shorter walk around Cheedale, which was where I’d gone to a couple of years ago when Jamie and some of the other guys went bridge-swinging in the middle of the night!

We walked alongside the river, and it was really beautiful around there, although I found it a little tricky in places, because some of the rocks were a bit slippy, and the snow was beginning to melt. This also meant that the river was rising, and when we came back along the same route, parts of the path we had taken were now becoming part of the river! And it wasn’t helped by it starting to chuck it down as well!

There are a load of photos (and a couple of pictures taken with my phone!) here.

Dave’s stag day walk

Yesterday was Dave Ciezynski’s stag day, and a load of us went over to Snowdonia to do a bit of a walk up a mountain called Tryfan. I guess I should have guessed it wouldn’t be the easiest task, because Jamie was leading everyone, so I found it pretty challenging.

As we were climbing up, it started to snow, and the further we got, then we found that there was a bit of ice around on the rocks as well. Unfortunately, we has to climb up quite a few of these, and there were a few times where I had to climb over or up rocks where I felt really scared because we were quite exposed on the side of the mountain, and I was seriously concerned that I might actually fall off!

We finally got to the top, and it was pretty cold up there, but at least it had stopped snowing, though there was a bit of an intermittant mist which kept coming down. So, then we started making our way across a ridge, and then started making our way back down the mountain.

Just before we got to the bottom, I was walking over some quite boggy ground, when I took a step, and suddenly found myself up to my knees in mud! I managed to get myself out, and luckily I was wearing some waterproof trousers so it wasn’t too bad. Fortunately, no-one actually saw me fall in, which I was glad of, especially as I’d found it highly amusing when an identical thing happened to someone else exactly a year ago!

After the walk, we went to a nearby pub and had a nice meal, and were back in Manchester for about ten o’clock. Not the latest stag party I’ve been to, but still a really good one!

Check out the photos of the day here.

Camping in the lake district

Just got back from a camping up in the Lake District, and it was a really brilliant weekend.

Me and Jamie drove up on Friday night to Borrowdale, which isn’t too far from Keswick, and eventually found a camping field to set up on, so we put up the tent in the dark, and then had a quick drink before settling down for the night.

Woke up pretty early yesterday morning – and it was gorgeous outside… the sun was out and the sky totally clear. Now we could actually see our surroundings, you could see how stunning the place was. We’d camped pretty close to a river, which we’d kind of guessed because we’d heard running water, but we discovered that what we’d heard was actually a set of waterfalls coming down from the mountain that we were planning to go walking up.

So we set off, with our aim to make it to the top of Great Gable, which is pretty close to Scafell Pike which we climbed back in April. I found it a bit of a struggle doing the first bit of the ascent… it was boiling hot and the sun was pretty relentless on us! We were so hot that by the time we came to the first waterfall, I didn’t take too much persuading to stick my head into the flow of falling water!! We then walked up a bit further, and arrived at above another waterfall, and this time I decided to lie across a rock and tip my upper body backwards into the water, totally immersing my head into the cold water – much to the amusement of Jamie! Managed to pull myself out of there, but somehow had managed to also totally soak my shorts, as well as my t-shirt, so ended up walking a bit funny until I dried out a bit!

We eventually got to the top of Great Gable around lunchtime, and the views were amazing. We sat up there to eat our lunch and then started to head down a different way, and eventually came back to the river which we managed to cross by walking over some rocks, although I slipped and ended up soaking my boots and socks! We sat down there for quite a while, catching some rays, and hoping that my boots would dry out a bit!

That evening, after eating out at a nearby pub, we started driving back over Honister Pass, and pulled up at the edge of Buttermere lake, and ended up being convinced by Jamie to go for a swim! It was really smart, though I was a bit apprehensive because I hadn’t been swimming for about 10 years! And it wasn’t until I was in the water that I realised that there were millions of dead flies on the surface of the water so I had to keep my mouth shut when swimming or I’d end up with a mouthful of insects!

We waited until the sun set behind the mountains, and they dried off and drove back to the site. When we got back to the tent, Jamie ‘aquired’ some wood from the nearby fields, so we got a campfire going – which helped to keep the midges away which had already spent most of the day attacking us! It was really good spending a couple of hours chilling out around the fire, and just having a drink and chatting.

Woke up this morning, and it wasn’t as nice weatherwise as yesterday – it was still dry and bright, but quite windy. We packed up and then drove over to a place called Watendlath Tarn, and then went for quite a fair walk over to Dock Tarn above Rosthwaite, where we sat on a rock overlooking the lake, with the wind blowing a pretty intense gale!

We then walked back to the car (it seemed even further this time – especially ‘cos I was starting to feel a bit tired after all this walking!) and then drove down to a place that overlooked a massive lake and grabbed lunch before heading back to Manchester.

I forgot to take my camera with me, but I did take quite a few photos of the weekend on my phone, and they haven’t come out too bad, and you can view them all here.

Walking up Scafell Pike, plus Olivia’s dedication service

It’s been a pretty busy weekend. Yesterday, because it was Dave Cieszynski’s birthday last Sunday, a load of us drove up to the Lake District to go for a walk up Scafell Pike – England’s highest mountain. There were 19 of us that went on the walk, and the drive there was a bit of an adventure in itself! I left Manchester at about 7.15am, and once we got off the M6, ended up on some very steep and narrow roads – my poor little Fiesta didn’t know what had hit it! After getting a bit lost, we eventually arrived at Wasdale Head at about quarter to eleven, which is where we set off from to start the climb.

