Swings, roundabouts and Caroline Hamilton.
Submitted by Ray on Mon, 21/12/2009 - 1:04pm
A meeting in The Grand Hotel with Angela a journalist from Sussex Life magazine.
"I love your book." She says. I'm putty in her hands now. "Tell me." She continues."How you managed to.......?"
Of course actors love talking about themselves and I'm no exception.
The tap is turned on. I certainly say too much.
Afterwards I kick myself. I never seem to learn.
In London for a Voice Over. I'm early, sitting outside a 'Costa Fiver for a Cup' with an Americano (A white coffee to you) watching the world go by. A shivering Big Issue seller is trying to earn a crust. A man with a pony tail passes.
"You must save a fortune not going to the barbers, mate, how about spending little bit a Big Issue?"
The pony tail ignores him.
A man is taking empty coffee cartons from the tables and kicking them out into the street.
Two black limousines are parked on double yellow lines. Their drivers are are standing around smoking, waiting for their millionaire masters.
Skinny emancipated homeless young people keep sliding up to my table asking for a 'a few pence for some food' or a cigarette.
It's like being in a time machine whisked back to Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol, everything I see seems so desperate.
London can be a lonely place.
I go up to Waterstones book shop in Trafalgar Square, my publisher told me that my book could be there.
It's a vast shop. Downstairs are the Autobiographies.
And there on a shelf is a copy of my book!!
Next to it are THREE copies of Christopher Biggins one.
Slightly deflated, unlike Mr Biggins, I leave.
Caroline Hamilton is a dear friend of ours. She has bought a copy of the book and asked me to sign it.
I see her in a shop.
"Oh, Ray." She says. "I've E-mailed your web site to all my friends."
Really!" I say. A bit confused how you could send a web site by E-mail.
"Yes, all 500 hundred of them!"
Submitted by Ray on Sun, 13/12/2009 - 4:05pm
Don Marquis a poet wrote: Publishing a book of poetry is like dropping a rose petal down into the Grand Canyon and waiting for an echo.
Me: Publishing an autobiography is like putting a Cathrine Wheel on the back gate, lighting the blue touch paper, standing back and then the pin falls out.
So endeth the First Lesson.
Mr 10% and Stephen Fry
Submitted by Ray on Wed, 09/12/2009 - 11:57am
Update on Mr Benn: In 1968-9 I recorded the thirteen episodes and was paid £960. A lot then, paying £4 a week for a flat.
In the years since then, it has been repeated twice a year for twenty one years on the BBC, been released on VHS, then shown on Nick Jun, followed by sales of 100,000 D.V.D's and finally given away The Times with every copy on one Saturday morning.
I phoned up the production company.
"Do I get anymore money with all these sales?"
"No, the contract was a buy out."
A buy out! I phone Equity, the actor's union. They ask me whether I've got the original contract. Forty years...is it likely? No. They check with the company. They can't find theirs. Natch. So we can't go to court to fight it.
Tough phone calls back and forth. Months later they come up with an offer.
£10,000. Now, a lot of money but not a patch on the correct amount.
Back to the recent phone call. They want to re record the original thirteen again.
The deal: Three mornings recording and THEN on sales 10% of the net price!
How about that! Sounds good anyway.
And at least they didn't get Stephen Fry to record them. I expect he was in the frame.
He does everything, doesn't he! I think he even delivers my papers in the morning.
I'm thinking of getting him to clean the place out before Christmas. I've heard that he's a whizz round the kitchen.
Next week an interview with Sussex Life about (shush.....it'd a secret) my B...
Submitted by Steve Cowgill on Mon, 01/03/2010 - 7:47pm.
That's great news about the re-recording deal on Mr Benn. It reminds me of a story about Brian Cant, from a couple of years ago.
When Quakers Oats were making TV ads using Windy Miller from Camberwick Green, they "tested" Brian for the voice-over job, and found his voice didn't suit the part. They went with Charlie Higson instead. Now, how on earth can Brian's voice NOT be right for Camberwick Green? He IS the voice of Camberwick Green (and Chigley.... and Trumpton)... and his voice hasn't changed at all. I met him around this time whilst he was performing in "There's No Place Like A Home", by Paul Elliott.
The mind boggles.
All the best with Mr Benn.
Submitted by Mike Lewis (not verified) on Mon, 06/12/2010 - 9:18pm.
Ray you should be proud of your career. You have entertained thousands of people over the years, and I bet you are still doing work at the age of 71! People these days are fed up with 5 minute wonder " actor/actresses " they appear in something for a time, then disappear off our screens. but you my friend have been quietly beavering away, paying the bills, and no doubt enjoying yourself. You see, Quality always survives the test of time.
Long Time No See.
Submitted by Ray on Sat, 28/11/2009 - 11:38am
I bump into the actor Steven Grief outside of the bank. I hadn't seen him for a long time.
"Brooksie!" He uses his diaphragmatic muscles to great effect. Birds stop singing and people stare around in panic fearing the end of the world. "What are you up to?"
Actors always ask other actors 'what are you up to?'
Before I can reply, he continues. "I'm probably going to do a play, always good to do at this time of year!"
It's quite possibly a code for 'I've been out of work for months and I'm going for a general audition for THE MOUSETRAP'.
