Believe it or not, this guy was actually a big name a few years back. Optimistically referred to as Britain’s answer to Eddie Murphy (i’m not sure what the question was), Rich was genuine comedy gold when I was in my teens. He even had his own show on Channel 4, with big names like LL Cool J and Will Smith making an appearance. I still remember one of his gigs from around 2000 where he told a hilarious story about a friend of his stealing a piece of cheese from Buckingham Palace.
Unfortunately his career stuttered slightly and the VIP nights at Charlie Chan’s in Chingford, throwing fivers at girls while Michael Greco egged him on, were soon to be no more. Once he’d fallen into the satirical claws of Brass Eye’s ‘Nonce Sense‘ campaign, his career was on its knees. A self-administered 18 litre coffee enema on Celebrity Detox Camp and a part in a critically panned Bollywood film were to follow. By the time I emailed him, however, he had risen like a phoenix from the ashes of obscurity and played in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. He was also starring as Donkey in the on-stage production of Shrek.
It was with a genuinely heavy heart that I decided I would email his agent. I actually like Richard Blackwood and find him pretty funny. But it’s a cut throat world and after Dean Gaffney had thwarted me, I was determined to get the remaining member of China White’s Dream Team. This is the email I sent:
I’m hoping for some information on the availability of Mr Richard Blackwood. I’m pitching an idea for a show to a variety of production companies and believe I will have a far greater chance of success if Mr Blackwood has already expressed his willingness to be involved.
I had really stepped it up here. Casually dropped in that Ray Mears was a family friend. Suggested that I was established and had been pushing ideas for shows since 2005. Who was I?It was at this point I began to question the morality of Celebriteasing. If I was a celebrity and had been offered the chance to learn skills from Ray Mears and then live in the wild for a month fending for myself, and get paid for it, I would be genuinely excited. Was this wrong? ‘You’re playing with people’s lives here’, someone had remarked to me. Then I got a reply and suddenly I was done with all that poncey moralising.
Thank you for the email, which all sounds great, it depends on when and how much time you need?, the producers of Shrek are quite strict, as is his contract.
Please feel free to give me a call if you want this further
‘The producers of Shrek are quite strict’. What the f**k? Isn’t there an actors union or something to deal with that? Poor guy. Now I really did feel bad. I had these images of Richard hurrying out of his wet bed realising he is late for rehearsal, enduring a petrifying journey on the bus as he realises he isn’t going to make it in for 9.30am and one of the ‘producers’ will be waiting for him just inside the door.
I mailed back saying I was heading to Belgium on business and would have to call him when I got back. Now it was time to try and get Ray Mears on board.