Let’s begin with a really quick refresher in case you’re reading this and don’t have a clue who Antony Costa is. He’s a member of what was once a very successful boy band called Blue that had three number-one albums between 2001-2004. In 2005, the lads checked out at the top and went on to do various solo projects. Costa took to stage acting and also featured in some reality TV shows, such as I’m a Celebrity. He also found time to launch a solo singing career, albeit a heartbreakingly unsuccessful one that saw him compete to be the UK’s entry in the 2006 Eurovision Song Contest. He didn’t win.
By the time I decided to tease him Blue had reformed and were touring. Things were looking up for the lads once more. Some of them hadn’t fared as well as the multi-talented, industrious Greek-Cypriot from north London with the ‘i’ll do anything’ attitude.
Splashing the cash
I had wanted to target Antony Costa since the story of his pissing against a cash machine while simultaneously withdrawing money broke in 2011.
I’d initially experimented with the idea of pitching a joint venture to Antony and his fellow Blue bandmate, Duncan James. They were to feature in an advert showcasing a collaboration between Costa Coffee and Dunkin’ (Duncan) Donuts. But it just didn’t feel ambitious enough. Even if they’d gone for it, I felt the idea didn’t have legs and would have fizzled out quickly. I was becoming more daring at this point. I felt in my bones that if I could just get my pitch to Costa right that the payoff would be great. Was I to be proved right?
The first email is always the hardest with these things. Email addresses from a standard provider like Gmail or Yahoo don’t give the agent any sense of who you are or what projects you’ve been involved in. It’s an immediate red flag. But if you can just get the door open enough, it’s easy to bluster on a bit further with each email that follows. I started this highly enjoyable celebritease by sending this over.
I’m enquiring about the availability of Mr Antony Costa for a charity show I am putting together for Channel 4, hopefully to be shown in the first quarter of next year. It would be part of a comprehensive list of performances with a variety of celebrities trying their hand at circus performing, musical instruments and stand-up to name just a few.
The idea I have in mind is to be titled ‘Costa, Del, Sol’ and would see Antony joining with Derek Acorah and Sol Campbell for a 500-mile charity bike ride around the southern coast of Spain.
I would be very grateful if you would let me know if this is something your client would be eager to take part in. It’s a very worthwhile cause and along with the other acts on the show would be guaranteed some great exposure.
I thought I might as well have a go at luring in Derek Acorah and Sol Campbell while I was at it. No story is complete without the inclusion of a footballer and spirit medium-cum-ghost hunter. So they got emailed, too.
Sol Campbell’s agent was having none of it and didn’t reply. Derek’s agent was willing to work a bit harder for his golden goose.
I would need some more details before discussing further with Derek. If you could help with details of the charity, production company, period in mind, timescale etc.
That sounded fair enough. Here you go sir, have some bullshit for your troubles.
The charities are Cancer Research UK, Macmillan and Great Ormond St. I work as part of a small independent creative team that draws up concepts, scripts and show ideas for a range of production companies. For this particular show we have been brought in by Twenty Twenty, who have worked on numerous factual shows for Ch 4, most recently the successful First Dates. They had a general idea about a large scale charity show and we have been sourced to come up with a range of varied segments. As regards filming dates and length etc it is quite fluid. The actual planned ride would be done over the course of a week, but of course there would be some filming and training required before that. They have stated they would like to have it all done by April/May so I think we would be looking at having the ride in February while the weather is rather cool and bearable for the three riders. Does Derek have any long distance cycling experience?
In the meantime, Antony’s hard working agent had gotten back to me.
Do you have a specific set of dates in mind for this bike ride? Please also advise on fee for Antony and which charity the artists would be raising money for – or would they be able to choose?
I replied with this fawning paragraph added to the same response I sent to Acorah & Co.
As for Mr Costa’s fee, what would he usually require for something like this? He is of course a much bigger draw than his proposed co-riders and this would need to be reflected accordingly. I would say that my seniors are very keen to have him involved and so I expect we can find a figure that is satisfactory to all parties.
The price of fame?
Now, stop reading for a second and have a guess at what Costa’s fee would be? Got a figure in mind? Let’s see how close you got.
I could offer you Antony for £15k inc. Please let me know if that is satisfactory. As for the dates, Blue are doing promotion in Japan and the US starting in February however I am more than sure we can find a suitable week to work around.
I remember at the time being offended by what I saw as his lofty demands for a charity event. Looking back now, I guess it’s not that unreasonable. Anyway, the bait had been taken. It was now time to reel them in, with a very subtle slight to Messrs Acorah and Campbell’s popularity, or lack of, thrown in for good measure.
Thank you for facilitating this. After discussing with the organisers and financial team we would like to thank you for the offer and we readily accept. Antony’s participation will be vital to this particular aspect of the fundraising drive and so we are happy to work around his schedule. Mr Acorah and Campbell, understandably, have a more open calendar so whatever suits Antony, i’m sure, will suit the others.
I will be in touch further with details in the near future. To ensure the riders have the very best equipment we are working with our sponsors Specialized to have bikes custom made to suit the exact specifications of each person. I’m awaiting details of what information they will need precisely but it will be things like weight, height, inner leg measurement, foot size etc. This will enable them to build a bike that will make Antony most efficient when riding.
Would Antony Costa agree to start training for an imaginary cycling challenge? Would he send me a wide range of ridiculous body measurements in order for me to have a custom bike built for him? Would the spirits warn Derek Acorah he was being strung along? Find out in part two.