As he pauses for breath, I jump in. He obviously had forgotten about me.
"I've written my autobiography."
"And you're in it."
"Me?" His eyebrows almost fly off his face.
"And... it's out now." I say trying to press home my advantage.
"Where can I get it?" He gasps. "I'll go to Waterstones now."
"No, no!" I say in the full knowledge that Waterstones nor any other bookshop in the world is likely to stock it. "You might try and get it online."
"I'll do it now. Thanks!" He rushes off.
Then something strikes me. If Grief wants to buy the book because he's in it then, if I'd put in more names, say a few hundred or a few thousand or even a MILLION, I'd be in Valhalla! Certainly not pissing around shifting about thirteen or fourteen copies.
I walk home pondering whether I could weave a plot around all the names in The London Telephone Directoy.
Now, that could be a best seller. Thanks, Mr Grief!
Submitted by T.W. (not verified) on Thu, 13/05/2010 - 2:36pm.
I was trying to think of the voice over that Ray did in late 60's early 70's.It was one of the very first "fly on the wall" type programmes.I remember there was a row of shops in Kew,or there abouts and Ray Brooks did the voice over.I have been trying to remember the name of the series so as to try to find it on Video.Can you offer any help?? Thanks & Best Wishes,Tracy
Mr Benn and other stuff
Submitted by Ray on Fri, 27/11/2009 - 4:47pm
Baby sitting Maisy our one year old granddaughter.
She's learning to walk. We take turns, almost bent double, to hold hands with Miss Maisy, who has turned into a stuttering, stumbling drunken sailor, careering from room to room going nowhere in particular, with one of us hanging onto her desperately.
After my turn, I flop onto the sofa feeling like Quasimodo.
Afterwards, in the car I realize that my back is buggered.
Early Evening. Same Day.
Joe, our thirteen year old grandson, and me in the Piano and Pitcher prior to Fulham's game against Blackburn. He's worn out, a long day at school, a late evening ahead and getting up in early in the morning. I try to keep a cheery conversation going but no reaction. He's nearly asleep.
Then in bounces our eldest son Will, full of beans and jollity. Joe jerks into life like a 150 watt light bulb being switched on.
I slump back in my seat feeling redundant like a lonely sausage on a supermarket shelf at midnight.
I realize that at my age I really don't have much contribute in this X Factor world. Someone once said that when kids grow up it is tricky but there's always the young one's 'They're fun'.
Yes!! Great 'fun' as long as you don't mind being bent double for the rest of your life!
Back to Mr Benn.
I had a call from my voice over agent Maxine. "They want you to re-voice the thirteen episodes of Mr Benn that you recorded forty years ago."
That's a mystery. Why bother? Will said it's because 'they look a bit washed out' and they'll probably re-master them.
They sold the thick end of 100,000 D.V.D's of the originals and nobody complained.
Incidentally, despite those sales I didn't make any money from them.
Anyway the current news maybe better.
I'll let you know.
Submitted by Ray on Sat, 21/11/2009 - 12:51pm
Interviewed, down the line, by a man called Simon for Newcastle radio. Really friendly. Mentioned that I'd only sold about nine copies of my book. He said 'Better than selling five'.
I went out and had a couple of pints pondering on the statement made by uncle Simon. Seasick Steve sings about "Started out with Nothin and still Got Most of it Left' Good song, good sentiment. Makes sense.
Peggy Lee sings 'Is That All There is?'
Amy LaVere sings about 'Pointless Drinking'.
I leave the pub feeling depressed not knowing who to believe.
I find myself outside the publishers. I take a deep breath and go in.
I've sold FOUR more copies!
As my little bowler hatted friend used to say 'Suddenly, as if by Magic'.
Latest Total: Thirteen copies sold.
Look out Ant and Dec.
Submitted by Ray on Sat, 07/11/2009 - 12:25pm
OCTOBER. A Libray. 7.45pm.
Twenty five people are sitting looking at me. I have to try and sell my book to them. First I have to tell them why I wrote it. Then I have to read a passage from the book.
They stare at me blankly, my mouth is dry. They don't seem to understand what the hell I'm talking about.
A break for refreshments. I have two glasses of wine.
A question and answer period.
"Thank you, Ray. If anybody would like to buy a copy of Ray's book they're on the table over there."
Eventually. "How many did I sell?"
"Is that all!"
"They don't buy hardbacks. When is the paperback coming out?"
I search Waterstones, Borders, W.H.Smith and one inderpendant book shop.
None in the windows, nor on the shelves, not even propping up the legs of the wonky tables dotted around these places.
Did I ever write a book? After all, books should be in book shops, shouldn't they?
This is going to be a long slog.
Score so far: 6 in the library,a nurse where my wife Sadie works bought one on Amazon and somebody has promised to try and buy two for Christmas.
Total: might be 9.
Updates on the score soon.
Watch out Dan Brown!!
Submitted by Ray on Thu, 29/10/2009 - 10:19am
I don't really understand the word 'Blog'. But here's the place where I hope to post bits and bobs from time to time. Perhaps that makes it a 'Blog', not sure!
Feedback, burning question, spelling mistakes, I'd love to hear from you!