Ed Parnell's Cunning Plan

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Written by edparnell

August 30, 2018 at 3:00 am

Posted in Uncategorized

Mcphereson Poster Campaign

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I recently have been asked to appear on a poster campaign. I know, me. On a poster. Not for the first time, though, but this time I will be presented at bus stops and train stations and not on the back of a door in a dressing room covered in dart holes and a badly drawn moustache.

I was approached because they needed gravitas. Someone the public would trust, would extoll a certain wisdom, a wisdom gained by age and experience, an implied, unspoken wisdom one can only accumulate by the passing of time. Also Joe Pasquale was busy.

It’s not the first time I have been hired for a promotion. One harks back yonder to Spurgiss’ Fruity Chews (before the health scare), Germann Toffee and the seminal work with the Bolton Carpet Warehouse.

Let me start by saying the Bolton Carpet Wonderworld was tricky. It’s difficult to be sage when one is constrained by forty two seconds, and it’s not helped in your characterisation when one has to fit in the benefits of a new shagpile or tiled carpet, the tremendous savings and opening hours of local retailers. There must be an underlying confidence for the public to latch onto that this man (me) wants only what is best, that his advice is sincere and heartfelt and not that it’s some old fart with a rug fetish.

When I did the BCW promotion, I knew nothing about flooring. I knew about floors, obviously, but further examination held revelations. In fact, and this is what amazed me, is there is not one part of my or anyone elses’ life which has not involved floors. From leafy glade to the antarctic to a plane or the stage at the Royal Theatre Frampton, one is almost beholden for floors as somewhere to put your feet. The sheer influence of floors on our lives is unparalleled, and probably as vital as oxygen, sunlight or souvenir theatre programs. Yet floors, decks, boards are largely unappreciated and this, to me, is as close to criminal as it gets.

During the run up to filming the promotion, I looked at all sorts of floors, and was determined to make more people aware of our low level friend. At a party, I remember speaking at length to Ian McKellen, and while I was educating him all about mezzanines, he said he had to hurry off to an Iron Maiden concert but said to be sure call his agent to continue the conversation. I am not surprised he is so busy though, but one will continue to try and find a window in his schedule to continue this discussion. I make a point of calling his agent on a regular basis, no matter how often they change the number.

The Bolton people were delighted with my enthusiasm. As I regaled them with my new-found awareness they listened almost transfixed, before thoughtfully backing my venture into the research ‘We hate to keep you from further fascinating discoveries’ they said ‘Please, go and find out more. Now’. The ‘now’ was particularly telling, and I felt as a lecturer might feel when the ignition of thirst for knowledge has been turned in the mind of a student, and the engine roars into action. Go I did.

Fortunately, my role in Space:1999 had not be reprised, and I could concentrate on this vital work. Floor Awareness. Books were read, articles were written, t-shirts were printed, rejection letters were received (apart from a brief extract in ‘Psychiatry Today’). Bolton Carpet Wonderworld were relying on me, and I would not leave them wanting. When I returned to their offices, four months later with red eyes and a bedraggled look after intensive research, many of the senior managers I had been dealing with had been too frightened of the ignorance they had had, presumably because this would be a professional weakness competitors would pounce upon, and when I found them hiding behind a dumpster in a neighbouring car park, the startled look in their eyes spoke volumes. Three of them tried to further disguise their achilles heels by attempting to scale a wall or run off over the dual carriageway (tragically).

I gave a brief talk, with slides, about our under carpet allies, before concluding and opening a question and answer session. I had obviously explained all the science and techniques to a depth that satisfied my ‘students’, as they sat there dazed and glassy eyed at the sheer volume and complexity of my oratory. Now, when I do their commercial, I could speak with authority and expertise.

The ad ran inbetween two editions of The Galloping Gourmet, and I like to think people tuned in specifically for my sparkling endorsement of The Bolton Carpet Wonderworld. I know I did.

This new poster campaign is of course similarly researched, and I feel confident it will see an upsurge in interest and purchase of Galmonds’ Suppositories.

Posted By Ed to Mcphereson on 3/13/2018 11:49:00 pm

Written by edparnell

March 14, 2018 at 6:49 am

Posted in Uncategorized

Mcphereson Technology and the Actor

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One of the nice things about being an actor is one gets, occasionally, to become part of history. I have to say ‘The Vision’ was one of the finest things I have ever been involved with, featuring the latest technology. Let’s be honest, theatres have been around for centuries – people sat in seats staring at a hole in the wall while the brave don costumes and strut about, saying ‘thou foul entities’ or ‘The hound, Watson’ or getting in a frightful pickle when the husband returns home early for his trousers.

