Jeff Brazier Says One Love to All Minority Groups


Unlike many young white guys who like football and have grown up in Essex, Jeff Brazier is not a racist. This is why he was first on my list for a new documentary feature I had in mind called ‘Why don’t black people drink that much tea?‘. Previous working titles had been ‘Why can’t white people clap in time?‘ or ‘Why do Oriental people not like chocolate?‘ but I thought tea was very British and opened up channels for discussion on identity and Britishness.

I like Jeff. I had played football against him a few times growing up and enjoyed his appearance on Channel 4’s Shipwrecked in 2001. I also saw him in panto in 2006 at The Central Theatre in Chatham where he played the role of Aladdin. About an hour after the show had finished he, along with some of the other cast members, came in to a pub I was drinking at. I approached him and said we had played football against each other a few times, and he was really open and friendly. Perhaps a bit too open. One story about his time on the Channel 5 show The Farm, alongside Paul Daniels and Debbie McGee had half the table retching into empty pint glasses. By all accounts, the miniature magician is an absolute depraved animal of a man.

With all this ‘history’ between us I though I would get in touch and so sent his agent an email:

I’d like to know about the availability of Jeff Brazier as presenter of an informative piece for Black History Month, that will be shown toward the end of this year. I have been commissioned by UKTV to come up with a variety of show ideas and this was one of the shortlisted entries, so i’m following up to check it’s viability.

The working title for the show is: ‘Why don’t black people drink that much tea?’: Exploring stereotypes in modern Britain’, and (all going to plan) will be co-presented by Gina Yashere.

It will involve a series of interviews with leading academics as well as street interviews with members of the public, garnering their personal experiences of outlandish stereotypes. We are hoping to promote inclusiveness and break down some barriers and think the potential dynamic between Gina and Jeff could be great. They both have that approachability and like-ability factor, which is vital to a show like this.

Ideally shooting would take place at the back end of summer and we were just wondering what Jeff’s schedule is looking like and whether he might be interested?

The following day I got this business-like reply:

In short; it’s of interest and we can work with his diary to make him available. However, I’d want us all to sit down together first to talk it through. It isn’t the most obvious enquiry I’ve ever had for Jeff so I would want to make sure we’re all on the same page before proceeding too far. Can you give me an idea of what you’ve worked on before, and what prod-co would be producing this?

This was new territory. This guy was legit, a real professional. Wise to the world and not ready to have his prize bull made a mug of. I didn’t have much to work with. He had given me his number and said to call him. He didn’t want to get involved in any email ping pong. So I replied:

Thanks for getting back to me so quickly. I’m currently in the States, so will give you a call to arrange meeting up when i’m back. To answer your questions, the show will be produced by Flame Television.

As for me, I started out as a researcher in the commissioning department at Channel 4 and then moved on to consultancy work with a variety of production companies and networks. I am now part of a small team, creating new and innovative documentaries and fact based series.

Shows I have been directly involved in the creation of include Supersize vs Superskinny, Diamond Geezer (with Danny Dyer), The Gospel of Gospel (with Mica Paris), Sticks & Stones (with Ashley Walters), just to name a few of my favourite projects.

To which he replied:

All sounding good so far so let me know when you’re back and we’ll meet up.

He hadn’t even clocked that i’d made up a show called Diamond Geezer. Maybe he wasn’t as sharp as I first thought. But what do I do next readers? Shall I meet them? Does one of you really want to meet Jeff Brazier? Let me know in the comments and if it’s overwhelmingly in favour, then maybe Celebriteasing will come offline into the real world for the very first time.


Dane Bowers: Do You Want To Be Famous Or Not?

Sometimes you just know when enough is enough. Pop Idol’s Rik Waller gets it, and apparently now works as an exam invigilator. Michelle McManus gets it too, and after a brief period as a lollypop lady, she now has a very successful dog walking business. In celebrityville there isn’t anybody with a stop watch counting the seconds on your 15 minutes of fame, so occasionally a strong element of self-regulation is required. Sometimes they get it wrong and 15 minutes becomes half an hour. What I’m doing here is giving celebrities cause to think that maybe, just maybe, the clock has been reset for them. However, quite often I don’t hear back from a celebrity at all. Not a rejection, just nothing. Emailing multiple addresses and nothing happens. What’s going on here? If you have a management team, or an agent, they should be chasing up and at least trying to verify all possible leads, right? Dane Bowers is obviously an exception. I have tried and tried with this guy but I get nothing back. Perhaps he has seen the clock hit 15 and walked away. Is this the case? Does he want to be famous or not?

I had genuinely forgotten about Dane. I was never that knowledgeable about Another Level, and had merely a passing annoyance at the song he did with Posh Spice. I knew he had made it to the final of Celebrity Big Brother with harmonica wielding Alex Reid but that was three years ago. What had been going on since then?

About three months ago I stumbled on this: ‘Dane Bowers had to be physically restrained and handcuffed following an incident at family holiday centre Butlins last week.’ Lord preserve me. After headlining at a 90s night in Bognor Regis he had apparently taken umbrage to a drunken reveller continually calling him Brian Harvey, despite repeat warnings that he was his own man, his own 90s star. I know he had trained in muay Thai with Jack Osborne so I assume he handed out a bit of a beating but the trial isn’t until 29th October. Along with two associates, who were also charged with having a few grams of snort about their person, he saw the inside of a nick and I have it on good authority that his first call was to Lee Latchford-Evans, formerly of Steps, who has now trained as a solicitor.

