Another little nugget transcribed from my radio archives, this time from August 2007. Trevor Neal is the Trevor-shaped half of Saturday morning TV gods Trevor and Simon, veteran pant-swingers of Going Live fame. Simon was meant to be joining us live on the phone as well, but proved elusive on the night. We managed to track him down in a cave a couple of weeks later, but in the meantime here’s our chat with the lovely Trevor…
I don’t know what he’s up to. Up to no good, I suppose. It just goes to prove, despite what people might think, that we’re not a married couple and we don’t spend every minute with each other! We’re very independent people and we even live in separate parts of the country…
Come off it, you’ve had a row and Simon’s gone off to sulk in the spare room.
You’ve seen through it! Hang on… Simon! Go back to your room. Go back now!
How did you two first start working together, did the double act exist before Going Live came along?
We met at university – that’s the true and rather boring answer. We were both doing a drama course in Manchester, and we found all the drama stuff a bit too heavy, so we thought we’d start up a comedy act. We went round the Student Union bars having a go at stand-up spots, and then we hung around Manchester trying to find venues to perform in. But this was before the comedy scene really exploded… now there’s at least one comedy club in every town, but back then there just weren’t any. So we went to London and did the circuit there, and Going Live came along after a couple of years.
Did you have to change your act at all for Saturday morning TV? Did it need cleaning up, or were you fairly wholesome to begin with?
The kind of comedy we did was pretty daft anyway, it was all very silly. I suppose there might have been the odd swear word, and a few slightly adult or political references… although having said that, I think we took a tape along to the executive producer of Going Live, and he said that – out of the half an hour of stuff that we showed him – there was only one joke that was suitable for the programme! (Laughs) And that was something about an egg and spoon race… we put an egg and a spoon on the floor and shouted ‘Come on! Come on!’ (pauses and sighs) I suppose it’s more of a visual gag, really…
We did, we did… usually it was stuff that I’m not particularly proud of now. I’ve got my own children now, and I wouldn’t say the kind of things on TV now that I did then…
Like what? Spill the beans!
Well, we just got carried away with innuendo and ‘nudge nudge’ jokes, which I think is a bit silly now, looking back on it, but it did make people laugh. The one I really got told off for was… I was being Jimmy Hill, and the prop maker made me a very long chin. And it wasn’t a very good prop, and it didn’t look much like a chin. It was very… long and pink, and it was just…
(At this point your BBC Tees presenters start to titter uncontrollably)
…and I said that having a chin like this gets you into a very special club, it’s ‘Members Only’.
And it’s a terrible, cheap pun, and it was ten past nine in the morning. And, quite rightly, I got told off and told that if I ever did that kind of thing again we’d be pre-recorded and we wouldn’t be allowed to be live on television any more.
Who were the best celebrity guests to work with? We’re not sure if this actually happened, or if we’ve just dreamt it. Jason Donovan dressed as a dog…?
Yeah! Well, actually… not FULLY dressed as a dog, because he didn’t want to spoil his hair. So he put on most of the dog costume, but not the head. He just kind of flapped his arms. And he was accompanied singing ‘Hound Dog’ by Nigel Kennedy on the violin… it was kind of strange. But basically we’d be told who the guests were halfway through the week, and we’d try to write a sketch that included as many of them as we could.
Did anyone surprise you by being more into it than you’d expected?
Cyndi Lauper. She was excellent, she was very good. But anyone who joined in was good fun, really. Jonathan Ross was always a great laugh, he’d literally do anything and always seemed to enjoy it. Paul Simon… (laughs)… who we didn’t actually do a sketch with, but kind of wished we had… he just got hit on the head with a balloon by a small kid. And everyone sang Happy Birthday to him, because it was his birthday. But he looked really, really miserable, and we whispered to his manager that he didn’t look very happy. And he said ‘No, he’s not… he’s been up all night with diarrhoea…’
Oh dear! Talk about a Bridge Over Troubled Water…
(Laughs) I don’t think I’ve been impressed by celebrity status ever since.
