INTERVIEW, MARCH 2006
A DAY IN THE LIFE OF ADAM BUXTON
This is a piece I wrote last week for a local magazine that’s due to be published in a month or so. I hope they don’t mind if I put it up here first. I suspect that there won’t be a disastrous slackening of sales if I do.
I’m woken by the sound of the baby monitor crackling to life as my 3 and a half year old son Frank starts talking loudly to whichever Bionicle is sharing his bad at that moment. â€œHello Vazok. Did you sleep alright? Did you have bad dreams about a scary man? You shouldn’t be scared. You could easily kill that man until he’s completely dead. I love you Vazokâ€ etc. My wife gets him and his younger brother up and gives them their breakfast while I lie in bed. Sometimes I feel guilty that she always does the morning routine and I never do, but she seems to really love it and I’m just not prepared to take that joy away from her. Plus I have some of my best ideas lying in bed in a semi conscious stupor.
Just today I came up with a new show set in a lighthouse. I would be the lighthouse keeper and I would have an army of tiny humorous creatures who live beneath the lighthouse and help me present the show, which could incorporate all kinds of surreal and hilarious items! This is an amazingly good idea and I would not have had it if I’d been changing nappies at 7am instead of lying face down on my pillow.
In the bath I realise that my idea is Fraggle Rock. My wife goes to work and leaves our youngest son with our nanny while I take Frank to school on my bike. He likes the bike so much that he insists I use it even if it’s raining quite heavily. I don’t mind because it’s so enjoyable listening to him singing and crapping on to Vazok behind me as I peddle. It’s a very good way to start the day.
Back home I have my breakfast whilst reading music magazines. Some of the pieces in Mojo and The Word are so well written, I don’t feel as worried as perhaps I should that they constitute the main part of my literary diet. Bad music journalism (of which there is a lot of course) makes me want to kill not only the journalist responsible but myself and the bands they’re writing about too. Maybe I’m taking it too seriously which I shouldn’t because I hate it when other people get dogmatic about music. Why would you want to bring the ultimate artform down to the level of politics or sport or religion? Discussing music is enjoyable but spitting contempt at people for their musical taste is a drag.
By this time I’m usually in my studio, which is a glorified shed at the bottom of the garden. Here I turn on the computer and check my e-mails. Nothing. I never get anything until at least 10:30 when my agent gets in. If I’m lucky I’ll get a few offers to increase the girth of my winky, or fraudulent requests to confirm bank details but that’s it.
Check my e-mails again. Could this be the day that Larry David’s people have finally got in touch with my agent having had a tape of some of my stuff passed on by some Hollywood Brit? No, it could not. If there are any e-mails from my agent they’ll go something like this:
Hi Adam. Any interest? Please see below
I’m writing with regard to the availability of Adam Buxton for Telly Bestest! (I made this show up!) an exciting new project currently in production for Channel 4. Tottymax Films (I invented this name!) have been commissioned to create an 8 hour programme featuring clips from some of the greatest programmes ever shown on TV and we think Adam Buxton would be perfect to sit in a dimly lit bar and pretend he remembers them. I should stress this is not just another 100 Greatest show! Telly Bestest (made up!) will feature over 500 clips and interviews with every important person ever born so if Adam Buxton refuses to take part, he’ll look like a dick!
Yours truly, Tina Foogash (invented name!)
After I’ve replied to all my exciting requests I take some time to get some other miserable tasks out of the way. Every day several joyless hours are devoted to at least one of the following: bill or tax paying, clothes washing, computer upgrades or malfunctions. I reckon these are the things that really make people want to be rich and famous. I’m pretty sure that George Clooney seldom spends soul-mincing hours on the phone to a helpline trying to configure his modem. I’m sure he has to do other soul-mincing things but I bet it’s glamorous mincing!
There’s also the weekly trip to Sainsburys. I pretend to my wife that this is a massive chore but I actually look forward to it. I swish through the aisles alone, listening to music and feeling on the verge major creative breakthroughs. By the time I’m at the checkout, as well as far too much pitta bread I’ve got at least 3 ideas for amazing new films or TV shows!
Back home I realise once again that I’ve thought of 3 very slight variations on Fraggle Rock. I eat my lunch and flick through satellite channels in the hope of seeing something that might be useful, either for a sketch or for the radio show I do with Joe on Xfm wherein we spend a lot of time talking about film and TV. I try to record everything I’m watching for that reason but it means I have hundreds of crudely labelled DVD’s lying around my shed, which I’ll probably never watch again.
Collect Frank from school. However fruitless my day has been up to this point the sight of Frank hopping up and down delightedly when he sees me is enough to make me feel perfectly happy.
In the afternoon I might have a meeting or two. These usually take the form of an hour of excited chatter with someone from a production company about a project that will never happen, either because it turns out I’m too busy or we realise it’s Fraggle Rock or more often than not it simply ‘goes away’.
This is a phrase I hear a lot when I ask how something is coming along. â€œOh, didn’t you hear? It went awayâ€ Where did it go? â€œIt just went awayâ€. I’m never quite sure if this means they changed their minds about using me, or lost enthusiasm, or maybe just forgot. I’m just as bad though. I have sketchbooks lightly stuffed with ideas I was once very excited about that ‘went away’. The thing that makes very successful people different is that they refuse to let anything get away it seems to me, especially in TV where most ideas are so thin that unless you feed them up immediately the slightest gust of indecision sends them floating off.
Perhaps that’s why I often end up working alone. I can set my own pace, do things the way I want them done and there’s only my enthusiasm levels to maintain. Most of the time it’s great fun to be sat at my computer playing with bits of footage or writing short sketches or stand up material but I look forward to getting involved with something more substantial that forces me to work with other people again. Ditch digging perhaps. I’ve got some great ideas for ditches. I need to line up a meeting and pitch some ditch.
Unless I’m doing a gig or filming (both fairly rare) I shut down my computer and head upstairs to read to the boys before they go to sleep. This is one of my favourite parts of the day unless they’ve been watching TV in which case we have to nurse them through the withdrawal when the set is switched off. It’s frightening to see how nutty it makes them but I have to be careful not be too hypocritical. I have after all made a living out of watching a lot of crap TV for a while now. The main thing I try to explain to them is that too much crap TV leads to apathy, lardiness and in extreme cases Gillian McKeith, and nobody wants that.
What I don’t explain is that as soon as they’re sleeping soundly the TV goes right back on so me and my wife can trawl the filthy airwaves for a couple of hours before bed. To stop us going completely mental we try to have at least one good show on DVD that we know we can fall back on. At the moment it’s This Life but in the past many happily vegetative hours have been spent in front of 24, The Shield, ER and best of all The Sopranos which really is the kind of show that makes you believe that TV is the best medium going. Having said that, Celebrity Big Brother this year came pretty close too. If only they’d set it in a lighthouse with me as the lighthouse keeper and added even more hilarious creatures, it would have been just about perfect.
Adam Buxton 20/03/06