So Jeremy please can you tell us a bit about your new show What the Hell is Going On?
I am trying to answer the question we are all asking! Where did Trump come from, how did Labour go Blair-Corbyn, why Brexit but not Scottish Independence? We are in the craziest times and it is the most exciting moment for any journalist.
Where did the title come from?
Can I leave you to guess that, Eggheads-style? It is from the most memorable soundbite of the century so far – but you have to tell me. Or come to the show and get the answer there . . .
Why did you decide that now was the time to do this type of show?
There is such a hunger for answers. Ever since Thatcher fell, politics has converged on the centre, as if there was only one answer to every question. Suddenly it’s pinged left and right again and we are in the biggest political crisis since World War Two.
Can you tell us three interesting things that you’ll be talking about?
Well, there are more than three callers to my radio show I want to mention! I have taken 25,000 phone calls from listeners. And the thing I now realise is that they know what the news is, and I am the listener.
‘I have taken 25,000 phone calls from listeners. And the thing I now realise is that they know what the news is, and I am the listener’
What will the audience enjoy most about What the Hell is Going On?
Can I turn the question around and tell you what I’ll enjoy most? Actually seeing my listeners! Remember, most days I am locked in a soundproofed, airtight room with a view only of rooftops, I love to see the people I speak to every day.
So far there are just two dates listed for the show; any plans to do more at a later date?
We are booking them one at a time. I am finding my feet. It’s all a little scary. On one show I tried to dance onto the stage, then remembered I couldn’t dance.
Ah yes of course! You were on Strictly, but we’ll come to that in a minute . . . in the meantime you’re a prolific broadcaster, presenter and writer, which area of your work do you like best and why?
Ooooh now you are testing me! Radio gives you longevity. But I am having so much fun with my morning TV show on Channel 5.
And talking of which, what’s your secret for keeping all the plates spinning vis a vis your commitments?
A sense of humour. Laugh every hour of every day.
Can you tell us any specific stories from your listeners that have stuck in your memory over the years and why?
I’m going to mention a recent one I had. The story we were discussing was about the death of two railway workers on a train track, and we were asking whether listeners had had experience of similar accidents or near-misses. A caller phoned in to tell me about her husband who was killed while working on a railway in West Wales in 1990. She said: “He was wearing ear defenders. He left two girls aged eight and five. He was thirty years old. To this day I do not know why or how this happened. There is a look-out person that is meant to warn them of oncoming trains. I guess with the noise from the machinery and wearing ear defenders he didn’t hear any warnings. Four lives changed in an instant.” To me it is amazing that people will say this kind of thing. It opens up a whole life of pain so intimately.
Taking on Strictly Come Dancing was certainly very different from the current affairs arena you usually work in. What key things did you get out of this experience?
I understood that dancing is like poetry, and even if you can’t write it you can still learn to enjoy the poetry of others.
I was partnered by Karen Clifton and we remain friends. Her movement was like art. I am in awe of her. And I think my awe is a kind of appreciation that she gave me, like a gift. I did not have it before.
Finally, do you get a lot of callers from the Tunbridge Wells area to your shows and do we really live up to our reputation of being ‘disgusted’?!
Funnily enough I was talking to a Kent MP just recently. He said all the constituencies around him were 60 per cent Brexit. And then he paused and said: “Apart from Tunbridge Wells, of course.” And the words, of course, were said with such heavy meaning I found myself nodding and agreeing: “Of course, of course.” Yes, there is something very special about TW.