JOHN McENTEE of the Daily Mail records the following exchange between him, fellow writer Peter McKay and the actor Nigel Havers, pictured right
Peter McKay and I waiting for Nigel Havers.
Based on a true story.
Wednesday March 1 2017
Scene 1 Daily Mail, Kensington:
Peter: Go downstairs and meet him.
John: Why can’t you come?
P: I have to go to leaders.
J: OK, but what time will you get there?
P: As soon as Dacre is finished.
J: OK. Shall I order some wine?
P: Yes. But he might want champagne. Get some wine from the Geoffrey Levy Collection shelf . That should satisfy him.
P: You go down John and I’ll follow.
Scene 2 Whole Foods Hidden Gem, Kensington.
Libby: Where’s Mr McKay?
J: He is following me down.
J: He is at leaders.
P: Can I have a bottle of Pinot Noir not from the Geoffrey Levy Collection.
L: Fine (brings bottle of wine to table). So is it just the two of you?
J: No we are expecting Nigel Havers.
L: The actor?
J: That’s him?
L: Martyn doesn’t like him.
J: Why? They had a run in when he worked at Harrods.
J: Oh dear. Is Martyn working?
L: Not until 2.
J: Fine. I won’t order any ham until Peter comes down.
L: Why are you meeting Havers?
J: Long story.....
J: We wrote something he didn’t like.
L: What was that?
J: Just something Mike Hollingsworth said.
J: That when Havers was a junior researcher on the Jimmy Young Show on BBC Radio 2 he was about to be sacked for being useless.
J: Well that’s what Mike Hollingsworth said.
L: Who’s he?
J: Used to be married to Anne Diamond. He was a producer on Jimmy Young’s show in the 70s.
L: What’s he got to do with it?
J: He said Nigel was a junior researcher….
J: And he was about to be sacked…
J: And his father Sir Michael…..
L: Oh he convicted the Guildford 4..
J: He was Margaret Thatcher’s shadow Solicitor General before she was elected prime minister
J: Anyway Hollingsworth said that Nigel was about to be sacked and his dad saved his job.
J: He offered Jimmy Young an exclusive interview with the new Tory leader.
J: Because he wanted to save young Nigel’s job.
L: Did he?
J: Well Hollingsworth claimed that Havers Senior engineered an interview with Thatcher…
L: What good would that do?
J: It was supposed to preserve his son’s job.
L: Oh, did it?
J: According to Hollingsworth, Thatcher via Havers was persuaded to give Jimmy Young an interview and as a result Nigel’s job was saved.
L: So, what’s wrong with that?
J: It wasn’t true.
L: A lie?
J: Not quite,
L: So, do you want some serrano or paté?
J: Not yet.
L: So what was wrong with it?
J: Peter put a paragraph in Hardcastle .
J: We got a complaint from some old duffer who was producer before Hollingsworth.
J: He said the story wasn’t true.
J: He said Havers was never under threat and his dad had never intervened to save his job.
L: What did you do?
J: Peter thought we shouldn’t correct it.
J: Because after putting in what we call a clarification we might get a complaint from Havers.
J: Well he thought I should contact Havers and get him to explain.
L: Explain what?
J: Explain exactly what happened
L :Did you?
J: That’s why we are here giving him lunch to make amends .
L: Where is he?
J (looking at watch): I don’t know, he said 1.30.
L: That’s ten minutes ago.
Hello (Peter McKay arrives.) Where is he?
J: I don’t know.
P: Oh good you got some wine. I hope it’s not from the Geoffrey Levy Collection?
J. Haha, no, no its only £16.99.
P: Do you think he might be upstairs?
J: I’ll check.
Richard Kay and Levy arrive.
Geoffrey: Where is he?
Kay: Is he not here?
J: No, no show.
McKay: Check upstairs. Walk around the heaving store. No sign upstairs or down. I call him on mobile.
Where are you?
Yes, is there a problem?
Yes. You are supposed to meet us in Wholefoods in Kensington.
You never confirmed.
Yes I did by email.
No you didn’t. I emailed you on Monday
You replied saying perfect.
