‘Confessions of a Conjuror’

It has been a pleasant day. After a private, and unusually delightful, gig in Stockholm, I gave myself and my extensive team of Coops (PA) and Iain (writing partner) the day off and painted. I have been painting a friend, the free-runner and general embodiment of all that is astonishing Chase Armitage (yes, a par-court giant called Chase: living proof of the maxim that after years of primary-school teasing and slow-burn comfortable associations, people tend to be attracted to careers which suit their names.) Following that I visited an artist friend Patrick Hughes, and had my head cast in plaster in order for a reverse-sculpture of your apologetically infrequent blogger to be created. It’s a little difficult to describe, and I shall blog the results along with the pictures that were taken along the way, but imagine a portrait which, through a compelling trick of perspective, unfailingly shifts and turns to follow you around the room.

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HERO morning after

Morning all. Hope you enjoyed last night if you watched the show. I’m travelling home from a night at the Premier Inn at Leeds Bradford airport, where we were royally looked after throughout our wrap party in the affiliated Beefeater until godknowswhen by the wonderful Christian and Claire who should have been home in bed.

Like to think I stayed in the room that Lenny Henry uses when he’s passing through.
I’ve yet to see the final show and hope to catch it tonight. Bumbled through the live links and only had one moment of my life flashing before my eyes when I briefly completely forgot what to say. Not sure if it registered.

Making ‘Hero’ (as all the cool kids call it) was such a joy. Matt is sensational, and I understand his Facebook friends quotient rocketed during the show once his full name was mentioned. We’ve become good friends too. He and Liv are a very lovely couple.

The challenge for us was fitting everything into a seventy-minute show. The changes were manifold and there was much more story to tell. What you see is obviously very trimmed and edited and squashed into the time allotment. Reading the flurry on Twitter last night there was clearly a small percentage people who just refused to accept any of it, which is shame but of course completely inevitable. Some insisted Matt and Liv had to be actors. It’s impossible to please everyone, but I can certainly assure anyone questioning that sort of thing that I don’t use actors in that way, and it would be stupid to do so, as I’d have to find, kill or silence all their friends, families and acquaintances too.

It has been a real joy making the show. So often TV can be a cynical and joyless business, and to do something that feels worthwhile is a rare treat. And to go to such lengths for one person is so exciting. I was and am so proud of Matt, and meant what I said to him at the end.

It has been very heartwarming reading your responses to the show, particularly from people who have taken something personal from it, which was of course the hope behind the project. I chose Matt because he represents all of us. As many of you have asked how he is, he’ll be the first to tell you he’s a happy, changed man and currently sorting out a new place and career options. I spoke to him right after the show and he loved it. And he got over his fear of flying too, just in case anyone thought I had made it a thousand times worse…

Us lot at Airkix

One of the highlights of the tour this year was indoor skydiving at Airkix in Milton Keynes. This is quite something. An enormous structure which is in essence an inverted wind tunnel, circulating air through a central chamber. Jump in and you’re airborne. We received the essential lowdown from Sean, our cool and perky trainer, and then each got a go in the flight chamber with Sean helping us along. It is extraordinary, exhilarating, and SO much fun. The team there looked after us very well and what you see in the video is Coops’ edit of Airkix’s footage. We’ve spared the rest of the team from having their escapades published, as, well, you don’t look your best when you’re at it.

Attached to our helmets – by which I mean, you know, our helmets – are toy animals, flapping in the wind. Coops has a monkey, I have a vampire bat. We chose well. You’ll see my effort first, then Mr Coops, and then finally me again doing a few tricks after some more practice. OK, that last bit’s not true. Make sure you watch the last section to show what can be done – it’s the brilliant Sean and he’s a living Spiderman. Just incredible. All this has made us very enthusiastic to do a proper (ie outdoor, terrifying etc) skydive at some point, and the lovely people at The Red Devils have offered to host it. Wowzers. Expect more footage when that happens, though more likely of Coops and me wetting ourselves at so many thousand feet. Wheee!