Did Dane now simply prefer these smaller, more intimate gigs? Was he tired of the fame game or was this just the work he was being offered these days? I had to find out so I came up with a show idea to see if he or his team would bite.

Dear ASM Damage,

I’m hoping for some information on the availability in the coming months of Mr Dane Bowers. I’m working on a few TV show ideas and given the recent success of the Big Reunion, and I guess the general re-interest in all things 90s/early 2000s I thought it would be brilliant to get one of the key figures of that time back in focus.
The show I have in mind for Mr Bowers is to be titled Bowers vs. The Towers. The premise is much like the Amazing Race, but will only involve Dane and its key point is that he would be limited to a budget of £10 a day. This would mean he will have to barter, beg and charm his way to each of the towers. The show will start with him at the Tower of London and then take in the Eiffel Tower, the Leaning Tower of Pisa, the Svanetian Towers (in Georgia) and finishing with the Minaret of Jam in Western Afghanistan (which I can assure you is much safer than it might sound). Of course we would be flexible with the course. Conceivably we could head west and take in the CN Tower and maybe one or two in Japan, China or Australia. The details are all fluid and reworkable. But as an opening idea, do you think it would be something Dane might be interested in. We will be pitching it to several production companies and channels, along with other shows such as Beefcakes vs. Cupcakes and a special take on David vs. Goliath, as part of a Versus season.
I look forward to hearing from you soon,

I waited and waited. I guess I timed it wrong. With court appearances looming, it’s highly likely a global trek on a small stipend is not top of his list. Perhaps, if he is found not guilty at trial his management team will be straight back to me to see if this is still a valid lead. And it will be. My leads never die.

The Life of Brian

Brian Belo Big Brother

Big Brother winner Brian Belo. An easy target if ever there was one. The man has a voracious appetite for self-deprecation and mortification and I knew that I could present pretty much anything to his people and would get a positive response. And why shouldn’t I. Like a prizefighter who’s taken a pasting and is looking to get his career back on track, the next fight needs to be an easy one. Something to build the confidence. As with Dyer and Winstone, I had got ahead of myself thinking Peter Andre was stagnating. I needed to ease my way back into the game, so after a few weeks off I targeted Brian.

He is the archetypal Z-lister, but his comic value is unrivalled. If you’re unfamiliar with Brian this example from The Weakest Link may illuminate the kind of character I was targeting. He was given the question ‘In prisoner of war camps during WW2, what ‘T’ was a kind of underground passage that was frequently dug as a means of escape?’ His answer? ‘Herbal tea’.

So after some brainstorming with a colleague of mine I sent this:

Dear Vickie

I am writing to enquire about the availability of Mr Brian Belo for a feature show I am hoping to put together. The title of the proposed show would be ‘Belo Par’ and would see Brian working with a former golf pro in an attempt to earn a European ProTour playing card. I’m currently in discussions with Nick Faldo’s agent, which would be amazing, but they are being tricky. I have two alternatives lined up in the form of Darren Clarke and a standby PGA Pro who has had moderate international success. I am trying to secure interest from all parties before I begin to pitch this properly to interested production companies. I believe Brian’s infectious nature and camera presence would make him ideal for a show that would have the public rooting for him.

Does Brian have any golfing experience? What is his schedule like for the rest of the year?

I would be grateful for any assistance you could give me with this.

After sending the email I watched a few more videos of Brian’s antics and slowly an awful feeling of shame descended on me. It was like bullying an intellectually disabled man-child. The online equivalent of telling a Down syndrome boy swear words and laughing as he shouts them out on the bus (sort of). Then a serendipitous twist of fate changed everything.

I came down the stairs for the eastbound Circle line train at Liverpool Street station and there he was on the platform, chatting to a young brunette, who looked like a glamour model of some sort. I couldn’t believe it. I positioned myself within ear shot and tuned into their conversation. What I heard surprised me. What had happened to the guy from Big Brother who didn’t know what the universe was? The man who froze when asked which came first, WW1 or WW2? The man who had done this child-like recitation of Shakespeare?

Here was this tall, upright, evidently erudite and eloquent young man, talking with sense and confidence. It was all a f**king ruse. He was playing a character. He had fooled us all. I later found out he had actually been the ‘brains’ behind the original concept for The Only Way is Essex. I concede, this is perhaps not a legitimate source of pride, but it demonstrated the man was switched on, savvy and ambitious. He was definitely not this dimwit he portrayed for the cameras. I passed happily down the platform, my guilt slipping away. This man, this Brian, was far more than I had given him credit for. Initially I sent my email to Brian’s old management and got no reply. Only recently I resent it to his new management, a more professional outfit who got back to me with this response:

Thanks – this sounds like great fun. No Brian doesn’t have any golf experience but I’m guessing that’s the point? By all means feel free to put Brian’s name to the project. He is relatively free the back end of this year- doing some post production but it’s fairly flexible.

Best of luck with getting the project off the ground.

Vickie White

I’ve decided i’m going to try and take this one as far as I can. If possible I will expose him for the smart, charming, polite and excellent conversationalist he is. The British public deserve to know who Brian Belo really is.