My role in the show was that of Dr Nuemann, a worried scientist whose concerns about the evil machinations of the robots proved to be well founded when they crushed civilisation and decimated humanity. It was the probably most ambitious creation Newquay has ever seen. The production boasted a robotic Thora Hurd, an holographic Sir Lawrence and a cyborg Les Dawson in a dramatic and tension filled soiree into a dark, dystopian world, marred only when the butler droid fell off the stage and crushed the first two rows.

I was so impressed by the fast reaction of the emergency services, although I did find it somewhat galling that the reviews were quite so positive about their output, hardly mentioning the actual play at all.

One has the internet now, of course, and one thing I sometimes do it look up myself using one of those ‘searching engines’. Of course, it’s a delight to read about oneself on the screen, knowing full well anyone on the planet can access this information and reviews, although they may differ from myself in that I have the ‘safe search’ on, blocking abusive content.

I have always been interested in technology, ever since I purchased my first calculator in 1973. I well remember going around showing Roger Moore what eight plus nine would be and the square of the hypotenuse. Roger was not that impressed, looking back, and seemed to prefer hiding in a laundary basket. I took that Casio with me everywhere, dinner parties, openings, awards ceremonies, showing the great and the good division, multiplication and square roots, right up until lovely Penelope Keith snatched it off me during a rather involved demonstration involving pi and stamped on it.

The attitude of the actor towards technology has to always be open to the possibilities it presents. Many years ago, a play involved the floating head of a holographic Richard Burton appearing on stage to narrate a story. Up until then, it was virtually impossible to use the severed cranium of an dead actor in a production without concerns being raised regarding taste and hygiene.

I sometimes like to imagine what productions my image will be used in in future. I have already specified that my corpse be donated to Silent Witness, and those who I have told this too have commented that cannot wait for my postumous debut.

Posted By Ed to Mcphereson on 1/18/2018 12:44:00 am

Written by edparnell

January 18, 2018 at 8:44 am

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Mcphereson More about awards

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It is always gratifying to be awarded a plaudit or small statue in recognition of your work. Apparently. I have attended various awards ceremonies over the years, and I have always enjoyed seeing peers and friends receive accolades. Sharing in their joy is a real privilege, and it must be so comforting to know ones’ efforts are not without reward. I have never kicked anyone in the shin.

When I was in BAFTA, I attended their bashes, and was very confident of walking away with ‘Best Voiceover for a Documentary on Dietary Difficulties encountered by North American Vegan Inuits’. But alas, Jarvis got it. In fact, the whole evening was just people opening envelopes and saying ‘Martin Jarvis’. Later, I approached Jarvis as he loaded another pallet of trophies into his hired transit van, and in a civil but firm voice, I asked him if it wasn’t a little bit selfish. I have to say, as a golden voice, his reply was not as civilised as one would expect. Could this really be the same voice whose dulcet tones voiced Winnie the Pooh, Agatha Christie and the Observer Book Of Collectable Jars? The potty mouthed outburst was a tour de force of swearing, encompassing my parentage, toilet habits and unsavoury activities with a mule. I left him to it, his endorsements of my resemblance in his opinion to the expulsion of urine, ringing in my ears.

Jarvis aside, it is notoriously difficult to know what to do when you get nominated for an award. I myself am pleased my peers know me well enough to realise that gongs and plaudits mean little to me, and thus usually don’t bother adding my name to the lists. It was in 1976 I got nominated for my portrayal of Glyn, the lonely washing machine in the Bold advertisment. This was a task, even for an actor of my abilities, and I studied white goods for a good while to understand them, to get into how it felt to be a washing machine with combined tumble dryer function. One day I even went so far as stuffing dirty clothes into my mouth.

