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BRACKLEY BLOG: SAINT AND GREAVSIE APPEARANCE

30 January 2016

Former radio and television commentator, Peter Brackley, a Brighton-born and a lifelong Albion fan, relives another of his favourite moments.




 
This includes the time he stood in for a famous sporting icon using a Spitting Image puppet!
 
It wasn't the normal telephone call I would expect to receive on a busy Friday morning from Saint and Greavsie Show producer Richard Worth.
 
"Brackers," said Brighton fan Richard, "we need you live in the ITV studios tomorrow to co-present the programme."
 
As a regular reporter on the hugely popular football programme featuring former playing greats, Ian St John and Jimmy Greaves, which at its peak pulled in around five million viewers on a Saturday lunchtime, I was used to contributing to their knockabout routines, but to be a co-presenter? Are you sure?
 
Then came the twist. "Not as yourself, though," explained Richard, "Jimmy can't be with us this week and we want you to stand in for him using the puppet from Spitting Image. The puppet will present the show sitting next to the Saint, and you can impersonate Jimmy's voice while it mouths the words."
 
Mind you, when Richard said "stand in" for Greavsie, what he really meant was "kneel in ". For reasons which, to this day, I've never really understood, I actually had to crouch under the desk to do the voice, while the puppet was being "worked" on the top by an unseen technician!
 
Not exactly the most comfortable position for me to operate in for the entire duration of a half hour live show, but I managed to get through it, and although I couldn't see the Saint, I could certainly hear him and the studio crew as they fell about in response to this puppet answering his questions in typical cheeky Greavsie fashion.

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The idea was that we would do the show pretty much as normal with the usual lively mix of chat, goal clips and pre-recorded interviews, and for the most part Ian somehow managed to keep a straight face while linking items and quizzing the puppet on the issues of the day, as I mumbled away throughout about football being a "funny old game Saint".
 
"What about football at your old club Tottenham this season, Greavsie?" I remembering Ian asking. "Good idea," replied the puppet. (I am sure there must have been some sort of script for me to refer to, but, as I recall, I pretty much made it up as I went along!)
 
Ian was determined not to "corpse", as we call it, but his resolve finally cracked when, during a piece of goalmouth action we were showing (not that I could see it from my agony on the floor), he asked "Greavsie" about a player better known for his defending at the other end.
 
"What on earth is he doing up there Greavsie?" he spluttered. And, through me, the puppet's lips replied blandly," Trying to score a goal I expect Saint!"
 
Not the smartest remark ever made, but coming from the puppet as it did, it left Ian convulsed in laughter as he struggled to carry on.
 
It was huge fun to do the show, of course, and people of a certain age still mention that day to me even now.
 
I've been told, indeed, of at least one pub where everyone in there at the time of the broadcast stopped to watch and laugh at the "Greavsie" puppet, so it clearly had an impact!
 
It’s a broadcast to cherish for me, and one that will have to go down as the most bizarre, and certainly the most memorable, that I've ever been asked to do in over 40 years in the business!

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