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.