The weather didn’t seem too bad – quite sunny, but not particularly warm, although the walking certainly warmed you up! But as we got further up, it got loads colder, and incredibly windy. I had one nightmare section which we had to do – there was a rocky section that we had to scramble up that did scare me quite a bit. It was quite steep and narrow, and I was struggling to find places to put my feet on, and rocks to grab onto that didn’t move! My other major concern at this time was that even if I did manage to get up this bit, there was no way on earth I was going to be able to get down the same way!! So when I got to the top, I was pretty relieved to hear we were taking a different route down!

As we made the final ascent to the summit, we entered into the cloud, and had to walk over loads of stones and rocks – and by now the wind was really strong, and I got knocked off the rocks a few times, which wasn’t great for my dodgy foot! At the very top, you couldn’t really see very far at all because of all the cloud, and it was absolutely freezing! And it was almost impossible to stand up for long without being blown off balance.

So after about quarter of an hour or so at the top, we started back down, and it was harder than I expected, because we had to negotiate ourselfs over some pretty rocky ground, and my foot by this time was starting to hurt quite a bit! And then, as we were walking down the last section, both me and Dave got cramp at exactly the same time as we were on this steep section of grass, and the two of us collapsed on the side of the hill in agony! I manage to drag myself back up to the main path, and the cramp kind of passed, but by now my knee which I injured skiing felt like it had turned to jelly – I seemed like my body was totally falling apart! It was at this point that the heavens opened and torrential rain and hail came down on us, so by the time we got back to the cars, I was totally drenched through, so we headed to the nearby pub to dry off and get refreshment!

If you want to see some photos from the walk, there’s a load of them here.

Then this morning I had to be up pretty early this morning to get up to Middleton for Colin & Caroline’s daughter Olivia’s dedication service. Both Emma and Sarah are Godparents, and Ben and Kristy were also at the church for it, so I sat next to them, which was cool. Went back to the house afterwards for a bit of get-together, and the place was over-run by babies, which was interesting! I think I handled it quite well considering my lack of experience! All in all, it was a really nice day, and wrapped up a great weekend – although I can feel the aching in my legs starting to kick in now… I need to do a lot more walking this year I think to get myself a bit more conditioned to it!

Last year I climbed Snowdon – the highest mountain in Wales, Scafell Pike – the highest in England… so all that’s left now is Ben Nevis. Bring it on!

Walking up Snowdon, plus a new nationality!

I am aching all over! But that’s probably got something to do with the fact that I walked all the way up to the top of Mount Snowdon yesterday!

A load of us went over to Wales yesterday morning to go for a walk in Snowdonia for Dave Cieszynski’s birthday, and I don’t really think it had registered with me that Snowdon is in fact the tallest mountain in Wales! So we ended up walking about 10 miles in all, and 1085 metres up! It was quite a killer, ‘cos there are parts of it which are really quite steep, and it’s very rocky, so your feet can end up sliding all over the place!

For the first hour going up, I didn’t find it too hard really, but as time went on, it got more difficult. It took us about 3 hours to get to the summit, and the view from up there was stunning, but it was also pretty cold on the top! It was a bit quicker coming down – that only took about an hour and a half – but my feet were beginning to feel the strain by that time. And when I finally got up this morning, it took a little bit longer than usual to walk down the stairs – very painful!… and I’m at work at the moment, and it’s quite a struggle walking from one end of the office to the other! Check out the photos here.

On the way back, we stopped off in Llandudno and had some tea at Emma’s mum’s house. When I was lodging at Emma’s last summer, her mum and her dogs and cats were staying at the house whilst she was waiting to buy this one, so I got to meet all the animals again! Everyone was pretty worn out, and just crashed out in the living room, and I was so glad that I hadn’t driven there – it’s much better being a passenger after a day like that!

Other news… I officially became Irish last week! I received a letter from the Irish embassy in London saying that I’d been entered into the Irish register of foreign births, and that I can now apply for an Irish passport! This doesn’t mean I’m not a Brit anymore though… because my mum’s parent’s moved over here from Ireland, she’s automatically dual nationality, and because I’m next generation I can apply for dual nationality as well and I have! Steve and Vikky are going to apply as well, but we have to do it separately because we need to supply so much documentation! Now all I’ve got to work on is my Irish accent… to be sure(!)

Lifegroup walk

I’m feeling quite tired at work today! Went for a pretty major walk in the peak district on Saturday – I think it was only about five miles, but there was a lot of steep uphill bits, and it was pretty muddy! And unfortunately I don’t have any walking boots, so my old trainers with not much grip weren’t much use at all! It was pretty good though, although I was close to quitting in the first half hour, and was ready to go back to the car and wait for all the others!! Anyway, once I’d done the first major bit, I did actually enjoy it! There are some photos of it here.

Struggling a bit at work this afternoon – I’ve got to write a script by tomorrow morning for Angus Deayton to read… yep, that’s him off ‘Have I Got News For You’. It’s got to be a three minute monologue promoting subscribing to MUTV, but it’s got to be written in his style which is a lot harder to do than you might expect – especially since I’m not really a comedy script-writer! Oh well, I guess I’ll come up with something, but I reckon he’ll end up having to add his own ad-libs!