If you were at home around the corner you could have joined us.
But I’m not.
What about next Wednesday?
We are off the drink for Lent,
Does that matter?
Well let us make it next Wednesday.
I’ll double check with Peter, all the best.
Walk back to the Hidden Gem.
Peter: Is he upstairs? No
Where is he? In Norfolk.
Yes he is with his secretary sorting things out.
I don’t know.
So when he is he back?
Shall we meet him?
What do you think?
Well what will we do?
I don’t know.
Shall we give him another chance?
Let’s do that.
Isn’t the ham very good?
Peter: I’ve got a lunch on Wednesday with Algy CluffJohn: That’s the day we are supposed to see Nigel Havers.P: Shit.J. We don’t have to see him.
P: Why?J: Well he stood us up last week.
P: I know … and I did show you the e-mail where he confirmed our meeting…
P: I know.
J: He replied ‘Perfect.’
P: Never mind….
J: What do you want to do?
P: Maybe we should meet him.
P: Well we don’t want to upset him.
J: About what?
P: Hmmm. You did write that dodgy story saying he was useless…
J: I never said he was useless, I just reported what Mike Hollingsworth said about him being junior and er, useless.
P: We don’t want him suing…
J: Why would he sue?
P: They do you know.
J: But we did put in a story bigging him up.
P: Remind me….
J: I’ll dig it out (scrolling down Hardcastle baskets on computer)
J: Here it is! Shall I read it to you?
P: If you must
J, clearing his throat: 'Nigel Havers merits a footnote in both BBC and Conservative Party history for setting up the first interview between Margaret Thatcher and Jimmy Young on his Radio show. In 1975 the Chariots of Fire star was a 24-year old junior researcher on Young’s show and via his father Michael, then shadow solicitor general in Thatcher’s team, went to see the newly elected Tory leader in her Westminster Office armed with a list of questions. He recalls: ‘She said she would answer number one ,seven, eight and 19 and so on. Jimmy originally didn't want her on the show saying he didn't do politics But when she did her first interview he fell in love with her and she appeared in all 14 times.’
P: That got us out of trouble.
P: Well we really don’t need to meet him …
J: We haven’t had any confirmation…
P: Ok I’m off to see Algy at Boisdale…
J: Have a good lunch.
An hour later phone rings:
Nigel Havers: Where the fuck are you?
J: Who’s this?
N: Tis Nigel Havers, you know star of Chariots of Fire…Empire of ..
J: Oh Nigel how are you?
N: of the Sun, Coronation Street…
J: Yes Nigel
Nigel: The Bounder….
J. Yes, yes ,what can I do for you?
N: Where the fuck are you?
J: In the Hardcastle office why?
N: Why? Don’t you why me…
J: Why not?
N: Why not!!! I am sitting in Whole Foods ALONE, I repeat ALONE. Where the fuck are you?
J: I am so sorry Nigel…are you being looked after?
N: Looked after? I have a bearded prat in out-of-season shorts prancing about in desert boots mumbling about some supposed slight in Harrods years ago. I am not being looked after!
J: That will be Martyn.
N: Martyn who?
J: Martyn the manager. He usually wears shorts from March 1?
N: Shorts? March 1? What the fuck are you on about?
J: Never mind the important thing is that you are OK?
N: OK? O fucking Kay? How can I be OK?
J: What can I do?
N: Do? I am one of Britain’s leading ACTORS. I have come back from Norfolk at your request to have lunch here with you and whatissname Hardcastle, Mckinley McGoo whatever.
J: It is actually Peter McKay. He is a great fan..
N: Fan? He has a funny way of showing it. Why aren’t you here?
J: Well you didn’t confirm…
N: Confirm? Confirm? Do I need to confirm?
J: If we’d known you’d be there we’d be down waiting for you.
N: Well you’re not here. Who’s going to pay for my glass of Geoffrey Levy Reserve?
J: I’ll be down in a moment.
N: Don’t bother, I won’t be here!
J: Perhaps we could rendezvous next Wednesday?
To be continued….