So which were your favourite characters to perform? We’ve got ours, but you tell us yours first…
I used to like doing World Of The Strange, I don’t know if you remember them? Two guys that investigated the paranormal…
And saw the paranormal in EVERYTHING…
Yes, in wrongly-priced plum tomatoes and things like that. I also liked doing the barbers – ‘we don’t do perms’ – in fact, we did a sketch once where Roger Daltrey came in, and he already had a perm! So we made him ask if we could do a perm in reverse. It was all very silly. And there were a couple of characters that I think we only did once, they looked like the twins from Village of the Damned, with blond hair and gabardine macs… and they sat in a disused submarine, and when the camera came close to them they just said ‘…want a nut?’
(lots of laughs)
…and there was no explaining that one really, but we liked it.
We loved MC Mick McMax and Moon Monkey, with Simon in a giant lycra outfit…
Yes! The Hotpot Pot Fish Hot Rave Club… or something. Sponsored by Pot Fish, Britain’s No 1 Instant Fish Snack in a Pot! It was great, that. We still get asked to appear in nightclubs and Student Unions, so Simon’s one-piece lycra outfit is being remade. He still occasionally dares to go into a nightclub wearing it. And I’ve updated DJ Mick McMax a bit…
He used to look a bit like Pat Sharp…
Well, I couldn’t get hold of that wig, so I’ve reinvented him now. He’s all in white, with a white parka and tracksuit bottoms, and then… a kind of Jimmy Savile meets Paul Weller wig.
There’s a bit of follicular common ground between Weller and Savile these days, isn’t there?
I’m a lifelong Weller fan, so I won’t have a word said against him.
As he gets older, he also reminds us a little bit of Geoffrey Hayes from Rainbow.
(Laughs) Actually no, sorry, I can’t laugh at that. (Laughs) You can’t knock the Modfather, alright?
It must have been a crazy time for you, did you have kids following you down the street shouting ‘Swing your pants’?
Yes, and I still get it now! In fact, where was I… hang on… (sounds confused) sorry, I’ve had a day today, I’ve been preparing floorboards for staining and varnishing.
Living the dream, eh?
Yes, this is my life! I actually went to buy the woodstain this morning from a paint shop in Margate, and the people in there said ‘We don’t do duvets…’ Which was good, because I didn’t want any duvets, I wanted a big can of varnish. But yes, I still get ‘swing your pants’ shouted occasionally at me.
Do you still keep in touch with Phillip Schofield and Sarah Greene?
Well, we exchange Christmas cards and things, but the last time we all met up was for the Swap Shop Revisited programme at Christmas. And that was great fun, and it was nice to see them. But we don’t all live together in a big Saturday morning house or anything.
You keep saying this, Trevor…
Get back in the cupboard, Simon!
Are you in a band at the moment as well? Didn’t you play Glastonbury a couple of years ago?
That’s true! I’m in a punk band called Sucker. It’s all original stuff that we write using the three chords that we can play, in the true spirit of 1977. And it was a bit of luck really, but we did get to play the John Peel stage at the last Glastonbury. Admittedly it was half past ten on a Sunday morning, so there weren’t that many people about, but it was great. Fantastic to do.
Are you the frontman?
No, no… a bit of lead and rhythm guitar. I do one solo! But I’ve just started a second band, actually… I live in Broadstairs in Kent, and some mates down here have formed a punk covers band. And we’ve got our debut gig on Sunday at the Oddfellows Hall in Ramsgate!
And who do you like on the current comedy circuit?
I really like The Mighty Boosh, they’re very funny. And I think Russell Brand’s very good as well. But I don’t get out to comedy gigs much any more.
That’s because you’re pure punk rock.
That’s it! I’m too busy going through my mid-life crisis!
Should we play a bit of Donovan to finish off?
Which one have you got, is it Sunshine Superman?
Swing your pants…
Thanks to Trevor! The official Trevor and Simon website is HERE, and they do podcasts and everything.