In those days, there was a store called Rumbelows. This hallowed premises boasted electrical items of all hues and designs. Ovens, fridges, freezers, toasters, pedal bins and, of course of most interest to me, washing machines. Having been ejected from the launderette for… reasons, I decided the best thing to do was consult someone who knew about these machines. I spent a whole morning talking to a salesman about the display models. Their benefits and drawbacks. After three hours or so he had started to get a little short with me. I think the crux came when I asked ‘do they ever feel depressed? Trapped in a relationship of master and slave, getting older, ambitions unfulfilled and dreams crumbling like oats in the wind’. ‘Do you want to buy one or not, Sir?’ he (in my opinion rudely) asked. Trapped by my own plan, and realising he stood between myself and the exit, I said ‘Certainly I do. Sign me up, my good man’. When he went to the desk to get the papers I vaulted for the door, moving cat like past the waffle grills and weaving my way – with I have to say a degree of skill – past the open grills. But this salesman was fast. He got me via a complex vault over a toaster display and blocked my exodus. The deal was evidently on, or as he put it ‘you’re having the bloody thing, mate. I don’t care’. We filled out the paperwork but my piste da resistance was a cash on delivery arrangement to a false name and address. I was allowed to leave the store.

It was sometime later that lovely Jon Pertwee cornered me in a BBC bar and demanded to know why he had received two washing machines, a tumble dryer and a device for heating crumpets. Apparently, having confided my deeds to Mollie Sugden, she had no sooner gleaned my information than she had rung the illustrious scarecrow and spilled the beans. Sugden was expert in extracting information. She could have been in the CIA or similar, such was her prowess. She broke you down, although she did later regret her gift when she got John Inman to explain exactly why he had quite so many hamsters.

Pertwee was aggrieved that day. Let me tell you there is nothing like an angry Pertwee. Once his wrath was invoked, there was no power on Earth which could quell his rage. Words were exchanged. Temperatures were escalated. And finally….

I seem have have strayed from my subject matter somewhat, and will return to my diatribe about awards. I just think in closing this little diversion I should thank the good people of the NHS for their prompt and professional work, and the reassurances that the hair should grow back.

Anyway, my main intention was to give you an idea of what it is like to be nominated for an award. Obviously, you will need to have a speech. The speech can be as long as you wish it to be, but be advised the record was set by Kenneth Brannagh, who managed four months. I do know several performers who were there all the way through, and I visit them as often as their Doctors will feel it beneficial.

Below is a table of things to mention and areas to stay away from

Mention Don’t Mention
Gratitude to cast and crew The cast and crew sex orgy
Special praise for director and producer That thing each told you about the other
Praise for the genre You had no interest in this. Still none.
How it sheds new light on the issue The issue is boring
Wonderful place it was made Don’t mention the diarrhea
Your longevity and ambition to get this award About bloody time
Your fellow members’ good taste At last
The defeated other candidates are graceful Take it. Suck it up. Suck it up good.
Thank all your friends and tutors and family Never mention how they wanted you to be a minicab driver instead.

One of the main things about accepting an award is the procedure upon announcement. Firstly, there is the surprised look. It is vital to have a genuinely surprised look. Remember, this is a pleasant surprise, and therefore horrified, terrified and receiving bad news expressions are not suitable. Think about something pleasant. Perhaps a joyful moment as a child. A first triumph in your academic life. Jarvis being swallowed by a dinosaur.

Then comes the table greet. This is something that should be handled with care. You should turn to your fellow attendees and laugh and smile and hug. Again, this should be as genuine as possible, and any acrimony or scores to settle should be briefly put to one side. This is the moment for a team victory, even though you are the person who gets the award and they pale into insignificance. Ignore for these few moments that at this moment, you could crush each and everyone of them under your boot as you would a loathsome worm. You are all equal. Even the one who thought it would be funny that day to put hot sauce in place of your tomato soup. Oh, he will pay. Do you hear me, Cocker? You will pay. But not now. No. Languish in your achievement with your brethren and hug and applaud each other. After all, revenge is a dish served cold.

Then comes the chair move and walk to the stage. This is a tricky one. The pushing out of the chair is a art form in itself. In my book, ‘Chairs and how to pull them out’ (Penguin 1997) I detail the procedure for this in detail, with comprehensive illustrations and formulae for all manner of seating furniture. Normally one will be sat on a straight backed chair with a small nod to lumbar support. It is best to use the hand furthest from the stage and push it back in time with the straightening of the knees. It may sound simple but it does require practice and I have seen many occasions where the chair is knocked clumsily by the awardee and flies into the face of some elderly doyen, somewhat overshadowing the reception of an award. Giving a speech while your fellow actors are trying to save the sight of a legend of theatre is not something I would wish on anyone else, drowned out as you are by shouting, screaming and the oncoming sirens of the Ambulance.

Navigating your way to the stage is another skill. One must have a firm sense of where to go, and pace is important. I like to pretend I am back in the Punjab, wending my way through traders and market sellers, ever wary of those who would pick my pockets as I journey past, or the rogues who would lure you into a darkened lane with ill-intent, promising much but in reality just undertaking not to cut your head off in exchange for money. This rarely happens during awards ceremonies but all the same I would avoid the ‘Casualty’ table if I were you.

One thing I do is go into the main hall before the awards ceremony. This can be tricky, as you could be mistaken for one of the set up staff, and be asked to move tables, chairs and cutlery. This sounds mundane but actually it’s an excellent way of altering place mats so you get a little kick of of awkward seating. I never forget my first go at this, where I sat chuckling all evening, glancing over to the Last Of The Summer Wine table, with Sallis, Wilde, Owen and Pol Pott.

Posted By Ed to Mcphereson on 11/14/2017 09:30:00 pm

Written by edparnell

November 15, 2017 at 5:31 am

Posted in Uncategorized

Mcphereson Maintaining a grip on reality.

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I do enjoy a good reputation these days. Everyone knows the standard of my work and when they feel a part is not ‘me’ they don’t bother to call me for an audition. Perhaps they feel that the cast will be awed and afeared to compete with the depth of my characterisation, thus striking them almost catatonic – unable to move or speak, standing there open mouthed and staring at the sheer realism of my portrayal. Like in Hulme that one time during a touring production of ‘The Lady On The Bus’.

For those who don’t know ‘Lady’ is a play about a group of people from all backgrounds, on a bus. There’s a housewife, a miner, a financial advisor, a astronaut, a waiter and a Chinese emperor. While stuck in traffic they strike up a conversation. Suffice to say at the end of three hours lessons are learned, lives are changed, allegories are demonstrated and differences are levelled. The whole play is about the attitudes of different strata of sociological class, the perceptions and predispositions of ignorance and temporary roadworks.

I played Chuck Warrior, an ambitious financial advisor. Although not given a brief as such, when allocated the part, I made a list of things about ‘Chuck’. This sort of exercise has brought me much plaudits over the years, and younger actors (under 60) should take note of this method, as it will yield fruit to the tree or bush of your performance.


  • Ambitious
  • Does financial advice
  • Wears brown shoes (I underlined this as VERY IMPORTANT)

With this list I was able to to deduce his attitude, his personality and what drives him. Everything from eye colour to how many PPI calls he got I deduced from this list. Using economic data, trend analysis, calculous and a book of Greek Mythology, I had the character pinned down and honed.

Just to be sure I had him, I rang up several insurance companies for a quote on an Audi GT as Mr Warrior, and was pleasantly surprised that I could get it for less than £600 with a £250 excess and windscreen cover. If I could fool the good workers at Direct Line, the Apollo Theatre in Hulme would be a cinch!

It is at this point I must proffer a cursory warning. Be aware that portraying someone is entirely different from becoming them. I once appeared in ‘These Woolen Balls’, a play about the 1960s’ Womens’ Institute, and such was my acting even I was convinced I was actually the role I was playing and thus spent six months of my life post-play as a Mrs Bellingham. Since then. On my dressing room mirror I insist that I have a picture of myself with the words ‘This is you’ written under the face. It is very important that you remember you are an actor and you are not the person who people see in films/tv/walk-in bath commercials. I also like, during a run, to have people mention my name in conversation thus enforcing reality. Preferably in conversation with myself, although some prefer to do it in other dressing rooms and dark areas of the performance space which is fine. Often they will point, which is also helpful in keeping one remaining grounded.

If they don’t address me in the way I wish, I mention my name in every other sentence. (eg: “yes, I will have a coffee. Two sugars, Tarquin” or “Mmmmm, this really is delicious meringue, Miranda. Did you make it yourself Tarquin?” or “How dare you! I am Tarquin McPhereson”.

All being told I reigned supreme as Mr Warrior, though there was a brief time when I was questioned for forging and submitting a driving licence to the insurance company for a car I didn’t own, and obtaining insurance with false details with intent. I am still in dispute that the Police were entitled to arrest me on stage but thankfully the audience thought it part of the play and applauded loudly. Apart from that the show went swimmingly, and went on a tour of the North West, albeit without me as I was awaiting trial.

Posted By Ed to Mcphereson on 10/14/2017 04:59:00 am

Written by edparnell

October 14, 2017 at 12:59 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Mcphereson Radio – my experiences.

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With the anniversary of Radio One, I am pointed to reflect on the brief sojourn I enjoyed as a Radio Disc Jockey.

I was approached by Wesley Gould, the philanthropist, who had this idea about a radio station broadcasting popular music to the youth of Britain. Of course, I was heavily involved in a production of ‘Not On My Wife’ at the Cheshire ballrooms, and so was unable initially to entertain such a premise, or was until a phone call saying the whole thing had been cancelled after the first production. Unusual for a matinee, but the building had been deemed unsafe after the unrest.

The notion Gould had was this; we would be on a ship in international waters and would broadcast to the UK from international waters. It would be an eclectic mix of music and information which the kids would find interesting and informative. Adults could tune in as well of course. As could seniors. And very young people too. We had no age bars. It was literally a radio station anyone could listen to. All you needed was a radio and some ears.

Now, firstly, let me declare I have always had a thing for the sea. I cannot count the times I have been at the edge, between land and water, contemplating the meaning of it all, but it’s at least three. Growing up as I did during the war, I used to imagine being one of the staunch captains, ordering the destruction of an enemy vessel, be it a warship or a submarine, capturing the survivors and then treating them to a selection of impressions and songs from the shows. On other days I would imagine being a pirate, sailing the oceans plundering and wotnot, my hold filled with prisoners and treasure, fighting authority and taking what I wanted when I wanted it and paying no heed to laws. As I grew up these ambitions became more realistic, and eventually I envisioned myself as a boson on a P. & O. Ferry.

But this was a big chance. I could really ‘connect’ with younger listeners. Who knows, I could inspire them, like Kennedy or Martin Luther King, my oratory on how things could be would change the world, punctuating the gap between The Animals and The Kinks. There would be statues erected to my wisdom. My name would be mentioned in Parliament.

The job of a disc jockey was to project your personality. Between those interludes of musical excellence, the DJ would have to invent something to say, and this is not as easy as it seems. After the first few shows I was told people were complaining about my constantly saying what clouds look like. But I had nothing else. I scanned the paper and then it hit me. I would involve my listeners in the crossword. The trouble came when we spent seventeen minutes on ‘Focus or focal, your attention please. Use this as your guide (8)’ The answer was of course Cynosure, but some people rang up with the most peculiar suggestions, several of them on the internal line, and even fewer to do with the puzzle at hand.

It was then I heard a young tyke with a gimmick. This fellow had a recording of a dog, which he would play. “Hello Albert” he would say and the dog would dutifully bark. This not only gave him a friendly air, but a device by which people could say ‘He’s not that bad. He has a dog’. I immediately decided this had inspired me and for my next programme I introduced Terry the Tortoise. “Hello Terry” I would say, and Terry would much some lettuce. Anyone who has worked in radio knows that a tortoise eating doesn’t make compelling radio, even on Radio Three. I needed another tack.
I tried all manner of animals. Cats. Owls. Lizards. Frogs. At one point I actually had a leopard. But none of these grabbed the same intimacy as Albert the dog, and frankly the Air Ambulance people were very scathing about having a leopard on a tug boat. We never did find Adrian Dunbar.

I was running out of time. Gould was looking at the listening figures and mine were, apparently, and I use the radio jargon here, ‘bloody rubbish’. Then another stroke of McPhereson genuis hit me. Why not present a list of records which are selling very well in order of the amount they are selling? I could play those records and say ‘this is’ and a number denoting it’s retail popularity. And because people were purchasing these things, people would listen. It was a plan, audacious and new – as far as I was aware. I would call it ‘Records that are selling very well near you in a reverse numerical listing arrangement’.

Sadly the idea was lost forever because as I was presenting my afternoon programme the tug fell foul of a unexploded torpedo which hit our little boat ripping it apart and destroyed the whole station. And so my career as a DJ came to a close. I did try with other broadcasters for a while but many of them – the ones who replied – said I shouldn’t try to improve what I had done on the pirate station, as it was probably impossible to make it any better. High praise indeed, and I know, should I fall foul of this thespian life, I have something to fall back on.

Posted By Ed to Mcphereson on 9/30/2017 02:12:00 am

Written by edparnell

September 30, 2017 at 10:12 am

Posted in Uncategorized

Mcphereson Working with Animals #1

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Written by edparnell

August 28, 2017 at 11:59 am

Posted in Uncategorized

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